Mullen, Raymond lament inattention to detail

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Florida tight end R.J. Raymond takes in the Gators loss Saturday to Missouri in the Homecoming game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

After Florida coach Dan Mullen addressed the team following Saturday’s 38-17 loss to Missouri, redshirt senior tight end R.J. Raymond stood up.

Raymond, who has taken a vocal leadership role inside the tight end unit this season, wished to impart a message to the Gators who had begun to hang their heads in defeat.

Raymond implored his teammates to attack every aspect of the game. Mullen did the same, stressing the Gators often struggled when it came to playing with consistent energy on every play.

Still emotional after the contest, Raymond reiterated his postgame message to the assembled media. For the third time in his career at Florida, Raymond had felt defeat at the hands of the Tigers, and it all seemed to come out at once.

At the end of the day it comes down to our preparation. We didn’t execute and that’s really the bottom line. We got to make the plays when the plays are there. We got to hit the receivers. We got to protect. We got to block the right run plays,” Raymond said. “It comes down to 100-percent execution and that’s it. It’s not like we haven’t put up points before this season so it’s all execution and that comes down to what you do Monday through Friday.”

The execution aspect is one that’s come under scrutiny before from both Mullen and the team — although it would be tough for someone to argue the Gators have improved in said execution this season, especially after a three-possession defeat.

Mullen has used the term “details” to describe the aspects in which Florida is currently lacking. For one of the first times this season, the first-year UF head coach elaborated on several areas in which UF can improve in practice.

“I talk to our guys about the sense of urgency they have to have in every detail. This is where your toughness is challenged, the coaches, everyone. When you get into November, I’m tired, I’m beat up, I’m sore, I’m exhausted, the season’s going on and it’s been wearing down,” Mullen said. “Do I have the intensity every single day? Make sure every detail, you know, is my toe behind the line in stretching? I mean, every detail. Or are we kind of, hey, let’s go, we’re good. That doesn’t work. As coaches that’s a lot on us.”

From the way Mullen tells it, the current crop of Gators are a program accustomed to a drop off if the jackpot at the end of the season isn’t as appealing. Mullen labeled them “details”, which can carry the connotation that they’re not as important as other aspects; Raymond doesn’t concur with that sentiment. In his eyes, every aspect is equally important, and Florida won’t peak until it treats the details as if they’re determining factors in UF’s success moving forward.

“There’s no such thing as little details, in my opinion. Every single thing matters. Because, you might think that when you’re holding the ball, when you got the ball secured, but if that ball is not completely secured when you’re running and you’re holding that ball low, you might think ‘oh that’s just a little detail’, but if it’s fourth and one, the game’s on the line and you’re holding that ball low and somebody punches it out? No, it becomes a huge detail, and you lose the game,” Raymond said. “So, every little thing has to be brought to the highest level. I think it just comes down to the want to, and wanting to do it every single play and being locked in every single play, every single day.”

31 COMMENTS

  1. id be looking for a little leadership right about now, talent and coaching can only get you so far. good leaders have will, incredible will, and other positive traits. doesnt seem to me that this decade has produced enough iron willed players in football. even then a good captain can get his fellow players to show some will. somehow we let our will go off, and its important to get it back and get this program back on track.

    • Good point — if an emergent leader doesn’t emerge by this time next year, all the incoming talent in the world will be ineffective. Well, that’s a little draconian come to think of it — blame it on my crummy mood right now — but at the very least it will make Dan Mullen’s job that much harder.

    • And this culture takes years to change. We need to quit firing coaches and understand that simply being a good coach will not equate to winning in the short term. Outside a run with a guy named Tebow, nobody has been able to win big here in 20 years. After 96, even Spurrier couldn’t get us to a NC game. We had a good 4 year run with Tebow and then went right back to where we were at before he got here. It’s not the coaches. It’s the program and the culture.

