FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
THREE-PART SERIES: FORMER FIVE-STARS WITH AN ASTERISK
- Part I – Shorter the right player at the right time
- Part II – Cox excited, ready to flourish at Florida
- (Free) Part III – Lingard finding his stride at Florida
With players back on campus for voluntary workouts, the 2020 college football season appears to be on track for an on-time start. Florida coach Dan Mullen met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Gators’ setup for voluntary workouts, the proposed timeline for beginning on-field preparations, Kyle Trask’s development, the wide receiving corps, and more.
Here are the highlights.
- Mullen said his players and staff have done a lot of work, and they're excited to get the season underway. He hopes to find out the concrete plan for when they can start on-field work in the coming days.
- The Gators moved their weight room equipment to the Indoor Practice Facility to better facilitate social distancing and provide better air circulation. He said everything’s gone well with the setup so far, and the players are eager to be pushed by the strength staff.
- The biggest question surrounding UF’s defense is the development of a young but talented linebacking corps. Mullen’s excited for some of the young linebackers, and he hopes they've done a good job of learning through virtual meetings and film. Hopefully, that will translate into them being ready to play in the fall. He points out that while they don't have a lot of returning starts, they have plenty of playing experience back.
- He said he was consulted when UF started putting together the plan for bringing football players back to campus, but those decisions were made entirely by the medical personnel. He’s proud of the steps they’ve taken to keep the players as safe as possible.
- They had zero positive tests in their first round of COVID-19 testing, Mullen said.
- They've had several discussions about racial inequality among individuals and larger groups, he said. He thinks those discussions have been positive and a great learning experience for him.
- He said they've been slowing building up in voluntary workouts so far to not overwork players who might not have been able to work out as much due to social distancing restrictions. In general, he thinks his guys did a good job staying in shape given the limitations, and he thinks Nick Savage will do a good job of building them back up to where they need to be.
- Mullen said the coaches aren’t allowed to watch the voluntary workouts, and all of their meetings are still virtual. Last week, the NCAA Division 1 Football Oversight Committee approved a practice plan and recommended it to the Division 1 Council. Under this proposal, all players will return to campus on July 13 for mandatory strength and conditioning workouts. From July 24-Aug. 6, they’ll be able to hold on-field walkthroughs. Training camp would begin as scheduled on Aug. 7. He thinks the possibility of being able to conduct walkthroughs for two weeks prior to fall camp will be beneficial to start building familiarity and muscle memory without spring practices.
The Inside Scoop: A detailed look at the first day back for Florida football players
- He said Kyle Trask has spent every offseason preparing to be ready to play. He thinks it's great to have experience in the quarterback room without a spring between Trask and Emory Jones. The only one who’s development might suffer is early-enrollee freshman Anthony Richardson. He feels comfortable with the position.
- The biggest change for Trask this year is experience, Mullen said. He's always prepared with confidence that he would be ready when his number was called, but now he has the confidence of experience. He knows what it will be like on the field, and that should benefit him.
- He said the biggest thing he's told his players is to control what they can control. They're preparing as if training camp and the season will begin on time. The only variable right now is that July 24-Aug.6 window where they might have walkthroughs. All they can do is adjust their plans as more information becomes available. "Once Aug. 7 is here, everything is back to normal for us."
- Everybody’s eager to return to a routine, he said, and they've tried to create as much of a routine for the players and staff as possible. One of the hardest things they've had to deal with is not being able to have face-to-face interaction with players.
- Mullen said they're very fortunate for the standard the four senior receivers set last year. Now, Trevon Grimes and Rick Wells are going to carry it on as the older guys. The standard should, in turn, get passed on to the young receivers. He thinks the veteran guys have done a good job so far of picking up where the last group left off.
- He doesn’t know what Miami running back transfer Lorenzo Lingard will bring on the field yet, but he’s made a positive impact on the Gators so far because of his positive attitude and strong work ethic.
- Mullen said one of the problems they’ve encountered with virtual meetings is that everybody learns differently, so it's hard to reach everybody. They'll find out how much knowledge the players have retained when the walkthroughs begin.