As the Gators prepare for their first SEC opponent, Dan Mullen kept his weekly date with the media. He detailed what he thought the team did well, and what he’s still looking to see from them.
Florida will be without a pair of electric athletes when they make the trip to Lexington this weekend. Mullen announced that Kadarius Toney will miss “a couple of weeks” with an undisclosed injury, and cornerback CJ Henderson will be listed as doubtful as he nurses a minor ankle sprain.
The Gators take on Kentucky this weekend and it will be the first opportunity for the Gators to face the Wildcats following the end of a streak of 31 consecutive wins over the team from the bluegrass state. As expected, Mullen fielded a query about how much last season’s loss will be used as a motivating factor for the team’s preparations this week.
“Not really,” Mullen replied. “It’ll be discussed within the scheme we’re trying to do, but I don’t see how it has much effect on this year’s game. You know? To be honest with you, they did a good job and won the game last year. And hopefully, we’ve… I mean, we grew a lot from that as a team, within our program, and where we are.”
Asked about Mark Stoops’ secondary and the challenges that it presents to Florida’s coaching staff, Mullen was complimentary of Kentucky’s defense as a whole.
“I think that they have a very good defensive system. Very complimentary. You know what I mean? He knows his system. They have the answers, you know, to the questions. That’s always a big one. You know, they do enough things to cause you problems. You say, ‘Ok, well, if they’re gonna do this, we wanna attack here.’ Ok? But then it’s like, ‘Well, they could do that to take that play away.”
He continued by acknowledging the back and forth chess match between Stoops and himself. Mullen added that Franks would face a new challenge on Saturday and that he would need to continue to make the right reads and just take what the defense gives him.
After a sluggish first quarter on Saturday night, Mullen went into the locker room at halftime, unhappy with his team’s overall performance. He even let slip, an expletive during his halftime interview. Mullen expanded on why he was disappointed and what his message was to his team during the halftime break.
“I mean, to me, it was just all about everything,” said Mullen. “It’s all about the little attentions to detail. You know? A little mistake here. Little mistake there. And a a little mistake here and there caused us to not score on two possessions, offensively. Right? A little mistake here, a little mistake there allowed them to get, I think, five first downs in the first half. And I wanted to make sure our guys knew, you gotta fix those things. They weren’t going to cost us on Saturday night, but they will cost you moving forward. And I don’t know when. It might not be this week. Might not be next week, or the week after that, or three weeks after that. I don’t know when it would be, but eventually, if you’re not paying attention to every little detail, one of those little mistakes will end up costing us at a key moment in a game. An avoidable mistake. That’s what I wasn’t pleased with.”
With such attention to details and expectations so high that he could be unhappy with a 45-0 shutout, it is obvious that Mullen is the right guy for the task of bringing the Gators back to the heights that the fans have come to expect of the University of Florida football program. However, Mullen also realizes that it’s not only about the results on the field, as he made sure to point out that the university has climbed all the way up to number seven in the “poll that counts.” Florida has been recognized as the nation’s seventh ranked public university.
Florida will take on Kentucky at 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live from Kroger Field in Lexington, on ESPN. Be sure to follow along with Chomp Talk all week for all of your Florida Gators coverage!