Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

The Florida football team entered their bye week coming off a win against the Missouri Tigers. They’ll face in-state rival Florida State for their final game of the regular season next Saturday, Nov. 30.

Facing an Interim Head Coach

Florida State fired Willie Taggart, former head football coach, on Sunday, Nov. 3. This was following a 27-10 loss to Miami the previous day. Defensive line coach Odell Haggins took over as interim head coach. This is not Haggins’ first time serving as interim head coach for the Seminoles. He took over coaching duties after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Since Haggins became interim head coach, the Seminoles are 2-0 with wins against Boston College and Alabama State. Like the Gators, FSU has a bye before their matchup.

According to Florida head coach Dan Mullen, facing an interim head coach can come with some challenges. Coaching power allows for some personality to be thrown in the game.

Florida vs. Florida State kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in the Swamp.

Nick Sproles

Yesterday news broke that Florida third-string, walk-on quarterback Nick Sproles has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Mullen confirmed this yesterday in his midweek teleconference. Sproles comes with high praise from the Florida program and will likely get some interest from smaller schools.

Sproles will remain with the Florida football program for the rest of the season and will graduate in the spring.

“He’s why they put the transfer portal in. He really would like the opportunity to go play next season, said Mullen.”

Players Leaving Early for the NFL

Mullen addressed the topic of players forgoing their senior seasons and leaving for the NFL. The bye week has given Florida’s coaching staff some time to sit down and talk with players about their futures.

About eight Gators are thinking about leaving early for the NFL and two to three could be serious about it, according to Mullen.

Story can also be found via ESPN Gainesville at wruf.com. 

Gator Defensive Backs Making It Work

Gator Defensive Backs Making It Work

The Florida Gator defense is young, but they are not afraid of a challenge. Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit has proven they can make it work.

Missing Key Players

In Florida’s first home game of the season against Tennessee Martin they lost arguably their best defender, C.J. Henderson. He suffered an ankle sprain. Henderson started in all 13 games of the 2018 season and is regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He did not play against Kentucky last week and is questionable for the Gators upcoming matchup against Tennessee. Junior Donovan Stiner will miss the first half against Tennessee because of a targeting penalty in the Kentucky game last weekend.

Stepping Up

The Florida Gator defense, particularly the defensive backs, have shown they are capable of stepping up. Against the Wildcats this past weekend they accounted for three interceptions and recovered one fumble. Brad Stewart Jr. recovered the first fumble for the Gators just three minutes into the game. The Gators defense builds off of each other. Defensive back Shawn Davis, along with his teammates, loved seeing Stewart make a play. It fueled them in a sense.

In the third quarter Davis intercepted Kentucky QB Sawyer Smith’s pass for a 72 yard return all the way to the Kentucky 21 yard line. When asked about that specific drive Davis said he just knew it was coming to him.

That wasn’t the end of Davis’ performance Saturday. He intercepted Smith’s pass with six minutes left in the game as well.

Florida also has been using a method of rotating its safeties throughout the game. According to Davis, this is because the team is “comfortable and confident” with all their guys playing.

“Coach Mullen puts players in the best position to make plays,” said defensive back Trey Dean.

The Gator defense is confident with their unit moving forward. Florida will take on Tennessee this Saturday at noon on ESPN.

 

Story can also be fond via wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

Gators Look to Improve as SEC Play Begins

Gators Look to Improve as SEC Play Begins

Dan Mullen and the Florida Gator Football team begin SEC play this weekend with a trip to Lexington, Kentucky. Last year the Wildcats broke their 31-game losing streak to Florida in a 27-16 upset. The Gators aren’t dwelling on the past. With wins against Miami and UT Martin the Gators are hoping to keep the winning momentum going. Mullen emphasized the importance of focusing on the little things as his team enters SEC play.

Feleipe Franks

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is coming off a nearly perfect performance and a 45-0 win. Franks 25 of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Franks does not have the best of history against the Wildcats. Last year he threw an interception, lost a fumble and completed only 17 of 38 passes. In 2017, Franks got pulled from the game and backup Luke Del Rio led the Gators to a comeback win. Franks will be going up against a tough front seven this Saturday.

Kentucky’s defense has not changed much since beating the Gators in Gainesville last year, according to Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy. The Kentucky defense’s biggest loss was first round draft pick Josh Allen.

Overall, Florida quarterback coach Brian Johnson says, “The Gators need to put themselves into a position to play to the best of their abilities.”

Young Offensive Line

Florida’s offensive line is young and hasn’t experienced a truly hostile environment yet this season. The Miami game in Orlando was about 50 50 with fans from both sides. This Saturday will be Florida’s first time in an electric atmosphere with nearly everyone rooting against them at Kroger Field. Offensive line coach Hevesy described the importance of cranking the noise level up at practice as they prepare for Kentucky.

Florida is set to face Kentucky at 7 p.m. this Saturday on ESPN.
For the Gators Saturday’s matchup marks the first of a 9-game stretch with eight SEC opponents. They will have one bye week prior to Georgia.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville. 

Mullen’s Magic

This time last year if someone were to tell me the Gators would be finishing the regular season at 9-3 and most likely awaiting a New Year’s Six Bowl bid, I’d say that sounds a little bit unrealistic…. given the fact that they went 4-7 last season.

Flash forward, here we are now and Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators are #9 in the country. If that doesn’t scream improvement, then I don’t know what does.

Arriving in Gainesville Coach Mullen knew what he was walking into. Not only did he have a football team to coach, but he also had a fan base to win over. The University of Florida’s Athletic Program is one of the greatest in the country. Expectations are high and when those expectations aren’t met fans aren’t happy. After last season’s struggle the Gators needed a breath of fresh air. Dan Mullen seems to have brought just that.

Mullen Renewed by Fresh Challenge with Gators
Photo via floridagators.com

The Gators went from scoring, on average, 22 points a game to 34.5. Offensively they finished with 5120 total yards, quite an improvement from the 3695 they had in 2017. Not to mention, the Gators were able to run over a hundred more plays than the previous year. Despite some rough patches and criticism, quarterback Feleipe Franks also showed significant improvements. Recall, Franks ended the 2017 season with just 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. This year he’s finishing the regular season with 23 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The stats speak for themselves, but I think it’s safe to say the Swamp has finally found some offensive rhythm.

Image result for feleipe franks 2018 happy
Photo via TampaBayTimes

Kentucky. Georgia. Missouri. None of these losses were necessarily pretty, but each proved something about Mullen’s football team. They aren’t quitters. They didn’t allow a loss to define the rest of their season. Following a battle with Kentucky, the Gators had back to back road wins against Tennessee and Mississippi State. Then, they beat #5 LSU with over 90,000 fans in attendance. Both the Georgia and Missouri losses were rough, but it did not mean the season was over. Florida later beat in-state rival Florida State for the first time in five years. Now, the Gators are awaiting their, most likely, New Year’s Day bowl bid. Who would have predicted that?

Photo via Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

For a “rebuilding year” Gator fans should be absolutely ecstatic.