Andreu’s Analysis: Let the Gator grind begin

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Now that Sal Sunseri, the former linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders, and Greg Knox, Mississippi State’s interim head coach for the bowl game, are officially part of Dan Mullen’s coaching staff, Florida’s new coach is close to completing his staff.

All of these hires, of course, are important. But perhaps the most important one off all — one that will have the first impact on this football team — is already on board and ready to put the players to work “with relentless effort” starting next week.

 I’m talking about new director of football strength and conditioning Nick Savage, whose goal will be to turn the Gators into savages in the weight room, something they obviously weren’t under the former coaching staff.

In Mullen’s attempt to turn the program around, making the Gators stronger and tougher is priority No. 1. That responsibility falls to Savage, the former MSU strength coach who will basically be in charge of the team from next week until the start of spring practice in March.

Mullen has warned the players that the offseason strength and conditioning program is going to be very challenging and highly competitive. He said it’s going to be something they’ve probably never experienced before. He told one early enrollee that Marine Corps basic training would be easier.

That’s good. That’s what this team desperately needs.

It was obvious last season that the Gators were not strong enough or tough enough to have sustained success on the football field. They got pushed around far too many times, especially in the opening loss to Michigan, which turned out to be a total physical mismatch that left many questioning the methods of Mike Kent and the strength staff.

As it turns out, the weight room had become a big problem area for the Gators, and it was reflected in their performances on the field. I’ve heard from several sources that there was very little energy and effort in that room, and that the staff seemed perfectly OK with the lax environment, doing little or nothing to change it.

Savage will be changing it in a big way. Mullen is demanding that the Gators take on all aspects of their lives with relentless effort, and it’s going to start with the strength and conditioning program over the next few months.

Remember what the culture in the weight room was like when Urban Meyer was here (and Mullen was his offensive coordinator)? Well, the Gators are going back to it, or something similar to it. There will be competition and winners and losers in everything the players do, whether it’s lifting or running or doing pull-ups and push-ups. I suspect those exhausting mat drills that physically and mentally toughened the players under Meyer will return, along with a lot of other demanding challenges.

The Gators need it, and they are getting it, starting next week.

By the time spring ball rolls around, there will be a noticeable difference in the physical appearance of this football team. That’s a given.

 

46 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe like when Tebow would lift with DLs and LBs. Or when Tebow gained “the Freshman 15” in the spring but it was all muscle and not fat. Or when Tebow would take on defenders one on one and push them backwards across the weight room. Or when Tebow would take on defenders in drills but have Meyer pull him out of the circle for fear of someone getting hurt. Meyer and Tebow set a very high bar with passion and dedication. We shouldn’t live in the past, but Mullens needs to bring that passion, dedication, and heart back to Gator football. We lost that under Mac. Tebow is like “the Highlander” (there can only be one) but UF needs to strive to get that heart back into the team.

    • You said it, Dave. The old Army saying, “Tough in training, easier on the battlefield” applies here too. The Army seems to have moved away from that, probably because it’s not considered fair to some people, but that’s no reason for college football–and in particular the Florida Gators–to.

  2. The more info we are getting about the last regime here, the more I wonder if Mac was in a coma for part of the time. He even looked disengaged during games. I don’t even recall him wearing headphones. In retrospect, things seemed more form than substance.

    • Obviously. Where were the watchers? You know, the journalists? Why is all this stuff coming out once the previous coaching staff has been fired? Access to the press box buffets are obviously more important than reporting the negative stuff inside of a program in real time. No wonder the alternative Gator Media is so popular.

      • Yes, you are right, it is more important. They can’t bump heads with the coaching staff so much that they lose all access. Please stop bringing this up all the time. Move on…

      • Because it’s easy to bash the folks who have left and they can’t defend themselves.
        Because those who have left can’t criticize their former employer as it was written into the settlement. However, it apparently doesn’t apply to the former employer when they anonymously leak out the dirty laundry.
        Because it validates the firing after the fact.
        Because the media needs to toe the UF party line or risk losing access.

    • Mac never coached a player up on the sidelines, that I can recall. What about the ole HBC every time one of the qb’s would come off the field he’d be in their ear hole. That is coaching. Mac was just a face standing on the sideline his strength was being an OC but was to scared to make a move or something so glad that era of Gator football is OVER. Most head coaches deligate the responsibilities to someone else to call the ball game. Now we have a man who knows this job is his to keep or lose and he will call the plays. I love it. Back to good ole Gator football where the coach is the leader on and off the field. Can’t wait for what the future holds for UF FOOTBALL. WE NOW HAVE A LEADER. AND THE KIDS COMING UP WILL REALIZE THIS. BACK ON TOP BEFORE WE KNOW IT. love the move by Strickland was not sure about him till the Mullen hire. Good times are coming 🐊🐊🐊 fans!!!

