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Chomp: It’s a dark time for Gator Nation

Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) runs with the ball as South Carolina linebacker Brad Johnson, left, reaches for him during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (Sean Rayford, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.


In all kinds of weather ... right?

But there’s no doubt this is a dark time for Gator Nation.

It seems like the changes being made now are too little, too late, and the remaining games on the schedule no longer seem like automatic wins.

But Florida (4-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) should be able to defeat Samford (4-5, 3-4 Southern Conference) in the Swamp on Saturday. The game kicks off at noon and will be streamed on SEC Network+.

Before that happens, let’s go back and look at what’s transpired over the last week.

Losing streak continues

The Gators have lost three games in a row, and Saturday night’s was arguably the worst this season and one of the worst in program history.

The Gamecocks routed Florida 40-17 in South Carolina.

GAME RECAP: South Carolina routs Florida, Gators lose 3rd straight

First-time starter Jason Brown, who last played at St. Francis, threw two touchdowns, with South Carolina becoming the first team this season to outgain the Gators, 459-340.

Emory Jones completed 17 of 30 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble that went for a score.

Coach Dan Mullen did say there were up to 30 players missing from practice each day last week due to the flu, with Jones testing positive for it on the day of the game.

Gators Breakdown host David Waters looks back at the crushing loss in this episode.

Grantham, Hevesy out

The fallout from the rock-bottom loss came the next day with the firing of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy, both of whom many Gators fans have been unhappy with.

The moves were made official on Monday.

READ MORE: Reeling Florida fires veteran assistants Grantham, Hevesy

Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will call the defense beginning Saturday. Longtime Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, a 72-year-old coaching veteran who had been Mullen’s special assistant, will take on an on-the-field role for the remainder of the season.

Michael Sollenne, who has been with the team since 2020, will work with the offensive line for the rest of the year.

In this Gators Breakdown episode, you can hear David’s reaction to the news when it first broke. In another episode, you can hear more discussion with David, as well as Gators Breakdown listeners, about the firings.

Mullen accepts blame

During his second in-person interview with reporters in nearly two years, Mullen seemed contrite and committed to getting Florida back on track.

Mullen also accepted the blame even though he made Grantham and Hevesy the immediate scapegoats.

“I’m the head coach, so I bear all of it,” Mullen said. “It’s on my shoulders. I’m the one that’s responsible for this program. I’m the one that’s responsible for this team and how we got to perform.

“That’s your job here as the head coach: to take on that responsibility. And my job is to make sure we go perform, that this team plays to the Gator standard, which we’re not doing right now. It’s my responsibility to find a way to fix that.”

Mullen plans to begin an immediate search for replacements.

“It’s always hard because those guys are both friends of mine,” Mullen said. “I have a lot of respect for them. Both excellent football coaches. But it is my responsibility as the head coach to do what’s best, what I feel is best for the Florida Gators. And that comes above it all.”

You can read what else Mullen had to say here.

In the latest episode of Gators Breakdown, David and Will Miles discuss Mullen’s comments on letting go of Grantham and Hevesy and what it means for the rest of the season.

Richardson hurts knee while dancing

As Anthony Richardson was recovering from a concussion suffered against Georgia, he injured a knee while dancing in the team hotel the night before the South Carolina loss.

Mullen revealed Monday that Richardson, who had been cleared to play against the Gamecocks, was “gimping around” the football facility that day.

READ MORE: Richardson hurts knee dancing in hotel, sits out

“His MRI came back clean,” Mullen said. “He’s fine. ... He did treatment all day Saturday but was fine to go play, could have played Saturday but having not practiced, coming off a concussion, and with that he was going to emergency-only situation.”

📺 Top Week 11 games to watch

If you’re not up for watching the Gators these days, here’s who all of the College Football Playoff top 25 teams are playing in Week 11 (all games are on Saturday unless noted otherwise):

  • No. 1 Georgia at Tennessee — 3:30 p.m.
  • New Mexico State at No. 2 Alabama — Noon
  • Washington State at No. 3 Oregon — 10:30 p.m.
  • No. 19 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 5 Cincinnati at South Florida — 6 p.m. Friday
  • No. 6 Michigan at Penn State — Noon
  • Maryland at No. 7 Michigan State — 4 p.m.
  • No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor — Noon
  • No. 9 Notre Dame at Virginia — 7:30 p.m.
  • TCU at No. 10 Oklahoma State — 8 p.m.
  • No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 15 Ole Miss — 7 p.m.
  • No. 16 NC State at No. 12 Wake Forest — 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 14 BYU — BYE
  • Mississippi State at No. 17 Auburn — Noon
  • Northwestern at No. 18 Wisconsin — Noon
  • Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa — 3:30 p.m.
  • North Carolina at No. 21 Pittsburgh — 7:30 p.m. Thursday
  • Nevada at No. 22 San Diego State — 10:30 p.m.
  • Southern Miss at No. 23 UTSA — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 24 Utah at Arizona — 2 p.m.
  • No. 25 Arkansas at LSU — 7:30 p.m.

🏀 Florida men’s basketball wins season opener

Maybe basketball season will cheer us up?

Colin Castleton and Myreon Jones each scored 18 points on Tuesday evening when Florida got a 74-61 win over Elon in the season opener for both teams.

GAME RECAP: Castleton, Jones each score 18, lead Florida over Elon

Florida returning starters Tyree Appleby added 14 points and Anthony Duruji had 10.

🖋️ Florida men’s basketball signs 3 in 2022 Class

The Florida men’s basketball team welcomed the addition of three 2022 high-profile signees on Wednesday

Power forward Malik Reneau, guard Denzel Aberdeen and power forward Jalen Reed all signed national letters of intent and will join the Gators for the 2022-23 season.

“Our staff and I have all enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them and look forward to having them here in Gainesville next year,” coach Mike White said.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

You can catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown at news4jax.com/gatorsbreakdown or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Google Podcasts | Stitcher


About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.