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Florida Football

Mullen: Gators improving but have “a long way to go”

September 8, 2020
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Dan Mullen met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to recap the Gators’ final scrimmage before the season, update the progress of some of the freshmen, assess quarterback Kyle Trask’s progress, and more.

Here are the highlights.

  • Monday night’s scrimmage went well, but they still have “a long way to go.” Mullen’s still seeing some sloppiness that results from the long layoff. He's excited about how they're improving, but he'd like to be further along. He really likes the effort his guys are playing with.
  • They’ve been “pretty physical up to this point,” he said. They’ll scale back practice a bit over the next two weeks. The goal is to allow the players to recover after the scrimmage, get healthy for the Ole Miss game, and make up some of the strength and conditioning workouts that they missed out on this summer.
  • The next couple of weeks are going to be a “big mental grind” to get ready to play. He'll reach out to some NFL coaches and other college coaches that have already played to see how they've handled the oddities surrounding this season.
  • There "was better football played" in this scrimmage than the first one, Mullen said. It was cleaner, but there were still little mental errors made. It was more consistent than the first scrimmage but not consistent enough for an SEC game.
  • During a normal fall camp, they give the players one day off per week and spend two hours of that off day watching film. This year, the SEC has limited them to 20 hours of football activity per week, the same that they’re allowed during game weeks. Walkthroughs and post-practice film sessions have been eliminated. He estimated that they lost maybe half of what they would normally do during fall camp.
  • They "got a couple guys banged up" in the scrimmage, but he wouldn’t divulge names. He wants to see who's able to go after this lighter week of practice.
  • Despite reports that sophomore Ethan White is working with the first team at center, Mullen said he still hasn't decided who's going to start at center. He's more focused on creating depth and the best combinations than he is who takes the first snap.

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  • He said Kadarius Toney has “taken such a huge step forward in becoming a wide receiver for us." He'll still be a player that they feed the ball to in different ways, but he thinks becoming a more complete receiver will take him to the next level.
  • Texas transfer receiver Jordan Pouncey has dealt with some injuries and is a little behind the other receivers. They still haven't heard from the NCAA on the status of his eligibility waiver.
  • He thought they would be a run-heavy team last year, but that obviously flipped as the season went on. Their plan is to be 50-50 this year, but they'll be flexible and adjust as needed. They’re not going to try to mash a square peg into a round hole.
  • They have about 15 guys in the mix at the return spots, but he wouldn’t mention any names.
  • Mullen’s really pleased with the freshmen defensive linemen. He's really excited about their skill level, but they're still trying to catch up because of the lost time this offseason. He mentioned Jaelin Humphries, Jalen Lee, Gervon Dexter, Antwaun Powell, and Princely Umanmielen as standouts.
  • He's seeing improvement from guys that he's expecting to step up and create depth, and he's pleased at where they are depth-wise. They're trying to get as many guys ready to play as possible, and that could be a huge advantage for them this season with players possibly having to miss games because of positive virus tests or through contact tracing.
  • Freshman Tre'Vez Johnson is playing STAR right now. He played hard in the scrimmage but is still learning the techniques of the position and the defensive scheme. One of the things that makes him unique at the position is that he plays extremely physical but has coverage skills comparable to that of a cornerback. He fit the physical traits they looked for when they watched his high school film.
  • Trask didn't have his best day on Monday. He received a little larger workload than he did in the first scrimmage and wasn't quite as crisp. They're going to simplify things in the coming weeks once they get into specific game plans, and he expects that to help him. Trask has improved his speed in decision-making. He sits in on game plan meetings and will have input in the game plan because of his experience. He also enjoys a lot of freedom at the line of scrimmage.
  • As they did in the first scrimmage, they held out tight end Kyle Pitts again. Mullen said they know what they have in him, and they're trying to create depth at that position. He added that Pitts has participated in every practice except the two scrimmages.
  • In Pitts’ place, Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer have gotten a lot of reps. Gamble “did a good job” in the scrimmages, and Mullen wants to see them both continue to develop.

Mullen: Gators improving but have “a long way to go”

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