FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
- Inside the Gators: Mock Signing Class 4.0
- Saturday Cookout Insider Recruiting Notebook
- ITG Recruiting Intel: Updates on Nolen, Thomas, Wilson and many more
- The Inside Scoop: The latest on 2021 signee Sapp
- Anonymous Player Q&A I: A behind-the-scenes look at Florida Football
- 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
Florida held its Football Media Day on Thursday before the beginning of fall practice on Friday. Dan Mullen was up first followed by several Gators players.
Here are the highlights from the day.
- He’s excited to get the season going and play some football. He discussed the transition from prepping to just going out playing. They’re ready to kick it off and Mullen hopes the stadium can be where they want it to be and feel the energy.
- Not sure if they notice the “lack of love” when it comes to preseason publicity. Mullen said he doesn’t pay attention to media coverage. He thinks the team has a chip on its shoulder just by how they are.
- On Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC: Look at the tradition of the schools in the SEC academically, athletically, and the number of titles. It’s pretty special. They’re two strong academic schools with big-time football programs and passionate fans. They fit with what the SEC’s all about. It’s another step in the direction of how much change Mullen thinks college football will undergo.
- There are similarities in personalities, approach, development, and maturity going into the season between Emory Jones and Kyle Trask. Jones learned an awful lot from someone who most people wouldn’t have known the name of two years ago in Trask.
- Mullen said it’s above his pay grade to make approximations on if they’ll have a packed house. He noted the high percentage of the organization is vaccinated. They have a better understanding of more at-risk situations versus less.
- Mullen on recruiting players and adjusting to their strengths and weaknesses: The spring helps the guys who’ve played get better, those who didn’t you can learn where to put them to succeed.
- The first time he saw Jones, he saw someone who has elite arm talent and the ball jumps out of his hands. Plus, the ability athletically to make plays with his legs. There are a lot of things you can teach and some that are harder. Mullen said he knows guys so intricately that he finds it hard to compare his quarterbacks to each other from over the years.
- Griffin McDowell is making the transition from the offensive line to the defensive line.
- On Garrick McGee: Mullen has known him for a long time. They go way back and always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. You know someone as a person but it’s also about what’s on tape. Was happy to get him on as an analyst and he got to know him better. Was fortunate to have him in Gainesville when the quarterback coaching job opened up. That time spent as an analyst helped answer some questions he might’ve had if he was coming from somewhere else.
- On Demarkcus Bowman: We’ll see. Looked good in spring but have to see how he picks things up. It hurts missing time because you’re behind the learning curve and miss a lot of installation.
- Mullen said that fans are going to see Anthony Richardson on the field this season. He’s a weapon with the ball in his hands.
- He’s happy with the experience the transfers brought in. He spoke with them about not just coming in to play but also being leadership guys.
- Mullen expects Brenton Cox Jr. to be back for camp. Not sure if he’ll go full 100 percent on day one. He expects big things out of him this year. Tremendous respect for him because of how highly touted he was and people had questions about him. Cox handles his business in the locker room and classroom. It shows a lot of the character he has what he did when he sat out.
- Certainly hopes the team is more physical especially on the defensive side of the ball. He doesn’t know if they tried to be physical on offense last year because of the offense they ran. That might’ve trickled into the defense.
- Pierce said he’s not affected by all the love Georgia’s received in the offseason. “We’re going to have to play them eventually so I guess we’ll see when we play them.” It doesn’t bother him in terms of publicity discrepancy, “I just feel everyone doesn’t like the Gators and that’s fine.”
- The difference in the 2021 offseason: The team approach wasn’t really different. At some point you have to rebuild. In OU game they were trying to get some people’s feet wet for the offseason. And going to Atlanta was definitely was a driving force in the offseason.
- Hearing the offense might go to more two-back sets has Pierce excited. “That means we may have more plays drawn up,” he said with a laugh.
- Pierce said with fewer carries the 2020 season gave him an opportunity to get better at route running and pass protection.
- On the running backs rotating: “You can’t break 80 yards with dead legs so I’m fine with being fresh when I go out there.”
- It makes a big difference having an offense full of players Mullen recruited and wanted in the offense. It opens the playbook and allows them to be more creative. “We’re trying to make some plays this year.”
- Pierce breaks down the running back room again: He’s the bruiser and likes to run through people. Malik Davis likes to be out in the open field and pass packages. Nay’Quan Wright’s the Swiss Army knife. Lorenzo Lingard and Demarkcus Bowman are top-end speed guys, nobody is catching them if they get a step on someone.
- On team physicality: He’s seen the offensive line put in a lot of work to get where they are now. A lot of people talked smack about them last year and they responded by putting in the work. He’s seen guys lose their “pudge” getting in shape. They’re more cohesive too.
