Players not overlooking season opening opponent

Aug 27, 2018 | 0 comments

From Big 10 to Big South: Gators’ not overlooking season opener opponent 

Everyone remembers the excitement when Michigan and Florida were announced to kick off the 2017 season in Jerry’s World. Juices were flowing, and each team had an opportunity to determine the direction of their season in game one. 

Now, in 2018, Dan Mullen is five days away from coaching his first game as the head man of the Florida Gators. The Gators’ opponent isn’t well known in the college football world, as they face the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.  

However, wide receiver Josh Hammond mentioned the excitement level will still be high as the Gators haven’t faced an opponent since last November. 

"I think we'll still get geeked for this game as well. Just to go out in The Swamp and play on Saturday is something we've been waiting for for a long time. We haven't had a game since November, so just a chance to go out and compete on Saturday is really exciting, it's easy to get up for.” 

“You're at home against not a Power Five conference team, and we're just looking to get things rolling and get the offense going, try and get the defense going. Try and get off on a good start and start the season off on a good note." 

This matchup is familiar for Mullen and his coaching staff. Last season, Mississippi State opened against Charleston Southern, winning that game 49-0. The Bulldogs were able to limit the Bucs to two first downs and 33-yards on offense in the blowout victory. 

"Interesting deal getting to play Charleston Southern. Second year in a row opening up with them for me, as a staff, not the team here but for our coaching staff. So, it's a different, it's a unique deal. I think both teams, a lot of the like, for their guys have gone against our offense and our defense, so they probably have a little bit more experience. But when you're watching the film you get to see how they played us on both sides of the ball last year and the kicking game. It'll be an interesting little deal for us of that, of a little bit of familiarity within the coaching staffs. Not really the players, but the coaching staff,” Mullen said on Monday. 

Despite opening up against a team in the Big South Conference, coach Mullen and his Gators aren’t overlooking the Bucs.  

“They can cause problems and issues for you. This is a team, they’re going to come in and this is a great opportunity for them coming in here to go prove themselves against a team a lot of their guys weren’t recruited to come to Florida. This is their shot to go show what they can do. It’s a lot about mental focus and us really playing to our level this week,” said Mullen. 

Under second year head coach Mark Tucker, the Buccaneers offensive scheme revolves around the triple option attack and fans certainly remember the last time a triple option team entered The Swamp. 

A huge advantage for the Bucs is the unfamiliarly for the Gators players not facing a triple option scheme in the SEC. Blocking personnel can set the tone in this offense and nine of the 10 Buccaneers offensive linemen are in their fourth or fifth years. 

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson weighed his thoughts on the Bucs coming to Gainesville.  

“Going against Charleston Southern, it’s a different approach, you know triple option team, something you’re not gonna see in the SEC really and this is, you gotta be more dialed in than any other teams because you don’t know what can happen. They’re coming in trying to sling, throw throws and put up as many points, same thing we’re trying to do so you gotta expect anything is possible.” 

The preparation doesn’t change due to the opponent on the Gators schedule. Florida’s not overlooking any team on the schedule following an abysmal 2017 season.  

“Nobody wanna go 4-8. We ready to get out there and be able to—hard work we put in with Coach Mullen I feel like it’s gonna pay off and [all the coaching we bought into, new system and everything else we worked on, went over this camp.]”  

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