FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
There was some good, some bad and a whole lot of ugly in the Gators’ season-opening 24-20 defeat of Miami on Saturday night in Orlando.
Here are some of the highlights from Dan Mullen’s post-game press conference:
- 10 Takeaways: Don’t get too high or too low
- Uncensored Soundoff: UF-UM Reaction
- Instant Analysis: Florida holds on for the win
- WCC: UF-UM Game Thread
* He started off by stating the obvious – they didn’t follow their plan to win very well. “We certainly didn't do that tonight with turning the ball over, with not scoring touchdowns when we get down on the red zone, some critical penalties at critical times. We had some missed tackles. But, I'm going to tell you what. Our guys compete. They competed, and they competed, and they kept competing and kept battling. It seemed like we had to win the game about four different times, but we continued to do that. And so, I'm really proud of that.”
* Mullen said that there are some things Feleipe Franks can learn from his three-turnover game, but he was pleased with the way he kept firing the ball with confidence and didn’t get timid. He added that he and his staff still have confidence in him to lead this team.
* He said Franks’ second interception where he got drilled as he threw the ball was on him. He thought they had something with Miami’s defense, and he wanted to show Franks that he had confidence in him to put the game in his hands. Mullen misjudged the defense when he made that call, and Franks was trying to throw the ball away but couldn’t get enough power behind it because of the hit he took.
* Mullen said that he doesn’t know if he would’ve had the trust in Franks to put the game in his hands last season. He thinks Franks matured a lot over the off-season.
* He said he was also proud of the way the defense battled through some mistakes, such as a bunch of missed tackles and a string of pass-interference penalties in the fourth quarter. He credited defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for making excellent halftime adjustments. “There's a lot we can learn from that game and a lot we can get cleaned up defensively. We can get that coached. We can be better coaches, and we can get them coached better, get the players to play better. It's hard to coach that effort, that strain and that desire to find a way to win. That's hard to coach, and they showed they had that tonight.”
* “It's a fun game to be a part of. It's a wild game to be a part it. We're certainly reminded college football is back, and it looks like we're in for another exciting season. After 150 years, it hasn't dulled at all.”
* He joked that he aged 10 years over the final five minutes of the game.
* The Gators went 4-for-4 on fourth downs in the game. Mullen said that while some might view his decisions to go for it that many times as risky, he didn’t hesitate on any of them. He felt good about the down and distances, his play-calls, and he trusted his veteran-laden offense to execute. It paid off.
* He said of the four turnovers, the two lost fumbles were most frustrating because Miami’s defense didn’t have to do anything to earn the ball. They just put it on the ground for them.
* Late in the third quarter, Florida faced a fourth-and-1 from its own 42-yard line, trailing 13-10. This time, Mullen opted to punt, and the kick was muffed by the Hurricanes’ Jeff Thomas and recovered by Van Jefferson. Franks connected with Lamical Perine for an 11-yard scoring toss three plays later. Mullen said that he felt they had a little bit of momentum at the time, so he wanted to pin Miami’s freshman quarterback, Jarren Williams, deep and see if they could make something happen on defense.
* Mullen on Kadarius Toney: “Well, you know, I've always said when he has the ball in his hands, something exciting is going to happen. He lived up to that today, right? I mean, he had a long touchdown run. He had an interesting kickoff return. He had a minus — it was only minus-six? He was running around for a while. But exciting stuff happens when you put the ball in his hands. You know, the thing I think about him that I'm really pleased with, though, as you watch, is it's not just his performance, hey, we're going to get you the ball and great things happen. His growth and development as an every-down player, I think that's one of the things I'm really pleased with with him. And I think that's something we're going to continue — you're going to continue to see all year. We're going to put the ball in his hands, let exciting things happen.”
* He said that while some of the Gators’ 10 sacks were a result of them simply beating Miami’s young offensive line, some of them were great effort plays where they had to run a long way to get the quarterback on the ground. He was pleased with the effort and pursuit he saw from the defensive line.
* Mullen said he was impressed with the way Williams managed the Hurricanes’ offense and how UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos eased him into the game with a bunch of short throws.
* He said special teams provided some of the turning points in the game, and he hopes it serves as a lesson to the younger players. “You're looking at a senior punter. You're looking at a senior starting wide receiver that's covering a punt, making plays. You know, and I think that really shows a lot about the team. Special teams is something that we take a lot of pride in, we stress a lot, we practice an awful lot, you know? And I think when guys buy into that and you start — you start seeing the success of making big plays on special teams.”
* He said he considered challenging Malik Davis’ lost fumble, but he thought it was too 50-50 to use a challenge on.
* He said he likes that all the mistakes they made in the game are correctable. He doesn’t have to worry about guys not going hard or giving up on plays. They just need to work on their tackling and ball-security, which can be accomplished in practice relatively easily.
* Despite only rushing for 52 yards, Mullen said he’s not concerned about the running game. Because of what Miami was doing defensively, UF’s best matchups were out on the perimeter, so they tried to exploit that.