Mullen talks injuries, clarifies Huggins' situation

Aug 6, 2019 | 0 comments

Dan Mullen met with the media on Tuesday morning to discuss the Gators’ first scrimmage of fall camp, injuries, John Huggins’ status with the team, the importance of having “alpha dogs” on your team and more.

Here are some of the highlights:

He said the scrimmage was “solid.” There were some great plays made, but he wants to see more consistency. The outstanding catches and defensive plays are OK, but they also need to make the wide-open catches and the sound tackles.

All of the installation is in now. He hopes some of the younger players will pick everything up quickly to create depth at certain positions.

He said Feleipe Franks made some good throws, but he wants to see him continue to improve his leadership so he can make all the players around him better.

Franks has bought in and listens to everything the coaches tell him, Mullen said. That will give him a chance to weather the ups and downs of the season better than he did at times last year.

He was asked about creating more explosive plays this season. He said having multiple weapons on the field and having a better understanding of the offense will allow them to be more explosive. "Once you know the offense, you know how to make plays within the offense."

He said the best play he saw in the scrimmage was probably a perfectly blocked six-yard counter run with a great tackle. He looks for all 22 guys on the field to play good football rather than the spectacular plays. He joked that none of the plays probably lived up to his high standards.

Several players missed the scrimmage, but he wouldn’t offer specifics.

Defensive back C.J. McWilliams will miss the season with a torn Achilles. He was injured in a non-contact drill. He said Amari Burney, John Huggins and Marco Wilson could all play nickel if needed.

He was asked about an October police report where safety John Huggins was accused of allegedly choking a tutor. He said he is against violence against women, but he also wants to be fair to the players and receive all of the information before he makes disciplinary decisions. He said some of the players haven’t been exposed to certain situations before, so it’s about educating them. He said he does a lot of research on his players’ backgrounds to see what’s considered normal in their culture so he can tailor the education to them.

He said the police report was part of the reason Huggins didn’t play in five games last year and that discipline was handled.

One of the hardest things for coaches to handle is when they get conflicting reports, a he said-she said situation, he said. His job isn’t to investigate things; that’s up to law enforcement and/or the university. But, he’s expected to manage the situation and make decisions based on the information he receives.

He said he knows a timetable for Huggins’ return but won’t share it.

Jeawon Taylor should be out of his non-contact jersey and full-go by the end of the week. In his absence, Shawn Davis “played pretty well” in the scrimmage.

He said Franks is an emotional guy. He doesn’t mind him doing things like shushing the crowd, but sometimes he needs to keep his emotions in check and be a better leader. For example, when he’s worked with the backup offensive line, he’s gotten frustrated and tried calling out the protections himself, instead of letting the center figure out how to do it.

He’s not disappointed with the effort or performance so far, but there are certain leadership things he wants to see improve across the board.

He said freshmen tend to grow up quicker when they’re given more opportunities with the ones because they have better players around them and there’s a heightened sense of responsibility to not be the one player who messes everything up. He singled out Mohamoud Diabate, Khris Bogle, Michael Tarquin and Ethan White as some of the guys getting those opportunities.

He said he’s liked what he’s seen from Trent Whittemore and Nay’Quan Wright, but they’re probably not going to be counted on as much this season.

He said nobody on the team was a true “alpha dog” last season, and he wants to see players step into that role in year two. He defined an alpha dog as somebody who goes hard in practice, isn’t afraid to call out his teammates, holds the team to an extremely high standard all the time and backs it all up with great performances in games.

Part of the reason for the lack of an alpha dog is the players haven’t seen what one looks like lately. He said Jarrad Davis is the only name that gets mentioned as being one of those guys in recent years.

He said Dak Prescott was the best alpha dog he’s ever been around, even better than Tim Tebow. He also mentioned Brandon Spikes, Major Wright and the Pounceys as being alpha dogs at UF when he was the offensive coordinator. He said you don’t win two national titles in three years without guys like that.

The closest thing they had to an alpha dog last season was Martez Ivey.

There’s a fine line between stepping up and becoming an alpha dog and being fake, he said. Phonies get exposed eventually.

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