News and notes from Dan Mullen’s first spring press conference

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For the first time in 2019, Dan Mullen took the podium to talk about the current state of his Gator football program. As you would probably expect, he said… a lot. Here are some of the more notable things that he talked about.

On expectations: “We had a good year last year, but we want to be better. We’ve got to practice harder, we’ve got to practice better. We’ve got to perform at a little higher level.”

On fan support: “we had great fan support last year, with the Gator Nation supporting us at games. We need even more this year. We need to pack the Swamp even more, and create an even better home field advantage.”

On Emory Jones: “We’ll see when we get on the field. He’s worked hard, studying film, understanding the offense better, getting a little bit bigger. We can’t be there at throwing workouts, but we’ll see how much that translates when we get on the field.”

On Feleipe Franks: “Same deal. He’s worked hard. I think he’s a great competitor, he’s learned what we expect in the program, and I’ve seen him really compete hard this season.”

On jump from year one to year two: “I think our guys probably have a better understanding going out on the field, it should be a lot easier going out to practice than it was this time last year. I think they know what to expect. We’ll take a jump if we work harder. If we do what we did last year, we can’t expect to be better than last year.”

On if the Miami game affects things in the spring: “Really not much. You get 25 practices before you play your first game, and how we set up and organize our training camp… that’s so far out. So that really has no effect right now.”

On what he thinks about having three open dates: “Ask me in December.”

On the playbook differences in year two: “There’s more you can do but we’re going to do what our guys do well. I think as the year went on you saw that, we found out about the team, hopefully we know more about the team. It’s a brand new team this year though, so we have to learn about what this year’s team is going to be about.”

On hosting recruits for the Miami game: “I don’t know. There’s an NCAA rule… it’s a dead period, but it’s a dead period anyway until September 1st. There are discussions about it…. The August dead period makes a lot of sense, but it should end when you play your first game. It should end on game day.”

On lingering injuries from the end of the 2018 season: “Moon, McDowell and Dunlap would be the three that would be doubtful to get back in the spring. Some guys might be limited here and there, but those guys are doubtful to get back this spring.”

The key for Feleipe last year was to make some of the nonspectacular plays; what’s the key this year? “That’s always a huge deal. That’s managing the offense. Understand what’s going on and make quicker decisions. One thing he really bought into at the end of the year was his ability to play physical. At the quarterback position, you’re not looking for a great runner or a dynamic runner, but you want somebody that’s going to have a toughness edge to him. And I think you saw as the year went on, he kind of played with some toughness. And I think it upped his confidence and it upped the team’s confidence. And every once in awhile he drops his pads on somebody to run into an end zone. And that lifts everybody’s spirits on the team, that this guy is leading us.”

On Kylan Johnson: “He’s going to graduate, he’s not going to be practicing with the team. He’s going to graduate in the spring or first summer semester, and then look to be a grad transfer.”

On if anybody else would look to grad transfer: “Not that I know of. I have no problem with it, as long as they do it for all the right reasons. If he fulfilled all his obligations, played hard while he was here, going to earn his degree for the University of Florida, which is pretty special, and wants the opportunity to go somewhere where he’s going to play more his final season.”

On big spring potential for new faces: “There will certainly be opportunities for guys. I love playing a lot of players. Creating a lot of depth, not just for health purposes and the speed and how aggressive we play, and the experience of guys, but also for competition. Look at that outside linebacker spot, losing one guy to graduation and another guy leaving early the draft, and the next guy is injured for the spring, lot of opportunity for guys to go earn some reps and get playing time when the season comes.”

On what he’s looking for: “Just attitude. We only get fifteen opportunities to be out there. Are we maximizing that opportunity? We need to learn to push ourselves and play harder next year. We played hard at times last year, and that’s not a knock on our guys because they were learning to play hard. That’s one thing you watch in the film. I can put on clips of guys and ask is that as hard as you can go, and they’ll say no! And that’s not them being defiant and not doing it last year, they just didn’t realize how hard they could go.”

On going into a season with the QB1 being set: “Is it set? I don’t have any position set. I’ve never had a position set. When I was here before I didn’t have any position set, during Urban’s days.”

Is there a unit on the spot more on the offensive line? “I don’t know about on the spot. There are just great opportunities there for guys. There’s one guy with a bunch of experience coming back… there’s some good young talent… certainly nobody’s gonna be able to complain about their opportunity on the offensive line.”

On Zuniga and Perine returning: “I give both guys a lot of credit. Both those guys looked at it, went through a process, took in a lot of information, listened to people that had good advice, people in the know… you’re talking about these guys, very short lived professional careers, both guys were very educated in making their decisions… If you come to a scrimmage here in the Swamp, I’m not going to feed Perine 35 times to make ourselves feel good in a scrimmage on a Saturday night in April, it’s constantly working on all the things he needs to be working on to become a better player every single down.”

On Amari Burney and the younger David Reese: “They’re both really athletic, both had really good offseasons, obviously Amari played a little bit more than David did last year, but both guys who want to get on the field and grow. This is a huge time for guys entering their second seasons. Like you mentioned about me coming into my second season, I don’t know as much for me and the program as much as you should see huge jumps for players going into their second seasons, they’ve been through it a little bit, they’ve adjusted to the college game. Very few of them were in a starring role as freshmen…. Now, they know what to expect. You’re not a rookie anymore. You know what the practice tempo is like, you know what the speed of the college game is like, you know what our offensive and defensive scheme is, now let’s see what you’ve got.”

On replacing the personnel losses at tight end: “It’s a unique position… it might not be a huge talent drop off, but there’s an enormous experience drop off, and performance drop off. Again, it’s a tremendous opportunity. There’s talent there… it’s a critical position, one of the most important positions in our offense., from what we ask them to do. But there’s talent there, now they’ve got to use that talent to translate it on the field.”

On the effect of not naming a QB1 on leadership: “No. Because I would hope a guy like him expects to be a starter. But he better know he’s gotta compete to make sure he keeps that job… I show up every day making sure I stay the coach of the Gators. You walk in there, Emory Jones expects to be the starter. Kyle Trask expects to be the starter.”

On the transfer portal: “Guys have been transferring forever. I think the portal just kind of puts it out there… to me, if we’re looking at a guy we’re going to take as a transfer, obviously there are a lot of different scenarios… a guy transferring as freshman, well they’ve still got a bit of career in front of them, so you’re looking at them a little bit like a high school player, a little bit older guy, you look at a little similar to a junior college player, that’s a two year guy on your roster, if you’re looking more for need or grad transfer, a one year player, where you’re looking for huge need. So to me, you look and say, “what’s our biggest need with the biggest amount of experience?” “Offensive line.” So if you look in terms of that, that’s where you start.”

You can watch the entire press conference below:

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