Mullen Monday: Healthy Gators Ready for Huge Challenge

Oct 28, 2019 | 0 comments

Dan Mullen officially kicked off the most important week of the Gators’ season with his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. UF will face off with rival Georgia in Jacksonville on Saturday in a game that will likely decide who wins the SEC East and could have playoff implications as well.

Mullen updated injuries, discussed Georgia’s powerful running game, talked about the importance of being balanced on offense and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • The team is excited to play in a big rivalry game like this, he said. "It's a really unique scene for college football." He added that Georgia is one of the best teams in the country.
  •  Kadarius Toney practiced in a non-contact role last week, and he looked good running around. They rested a bunch of guys during the bye week, but they expect to have the “banged up” guys, including defensive ends Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, back this weekend.
  • Mullen said that he doesn’t pay attention to the spreads and the fact they they’ve been underdogs three times this season. He joked that it would be different if they walked into the stadium with a 3.5-point lead over Georgia.
  • There's a lot of history involved with the game in Jacksonville, and he thinks it's a unique scene because there aren’t many neutral-site rivalry games like this around the country. However, he acknowledged that the landscape of college football is always changing, and they'll continue to evaluate the location of the game as the years go on.
  • He was asked about whether a rivalry game like this provides a measuring stick for the program. He responded by saying that winning a national championship is the ultimate measuring stick, but he only focuses on whether his team is steadily improving throughout the course of the season.
  • They're in a great position by leading the East into November, but they have a lot of football in front of them before any of that comes into play, Mullen said. They don’t have any control over how the selection committee views them, so winning the East is what they are focused on.
  • He said that few teams in the country could've withstood the amount of injuries that the Gators did, so it's a tribute to the players and the coaches to still find ways to win.
  • They like to spread the ball around to numerous players, so he’s not concerned about Toney “stealing” touches from other players with his return. They’ll continue to take what the defense gives them.
  • He said they’re still waiting to hear from the NCAA on the immediate eligibility waiver they submitted for UGA linebacker transfer Brenton Cox.
  • They've done a good job of staying balanced offensively if you look at play-calls, not yardage gained, he said. A lot of their explosive plays have come on the ground. He wants more consistency in the running game, but he'll take the explosives if they need them.
  • Mullen said that they ask the tight ends to do a lot in the offense with route-running, blocking and formations, so he's impressed with the way Kyle Pitts has picked everything up this fast.
  • "If our guys aren't juiced to play in this game, they've got problems,” he said. He continued, "If I have to motivate our team, it's not much of a rivalry then."
  • On the Gators’ strong second halves this season, he credited the strength staff for instilling mental toughness in the players over the summer.
  • They used the bye week to get some young guys some more reps because they might need them if injuries continue to be a factor, he said.
  • He said Bulldogs running back D’Andre Swift is one of the best running backs in the country. The keys to slowing him down are to swarm a bunch of guys to the ball and stay in their gaps.
  • On being a more pass-heavy offense than usual this season, Mullen said he's going to do what the players do best, even if that means changing the offensive system a little. "If we have to run the wishbone, we'll run the wishbone,” he joked.
  • He said UGA quarterback Jake Fromm does a great job of getting them into the right plays, making good decisions, extending plays with his feet and he's an accurate passer.
  • It was a lot of fun to coach in the game last year, he said. He thought they played well for 2 1/2 quarters and showed good mental toughness, but they just couldn't finish the game, largely due to turnovers.
  • He said that Kyle Trask has played in some tough road atmospheres, so he feels "pretty confident" in him.
  • Mullen gives each of the players a few things to work on each week, such as footwork or eye placement pre-snap. This way, the players don’t get overwhelmed by trying to work on 30 different things. Everybody's at a different stage in their development, so the instructions are different for each guy. Some guys have to work on more specific things than others.
  • He said that he doesn’t hold plays back for certain opponents, but he does look at what plays they haven’t used yet this season and what they have defenses set up for.
Tags: Player

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