Mullen Monday: Gators equipped to handle an eventful two weeks

Dec 7, 2020 | 0 comments

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Dan Mullen met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview the LSU game, update injuries, discuss the running game’s struggles against Tennessee, and more. 

Here are the highlights. 

  • They're hoping to get receiver Trent Whittemore back this week after he’s missed the last three games with a broken rib and a punctured lung. Safeties Shawn Davis and Rashad Torrence will be questionable. Defensive end Jeremiah Moon will hopefully be back next week.
  • Their main focus is beating LSU right now, but there's some extra stuff going on with Senior Night, National Signing Day, final exams and the SEC Championship Game coming up. It will be another unique challenge this year, but he thinks their staff and players are equipped to handle it.
  • They have to execute better offensively. They had three possessions that began in plus-territory that ended with zero points. Their goal is to score 100 percent of the time in those situations. There are a lot of things that go into it. He thinks they can play a lot better than they have, but they've done the little things they've needed to in order to win. Defensively, they're giving up touchdowns at the end of games that they shouldn't be giving up.
  • They missed a couple of blocks in the running game against Tennessee, but Tennessee was giving them the pass, so that's what they did.
  • Mullen said they have great athletes on the edge defensively, and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham does a good job of putting them in position to make sacks. Their offensive success has also forced opposing offenses to change what they do, and they've taken advantage of it.
  • The 2018 LSU game was a tough, physical battle, and they made big plays on both sides of the ball when they needed to. That was a huge boost to his players' confidence in what they were building.
  • LSU can score points in a hurry but is very young. They have a lot of talent and some mismatches at the skill positions on offense. They can cover on the back end and are physical upfront. All of the different changes they've gone through personnel-wise have caused them to be up and down, but they've had some games where they've dominated teams. They're a dangerous team because of the weapons they have all over the field.
  • Their goal is to compete for championships, and they expect the Swamp to be the toughest environment in college football. That game in 2018 reminded him of what the Swamp was like in the national championship years. That's what they expect moving forward.
  • They didn't try to run the ball much against Tennessee, Mullen said. He thinks they could find a way to do it and grind games out if they wanted to, but that doesn't match what their personnel does best. If they ran it 40 times and didn't have much success, then he would be concerned.
  • Spreading the ball around is one of the most important parts of playing quarterback. They have a lot of confidence in Kyle Trask's decision-making and his understanding of what defenses are trying to take away.
  • If you want to be a championship team, you've got to get better from one week to the next and not regress. That will be the same message next week as well. They need to play with more effort, be more efficient on offense, make more big plays on defense and prepare better in practice this week than they did last week.
  • Kadarius Toney has always been a dynamic playmaker, but he's improved at his understanding of how to run routes. He has a lot of freedom of how to win versus different coverages, more so than other positions, and he's used his freedom to become a complete receiver.
  • Not having any long-term injuries this year has helped, but he doesn’t think they’ve had 70 scholarship players available for a game yet. They've had a bunch of minor injuries, and that's just part of the game.
  • Kyle Pitts is a big guy who is an athlete in the open field, so defenses have to throw everything they have at him to try to get him on the ground. He's done a good job of being a physical player and absorbing some hard hits.
  • The seniors faced some tough circumstances after the coaching change. They bought in, and the success they've had over the last three years is evidence of that. Now they get rewarded by getting a chance to compete for a championship.
  • They've had their advanced scouting people working on Alabama for a while now, so they'll be ready to jump in on that game prep on Sunday.
  • Mullen’s already met with some of his players who are considering leaving early. He just hopes they listen to the right people and use the right information to make their decisions. When guys make their decisions the right way, they usually have a lot of success.

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