      • LT, You are right to say it is the Program. It is the administration who is responsible for supplying the resources needed to win championships. You win when you have elite players. You get elite players when you show them your commitment to winning. However, a mediocre coach can still screw it up. It takes resources plus a good coach to win consistently.

  2. It’s plain as the nose on your face. Recruit better players . Recruit players that are tough with the mentality of thinking, playing 60 minutes each and every game. Big need of stronger and bigger players. Players with the mind set of winning championships. Still can win 9 games but the team needs not to quit as it has done the last 2 weeks. Franks place on the team should be on the bench. He’s been here 3 years and has only gotten worse. Franks doesn’t give us the best chance to win anymore. I have nothing good to say so it’s best for me to just read other comments. Good Day……………..

  3. If you sit down and think about it, if you don’t have arguably one of the best qbs to ever play college football, you can’t win big at Florida. There was a great 4 year run with Wuerffel and a great 4 year run with Tebow and outside of that, Florida has never truly won big. No matter who the coach is, apparently if you don’t have a living legend of cfb at qb, you have no shot at a title.

    • I’m tracking c what you’re trying to get across, LT, but that’s a little over the top for me. You’re right about giving Mullen time though — don’t forget, we’re still in Year One! You made the point that CDM hasn’t proven anything yet vs previous coaches at the same point. I read you as one of those Gators who says, “Show me first”………..OK, I don’t have a problem with that and there’s nothing basically wrong with that attitude as long as it doesn’t turn into abject pessimism. I don’t see you and Alum84 going off the deep end that way, but I have to read your comments a couple of times to make sure of that. Just be aware of that tendency is all I’m saying — but by all means keep on posting you two, it generates the kind of discussions that we need to be having!

      If Sparky is correct above, it means that Dan Mullen has his hands full. That will change over time, but right now — if true — it’s one more thing to deal with.

    • LT, I agree that Florida won championships with a special QBs. Texas (Vince Young) and Clemson (Watson) also won with elite QBs. However, Alabama has shown that you can win championships with game manager QBs (Coker, McElroy and McCarron) when you surround them with elite players. It is easier to win consistently when you have elite players at all positions. A special QB can lift 3 and 4-star players to greatness, but you can’t count on an individual player being special when you are recruiting them. You win consistently based on having numbers at all positions.

  4. LT, Spurrier teams won 6 sec titles in 12 years (really 7 if you count ’90). So he won with multiple QBs. In fact the 2001 team that finished #3 in the Nation didn’t win any titles, but was one of the Gators best ever teams. Other than Bama, nobody has had a 12 year run like Spurrier. And Spurrier is partly to blame for our facilities not getting updated. He didn’t think you needed all the bells and whistles, just coach em up and win.

    • I hate to say it but Bowden’s 12-yr run at FSWho (1989-2000) was remarkable. Just 17 losses in 12 yrs (compared to 27 for the HBC), and ranked no lower than fifth at the end of each season. And an 8-5-1 record against the HBC. But the HBC had the biggest head-to-head win, the 1996 NC.

        • Sparky, that’s a fact. Bowden wanted it in writing that if f$u joined the SEC, they would not have to play Auburn and Bama the same year. He also is on record of saying how hard it would be to win the NC from the SEC where they beat up on each other. Why did the chicken cross the road? To join the acc.

    • Spurrier won big because he reinvented offense in the SEC. It was a special time to be a Florida fan. The Gators humiliated other teams. Opponents got so far down in the game so quickly that they had to abandon their old fashion power run games and try to pass. They had no clue how to pass. Sparky you are correct in pointing out that Spurrier’s genius and the ego that went with it was the beginning of the downfall. He did say you didn’t need facilities to win. Urban added to this problem when he came. He also reinvented offense in the SEC with the spread. Same results. So Foley saw that you could win without upgrading facilities. So unless a new offensive scheme is invented some time soon, Florida will not win championships unless they follow the current formula, top-notch facilities, led by Alabama.

