Mullen: Gators have potential to “be a championship team”

Aug 27, 2020 | 0 comments

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Dan Mullen spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon about his team’s response to the social justice protests that have taken over the sports world over the past two days, the benefits of having two experienced quarterbacks, and what he’s looking for in the team’s first scrimmage on Friday.

Here are the highlights.

  • They've talked about recent social justice issues with the team, including after practice on Thursday, he said. He said it’s a shame when you look at how a football team operates and the respect everybody has for each other. The players don't care what color you are, where you're from or your socioeconomic background. All they care about is how hard you work. “A lot of people get very emotional about a lot of things that go on. I think it's really important for people to educate themselves. There's a lot of ignorant people in the world." He added that the key is to educate those ignorant people.
  • They encourage their players to use their platform to help people better understand things, he said. The key is to learn about other people's backgrounds instead of relying on assumptions. "Change is uncomfortable for a lot of people," but it's necessary for growth. He's become more educated over the past few months and changed his opinions on a few things.
  • One thing Mullen’s learned over the past few months is why activists insist on using the phrase “Black lives matter” instead of the more generic “All lives matter.” He equated it to the Boston Marathon bombing. After that attack, T-shirts were made that said “Boston Strong.” They didn’t say “Everybody Strong.” Mullen believes that the phrase “Black lives matter” isn’t meant to dismiss everybody else as unimportant but rather to raise awareness to specific obstacles that Black people face.
  • As part of a nationwide protest following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the NBA postponed all of its playoff games on Wednesday, and three MLB games were also postponed. Several NFL and college football teams joined the movement by canceling practice on Thursday. Mullen said the Gators didn't discuss boycotting practice. "Our guys love playing football." They try to keep football separate from everything else. "I've always felt the football field's a very safe place."
  • "We have the potential to compete for a championship and be a championship team,” he said. However, he added that there are a lot of things that need to happen for them to have a chance.
  • He said they've been able to install the offense pretty quickly this fall because of the experience in the quarterback room. Because they have experienced quarterbacks, they were able to get stuff done through Zoom over the summer, as experienced signal-callers don't require as much physical demonstration as younger guys.
  •  Mohamoud Diabate joining the team as a Muslim was very educational for people last year, he said. He likened it to when he coached at Utah, which has sizable Mormon and Polynesian communities. "I really enjoy learning about different people."
  • He said last year's team was a perfect example of a team's personality evolving as the season went on. They're still forging their identity for this team. While they have an idea of who they’ll be able to count on, they will continue to have questions until they face another team.
  • Mullen said their practices are starting to look "more normal," and he's interested to see what the tackling and ball security look like in the first scrimmage on Friday. This is their first live football they've played since December, so they might have to work through some sloppiness. He expects to run about 130 offensive plays.
  •  Dante Lang has moved to defensive end from tight end. He's the only player to flip sides of the ball.
  • He doesn't plan to change the way they do scrimmages with the lingering threat of the virus during the season. He's more concerned with injuries as they take players to the ground for the first time. He notes that it's usually the "innocent bystander" who gets hurt and not the players making the tackle or being tackled. He won't have the quarterbacks live this year. He usually only does that if they don't have a lot of experience.
  • Quarterback Anthony Richardson is a "really good young guy" who doesn't get flustered, he said. He's picking up some things fast; others not so much.
  • In addition to Kadarius Toney and Jacob Copeland, Rick Wells, Trent Whittemore and Jordan Pouncey are some of the guys playing in the slot.
  • Mullen said they did their offseason research on Kentucky and Tennessee since they were originally the first two conference games on the schedule. Now, they’re the last two games of the regular season. They’ll have to start their research on Ole Miss soon. He said a lot of the league’s coaches would've probably appreciated if they had kept those first couple of games in order.
  • They're working on "graduate level" stuff with Kyle Trask this fall. They're focusing on speeding up his decisions and checking plays at the line for them. They want him to be the field general for them and get them into the right plays.
Tags: Player

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