Mullen Monday: Trask set to return

Nov 25, 2019 | 0 comments

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The Gators (9-2, 6-2 SEC) have a lot to play for on Saturday against Florida State (6-5, 4-4 ACC). They can beat the Seminoles in the Swamp for the first time since 2009, win back-to-back games over FSU for the first time since 2008-09, put together back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 2008-09 and keep their bid for a New Year’s Six bowl alive. But perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance to claim bragging rights in one of the nation’s most-heated intrastate rivalries. 

On Monday afternoon, Dan Mullen updated injuries, explained the challenges of playing against an interim head coach, discussed the legacy his seniors will leave behind and more. 

Here are the highlights. 

  • The biggest news of the day came after Mullen left the podium when draft eligible junior quarterback Kyle Trask announced his intention of returning to Florida for his senior season.
  • They'll practice early on Thursday morning so the players can be off from noon on Thursday to Friday at 2 p.m. to spend time with their families for Thanksgiving, he said. 
  • They’re pretty healthy as a team right now, although multiple players missed practice last week with illnesses. Linebacker Amari Burney is "way ahead of schedule" and should play on Saturday.
  • Defensive end Jabari Zuniga has also been cleared.
  • He said this senior class has gone through a lot of ups and downs with different coaching staffs, and they bought into a new way of doing things with he and his staff. "Those guys have bought in, and we've had success."
  • He said he wasn’t aware that the Gators have lost four straight home games to the Seminoles. 
  • On his senior class being patched together by high school recruits and transfers, Mullen said that is becoming "the new norm" in college football. As he’s done several other times throughout the season, he took a jab at the NCAA for their inconsistencies in awarding waivers to some players but not others under near identical circumstances. 
  • In his first team meeting back in the spring, he told the team how hard it is to go from 10 wins to 11. He thinks the guys embraced that, bought in and worked hard to make it potentially happen. "There's a lot of guys on our sideline that expect to win games." He added that he doesn't think that was always the case in prior years.
  • He knew Brian Johnson would make a great coach after watching him play as a 17-year-old freshman at Utah, he said. Johnson spent a lot of extra time with the coaches while in college, so he had an advanced perspective of what coaching is before entering the profession. When Mullen had an opening at Mississippi State, it was an easy decision to reach out to him. He said Johnson knows what he wants at the position and is young enough to relate to the players.
  • Mullen was asked about how they’ve been able to win games despite not being able to run the ball. He said it’s as simple as “call other plays.” He said they could probably get through about two or three games just by running the plays that they’ve had in game plans this season but never used. He joked that they have “unbelievable balance” on offense because they spread it around to multiple receivers. 
  • Winning at home is extremely important, and it has as much to do with the fans as the players, he said. "You show up, and we'll win." He praised the fans for creating great atmospheres this season and encouraged them to do the same this weekend.
  • He said that it's one of the craziest times of the year for him. He'll get home around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning after the game, meet with official visitors the next day and then hit the road recruiting all week. The cycle starts over the next weekend. Then they’ve got to prepare for the bowl game and the Early National Signing Day. "It's a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster."
  • They've tried to identify what FSU is doing differently with interim coach Odell Haggins in charge versus Willie Taggart, he said. They've got to be ready for tweaks and adjustments.
  • Mullen said that Jonathan Greenard is playing at an All-American level. It's tough at his position because some voters haven’t gotten a chance to watch every defensive end in the country and overly rely on statistics when deciding who to vote for. However, he thinks Greenard has passed both the eye test and the stats test. 
  • He said senior linebacker David Reese is a "lunch-pail guy." He gives everything he has every day, and everybody respects him for that.
  • Senior Day is emotional for him because he sees how far the players have come, he said. "For a lot of these guys, it'll be the last time they ever play football."
  • Mullen said that he doesn't think beating FSU would have as much of a recruiting effect as some might think, but it's important for pride and bragging rights purposes.


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