Mullen Monday: Gators got better last week

Sep 23, 2019 | 0 comments

Dan Mullen held his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. He discussed the quarterbacks’ performances against Tennessee, broke down Towson, updated injuries and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • The Gators tweaked their schedule this week. Rather than taking Sunday off and beginning preparations for the next opponent on Monday, the team practiced Sunday and took off Monday. He said they did this because they’ve played three consecutive games without a bye week, and they’re a little banged up right now. He wanted to give them as much time to recover as possible. They’ll return to their normal schedule next week.
  •  Feleipe Franks had surgery on his dislocated ankle on Monday morning, and all indications are that he’s doing well.
  • Mullen said Kadarius Toney (shoulder) will be out against Towson, while some other players will be game-time decisions.
  • There will be a lot more hype surrounding the Auburn game next week than the Towson game, but Mullen said they have to improve in practice this week to even have a chance of winning next week. He thought they improved more during Tennessee week than the other weeks, and that was because they practiced better. If they don't continue to take a step forward this week, it'll show in the games to come. All of their goals are still attainable, but they need to improve each week to reach them.
  • Some guys are getting more comfortable with the “alpha dog” role, he said. He singled out Nick Buchanan, the entire receiving corps, David Reese II and Jonathan Greenard as being leaders.
  • He said Towson is "a very good football team." They play in the Colonial Athletic Association, one of the top leagues in the FCS. They're ranked in the top-10. They're very sound, and they're a homegrown team, he said. They rely primarily on players that they developed. They're an experienced team, so they expect to win. "Their roster is very solid.”
  • A smaller school like Towson getting to play at a Power Five school like UF is very motivating for them, Mullen said. A lot of their players have always dreamed of playing in a stadium like the Swamp in front of a huge crowd and nobody expects them to win, so they’ll play very relaxed and with nothing to lose.
  • He credited the success they had in the running game in the fourth quarter against Tennessee to the defense. Because the defense limited the Vols to just three points, they didn’t have to abandon the running game. Eventually, their offensive line wore them down.
  • He said Greenard “worked his tail off” from the moment he arrived on campus in January and earned respect from his teammates. His work ethic motivates other players because they can see the results of his hard work.
  • Mullen said Kyle Trask needs to continue on the path he's on. The biggest thing is to build on his experience, such as managing the clock better, using his cadence to his advantage, communicating, decision-making and making checks at the line. That all comes with time.
  • He said that Towson has an explosive offense, and they'll give you a bunch of different looks. They understand their offense and execute it really well.
  • It was great to get Amari Burney back against the Volunteers because he’s a playmaker and he brings positional flexibility, Mullen said. They can create mismatches with him.
  • He said that Richard Gouraige is the only non-starter that they feel comfortable with on the offensive line. They’re still working to develop the younger guys.
  • He attributed his team’s fourth-quarter success to the players hydrating throughout the week, the job the strength and conditioning staff did over the summer, the in-game adjustments made by the coaches and the confidence the players play with.
  • He said that Gouraige has flexibility. Even though they only have six players in their rotation, they have a bunch of different combinations because of him. He thinks he has a great future, and they want to get him some experience.
  • He doesn’t pay much attention to the analytics on when to go for it on fourth downs, he said. It’s mostly based on the situation and how many yards they need to get.
  • The opening drive touchdown against the Vols gave Trask and the offense some additional confidence and took some of the pressure off of him, he said.
  • He said that they're trying to play more Power Five teams, but not everybody they call is willing to play them. He thinks they should mix up the SEC schedule more so that they get to play teams from the Western Division more often. "It's an injustice to the kids."
  • HBO is following the program around this week to film the first installment of their “24/7 College Football” series. Mullen said he was a huge “Game of Thrones” fan and watches HBO regularly. "It's been pretty cool." He kind of knows what to expect from watching “Hard Knocks,” and he's excited to get kick off the series.
  • Both Kyle Trask and Emory Jones graded out as “Champions” for their performances against Tennessee, he said.
  • He said that they try to simulate things in practice, but it will never be the same as the speed of a game. They have young O-Linemen, and they don't adjust as fast as the veteran guys because they've never seen some things before.
  • Tight end Kyle Pitts is improving as a blocker, and he's getting more comfortable with it, Mullen said. They want him to be a big mismatch for opposing defenses.
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