  3. I’m not going to BLAME the press for this one, Where was the Athletic Director(Strictland), and the SPECIAL Assistant to the program (Coach Spurrier). In an article earlier in the week, Dooley mentioned that Strickland told him that the weight training program was a “JOKE” or something to that effect. So the blame should be in-house, not at the media. The media is not paid to air what they think is inefficiencies in the program like that, they may know that things are being done differently but they can’t come out and say these guy don’t know what they are doing in the weight room. This is a BIG SHOCK to almost everyone who has read it but let’s not put it on the media. Someone mentioned the “press box buffet, what about all the PERKS Coach Spurrier and the Athletic Director enjoy and they actually work for the UF in the “Football Program”. Get off the golf course and do something if this program was in such BAD shape why haven’t there been some things done before “D” day.

    • But they did do something. They fired him, or whatever you call it. There was obviously some friction before the end, and perhaps concern (and pressure exerted) over the strength program and other aspects of that coaching regime were part of the reason. But there is only so much they can do publicly, and only so much they can do privately under those circumstances, short of firing the guy and paying millions in bailout money. What, do you think Spurrier is going to publicly make statements about the incumbent coach’s deficiencies? If he did that, you wouldn’t get another coach here- they would all be concerned about the retired HBC meddling and undermining them.

      When it comes down to it, Strickland took action and got rid of the guy earlier then usually occurs. Obviously he had more than one good reason for that.

        • agreed 1000% – I am so tired of the fans here blaming Dooley or Andreu about everything wrong with UF past teams and staffs. As if they reported everything, things would just change for the better. So, what, if they would have us about the gym training effort issue, does anyone think it would have gotten fixed under Mac? please!!!!

          Grow up and move on.

          • Ron: I haven’t seen anyone blame the sports writers for “everything wrong with UP past teams and staffs”, whatever than means.

            I simply would like to see the media do more than pile on later and be a little more pro-active in their reporting. Call it like it is in real time, not a year later. Then again, I’m expecting old-school media to actually do old-school journalism. And Ron, I’m really not looking for direction from you on what to and what not to write in these comment sections. Thanks for the input though.

        • While the national media is losing any and all credibility day by day, to include the national sports media, this is local sports media and I for one totally agree that they’re doing a very good job across the board, Creek.

          • Hey Mac’s Stinking BBQ Sauce, I don’t know what you just said, but with a screen name like that I’ll support your right to say it….with somebody’s, if not my own, life.

          • “Old-school journalism” requires fact-checking and corroborating sources…not reporting on unverified (if likely true) rumors.

    • Mac would not take any advice from HBC from the stories I’ve heard within the program so he backed off and let Mac hang his self. Is your pride that big when the program is struggling and you can’t take any words of wisdom from someone who has been around for as long as HBC. The pressers after the LSU game showed me Mac was done. The pressure was to much. I wish him well back at Montana State or whatever little college he goes to but at the same time good riddance!!
      GO GATORS 🐊🐊🐊100%

  4. Who is Strickland?
    All I know is our current AD, Stricklin, took responsibility for Foley’s hire and made changes. Relatively quickly. Glad he is in charge.

  5. MacYet and his band of goofballs have been run out of town on a rail. Terrible hire by Foley, this one the worst of all it is now clear that he didn’t research even the basics on Mac, like can he handle interviews and is he a leader (NO, and NO). Also, are the qualifications he is being hired for real? Is he really the QB Whisperer and Offensive Guru? Can he put a winning staff together? Giving that popcorn salesman $4.5M per year has to be one of the biggest wastes of money on record.
    We’ll be OK under Dan. He might not be the glamour hire but he knows how to coach the game of football. And there won’t be organized crime by 12% of the football team stealing money from citizens’ credit cards.

  6. Mac was not even a player’s coach, but a fake player’s coach. A coach who truly cares about his players will push them to be their best selves. Mac never did that. I hope the players realize how lucky they are now to have a head coach who cares enough to push them, and a strength coach who will do whatever it takes to help them reach their full potential and crush it on and off the field.

    Of course it will be painful and involve a lot of sore muscles, but the biggest challenge to all of them will be in their brains, and I am sure these coaches are going to help them overcome their mental limits as well, driving them to the point that they are strong enough in mind and body to seize the world that lays before them, just waiting to be taken!

    • Weightlifting is mind over body. Being dedicated to it takes mental fortitude which our Gators did not have. We will see a completely new team when they hit the field this spring. I can’t wait!

