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Mullen: Gators preparing for final scrimmage

September 4, 2020
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Dan Mullen met with the media on Friday night to preview the team’s final scrimmage of the fall on Monday night, update the team’s virus testing results, discuss a bizarre new NCAA rule and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • Mullen said the team just completed another round of testing, and all of them came back negative. He credited his team for doing a good job with students back on campus.
  • He joked that he didn't realize until Friday morning that Saturday should've been game day. He’s depressed because he should be at the Hilton hotel getting ready to play Eastern Washington.
  • He thinks they've had a great practice schedule so far and gotten a lot done through the first three weeks. The coaches and players have done a good job of adjusting to the added off days.
  • They've gotten through their all of their installations and are on to game-specific situations. "I'm worried about everything, to be honest with you." He said there's a chance you'll see some sloppy football early this season because after Monday's scrimmage, they'll have tackled twice in nine months. He added that tackling and special teams are key focuses right now.
  • Mullen said the scrimmage will be the final one before the season and will feature live-tackling. He thinks having 18 days between the scrimmage and the first game will give them time to get healthy. They’ve planned fall camp under the assumption that any injuries incurred in the final scrimmage will take two weeks to heal, which would have those players back for the start of the first game week.
  • Having a limited crowd will feel "awkward" and feel more like a scrimmage than a game, he said. He'll talk to some NFL players to get their feedback after their first week of games. The challenge is to mentally prepare the players to the point where it still feels like game day instead of a scrimmage.
  • He said they're allowed to pump in crowd noise up until the center goes over the ball just like always. That noise can be synthetic crowd noise, music, cowbells, etc. He said he fought long and hard to get the SEC to pass that rule so Mississippi State fans could ring cowbells during their home games.
  • Mullen, however, if not a fan of a new rule put in place by the NCAA this season that requires players’ jersey numbers to be visible 90 minutes before kickoff. Mullen’s two Florida teams and his past few teams at Mississippi State warmed up in T-shirts that made it extremely difficult to identify players from the press box. Mullen cited players’ comfort as their reason for doing so in the past, but not allowing opposing teams to identify players on the injury report was probably the main reason. He said they’ll comply with the NCAA rule – he referred to it as the “Dan Mullen Rule” – and put numbers on the back of their T-shirts. He called the rule “horrendously ridiculous.”
  • A reporter asked him who reported them for not having their jersey numbers visible in warmups and pushed for the creation of this rule. Mullen responded, "Who do you think?”. The reporter answered, "Georgia?". Mullen said, "You said it, not me."
  • He was asked how many players a team would need to have healthy at different positions for a game to not be postponed, something the SEC still hasn’t ruled on. He said he's worried about gamesmanship, as some teams might try to use injuries as an excuse to postpone games instead of purely using positive virus tests. His solution is to identify the number of players you need to play a game as a league and give everybody one postponement. Any cancelations after that will result in a forfeit. He thinks that would solve the gamesmanship problem and not punish the team that's doing everything right.
  • He's looking for cleaner execution and ball security in Monday's scrimmage.
  • The offensive line is "doing a lot better than we did,” but he wouldn’t reveal who would be the starters as of now.
  • They're going to play multiple running backs again this year, but he doesn't know who will take the first snap.
  • Former Florida receiver Van Jefferson has shined in training camp with the Los Angeles Rams and has received some first-team reps due to an injury. Mullen said it's great to hear that Jefferson is doing well, but he's not surprised because of his intelligence, work ethic and route-running abilities. He can run the same route five or six different ways to throw off the defense. He's talked to Jefferson, and another thing that's working for him is the offense is basically the same as he ran at UF but with different terminology.
  • The virus testing numbers "are really encouraging." He said it shows their commitment to be a great football team and how seriously they take everything. Being successful is a long-term thing. Hopefully, they continue to be smart and stay on the path they're on.
  • The fact that they haven't had a positive test since early July has given the players an increased comfort level. That comfort and the respect and trust they have for each other has helped lead to not having any players opt-out.
  • Mullen said the last time he coached with a crowd of 17,000 as a home team was probably his last game at Bowling Green versus Eastern Michigan in 2002, not counting spring games at Utah.

Mullen: Gators preparing for final scrimmage

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