FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
- Behind the Scenes of Florida Football: Part I, Part II & Part III (Free)
- One-on-One: Steve Spurrier talks Florida football, recruiting & SOS’ Gridiron Grille
- Ranking the June official visitors from least to most likely to sign with Florida
- Impact Analysis: Counting down the 10 Transfers
- The Inside Scoop: A behind the scenes look at Nick Evers' Florida official visit
- Florida Football player observations from the first two camp sessions
- The Inside Scoop: Trainer shares observations on nine Florida defensive linemen
- Where are they Now: Shane Matthews talks Florida Football
On Monday afternoon Dan Mullen was the first coach to take the stage to open the 2021 edition of SEC Media Days. After Mullen spoke, Zachary Carter and Ventrell Miller took to the podium discussing the improvements on the defense, the changes to the Name, Image, and Likeness rules, and more.
Here are the highlights from the trio of Gators.
- Mullen began by hinting that both Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson are still in a competition for the starting quarterback position. He emphasized that Jones has a lot of stats and has more experience at the position.
- Mullen talked about the amount of youth in the secondary and the attitude of the defense. He is excited for the mindset that the defense and the leadership they bring to the table.
- He also discussed the progress on the new football complex and how that may be the prime spot for college football. He also bragged about the University of Florida and the Gator's presence in the Olympics.
- Mullen did not get into the specific numbers of vaccinated players, but he did say that the team has a “pretty high number” of vaccinated players. He also praised UF Shands for their work.
- Mullen joked that doesn’t really know what his “bread and butter” is when it comes to play-calling on offense. He added that he’s been all over the place with the quarterback’s style of play. He looks to build on the strengths of his quarterbacks and not try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
- He talked about Jaydon Hill and how he has continued to work to overcome previous injuries. Hill is now going into his third season, so Mullen expects him to jump into a potential starting role this year. He is excited to see the growth and development in not only Hill but in all his players.
- Mohamoud Diabate is a dynamic player according to Mullen. He said that Diabate is a guy who creates good matchups.
- Mullen was asked if it’s harder to win a National Championship now than it was when he was an offensive coordinator, He explained that there are more teams so statistically, it’s harder, but the biggest change is the increase in talent and depth on each team makes it harder to win it all.
- Mullen weighed into the proposed 12-team playoff, saying that he doesn’t really know what he thinks. He said in the long haul that there will be an expansion sometime in the future.
- “It’s a learning curve,” Mullen said regarding the changes in the NIL rules. He thinks it’s great for the players, but they are consistently educating themselves about the law and how to operate the right way.
- Mullen talked about a tweet sent from Emory Jones, while he was still committed to Ohio State, where Jones said he thought that he would end up playing for Mullen. Mullen added that he has high expectations for his quarterbacks. He continued to say that Jones gets the extra benefit of getting to watch a guy like Kyle Trask who wasn’t recruited and didn’t get to play until late in his college career and now is an NFL player.
- The defense was a big talking point last season. Mullen described the defense as erratic. He mentioned that there were games where the defense was spot on and others where it wasn’t. He said the time off and not getting to tackle live players really showed early in the season. But he said when he looks at game-by-game issues you can see what to work on and that there was not one specific wrong thing with the defense.
- He added that Florida is the SEC East Champion when talking about the defense and what it may or may not look like in the upcoming season.
- It is the first time in 10 years that Alabama visits the Swamp is coming up this year. Mullen said it’s exciting. He said these types of games are more exciting for the players and the fans. He would like to do away with having a permanent opponent in the West Division in order to rotate through all the schools over there.
- He talked about Alabama and the program that Nick Saban has built when asked about the Tide coming into Florida and signing five-star prospects. Mullen said he may rate guys differently than others and that plays a role in how many five-star players end up in Florida schools.
Following Mullen was senior defensive end Zachary Carter who wasted no time sharing how excited he is for the first kick-off in the Swamp in a packed house.
- Carter talked about how it was not the same last year. It was a hard year for everybody. “I know Gator Nation was hurting last year,” Carter said expressing his love and excitement for the fans.
- The defense was the hot topic. Carter said this spring was great for the defense. He said the biggest thing about the unit is being close off the field, and that the cohesiveness on the field is much clearer compared to last year.
- Carter and Ventrell Miller both are some of the veterans for the orange and blue. Carter said that creating that culture starts every day. He continued saying that in the off-season they wanted to raise the bar because he didn’t like where they ended last year. He also said that he and Miller are not the only leaders, that players are all stepping up.
- Carter was also asked about his thoughts on the proposed 12 team playoff expansion. “Personally, I was thinking eight,” he said.
- “I’ve seen guys work harder than ever,” Carter added when talking about the chip on their shoulder and the work they have put in during the off-season. He wants people to be surprised when they play.
- Carter talked about the infamous shoe toss against LSU. He simply said people get very passionate about the game and make a mistake sometimes.
- “Honestly, I can’t wait,” Carter said about running out of the tunnel to a roaring crowd. “I think about it every day.”
- Carter will play more interior line this year. He doesn’t like to put a label on where he plays. He said wherever his team needs him he would be.
Senior linebacker Ventrell Miller was the second Florida player to speak with the media.
- Miller said it’s exciting to be back at full capacity, with 90,000 in the Swamp. He’s ready for that electricity in the Swamp.
- He said that he and his team are coming into this season with a chip on their shoulder and that they have something to prove. “Whoever gets in our way, gotta pay,” Miller said with a smile.
- He talked about the crazy LSU game and how it may not have been the best thing. He kept in theme about how he’s excited to prove what Florida has in Baton Rouge this season.
- The defense was a talking point. Miller said that everybody is executing and on the same page.
- “They gotta come to the Swamp this year,” Miller said about facing Alabama again after an emotional and well fought SEC title game in 2020.
- “We plan on shutting people out this year,” Miller added, “That’s the expectation for my defense this year.” Miller also added that this year the games may be lower in score because the plan for Florida’s defense is to shut down every offense.
- Miller joked that Xzavier Henderson has the best dance moves on the team. He continued with the smiles and jokes mentioning that Mullen has the best “shoe game” on the team, and that he has the “most exclusive J’s on the team.”
- He finished things off by talking about the excitement he feels heading back to Death Valley. He described the feeling as “having a bad taste” in his mouth from last year’s loss in the Swamp.