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Due to Hurricane Dorian, the Gators held their weekly press conference on Wednesday morning this week instead of the usual Monday.
Here are the highlights from Dan Mullen’s half hour at the podium as the No. 11 Gators prepare to play UT Martin in their home opener on Saturday.
- He said UT Martin is a very well-coached team, and he knows several of their coaches. They run a 3-3-5 defense, which is rare and difficult to prepare for. “They’re a very aggressive team.”
- He wants to see his team prepare better in practice this week than they did for the Miami game and have that translate to cleaner execution in the game. He said they used the bye week as basically an extension of fall camp.
- Georgia transfer Brenton Cox’s eligibility is still up in the air, but Mullen still sounded optimistic that he will get cleared eventually based on precedent. Mullen said he’s pleased with Cox’s attitude in practice and how hard he’s working.
- He said a lot of people like to rush to judgment about a team following the season-opener, but they did beat a rival team that had one of the top defenses in the country last season.
- He’s forgotten the exact number of missed tackles against the Hurricanes, but he said it was “a bunch.” Almost half of the yards they gave up resulted from missed tackles and yards-after-contact. You fix this problem with your intensity and the way you wrap up in practice. "You can never get enough reps at anything."
- Mullen said he doesn’t have much of a philosophy when it comes to scheduling FCS opponents, but he reaffirmed that the goal is to play 10 Power Five opponents every year.
- With his team being a heavy favorite against the Skyhawks, he said the goal this week is the same – to play to their standard. He thought the attitude and belief in themselves against Miami was up to standard, but the execution was not. If they don’t improve each week and play up to their standard on Saturdays, it’ll catch up to them sometime.
- While his quarterbacks are in non-contact jerseys, he said they are probably exposed to more contact in practice than a lot of other quarterbacks throughout the country. "We have three quarterbacks who have played meaningful snaps in games. That gives you a little bit more comfort."
- Mullen said he’s ran into UT Martin defensive line coach and former Gator Clint McMillan before on the recruiting trail and other occasions. He added that it’s always good to see former players have success as coaches.
- They tweaked the players’ schedules a little bit this week because of the hurricane and not having classes, but nothing major.
- The new redshirt rule that went into effect last year is “tremendous” and is in the best interest of the players. It helps give you more depth when injuries occur because you don’t have to worry about burning a guy’s redshirt for one game.
- He said they have a lot more flexibility to play younger guys in a game like this because they’re not limited to dressing only 70 guys like they are in conference games.
- On the clip of Urban Meyer breaking down the run-pass option on Fox Sports, Mullen said they weren’t afraid to try new things at a school like Bowling Green. He feels like they invented something in a way, similar to the way they also popularized the wildcat quarterback. “We created a lot of things throughout the years."
- When he and Meyer arrived at Florida, they were told their offensive system wouldn’t work at this level. Now, it’s a staple throughout college football, and some NFL teams are starting to implement it as well.
- One of the advantages to his spread offense at Utah was that it was rare, so it was very difficult for other teams to game plan for them in one week. Now that it’s way more popular, they have to look for advantages in other areas.
- He said he wants to get the backup quarterbacks some game reps. "I don't mind getting those guys in all the time. Those guys work hard at practice to get reps. You never know how games are going to work out."
- He wants to get as many guys into the games as possible, and they weren’t able to rotate against Miami as much as they wanted to. He said that we’re going to read way too much into who the second quarterback to take the field is.
- Mullen said he thinks Feleipe Franks has handled the criticism he got after the Miami game well. The important thing for Franks to remember is that the people saying bad things about him don’t know the game plan, what he was supposed to do on a certain play and how a play is supposed to work. He thinks he’s grown through criticism.
- He said learning to block out outside criticism is "a constant thing for everybody in society." Being told you're not good at something you love naturally bothers you, but you have to learn to only listen to the opinions that matter.
- “Some guys are still dinged up,” but he wouldn’t offer any specifics. He said any suspensions or injuries will be announced about 30 minutes before the game.
- Mullen said he feels bad for Jachai Polite, who was cut by the New York Jets over the weekend and signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. He hopes it’s a learning experience for him and the guys in the program now.
- Polite was reportedly fined around $100,000 for tardiness and other rules violations during his time with the Jets. Mullen said he "was late for us sometimes too." He hasn’t gotten a chance to speak with Polite yet, but he wishes him the best and hopes that he’s able to make up for the development he lost by not coming back for his senior year.