- Pierce on Desmond Watson: “That’s a big boy.” Not just width-wise but height. They’re working him every day and he’ll be a monster if he goes through the same transformation as Ethan White.
- The Gators aren’t trying to replace Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Pitts but rather bringing in a brand-new crop of wideouts. They’re young but hungry to be a big-time group. Nobody’s selfish and spring ball made everyone closer.
- This offseason everyone has 100 percent plugged in and invested during spring practice. Take the OU game and throw it in the trash.
- A lot of players are focused on the season. There’s not much about name, image and likeness because winning is more special in his mind.
- On his transfer: It meant everything to him. His journey changed his mindset a lot. He’s a big believer in putting in the work. During the pandemic, Shorter went out and ran routes during the spring. It wasn’t much of an issue for him getting adjusted.
- The big thing for the wide receivers was just about working on timing with both Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. They spent hours throwing just to get it down. Catching the ball is catching the ball. It could be his mom throwing to him, it doesn’t matter.
- Shorter agrees with Pierce on his assessment of Jones. He definitely likes to throw it more than people think.
- Spring and summer are really important because it’s time he can use to lean up. Not having it in 2020 impacted him negatively. So, this year he had the opportunity to get into the shape he expects himself to be in for the season. His weight estimation is about 340 to 345 pounds compared to 360 last year. It really had a toll on his body with conditioning and missing three weeks too in 2020.
- His process to getting shape: Discipline in eating. He lacked in coming in last year and it took a toll on him. He lost two weeks due to COVID and gained 17 pounds then had to work his way down. Being able to actually work out and eat right in combination helped him lean up. The offensive linemen push each other because they’re the ones who struggle the most maintaining physique.
- On the standalone facility: It’ll make a huge difference. “Who doesn’t like new toys?” Other times they don’t build things for big people so being involved in it was great.
- The offensive line’s job doesn’t change with a different style of offense possibly coming. They still have to be ready for both because it changes game-to-game.
- The SEC title game gave everyone a taste of if they handle their business, they can put themselves in a position to play for an SEC and maybe a national championship. He told the young guys it’s a small taste of what the future may hold if they keep doing what they’re supposed to do.
- “I think we’re going to be nasty,” Moon said on the front seven. Them having a spring and so many guys come back, he thinks they’ll be pretty good.
- Moon knows Florida’s defense can get back to how it was prior to 2020. Last year they just didn’t put it all together whether it was tackling or a lot of other things. This year is a new mindset.
- Moon said he feels great health-wise. It’s all in the past and he’s ready to go. His role last year was to encourage and be a motivator, especially for the young guys. That remains true this year.
- “He’s massive,” Moon on Desmond Watson. Praised him for putting in the work to get himself ready and where he needs to be. He’s pretty light on his feet for a big man too.
- Moon felt like he left a lot of stuff out there when he was deciding to come back. He’s just glad things are back to normal. He’s trying to show his versatility and leadership in 2021. He has no preference whether it’s outside or inside linebacker.
- “I want that, I like that. I want teams to come at me that’s what I’ve been working for,” Hill on teams keying on him to avoid Kaiir Elam.
- He takes it as a challenge now that he’s depended on as a starter rather than a role player. When Hill got to UF, he couldn’t even draw up a play outside of cover three or label a diagram of an offense. His game progressed in terms of applying the meeting room to the field.
- Jules Montinar’s helped him a lot and constantly preaches “ball production.” It’s something a DB can take up and add to their game.
- On the wideouts: “All those boys can go.” All of them are capable of being “that guy” this year.
- On the front seven: One of the biggest improvements of the defense. They’re going to shock a lot of people. Them playing well makes the secondary’s job a whole lot easier.
- Ventrell Miller is a leader, the alpha male. Passionate about the game and expects a lot out of everyone from scholarship to walk-on players.
- Early impressions of Jadarrius Perkins: great athlete with good size and good speed. He’s a great player.
- Where he feels most comfortable and most effective: He feels he can play any position and will go wherever he’s needed. “I play everywhere,” he said when asked for a specific position.
- On the offseason and energy: “Same goal just a different year.” The goals are always to win the East, win the SEC and the rest is history. No focusing on the past just do the little things right and it’ll handle itself.
- The whole secondary is a great unit and there isn’t any doubt in his mind they can be the best secondary in the country. It just comes down to buying in what the coaches are preaching. They used the spring to come together and create a stronger bond.
- “If y’all think Emory Jones is not going to throw the ball, that’s a mistake. He has the ability to use his legs, his legs are an addition to his arm. His arm can be very good. I think if people are not thinking that, I guess we’ll just have to show them this year coming up.”
- It’s a lot for the defense to be full of players Todd Grantham felt can fit the defensive scheme. Reiterates he thinks Grantham is the best defensive coordinator he played for.