With another week in the books, there was plenty to discuss during Dan Mullen‘s weekly state of the program meeting. Topics ranged from injuries to air guitar. As usual, I have all of the highlights right here.
The injury list has grown slightly as we have progressed deeper into the season. Thanks in large part to Nick Savage‘s strength and conditioning regimen this list is nowhere near as long or severe as it has been in years past.
Freddie Swain has been bothered with an ankle sprain that has sidelined him for much of the last two weeks but is expected to suit up on Saturday. Brett Heggie is listed as questionable and has also been dealing with an ankle sprain.
Safety, Brad Stewart is being monitored after sustaining a quad strain in practice last week and is a day to day designation. Meanwhile, Kyle Trask has come through surgery and is beginning what should be a quick rehab. It is a possibility that he could be ready in time for the bowl game.
This weekend’s game is the final home game of the season, which means it will be Senior day. The Gators have 20 seniors who will be participating in their final home appearance.
Also being honored on Saturday, will be the men and women of our armed services. The university showed their appreciation by offering tickets to veterans for just $10 a piece. In addition, there will be 27 current and former service men and women being honored on the field.
There were many questions asked about Feleipe Franks‘ performance. The first one pertained to a statement made by Franks on the game winning touchdown.
According to Franks, he made the call to keep the ball himself on fourth and goal. Dan Mullen weighed in on the statement.
“It was the same play. So he called the right one ’cause that’s what we signaled, so… He’s a little flaky sometimes. But we’d run it the same. The play before was just our quarterback off tackle play and so we signaled, ‘ Run the same play.’ and he ran the same play. So… If he had run it right the two previous times though, he wouldn’t have had to run it on fourth down.”
One of the great things about that particular play was Franks confidence that he wouldn’t be denied. This is a far cry from the Feleipe Franks that was in the locker room when Dan Mullen arrived on campus last November.
Mullen spoke of Feleipe’s confidence in wanting to have the ball and making that call with the game on the line.
“Well, I think it’s good. I don’t know if he was looking because I think he was yelling to us to run the same play and we called the same play, so… Which is good, you know? I like that a guy wants the ball in his own hands on a game winning play to win the game. I mean, I always think that’s huge. That you want guys that want the ball in their hands to win the game and it just shows their confidence in themselves and their belief in themselves that they can make the play to win the game.”
While the stat line may not show it, Saturday’s performance might very well have been the best we’ve seen from Franks to date. He showed a fire that had not been previously seen with him. Every play was played with desperation and fueled by anger.
It was suggested that perhaps, Feleipe may play better when he is angry. While Mullen wouldn’t give a decisive yes or no, he did go into detail about the emotional side of the quarterback position.
“Well, I don’t know. I didn’t ask him what he was mad about. Whether he was mad he didn’t run it the right way the play before or that he didn’t get in the endzone. But, yeah. I mean, at times it can help. I mean, I guess if you’re trying to run somebody over, it’s good to be angry. But in managing the game, you gotta make sure you balance the two. You know, I’ve always said that with quarterbacks. You know, I mean you gotta be able to use your emotions all over the place. You know what I mean? You gotta go pump up the crowd, go crazy, and get excited. And the next play, be completely locked in on making a three way check and changing protections and making a read and going through your progressions. So you know, you’ve gotta be able to control all your different personalities and emotions.”
After all of the talk about Feleipe Franks, came the obligatory question about whether or not there was a plan for Emory Jones. Mullen was curt in his response, simply stating, “We always have a plan for Emory.”
With some monumental wins and some discouraging defeats in year one of the Dan Mullen era, fan perception has been manic at best. One week, “we could win it all” and the next, “we will lose every game from here on out.”
Players are heros and pariahs with the changing of the breeze. Mullen explained that there are two different scales by which they are judged.
There’s the public, which is wild and erratic with extreme highs and lows. And there’s the program. Inside the program, the fluctuations aren’t so drastic. Within the program, things are never as good or as bad as they seem.
It is important to not get so caught up in the emotional scale, that the team is unable to truly gauge good and bad. What needs to be fixed and what has been successful. Mullen suggested that he needs to be aware of perception but not be ruled by it.
With a new coach and a new staff, there comes change. Change can be difficult for people and sometimes, that means resistance. Mullen was asked if there had been any resistance and if the seniors on a team can help or hinder the change of culture.
As he has said many times throughout the season, Mullen said that he has seen very little resistance. He went further by adding that some guys were trying to figure out how he wants things done but that that is different from resistance because they are making the effort.
The team has fully bought in to what Mullen and his staff are bringing to the program and have tried to do everything the way they are asked to do it. Many of the seniors have come to Mullen, stating that they wished they had more opportunities to play for him either earlier in their careers or beyond this season.
This is a testament to Mullen, his staff, and the culture change at Florida. Buying in and working hard has reaped many rewards such as, Martez Ivey becoming the first Gators offensive lineman to be named conference OL of the week, this season.
Ivey graded out at 91% for his performance against the Gamecocks. A performance that saw the Gators post 367 rushing yards and two comebacks in the same game. Ivey also recorded 3 pancake blocks as he and his fellow lineman consistently blew South Carolina off the line of scrimmage.
Hard work and buy in pays dividends and the returns will only get bigger moving forward. But Mullen also likes to see his team having fun. In what has become a new tradition, the start of the fourth quarter in the Swamp always begins with a sing-a-long to Tom Petty’s, I Won’t Back Down.
Long snapper, Ryan Farr stole the show during last weekend’s rendition when he gave the fans a very impressive air guitar performance. Dan harnessed his inner Simon Cowell in rating Farr’s performance.
“Have fun. I didn’t know. But the behind the back, I wasn’t impressed. The leg part was good, I think. But the behind the back, I think he lost it there.”