Well, it’s a new week and a new opportunity for Dan Mullen and his Gators to get back on the right side of the win/loss column. On Monday afternoon, coach Mullen addressed the press and expounded on several hot topics.
First up, he mentioned that the Gators have several guys banged up but that nobody should miss any playing time. This is good news as there have been images of CB Chauncey Gardener-Johnson in a boot, making their way across the internet.
WR Jacob Copeland was also brought up. He has fully recovered from his injury and is available for the final 4 games (bowl game included) of the season. Expect him to be used in a limited capacity however, since he missed much of training camp and just hasn’t been able to really learn the system.
With the humbling loss to Mizzou behind them, Mullen and the team look to learn from the lackluster performance. With the new culture, the Gators are still learning how to prepare and how to win.
“We got a noon kickoff this week. ‘We’ll be ready at noon, coach!’ We ain’t gonna be ready at noon unless we compete every single snap of practice during the week, either. You can’t just turn it on and off.” Mullen, said of his team.
When a team encounters adversity the way Florida has in each of the last two weeks, it is often the leadership of other players that make the biggest difference in turning things around. Mullen was asked if there were any such leaders on this team and he opened up, allowing a glimpse of where they really are.
“No. I think guys are… we have the potential to. I don’t know that we do, right now. It’s also first year within the program and I think there’s a lot of guys that’ll learn to lead. You know, I think we have guys that potentially, could be leaders. You know, one of the things guys gotta figure out is how to do it. You know, ’cause there’s guys that you know, maybe wanna do the right thing but haven’t always during their career. You know? So, their kinda like, ‘I wanna speak up about doing the right thing but also guys are gonna look at me and be like, ‘You were the leader of doing things wrong your whole career. Now all of a sudden, you’re the leader of trying to do things right.’ But I think as guys grow and mature within the program, they’re gonna be more comfortable in how to present that and how to lead.”
“We might play two quarterbacks. Might play three.”
-Florida head coach Dan Mullen speaking about the quarterback battle.
Obviously, the internet has been abuzz with calls for Kyle Trask to take over at the quarterback position, following a solid showing in the second half of Saturday’s game. Mullen was pressed to give an evaluation of what Trask brings to the table that is different from Feleipe Franks.
“He throws a nice ball. He runs hard. He’s got good size. You know? Very similar to Feleipe’s. Feleipe might have a little bit stronger arm and a little more athletic. Trask might be a little more physical when he runs the ball.” replied Mullen.
This opened the door to ask exactly what it would take for the staff to make a change at this point in the season. Mullen responded in much the same way he has throughout the year.
“We’ll look to see how practice goes. I mean, we might play two quarterbacks. Might play three. I wanna see… we’re still putting the game plan together and I wanna just see, as we put the game plan together and we go out and practice it, you know? Who gives us the best chance to win? That’s kind of how we’ve done it all along throughout the year.”
With such a let down over the last two weeks, it is normal to wonder if this is just a hitch in the road or if this weekend’s performance is more indicative of where the team really is at this point. Mullen gave his honest assessment.
“I’m gonna say it’s probably where we are as a team. If we don’t play well, we’re not… if you look at how we’ve been so far this year, if we came out and play and execute at a high level in all three phases, we’re a pretty darn good football team. If we don’t, we’re not at the point where we can just not play well and cover that up with just like, phenomenal playmakers. Or just a light comes on and all of a sudden we hit a switch and we can just, you know, shift to a whole ‘nother gear of performance.”
This team has accomplished great things this year and is ahead of schedule. It is clear however, that there is still much to be learned.
Florida closes out SEC play this weekend at home against South Carolina. The game is set for a noon kickoff and will be televised on ESPN. Be sure to look for the ChompTalk.com game preview later in the week.