      • I think the triad here is Body-Mind-Spirit. Put in context, once the body is conditioned properly, the mental agility follows, and the real Gator spirit will be regained under Coach Mullen. That’s a winning combination, guys, and it’s real. May even work for Franks, who knows?

  7. It’s deja vu, all over again. Ever since Tebow left, every year there has been this same claptrap about how the new (insert whatever) is going to make the Gators a different team from what is actually seen on the field against teams not paid to lose in Gainesville. From Kurt Roper running the perfect “system” to make a bum like Driskel look good to last year’s mantra that Brad Davis was the guy tomake UF’s offensive line good. I recall all the “enthusiam, toughness, blah, blah, blah,” that was going to make, according to some well-known fools, UF’s offensive line the SEC’s best. How about the whopper that Martez Ivey was going to transform from a huge bust to an All-SEC player because he was moving to his “natural” position?
    What’s sad is that there will be a lot of folks actually believing all the “words” coming from the pundits, players, and coaches. They seem to forget that “words” are maeningless, or, as Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until the get punched in the mouth.”
    So, once again, the “words” will come at breathtaking speed, but the only real thing will happen when UF plays a team they don’t pay to come and lose in Gainesville.

    • “The word is not the thing”, SIH. For us poor schmucks out here in fandom, we’ve been burned too many times by hyperbole, haven’t we? I enjoy the writing here very much, but to be completely honest about it, the majority of what influences my own opinion on these matters is what I read in these posts. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

  8. All last year, thru the summer and into the fall these problems were pointed out by the Administration, Staff, Players, Meda and even low key wise by the ole ball coach ie. Coach Mac much interested.
    Stricklin: S&C not near good enough. Fire the coach and get it up speed.
    Mac: Naw, like this nice laid back attitude. Less stress on players and myself.
    Stricklin: Offense is a wreck. Fire OC.
    Mac: Naw, works OK. Like having my buddy making $1m and being my friend.
    Stricklin: So, Mr. President do I have you and the boards approval to finally fire this Clown School Cadet after this latest dust up mess ?
    UF: It’ll cost us a bundle, yet to it’s best to Fire Mac. Make it happen.
    Stricklin: Done Deal.
    Stricklin: Mac Your Fire.
    Mac: Bummer, needed a vacation anyway. Oh well. Later.

    • Stricklin: Mac was a very bad coach.
      Journalist: OK, I will write the story.
      Stricklin: Good. Here’s my direct cell phone number. Please call me if you have any more questions or stop by my office any time.

      Journalist (writing the article): Stricklin is my hero.
      Readers (after reading the article): Wow! Mac WAS a very bad coach. It’s written right here in the paper.
      Mac: Whut?! I did that? Wait, I can’t offer a rebuttal because Stricklin gave me hush money as part of the settlement. I can’t criticize my former employer (Gulp).

  9. my general observation is that mullen’s teams have had a few injuries but not the deluge caused under Muschamp from his Georgia bulldog mentality that he advocated. even the kickers got hurt with him.
    imo what did mac in was the will grier deal, the credit card mess, and the lack of a healthy luke del rio, plus a big miss with franks, but I don’t remember mac having that many other devastating injuries. hopefully there is room to tighten up on training and still keep the guys playing

    • What did Mac in was the fact that he sucked beyond belief at his job that paid him an equally ridiculous $4.5M per year. The man could not string 3 sentences together and make any sense. And scored 0 on Leadership. the inmates ran the asylum under Mac he didn’t get a damn when they did.
      Good riddance.

  10. I was benching 350 pounds when I was in the Army and I weighed 180 pounds. Time for the Gator football team to discover what tough is – Coach Mac was soft – Coach Mullen expects much more, which is part of the reason he has been so successful. Now it is time for the Gators to return to their former glory – we lost this after HC Urban Meyer left, and have never recovered it since.

  11. Too many bozos in this circus. Half of you don’t know Mullen has no “s” at the end. The other half blame Spurrier and the media for the Gators not training hard. Suffice it to say if any of you had a clue, you wouldn’t be spreading your “big scoops” in the comments section of the Sun.

    None of you were on the inside. You don’t know what was said, and to whom. You don’t know what access the media were given to the weight room. When McElwain complained about administration not supporting him, could it have been criticism from Stricklin that he didn’t like? He got his raises. He got his facilities. But still wasn’t supported? Maybe he was being torched, but they had the common sense to do it privately. Maybe.

    Either way, we now have MULLEN without the S. The past is over. Clear skies always follow the storm.

  12. For the record, it is Scott STRICKLIN, not Strickland or Stricklund. Also, it is Dan Mullen, not Mullens or Mullins. Just pointing that out.

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