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Mullen Monday: Gators Confident in Trask and Jones

September 16, 2019
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Florida-Tennessee is one of the most storied rivalries in the SEC. It’s Florida’s home conference opener and a chance for Tennessee (1-2) to turn their season around.

You wouldn’t know it from the questions asked at Dan Mullen’s Monday press conference. He was asked just one question about Tennessee at the very end. The other 30 minutes largely centered around Florida’s new quarterback tandem of Kyle Trask and Emory Jones.

Here are the highlights.

  • He said it was great to get the win over a good Kentucky team with a great home-field advantage. There are a lot of small things that they need to clean up because the margin for error in conference games is very small.
  • He challenged Gators fans to not just sellout the Swamp on Saturday but to pack it as well.
  • Injuries: Feleipe Franks is out for the year with a dislocated ankle, Amari Burney “should be back,” CJ Henderson and Jabari Zuniga are “on the edge” and won’t practice much this week and Jonathan Greenard is “good to go” despite wearing a boot after the game.
  • He said Franks will have surgery next Monday and should be back in six months. "It's a tragic deal to happen to anybody." He added that he saw the huge strides he made over the offseason, which makes it even more tragic. Franks was in the team meeting Monday morning and was as positive as you could expect given the circumstances.
  • Mullen said the offense won’t change much without Franks. He expects both Trask and Jones to play because they bring different things to the table. He said they went from having two experienced backups to two inexperienced starters, so he wants to get them both reps.
  • "If he looks nervous, then we'll let Emory play the first play," Mullen joked about Trask not starting since his freshman season of high school.
  • He credited Trask for always working hard and not transferring. He asked him after last season if they needed to do anything to help him transfer, and he chose to stay. He loves the program and waited for his time. "He's kind of a throwback."
  • He said Franks' injury is the same exact one that Nick Fitzgerald suffered in his final game at Mississippi State. In 2013, he had three different starting quarterbacks due to injury. "It's not a problem you want to be dealing with."
  • Mullen said quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson does a great job of making sure all of the guys get reps with the ones in practice. He said those reps have prepared them for this moment; they don't have to panic and get them a ton of reps this week. He said that the hardest adjustment for them is going to be the responsibility that comes with the role, such as speaking to the media and being scrutinized by fans.
  • He said they put a lot of responsibility on all of the quarterbacks to lead in every aspect of the program and not just the starter. "All the quarterbacks in our room have that." He added that you have to use your own style to lead. "The worst thing you can do is try to lead in a style that's not your own."
  • He was asked if playing Trask and Jones could be similar to playing Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in 2006. He said Jones is “much further along” than Tebow was as a freshman, so it’s not really the same.
  • He declined to say much about Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel’s alleged attempt to twist Trask’s ankle. He only said that it is something for the league office to address.

  • "There's a confidence in them to expect to win games," he said of the team's ability to pull out two close games. He added that Saturday's game was a mirror image of the 2018 UK game, but they made the plays this year.
  • Mullen said it will be "a unique challenge" to learn what Trask and Jones do best in games and how defenses will react to them. He said they might have both of them on the field at the same time. They've done a good job of preparing and going through their reads in practice even when they didn't think they were going to play.
  • One of the benefits of playing two quarterbacks is that he can tell the guy on the sideline what the play is and what look he expects before sending him in.
  • He said he sits down with every player to discuss their grades, what areas they need to improve in and where their head's at with the program each off-season. The worst thing that could happen is a player like Trask leaving unexpectedly and leaving them with only one scholarship backup.
  • He said Trask is a big, physical guy who’s competitive and not afraid to run the ball. He's comfortable moving around in the pocket.
  • Mullen said the downside of playing two quarterbacks is the outside perception and the two guys possibly getting caught up in it. He said you have to have a big ego to survive at this level; it's just a matter of balancing egos. "As long as they're on the same page, we're good."
  • He said that Trask throws a nice ball, has good balance and good fundamentals. He said the adjustment for him has more to do with processing information than throwing, and that'll be an emphasis.
  • He said that Trask hasn't had to be a vocal leader before or command a huddle. The good news for him is that he has a veteran receiver group and a veteran running back to help carry the load.
  • He said Lamical Perine hasn't gotten frustrated despite the lack of production in the running game. One of the reasons he came back for his senior year was to improve his pass-catching abilities, and he's done that. He's second on the team in receptions. "We've thrown it pretty darn well this year."
  • He said teams are loading the box to stop the run with different looks to confuse the offensive line. He added that Perine should've cut back inside on a screen pass on Saturday to gain more yards.
  • On Georgia transfer Brenton Cox’s status: "The NCAA doesn't usually share timelines with us."
  • On the pitch play from Trask to Perine for a score against Kentucky, Mullen said Trask knew that the linebacker was the edge of the defense, so he pitched it to Perine. That was a great job by Trask of knowing where the defense was positioned.
  • He said they were planning on playing Jones in the second half even before Franks got hurt, but they had their most success moving the ball with drop-back passing, which fit Trask's skillset better.
  • Mullen said Tennessee has a lot of talented players, and that BYU loss doesn't look as bad now after BYU beat USC. It's going to be a huge challenge. They have explosive skill players and fast defensive players.

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Mullen Monday: Gators Confident in Trask and Jones

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