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Casey: Repetition is key - practice will make perfect under Mullen

May 28, 2018
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It’s a moment that exists in the echelon of great Gator moments. Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow took a snap from the 1-yard line as tight end Tate Casey sprung from the line and cut through the LSU defense. Tebow rushed forward then, he jumped. A double clutch let loose what can kindly be called a duck that landed in the hands of Casey for a touchdown.

The pass has lived on as legend, the birth of a new era. Every part of it seemed to lend itself to luck and a rely on the instinctive abilities of it’s participating athletes.

Luck however had little to do with the outcome.

“I can’t tell you how many times we did that after practice just me, Mullen and Tebow just repping it, repping it, repping it. And of course we knew it was gonna come up,” says Casey.

That preparation, that repetition, is what Casey says made the difference with Dan Mullen as an offensive coordinator and what will make the difference for the Florida Gators with Mullen as the head coach.

“He knows what he wants this team to be and he know what the mentality has to be to win championships. He knows the mental toughness aspect of it.”
- Tate Casey on Dan Mullen

“There was a couple of different plays throughout my career I just recall and say ‘man we repped and repped and repped and repped over and over and over and over again’ and you knew it was coming. And just looking at the defense, to be on the sidelines or to be on the field, just looking at the defense and you knew it was gonna hit.

“The offseason is so, so vital to that kind of success because you rep it over and over again, you get the timing down and have everything right in place and now all it is to do is actually execute it. So when all 11 guys do their job you know its gonna be a home run. You know that plays gonna work and you have no doubt in your mind that’s gonna change the aspect of the game. There were moments like that.”

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There have been moments like that in recent years as well—the Will Grier to Antonio Calloway play versus Tennessee; the Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland bomb versus Tennessee; the goal line stand versus LSU—but they were few and far between. Social media shows us that those moments like Franks and Cleveland were honed in the offseason. The key though, says Casey, is having a pocket full of those moments; to head into a game with more than just a plan but a toolbox to pull from in certain situations.

“We had some really, really good play calls that were unique to certain situations and that’s the one thing that Urban [Meyer] and Dan did really well and I give Dan a lot of credit because he had a lot of stuff. When you get in certain situations or you get a defense or you force the defense to do something then we have a reactive play call for it. And there was some big games—we won some big games playing that way. I can think of Dallas Baker’s touchdown catch against Tennessee I think was ’06 and that was towards the end of the game; close, close game which was a huge win for us.

“There was the few plays we had like that in the back pocket for certain situations. You know the Tebow run-play action to Bubba Caldwell in the national title game in ’06 is one of them. The reverse-pass for the touchdown in the SEC title game. Me and Bubba and Tebow, that was another one we practiced a lot. We probably sat that one in our hip pockets for three weeks before we actually ran it.

“And I can even dabble down into special teams. Jarvis Moss, the Cock-block in 2006 against South Carolina, he probably blocked about seven or eight field goals in practice that week just through sheer repetition of ‘this is gonna be a huge play in the game, this is gonna be the game changer, special teams in a game like this is gonna be huge.’ And it turned out to be the three blocks in that game is what won us the game.”

There’s more to it than just repetition though. There’s a commitment to every aspect of the preparation that, for all intents and purposes, was lacking in recent years. Previous staffs would call practices before it was over, would not demand repercussions for missed assignments during practice and kept a priority list that former players couldn’t help but be puzzled by.

“Not to put a damper on that, but there was a lot of things that guys that were under Urban and Mullen saw that was just like ‘there was no way that would ever happen while we were here.’ And of course everybody probably says that, there’s just a certain approach that was taken that was a lot different.”

Understanding what it takes is why—according to Casey—Mullen has put such an emphasis on former players returning and mingling with the current team.

“He knows what he wants this team to be and he know what the mentality has to be to win championships. He knows the mental toughness aspect of it.”

The pay-off will achieve the goal. Win games, fight for championships and send better men into the world than arrived. Casey says Mullen can create that program at Florida—he’s done it before—and come fall the team that steps onto the field will be prepared in every aspect and stocked with a response to every moment.

“That’s the one thing that this type of program and the ones Dan’s been around and is trying to create at Florida, he’s trying to create that no matter what happens in a game you’re never on the sideline going ‘yea we lost this one’ no matter what happens.

“I think a lot of times when you get in these grueling SEC schedules, you’re preparation has to be on point. I know from the classroom aspect at school, from treatment to training room and every other regiment student athletes have, he’s gonna want them to be on-time, 100% attendance, full body mind ready to go. Nonetheless we’ll see a completely transformed mental tough team compared to what we’ve seen the last years.”

Casey: Repetition is key - practice will make perfect under Mullen

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