The Gators will close out their SEC schedule on Saturday with a trip to Columbia, Missouri where they will face the Mizzou Tigers. As Florida enters into game week preparations, Dan Mullen made his usual pit stop to meet with the Gators media.
The injury report was relatively clean this week as Florida came away unscathed in their dismantling of Vanderbilt last weekend. Jabari Zuniga was held from competition to continue his rehabilitation and Mullen is optimistic that he will be ready to go this Saturday. Despite leaving the game late on Saturday, Brad Stewart has “checked out clear” and should be good to go.
The Tigers have had their share of struggles this season but have, historically, played very well against the Gators. This weekend, they will have home-field advantage and an 11 a.m. (local time) kickoff. When asked how he thought the early kickoff in Columbia might impact the way the team plays, Mullen quickly referenced the difference in climate.
“Well, it’s not Florida. That’s why we live in Florida. I was looking up their temperature right now, it’s like twenty-two and snowing.”
After hearing that it was forecasted to be eight degrees on Saturday, Mullen displayed his sense of humor saying, “but it’s a dry eight,” before going back to the original question.
“It’ll be what it’ll be. You gotta go up and you gotta play. To me… early morning kicks, you know. We’ve played some early morning kicks. I like to get up and go play. If you’re a competitor, I don’t care. Like I said, put the ball down at 2 o’clock in the morning in the middle of the parking lot. Let’s go play. And if that’s not your mindset, then you’re not really a competitor.”
It was following last season’s embarrassing homecoming loss to Mizzou that Dan Mullen gave his now famous “I’m gonna beat your ass” speech. After that moment, the Gators rattled off ten consecutive victories.
“I think it’s just guys learning about just making sure they understand what it means to be a competitor, sometimes. You know? And how to handle it and how to focus on what’s important. You know? I think there’s so much that goes on around… these guys have so much going on around them. So much pressure. So much outside noise. They’re young kids playing the game. Whether it is all the pressures from families, pressures from everybody back home, expectations that come.”
With true freshmen Ethan White and Mohamoud Diabate playing significant roles in the Gators’ win over Vanderbilt, Mullen faced questions about their performances and how the number of plays that players get each week is viewed by the team.
“Ethan, I thought played really well,” Mullen replied. “I thought he did a great job. You know, I kept kinda joking with him. I told him, I said, ‘You know, if I were you, you’re the right guard, you’re right there between Jean and Nick. Right? And if you come off the field and you mess up and Hevesy starts yelling at you, I’d be like, ‘I don’t know Coach. Jean told me to do that or Nick told me to do that.’ I’d throw everybody under the bus and be confident so he doesn’t yell at you.’ He thought that was pretty funny.”
On Mohamoud, Mullen said, “Mohamoud’s a great example for guys. You know? I talk about this with our team. Everybody gets worries about ‘how many plays did I play? Who went in the game first? This guy played in the first series and I didn’t play until the third series. I only got this many snaps. I only got that many snaps.’ Mohamoud was the SEC Freshman of the Week, played nineteen plays. Right? And a great message for guys on the team and I talk about it. Worry about plays you’re in the game. Right? Don’t worry about the plays you’re not in the game. When you’re not in the game be focused on what’s going on in the game so you’re better prepared for the plays when you are in the game.”
Florida will take on Mizzou this Saturday at 11 a.m. CST. Follow Chomp Talk throughout the week for all your Gators football news and information.