Gators’ comfort in Mullen’s offense showing in improved production

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UF's Feleipe Franks scores on a 17-yard run Saturday against Idaho at Florida Field. [Lauren Bacho/Staff photographer]

During the coach Jim McElwain years, most would have been satisfied if the offense had shown even just a little sure and steady progress.

But the needle never really moved. The offense stayed in its rut.

The Gators were 112th in the nation in total offense last season. The season before that they were 116th and the season before that 110th.

So, no visible progress.

Now, in coach Dan Mullen’s first season, the progress the fan base has been yearning for, actually begging for, is happening. The offense has made almost a quantum leap from a year ago.

The Gators are 56th in the nation in total offense, averaging 418.7 yards a game, and UF has gone from 108th to 30th in scoring offense, averaging 33.9 points a game.

And here’s a sure sign that the offense has come to life and is trending up: the Gators are coming off back-to-back 500-yard games that produced a combined 98 points.

“That’s good. I like that,” Mullen said.

The offensive system is sinking in, apparently.

“I think guys are getting comfortable with what we’re doing,” Mullen said. “We went into last week’s game and I told our guys, ‘This is how we’re going to execute. We’re going to come right out of the gate and execute.’

“I just wanted us to execute cleanly and I think we really did that last week. That’s what I was most pleased with, our consistent execution.”

That consistent execution started kicking in during the second half against South Carolina. The Gators scored 21 consecutive points to overcome a 31-14 deficit, putting together TD drives of 75, 89 and 66 yards.

The trend continued in the 63-10 win over Idaho last Saturday. The key now is to try and keep it going against Florida State on Saturday — and beyond.

“Our execution (dating back to the second half against USC), that’s where we want that to be at, where we’re consistently performing at a high level,” Mullen said.

In the past two games, sharp execution has led to lots of yards and points. The Gators averaged 32.5 first downs, 564 total yards and 49 points in those two wins.

And they showed they can move the ball equally well on the ground and through the air. UF rushed for 367 yards against South Carolina and passed for 399 the following week.

Junior wide receiver Josh Hammond said the offensive system has become second nature to the players.

“We’re really comfortable,” he said. “We’re 11 or 12 weeks in now. Guys have really bought into the system and really got a chance to understand it. It’s gotten to a point where if it’s third-and-four or third-and-five, Feleipe (Franks) already knows what play Coach Mullen is going to call depending on the hash it’s on.

“It’s gotten to the point that even the receivers know what is expected and what play is going to come. We’ve just gotten so comfortable in the offense that it has allowed us to play a lot faster and excel at a higher level.”

Franks, who never appeared comfortable in McElwain’s offense, seems to have found a comfort zone in Mullen’s offense — and with Mullen’s coaching style.

He was extremely sharp in the Idaho game, throwing for 274 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half.

“It’s an over-time thing. You keep learning and learning,” Franks said. “They do a good job each week making sure we’re prepared. Each week is different. It’s not like you go in with 500 plays. You go in and get specific plays that work against specific defenses.

“We’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. We’re certainly far from perfect, but that’s what it’s all about. In life, it’s just keep on getting better each day. And we have great teachers to help us do that.”

Together, coaches and players, the Gators are making the progress needle move on offense.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Careful Robbie, LT’s going to claim you’re out of your mind for even suggesting Mullen is a better coach then Mac, even though you laid out all the FACTUAL information needed to back it up. Mac won 10 games, so unless Mullen does the same, then it’s obvious Mullen isn’t any better LOL!

    • There you go, waving a red flag in front of a bull again, Joe!

      Actually, I don’t think LT said Mac was better than Mullen, just that he hasn’t proven it yet. Maybe it’s not what he says, but the way he says it. At any rate, thanks for spicing up a rather hum drum Thanksgiving….should be interesting!

      • 6 I’d say having ask offense ranked 50% above anything Mac had is better when if we don’t get ten. I think we will. As for washing the flag I’m with Joe on this one. While Muschamp and Mac may be good coaches they were not good or the right fit here. And not being the right fit made them bad for us. Mullen may never get us to the place we want to be. There are no guarantees. But a jump of this magnitude is a positive sign that we are headed in the right path. He fit production from people Mac couldn’t. What a way for the last of Muschamps players to go out. Winning season and hopefully a roster sort at the next level. Mac s players have learned that you have to work everyday to get there. NONE OF THIS WAS TAUGHT UNDER THE LAST TWO COACHES. These guys are following a leader. Now if some of the players take on being leaders we’ll be fine.

        • Roger that 65, I’m with Joe too but I’m willing to listen to other arguments if they make sense…..so I’ve tried to be careful in teasing out exactly what LT is saying when the evidence is so stacked against his position. Sly has some interesting takes on previous coaches too, but when you read his theses they are hard to argue with.

          By the way — at the beginning of the season, I think you and I were both saying the if CDM could get the offensive ranking in the 70s or 80s, that would be something indeed. Man, did we underestimate or what? Now Mac certainly never achieved that!

