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Florida Football

Mullen: Energy up in practice this week

December 17, 2020
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Florida coach Dan Mullen, Alabama coach Nick Saban and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey met with the media on Thursday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game.

Here are the highlights from Mullen’s portion of the press conference.

  • Saban has done a great job of building the program. They get really good players, and they've put the resources behind it with their facilities and staffing. Their goal is to get on their level and compete with them on a yearly basis.
  • He has competitive players, and each week is a challenge by itself. By Sunday morning, what happened the previous week is irrelevant to them.
  • Earning a spot in this game was a bigger test than this singular game will be. Whether they make this game consistently is how he'll judge the program. They've got a lot of work to do. “Winning on Saturday night doesn't mean we've arrived in any way, shape or form,” Mullen said.
  • Practice has gone pretty good this week. It's been a long season, so it's been a challenge. This is the most energy they've had in practice in a while.
  • Tight end Kyle Pitts has had a great week of practice, and they're hoping he'll be cleared to play. Defensive end Jeremiah Moon and safety Shawn Davis are also working hard to get back out there.
  • It's always important to fluster a quarterback with your front-7. They can't let Mac Jones stand back there all day and get to his fourth or fifth read. They want to get him out of rhythm early in the game.
  • Alabama is very sound schematically on defense. Saban gives you multiple looks up front, has different nickel and dime blitz packages and has a ton of talent.
  • Defensive players are more into football-mode as far as tackling, knowing the scheme, etc. That has allowed defenses such as Alabama's to improve throughout the season, which was something Mullen predicted would happen during the early part of the season.
  • This game is such a big deal. It's the biggest game of the year outside of the playoff. You've got to enjoy the stage and want to play in big moments. His guys do, and that's why they're excited to play in this game.
  • Juggling Early National Signing Day and a championship game “was different.” He talked to one of his friends in the NFL and told him that it'd be like having the draft the week of a playoff game. It's something they were able to adjust to, but he hasn't gotten much sleep this week.
  • They'll continue to shuffle guys around on the offensive line now that they’ve gotten some players back from injury, Mullen said.
  • Only dropping one spot in the College Football Playoff rankings after the LSU loss shows the respect the committee has for this league and the quality of opponents. Other conferences haven't been through a grind like this. A team who's only playing their sixth or seventh game is inherently going to be deeper and fresher than a team in its 10th or 11th game, which can skew the results somewhat.
  • They'll think about their playoff chances on Saturday night after they win. They can only control beating Alabama, and they'll see what happens after then.
  • Alabama has weapons all over the field. They've got to be assignment-sound, have all 11 guys run to the ball and move onto the next play quickly because Alabama will make some plays.
  • “It'd be hard to say that the SEC Champion doesn't [belong in the playoff].” Mullen added that this is their third top-10 matchup of the year.
  • He joked that they're going to put some wishbone stuff in this week. With a bowl game, you have more time to experiment with things that you might incorporate in the future. This is much more of a regular game, so you can expect to see more of what you’ve seen all season.

Mullen: Energy up in practice this week

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