Mullen: Trask to have more freedom

Aug 20, 2020 | 0 comments

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Dan Mullen met with the media for the second time this week after Thursday morning’s practice. Unlike Monday’s press conference that mostly covered virus-related topics and didn’t even mention a single player by name, Thursday’s press conference was all about football, from Kyle Trask’s continued ascendance to the offensive line’s progress and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • When asked about his expectations of defensive end/linebacker Brenton Cox now that he’s wearing the No. 1 jersey, Mullen said that the player makes the jersey, not the other way around. However, he expects big things out of Cox regardless of what number he’s wearing. Cox has maintained a 3.0 GPA since he's been at UF and has worked hard over the offseason. He thinks he can play "everywhere." They want to cross-train as many guys as possible, especially given the craziness this season will present with players inevitably having to miss time with positive virus tests.
  • Likewise, he said Trey Dean is playing "a little bit all over the place." He thinks that flexibility will enable them to create favorable matchups in the secondary. Dean played nickelback and cornerback last season but is receiving reps at safety this fall.
  • Quarterback Kyle Trask's confidence is different this fall because he's led the team to big victories and started games. That confidence and his increased knowledge of the scheme has enabled him to be a better leader and hold guys more accountable.
  • He's looking for Trask to make faster decisions this season, he said. They'll put a "lot more on him" this year as far as checks and getting them into the right plays at the line. He'll have a lot more freedom and responsibility.
  • The last time they had a non-game-week practice was around Aug. 9, 2019, so it's been more than a year. As a result, it's "been a slow build back into what practice even is." He added that they had their best practice so far on Thursday.
  • Mullen hasn't talked with defensive end Zachary Carter recently, so he's still not sure when he'll return to practice. He said everybody handles tough situations differently, and the coaches' job is just to support them and guide them. Carter’s father battled COVID-19 and a couple of family friends died from the disease. Carter hasn’t practiced with the Gators yet this fall but posted an optimistic message on Twitter on Thursday.
  • Quarterback Emory Jones has done a good job of preparing for the season and his comfort and knowledge of the offense has increased, Mullen said. They have a lot of confidence in him. He adds that Trask and Jones sometimes run the same play in different ways, which potentially could make them an effective one-two punch.
  • They're still in their installation phase, so they’re focusing more on player development than the depth chart right now.
  • He said tight end Kyle Pitts is a great weapon who creates mismatches. He can drive smaller defenders back in the running game, and when defenses adjust by putting a bigger player on him, he has the athleticism to take advantage of mismatches in the passing game. That's exactly what the position has become in the NFL.
  • Linebacker David Reese is practicing at multiple spots and is 100 percent healthy following a torn Achilles last fall.
  • Freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson is a little behind right now because of the lack of spring drills, but he's picked things up fast so far. Mullen’s excited for his future.
  • Mullen said his offensive philosophy hasn't changed, but he's always looking to add new wrinkles to his offense by studying what other coaches are doing. He expects the playbook to be about the same size as last year's even without a full offseason.
  • He singled out Jeremiah Moon, Marco Wilson, Ventrell Miller, Pitts and Trask as some of the guys who have stepped up as leaders during this chaotic offseason.
  •  Mohamoud Diabate is a "really athletic guy" who's a great pass-rusher, he said. They're moving him around to different spots to create mismatches. The key is to find out what he does well and put him in those positions.
  • He hasn't decided what would happen if he was unable to coach a game because of the virus. It would depend on the situation.
  • He said the offensive line is "coming along pretty nicely." However, he doesn't know at this point if that says more about them or the defensive front. He thinks their communication and confidence is much improved now that they have experience. Whether that translates to better play remains to be seen.
  • Mullen’s pretty pleased with where his guys are physically, but he admits that they're not quite in as good of shape as they would've been with a complete offseason. This offseason showed him who has the motivation and drive to be great. He's pleased that they have a lot of those guys.
Tags: Player

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