          • 6 that was a huge underestimate but 70-80 would have been a positive gain and an indicator of an improved program. Yes Muschamp and Mac had some success but that was superficial and felt hollow and now I think can be proven to be true. Muschamp has passion I will never take that from him but he appears to be the kind that his passion is his weakness, Once coaches figured that out he was beatable by using that passion against him. Mac had one good year in a conference that isn’t in our league. He appears to be having success as a coordinator in MI and that may be his calling. Neither were ready for a program of this magnitude and scope. Some would say Meyer came from a small program but be came with years of ‘working out the kinks’ in those smaller programs and was ready for the leap. Muschamp wasn’t and still appears to be too strong headed to change (the improvise adapt and overcome theme is not in his skill set) Likewise for Mac. My memory isn’t the best but when Meyer was here our defense was top 10 and maybe top 5 in some and the offense was top 20 or better. Someone here will know that. My point being Mullen was here and a part of that and knows what is takes to get a program this big to that stage. The other two didn’t/don’t have that yet. Yes they were with big name coaches but not long enough to develop the skills and knowledge to take a team to the top. As I have said I may be here in a few years eating these words but this program feels right. It feels like it is built on the right foundation to go the distance. And I want to beat the ‘Noles so bad. Oh, and the other prediction was getting bowl eligible and that we are with a 2 game margin. To counter some yes we did get to the SEC game (I was at those) but we were woefully unprepared for those and if we were to be there 10 times we would likely have lost all with the former staff.

      • Sorry 6, I just couldn’t help myself. I’m a firm believer that Mullen proved he was a better coach before he even coached his first game. Besides his 9 years of proof building a successful program at historically one of the most difficult places to win in the SEC, the proof was in the strength and conditioning program he implemented the moment he stepped foot on campus. Anyone who allows the program Mac did, should never be allowed to hold a head coaching position. He was putting the players career’s in jeopardy by his stupidity. If you know football, when it comes to first seasons coaching, being a better coach goes deeper than just wins and losses. There’s far more stuff to consider as far as the talent inherited, the mentality of the players you inherit, the physical makeup of the players you inherit and whether they fit the system you’re trying to run, that contribute to the ease of wins and losses. Just by putting a major emphasis on the S&C program, that showed he knows exactly what it takes to build a long term successful program from the ground up. Mac seemed to only care about the “neat” atmosphere’s at games than building a program from the ground up. Yeah he had a fairly successful first season and got lucky the second season, but the massive amounts of injuries and suspensions showed the huge cracks in the foundation and it became clear to everyone that the foundation was completely crumbling by the 3rd season. To hear someone say Mullen hasn’t proven he’s a better coach yet, is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard a fan say. To then claim wins and losses are all that matter, not even acknowledging the fact that a strong foundation majorly contributes to not only wins and losses, but long term success of a program, is even more ridiculous. He goes on and on about how stupid people are for thinking he’s better at this point and saying no one is providing facts, even though I provided several, but here we have Robbie laying out a bunch of facts, so I just couldn’t help saying something. I’m just waiting for him to finally admit he was wrong and that Mullen is by far the better coach, but I doubt that will ever happen. Mullen could win a title next season and he’d probably say, well Mac would’ve too if he were given a chance.

        • You don’t need to convince me, bud….I’m all in for Mullen and even wish we could have found a way to get him back when Urban left. I think by now we would have added one or two more national championships to our resume — but what’s done is done and a very smart guy told me a long time ago, “It’s OK to look back, just don’t stare”.

          I don’t know what gets into LT, but I went from thinking he’s just a troll to thinking he’s OK…..just has a damn peculiar way of expressing himself. I get the idea his background is in corrections, so if that’s true he sure has my respect anyway. Happy Thanksgiving y’all….

  2. Having a productive O-line coach and strength coach has made a measurable difference in the improvement of the offense, especially in the running game. The passing game is significantly better, perhaps because two transfer wrs provided needed leadership (by example) and all-around better coaching has led to more people getting open and catching the ball. The X factor has been the inconsistent play. I guess that comes when you’re in your first year in a new system, so I’m not complaining. Just the opposite. Hats off to the coaches and the players. Moved from 112th to 56th in the nation in total offense. Nice cake you baked. Now beating the Noles will ice it. Go 🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊🐊

    • Prairie that inconsistent play cost us against Mizzou and KY. UGA too but that was going to be a scrap anyways. Next year there will be seasoned players who know the system and this will help the new guys. Hope the few Jrs that may be on the borderline in the draft come back. Go Gators! Take the swamp with you to. May the Swamp be with you!

  3. Dang, you scroll through FSU’s schedule and their week to week performances and readily see this is a bad Noles team. Of late, only that 74-yard touchdown completion and an extra point have them feeling good about themselves. Had BC hit a field goal at any point in Saturday’s game the Nolies would be 4-7. We should beat these clown school heroes badly. Sure hope we do!

  4. Steve, keep in mind OSU vs Purdue when comparing stats on paper. Any given Saturday any team can lose. I’m sure hoping we beat Free Shoes U !!! One other thing I noticed about this team as a whole, They play very well on the road. Not sure why that is, but definitely noticeable. MSU,UT, Vandy they played awesome, near unbeatable !! UGA was instate and half UGA and half UF so it wasn’t an away game by no means. This is Free Shoes U, it’s not about how good we are to how bad they are. In 2011 we held Free Shoes to 95 total yards and they still beat us, even though we were clearly the better team. 3 picks , one being a pick 6 , gave them a 21-7 win over us. I’m hoping the team we seen against LSU shows up Saturday and smokes the Holes!! Couldn’t agree more with Joe, 6 and 65 on their assessments on the differences between the coaching staff’s. Goooooo Gators !!!!!!!!!!