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Florida Football

Mullen Monday: Toney out, Henderson doubtful

September 9, 2019
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Dan Mullen met with the media on Monday afternoon to update injuries, discuss his assessment of the UT Martin win and look ahead to Saturday’s SEC opener at Kentucky.

Here are the highlights.

  • The U.S. News and World Report released its annual rankings of the country’s best public universities on Monday morning. UF checked in at No. 7. Mullen congratulated president Kent Fuchs and joked that the pressure is on the football team to match them. There aren’t too many schools that are top-10 in football and in academics, so it’s special to be a part of UF.
  • He said there are a lot of things they need to improve on. UT Martin presented them with some unique challenges with their 3-3-5 scheme.

  • He said Kentucky is a very talented, experienced and deep team. "They've built a consistent winner." He credits UK's administration for showing patience in Mark Stoops despite some rough seasons at the beginning of his tenure.
  • Kadarius Toney will be out “a couple weeks” with “a shoulder issue,” while CJ Henderson will be doubtful this week with a minor ankle sprain. He said Henderson has been lobbying him to play, but they’re not going to put him out there until he’s 100 percent. He expects Amari Burney and Jeawon Taylor to return from injury this week.
  • As in previous weeks, he said he wants to see a greater sense of urgency and better attention to detail in practice this week. He knows the energy will certainly crank up, but he wants the focus and strain to as well. He wants to see a consistent performance every day.
  • Other than film that they can go back and watch, he said last year’s loss to Kentucky will have no impact on this year’s game.
  • Mullen said Stoops does a good job of mixing up coverage's and pressures to confuse quarterbacks. They’re great at making in-game adjustments and answering everything thrown at them. He said Feleipe Franks needs to do a good job of recognizing the different coverages and taking what the defense gives him instead of forcing things.
  • He said he was in a similar situation as Stoops when he took over at Mississippi State and didn’t inherit a lot of talent. He said Stoops has done a good job of finding under-the-radar recruits and developing them into good players and building the facilities they need to compete. "When you do that, you have a program that can become a consistent winner.
  • They’re going to dig up some film of new UK quarterback Sawyer Smith from his time at Troy, but he expects their offense to still look the same even with a different signal-caller.
  • He didn’t think the coaches did a great job of putting the players in the best situations to be successful against the Wildcats last year. He said the loss taught the coaches a lot about what their players do best, who to play in certain situations, etc. The players learned how hard winning is and that they have to earn everything in practice.
  • Mullen liked how the three freshmen cornerbacks played against UT Martin. He wanted to get them into the game early so they could get reps with the first unit, and they did that.
  • He said he doesn’t have any regret about playing the starters against the Skyhawks and getting them injured because they needed to get some reps, especially since they were coming off a bye week. He thought they did a nice job of rolling guys through.
  • Jacob Copeland is a physical player, but he’s still learning to be an every-down receiver. He’s like Toney in that you can give him the ball in various ways, but that’s also the case with several other wide receivers. They’ll have to tweak a few things without Toney.
  • It’s difficult to watch film of Smith at Troy because he’s playing in a different system with different players. They have to ignore everybody else on the field and just focus on him.

     

  • He said UT Martin’s movements on the defensive line were a bit complex, and he thought his offensive line over-reacted to some of it. There were a lot of minor details that need correcting, such as foot placement and shoulder movement

  • He said the backup quarterbacks did all right on Saturday. They both got some reps with the ones, and they didn't have to "force-feed it." It was good for them to get that experience because they're one snap away from being the starter.
  • Mullen said little details led to the Gators not scoring touchdowns on two possessions and UT Martin gaining five first downs. If they don’t clean those things up, it’s going to hurt them eventually. It all goes back to preparation. He’s fine with a guy on the opposing team breaking three tackles and making a great play, but it’s not acceptable to just give them big plays by being out of position.
  • On the fourth-down play in the first quarter, they completely whiffed on a block and were stopped short. It should’ve been a 15-yard gain, he said.
  • He said it was good to see Malik Davis gain some of his confidence back in a game, and he said Lamical Perine is “one of the best backs out there.”
  • Despite forcing just two turnovers in the first two games, he’s not too concerned about creating turnovers. Instead, he’s focused more on how well they take care of the ball, and that improved in that area from game one to game two.
  • Mullen said there are some distractions that come with playing their first true road game with all of the packing, flights and bus rides involved. “It'll be someone's first time on an airplane." He said they have a pretty good routine, and he's pretty comfortable with it. They just have to get the players in it.
  • He said getting the shutout against the Skyhawks was big for the younger players. Todd Grantham looked over to him once and said, "There's a good chance they're going to score here now." But, the young guys didn't let that happen.

     

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