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Mullen Monday: Gators Entering Biggest Week of the Season

October 14, 2019
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Dan Mullen held his weekly game week press conference on Monday afternoon. He recapped what went wrong in the loss at LSU, previewed the challenge that awaits at South Carolina, detailed Kyle Pitts’ rise to stardom and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • As he did in his postgame press conference on Saturday, he said this is “the biggest game of the year” because they’re coming off two top-10 opponents and it’s an SEC East opponent. They need to maintain their mental and physical toughness in practice.
  • Defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard will both be “game-time decisions” this week, he said. He’s proud of the way his team has handled the adversity of losing a bunch of players to injury this season and still finding ways to win games.
  • He said South Carolina has some good playmakers at the skill positions on offense and singled out Bryan Edwards as being one of the top receivers in the conference. On defense, he said their defensive line is as good as or better than LSU’s front. They have some skilled defensive backs, and Will Muschamp does a good job of mixing up looks.
  • On Emory Jones playing more against LSU, Mullen said part of that had to do with what they saw from the Tigers’ defense on film, and some of it had to do with wanting to take some things off of Kyle Trask’s plate since he was limited in practice a bit last week.
  • When Mullen first got here, the attitude and competitiveness of the quarterbacks stood out to him, he said. They tried to lead by example but weren't big vocal guys. They tried to be out in front of everything, whether it was workouts, meetings or walking to practice. He said that the way Trask played on Saturday night shows his maturity and the preparation he’s put in over the past several years.
  • Gamecocks quarterback Ryan Hilinski injured his knee in their upset of Georgia on Saturday, but Muschamp said he expects him to play against the Gators. Mullen said they are preparing as if he is going to play. He added that they didn’t change their offense much when Dakereon Joyner replaced him, which shows the confidence they have in their depth.
  • He said the five wide receiver sets that they used against LSU were all about creating advantageous matchups. That's basically all they do in the NFL, which is why his former players are able to adapt well at the next level. By spreading the defense out, you can force them to tip their hand and find where your best matchups are.
  • He said he knew Pitts was "something special" as soon as he arrived on campus; it just takes a little bit of time to adjust to the college game sometimes. He made some nice plays last year, but he didn't always know how to run his routes. The time he spent working with the wide receivers in the spring has paid off. "The mismatches he creates is the ability to do both.”
  • Despite not being the most talkative or energetic player on the team, Mullen said Pitts has "a very big competitive side to him."
  • The poor rushing defense wasn’t the result of one major problem; it was a bunch of little things, which shows just how small the margin of error is in big games, he said. Two weeks ago, some of those runs might’ve only gone for four yards. On Saturday, they went for 40.
  • As expected, he said that they had the least number of players who graded out as "Champions" this week. They didn't follow their plan to win.
  • He said he needs to call better plays in the red zone to score touchdowns. They came away with zero points on two red-zone trips in the fourth quarter.
  • He thought they handled the communication well in the loud environment in Death Valley and controlled the tempo of the game. Part of their game plan was to go on some long drives and limit the number of plays LSU could run, and they did just that.
  • They put Jones in at quarterback after LSU went up 35-28 because it was part of their script, and they thought they had some good play-calls for him.
  • They're going to find out if they're better equipped to handle this loss than they did the Georgia loss last year, Mullen said. He's hoping they respond like they did after the Missouri loss.
  • He said they thought they were going to be able to run the ball on LSU, and they did well at times. He thought his players played hard; they just didn't make some plays that they needed to make to win the game.

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Mullen Monday: Gators Entering Biggest Week of the Season

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