Dan Mullen met with the press on Monday for his weekly press conference. With the Florida State game ahead, topics were mostly centered around the rivalry.
The weekly injury update basically remained unchanged other than individual status. Brett Heggie will enter the weekend with a hopeful designation, as will Brad Stewart who has been struggling with a quad strain.
Last week’s game against Idaho was supposed to see the return of Freddie Swain but the staff opted to rest him instead. He will be ready to go versus the Seminoles on Saturday.
Center, Nick Buchanan missed last week as he served a single game suspension. In his place, Tyler Jordan got the start due to backup, TJ McCoy enduring concussion protocols.
This weekend’s game already carries plenty of motivation, in that Florida has the chance to make a New Years Six bowl game and the opportunity to knock FSU out of bowl eligibility. If that wasn’t enough, there’s the added element of loathing to fuel the fire.
Rivalries are part of the life blood of college football and the Gators and Seminoles have one hell of a rivalry. Mullen was asked about the importance of this game. His response, spoke to the level of understanding he has for how much this game means to the fans.
“Oh, yeah! I mean, it’s huge. You know? I mean, every year it’s huge. You know, when you get in these games… I mean, you’re talking about, alright? Because when you’re talking in-state rivals, I mean, you’re talking a lot of neighbors against neighbors. You wanna have… you know, you go to the grocery store you wanna have bragging rights over your neighbors for the year. And so to get that win, it gives the Gator Nation the bragging rights over all of State’s fans.”
Much of this season actually hinges upon defeating FSU. The Seminoles have won five in a row for the first time in the series history and the Florida faithful are desperate to end that streak.
Many continue to look to the Gators bench with great anticipation, regardless of how well or poorly Feleipe Franks plays. Since the short appearance in the Georgia game, fans have clamored for Emory Jones to see the field. Many feel he would be an invaluable weapon in taking down the hated Seminoles.
When asked when a decision would be made about whether or not Jones will play in Saturday’s game, Mullen was as coy as usual.
“Uhhhhhh, some point during the game?” He quipped. “You know, a lot of it… you know in my deal we gotta prepare for him to play. Right? Because he’s one… first off, he’s a snap away from not playing. From, from, he’s a snap away from being our starter. So we’re going to prepare for him to play and then during the game we’ll make the decision whether or not he goes in or not.”
This rivalry has deep roots in the state and it can be deeply personal to the players, students, and fans. For the players, many of them grew up together and have played with and against each other all their lives. A win on Saturday will be a huge boost to the program and it’s future.
“Well obviously. You know, I mean you wanna… it helps a lot because you finish on high notes with the season. You know, we have one more game after this with the bowl game, so. However it plays out, you self own more that the last game because you don’t get to play for a long time. But obviously, winning this game I think would be big for the guys that are on the team when you play in a rivalry game, just to say that ‘I beat them.’ For the seniors that, ‘I beat them in my last game.’ For the underclassmen, that we haven’t beat them in a while, to say, ‘Hey, we got a big win!”
Dan Mullen knows what is at stake this Saturday and wants nothing more than to start a streak of his own while simultaneously ending FSU’s bowl streak. He will get his first opportunity this Saturday at noon.