Florida begins preparation for homecoming week where they will take on the Missouri Tigers. On Monday afternoon, Dan Mullen held his weekly press conference.
The topics? The performances and development of Feleipe Franks and Emory Jones, how the team will respond to last weekend’s loss, and the importance of home field advantage.
Leading off, Mullen addressed the latest developments in the team’s injury report. After exiting the game early on Saturday, C.J. Henderson looks to be available for this weekend’s matchup. This is great news for a depleted secondary as they will face one of the best quarterbacks in the conference, in Drew Lock.
Freshman quarterback Emory Jones had a solid showing against Georgia, in limited reps. Mullen was asked about his development up to this point in the season. “Well, I think he’s really going through the steps of learning what it’s all about.” Mullen, said.
“We’ve seen it in flashes with him. I mean obviously, with how he grows. And I think he’s grown in learning how to prepare within a game. I think earlier in the season you come out, you’re just… you think you know the offense and you think you know how to game plan each week. I don’t know that you really do as a freshman. You know? And all of a sudden, I think he’s seen, as the season’s gone on, ‘I understand the different checks and the different looks and how plays… how you apply plays from one week to the next.”
Feleipe Franks had a mixed bag of successes and failures throughout the game on Saturday. Now that the staff has had an opportunity to review the game film, Mullen was able to identify the good and the bad of not just Franks but of the entire team.
He stated that there were sections of the game where he looked at his team and thought that they looked like a great football team. He continued by assessing Franks, specifically.
“I thought he did some really good things, I think uh… during the game. I think, you know… there are some throws he missed I think he wished he had back. But you know, I’m not… I don’t think he played bad. I don’t think he lit it up and played a big time performance. But I thought he… you know, I don’t know that he took a huge step backwards in his growth and development. I just think he missed some throws.”
Mullen went on to say, “Obviously, the fumble was a bad play. But there are also a lot of things he did pretty well throughout the course of the game. You know, his touchdown pass was a big time throw. We asked him to be a willing runner on the goalline. He was a willing runner. In a couple of short yardage situations, he ran the ball and got some first downs for us.”
Anytime a team loses a game like this, the response is crucial. Mullen couldn’t wait to see how the team and the coaches would respond and react this week.
“I think we handled the first loss, excellent. You know? Everybody was here for the meeting this morning, ready to go. I gotta see how they respond outta practice a little bit. You know what I mean? Do we come out with… I always think there’s two ways you can respond. Well, there’s probably more than two but there, you know… The bad one is you’ve got the, ‘woe is me attitude.’ And the other one, youve got the… ‘I’m a little annoyed that that happened and I can’t wait to get out there to go fix it.’ I hope we’re the second with this one. We certainly, were with the first one. I hope we are with the second.”
Florida has played just one home game in the last four weeks. Saturday afternoon, they will begin a three game home stretch. The last home game for the Gators was against LSU and the Swamp was sold out. Dan Mullen is hoping for a similar result this weekend.
When he was asked about how big of an impact the fans can make in a home field advantage situation, Mullen was quick to answer.
“Everything! I mean, the performance I think, you know when… one, when you have a packed stadium that’s going crazy, it’s… I mean, it’s hard on the other team. That’s why home games are so important in this league. I mean, there’s so many… We go out to practice today and we’ll have music going on the defensive field for them to just kinda make their signals but that’s okay. But we’re not working silent cadence and timing, and this, and communicating, and all the just different things that you’ve gotta spend extra time on when you’re on the road. You can really work on the game plan. So that’s an advantage if the stadium’s that way. If it’s a frenzy in that way.”
Florida will try to rebound this weekend against Mizzou. The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network at 4 p.m. EST. Be sure to look for the game preview from ChompTalk.com later this week.