  5. I found this article and the quotes to be rediculous. A big DUH ! Football is a game requiring talent, skill, teamwork, emotion, aggression, precision, good coaching, good play calling, and good discipline. All factors function together. The more factors you score high on in any game, the better you can compete. If you have a D rated quarterback, call D rated plays, commit undisciplined penalties, play without emotion etc. you will not be successful against quality programs. But everyone familiar with football knows this, it is not rocket science. Check out the factors with Bama, Clemson, and other top programs. Check out the factors with the Gators. If you are lacking in some factors, you sure better overcompensate in others. This is Football 101. The Gators have so much to play for in the last 3 games. The coaches must give them the opportunities, the players must then perform. 9-3 or 7-5.

  6. Hah!!! Just read the Taggart post game interview. Seems like Taggart and Mullen are coaching the same team. Singing the same song. I guess that is what we would all say in that circumstance. At least neither Taggart nor Mullen said how cool and neat it was to see the other team’s star maul your own team.

  7. Achems Razor: the simplest explanation is generally the correct one. CDM would be wise to apply it to the QB problem. Yes, FF demonstrated improvement because of CDM’s coaching. What we are observing now is to be expected. He is simply “reverting to the mean”. A mathematical principle that applies to financial markets, sports franchises, and yes, individuals. FF is not an SEC caliber QB as is obvious. High performance from him is not sustainable. He does not possess the mental aptitude required ( slow mental processing ability leading to poor decision making, cannot see the entire field of play, etc). Lack of mental acuity coupled with a slow release leads to what we are seeing with increasing frequency. A useful business principle should be applied by CDM here. When a change is required, it is better to act immediately rather than postpone. This season is nowa dissapointment, getting on with the obvious is the correct path forward. Certainly the coaching staff privately recognizes this. Now, so does the rest of the team. This “ mental focus explanation is BS designed for public consumption. Do not buy into this nonsense.

  8. Yes, we are witnessing the personification of the “ regression to the mean” principle with FF. I believe the coaching staff already knows this, but is reluctant to bench him for other “softer” reasons. Other players are tacitly interpreting this as a signal that sub par performance is acceptable and are slacking off. Does anyone believe coach spurrier or saban would tolerate this? If CDM wants to compete for championships, perhaps he should emulate them. Finally,cDM should examine another business principle “ problems do not get better with age”. Immediate action is required if the necessary culture change is meant to be taken seriously by players.

  9. While I generally enjoy the beat writers stories, they are softball stories in which they willingly accept the players and coaches excuses for poor performance. It would be refreshing to see someone write a fact based story supported by analytics that clearly points out deficiencies that must be addressed. I suggest starting with “UF QB problem: Why Immediate Action is Required to Protect Future of Program”. There are enough leads in the comment string for them to do something useful for a change.

    • Agree 100% with your comments on Franks. He has stopped improving this year. He has reached his ceiling. Time for a change. At least Mullen recognized the definition of insanity. It is a start and shows he may not be as stubborn like most coaches.

      However, reporters report what they hear and see. While they do offer criticism, they do not offer solutions. It would be interesting for Dooley to do an Op Ed once a week. I am guessing they do not do an Op Ed because they are afraid of push back from the Athletic Department.

      • Maybe not Dooley — there’s too much bias against him already for being basically honest. How about Graham? Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately he has really shown a knack for getting to the core issues and is certainly unafraid to wade into it. Just a thought — I for one would like to see the Op Ed idea come to life. Man alive, if you think we have interesting debates now!

        • I appreciate the compliment Gator-6, thank you for the kind words. And I always appreciate everyone’s overall feedback and discussion. Pat writes columns and op-ed style pieces for us, and let me reassure everyone we don’t fear pushback from the athletic department when it comes to what we report. I’ll be posting a column later Wednesday on Twitter/Gatorbait.net if you’re interested in my take on UF’s quarterback issues and Will Muschamp’s return.