Dan Mullen met with the media on Wednesday morning to discuss the win over Miami, the goals for the bye week, Feleipe Franks’ performance and criticism, areas of improvement and more.
Here are the highlights:
- The Gators treated the Miami game like its own separate entity, almost like a pre-season game or a bowl game. They’re treating the season like it’s a two bye-week year, and next week is the start of the regular season schedule.
- The team will practice Wednesday before getting the rest of the week off.
- The two lost fumbles and the last interception were especially frustrating because they basically gave Miami the ball instead of making them earn it.
- On the last interception: he was expecting the Hurricanes to load the box, try to stop the run and play man coverage on the outside. He thought they were going to catch them off guard and throw a long touchdown pass to put the game away. Instead, Miami played a zone defense and took that pass away. He credited Manny Diaz for having the perfect defense called. Feleipe Franks should’ve taken the sack, but that’s hard to teach. If that plays hits, the public perception of Franks’ game would’ve been completely different. “Maybe not a great call by me.”
- He said it’s hard to make sure 85 guys are doing the right thing at the same time, but that’s what it takes to become a championship team. There weren’t any glaring errors against Miami. It was just one or two guys missing a block here or there. They have a lot of film they can show the offense on how many plays they left on the field.
- Mullen said he was pleased with the way Franks bounced back from the first interception and led the game-winning drive. He accounted for every yard on the drive. "I don't know if the Feleipe Franks of last year could've done that."
- He was asked if the offensive tempo was a little slower than he would’ve liked. He said in a first game scenario like that when you don’t know a lot about the other team, he likes to mix tempos and kind of see what the opponent’s going to do and make adjustments off of that. He added that he thinks his offense has the perception of being a no-huddle, up-tempo offense, but he thinks they’re one of the most pro-like offenses in college football.
- He sounded pleased with the play of the offensive line. He would’ve liked to have run the ball more consistently, but the lack of flow got them away from it a bit. "I am encouraged with some of the things I saw from them up front."
- He said they don’t live-tackle in practice out of fear of getting guys injured.
- He said after the majority of first games that he’s been a part of, they’ll go back and show players how their bad habits in practice showed up in games. He thinks the effort he’s getting from the team is good, but the intensity and attention to detail needs to get better.
- Mullen said the quarterback draw on third-and-goal from the 9 was something he checked to from the sideline. He admitted that it was probably a poor call. They had the look they wanted, as there were no defensive linemen on the right side of the ball. However, they don’t practice against that look a whole lot, so it confused his offensive line.
- On struggling on third downs: he pointed out that if you include fourth downs, they converted nearly half the time against Miami. Some of the play-calls on third downs were designed to set up manageable fourth downs, so the statistics didn’t tell the full story.
- He said the idea of teams being allowed to play a pre-season game against another team is an interesting concept. He would have certain things he would want to get accomplished, but outsiders might pay too much attention to the final score. In college football, public perception and rankings still influence the playoff selection, so that would be something to keep in mind. However, a pre-season game would provide valuable experience for freshmen so that they don’t go into their first regular-season game not knowing what to expect.
- He said some guys are being held out of practice with injuries this week but nothing major. He doesn’t anticipate anyone missing the UT Martin game.
- He thinks having one marquee game to kick off the season could become more common in the years to come.
- He said he doesn’t put as much emphasis on the opening games as fans do, but he understands why everything seems to under a bigger microscope in a game like that. He likes that people are very opinionated about Franks because that shows that people are passionate about the sport. He wants the team to do what they can control, focus on getting better each day and tuning out outside noise.
- Mullen said the photo of his wife, Megan, with Shelley Meyer and Jerri Spurrier is very special because few people have been as invested in Gators football in the last few decades as those three. He added that few people know just how much the coaches’ wives go through.
- He said they decided before camp that they were going to award a scholarship to the starting long-snapper. Jacob Tilghman won the battle in camp and is now on scholarship.