Florida football: Dan Mullen says Gators have room for improvement

Ah yes, the true unofficial start of the college football season is when coaches gather for media days. Florida football had head coach Dan Mullen speak at SEC Media Days on the first day of the conference.

Opening Statements

Florida football head coach Dan Mullen took the podium on the first day of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, for the unofficial kick-off to the 2019 season.

Mullen strolled across the stage in a pinstripe suit and his much-discussed Custom Jordan Retro DM 11 shoes with a coolness that was absent for the bulk of Mizzou head coach Barry Odom’s preceding performance at the mic.

https://twitter.com/GatorsFB/status/1150800963252473856

Mullen opened his statement by taking a moment to mark the passing of George Edmondson, eulogizing Mr. Two Bits as a, “great member of the Gator family.”

Great strides in 2018, but room for improvement

“I think we made great strides in our first year…,” Mullen stated in his 2018 review, “It was really exciting. It showed how fast our guys bought into what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build.”

Looking ahead, Mullen said, “We have a great group of guys coming back. A lot of talented players coming back on this year’s team that now have won games, have high expectations, and understand what the Gator Standard is all about – it’s about competing for championships every single year.”

Florida football took a step forward last year, but Mullen still thinks the program needs to improve upon its consistency.

“We had a great offseason. The strides our guys took coming in, getting ready for year two, we need to take a huge step forward this year,” Mullen laid out, “We had a lot of success last year, but our consistency of performance is something I want to see us change to perform at a high level every single game, every single week, every single play for the consistency of our performance to continue to improve.”

Mullen then hyped upcoming facility improvements which included a freshly unveiled locker room and plans to break ground on a new football training facility.

Feleipe Franks focus

Much of the focus was on returning 6-foot-6, 240 pound starting QB Feleipe Franks.

After struggling through much of the first part of his tenure in Gainesville, Franks seems poised for a breakthrough in 2019 after a promising finish to the 2018 season.

Mullen thought Franks paid too much attention to outside noise in the early part of the season and offered the following challenge, “If you think everyone on Twitter out there is better at coaching football, let me know and we’ll hire them as quarterbacks coach.”

The turning point, according to Mullen, for the RS Junior signal-caller was after Franks shushed a critical home crowd after a second-quarter TD against South Carolina last November.

Mullen felt the prodding had paid off and Franks stopped worrying about what other people said, focused on his own strengths, and trusted the system.

In his later session with the media, Mullen was again asked about his expectations for Franks this season, and the Florida football head coach replied, “Hopefully, he understands his skill-set better and how to utilize his skills within the offensive system as a whole to go make plays.”

“To me, a key in quarterback development is to make the less spectacular play. A lot of times spectacular plays happen when guys don’t know what they’re doing, which is kind of crazy, right? They don’t know what they’re doing, so they run around and then throw the ball 75 yards in the air, something special happens, and everybody thinks, ‘That was a great play!'”

Mullen continued, “The play might not have been designed to do that – the play may have been designed to hang in there, get to your fifth progression, check it down and gain eight yards. With the spectacular, you can also run around and get sacked for a 20-yard loss or throw an interception when a good play would’ve have been to get to your fifth progression read, check it down to the back, get eight yards, and go play 2nd down and 2. I think that aspect of it is what you want to see – you want to see him growing and understanding the game of football and understanding what we want him to do within the offense.”

Zuniga touts young talent

RS Senior Jabari Zuniga, coming off of 6.5 sacks in 2018, expects the defense to remain tough despite key losses.

“We got some young talent. I feel confident. We lost a lot of guys, but also have a lot of guys that people don’t know about that can do special things. People are going to see. They are going to see Zach [Carter] making plays. They are going to see T.J. [Slaton] making plays. They’re going to see Marlon [Dunlap Jr.] making plays. We’ve got a lot of talent in that room.”

Jabari Zuniga, DE (Scott Carter, floridagators.com)

Perine tells it like it is

RB Lamical Perine garnered some attention with his thoughts on Gators fans, “Man, fans, honestly Florida probably has the most bipolar fans ever. When we’re winning games everybody’s happy. But when we lose games, nobody’s happy, everybody gets bashed. From the coaches to the equipment guys, to just the kickers, it could be anybody on the team getting bashed.”

Shocking equation when it comes to big-time college football.

A quick visit to www.firenicksaban.com can help shape anyone’s worldview regarding the reasonable nature of college football fans.

@Lamical, remember…

In all kinds of weather…

We’ll all stick together…(heck, unless you have a $7.5 million buyout)

For F-L-O-R-I-D-A.