Three things we learned from Florida's 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt.

1. There are no easy answers for Will Muschamp.

Following one of the most staggering losses in program history, Muschamp said there is no overnight solutions to his program's problems.

"Everybody wants to put their finger on one thing and say ‘Eureka. This is what it is,’" he said. "That’s not the way it works."

Especially with these Gators.

Even if Muschamp were to fire offensive coordinator Brent Pease, his successor doesn't have the personnel to succeed. This begins at quarterback unless incoming freshman Will Grier is the next Jameis Winston.

While Florida should be stacked at running back, the O-line is a mess and loses its two best players - guard Jon Halapio and center Jon Harrison.

The secondary is the strength of the defense, but will lose senior Jaylen Watkins and almost assuredly junior Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson.

Big things were expected in the front seven from sophomores Dante Fowler Jr., Jon Bullard and Antonio Morrison, but none has been consistent, much less dynamic.

2014 is shaping up to be a long, tough year - and likely Muschamp's do-or-die season. If he survive's this season, Muschamp's biggest challenge might be where to begin fixing his program.

2. Forget about a quarterback competition next summer.

Injured starter Jeff Driskel likely felt some heat from Tyler Murphy a month ago.

Murphy stepped in against Tennessee and led Florida to three straight wins - against the Vols, Kentucky and Arkansas. The trio entered Saturday with a combined 1-13 record in SEC play.

Since then, Murphy has struggled, culminating with a complete collapse against Vanderbilt, owners of one of the SEC's worst defenses.

Murphy entered the day with two interceptions on 139 pass attempts, but he finished with three picks and a lost fumble against the Commodores. He also was sacked five times, and has suffered 19 sacks in the past four games while throwing just one touchdown pass.

Driskel had a rough start to his 2013 season, with five turnovers and just two touchdowns throws in a little more than two games. But at this point, it is has become clear why Murphy, a redshirt junior, did not throw a college pass until replacing Driskel against Tennessee.

Murphy has some talent, but lacks the arm strength and playmaking ability to lead the Gators in 2014. Once again, this will be Driskel's team, but what he does with it remains to be seen.

3. The Gators assuredly cost themselves valuable practice time during December.

A primary benefit of qualifying for a bowl game is the 15 practices teams are given to prepare.

Coaches use a good bit of this time to develop younger players for next season, like freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood, whose one-handed catch off a tipped ball was one of the few Florida highlights against Vanderbilt.

Practices for the 2012 Gator Bowl, for example, were a catalyst for cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy's emergence a season ago.

Unless the Gators win at South Carolina or shock Florida State Nov. 30 at home, coaches will not be able to work with their players in December. While a trip the Music City Bowl or BBVA Compass Bowl might not excite fans, UF coaches know the importance of a bid to any bowl game.

 

Email Edgar Thompson at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com. Read the Swamp Things blog at www.orlandosentinel.com/swampthings. Follow our UF coverage on Twitter @osgators.