Mullen on Monday: Pitts questionable

Nov 9, 2020 | 0 comments

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Dan Mullen held his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon in advance of the No. 6 Gators’ battle with Arkansas this weekend. He updated the status of several players who left the Georgia game with injuries, discussed Feleipe Franks’ return to the Swamp, and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • Tight end Kyle Pitts is questionable with a concussion, Jeremiah Moon is doubtful with a foot injury and offensive lineman Stewart Reese is questionable with a shoulder injury.
  • Feleipe Franks "is a great quarterback." He has a really strong arm, the moments aren't too big for him and he has a great touchdown-to-interception ratio. He expected nothing less from him at his new school.
  • They've put themselves in a great position, but every great team is going to get better from one week to the next. If they don't get better this week, then they shouldn't expect to win. Great teams peek in December or January, not the middle of the season. Their goal this week is to improve.
  • Pitts is a great player, but Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer executed really well against Georgia. They've got to make plays and show what they can do if they’re called on again.
  • First-year Arkansas coach Sam Pittman knows how to win. They play physical in the secondary, have a pair of outstanding linebackers, and run the ball well on offense. Most importantly, he's instilled a winning mindset, and they've been successful with that.
  •  Kyle Trask would rank near the top of the seasons he's ever seen from a quarterback, but he's got to finish the season well to earn that recognition, Mullen said.
  • Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is a good coach and motivator, and he'll have Arkansas ready to play if needed. They're not going to change their personality or mindset as a team without Pittman, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and may not be with the team this weekend.
  • The Gators celebrated the Georgia win for maybe 16 hours, and then they moved on to the next game. Their goal wasn't to just beat Georgia this season; they want to win championships. That's been the discussion within the team, and they need to improve this week for that to happen.
  • Trask has a huge challenge this week against one of the best pass defenses in the league. Mullen thinks he's done a good job of taking what the defense gives him. The running backs against UGA's linebackers were their best matchups, and he took advantage of that for the most part. He did miss a couple of reads, however.
  • Regarding the second-half offensive struggles, he said every game plays out differently, and a lot has to do with second-half strategies. They wanted to control the clock and the tempo in the second half against UGA.
  • He knows Franks wants to come in here and beat everybody's butts, but that's not going to change their relationship with each other. He's happy for him. He's having a great season, and he wants to "beat his butt on Saturday." This dynamic will be a huge motivation for both teams. Franks had a rough go of it with the fan base before Mullen got here, and he helped turn around the program to a New Year's Six bowl winner. He helped set the foundation.
  • Gamble has continued to work and develop within the program. Mullen tells players that you don't have to be a freakish talent like Pitts, but Gamble’s done a good job of working. Mullen doesn't know if he would've been able to fill in like he did against Georgia last season. He was ready to go in and immediately scored a touchdown. That will be a confidence builder for him.
  • The Gators didn't get it done in their one opportunity in a close game in the fourth quarter. He does think they have the confidence within the team in all three phases in that situation, though. He thinks they have to get better on special teams.
  • Mullen talked to Franks a couple of weeks ago, and Franks texts his wife more than he does him. He's a guy who went through a lot here and knows everybody at UF believes in him. Franks was the first one to send his wife a Happy Mother's Day text last year.
  • Freshman offensive lineman Josh Braun has taken advantage of some opportunities this season. He prepares the right way and is very intelligent. When his number was called when Reese went down, he was ready to go play. He thinks the offensive line is the hardest position to play as a true freshman.
  • The offensive staff tries to figure out how to create mismatches and attack defenses, and every defense is different, Mullen said. That's why you saw them call wheel routes over and over against Georgia and the same route concept 10 or more times against Ole Miss.
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