Notebook: Mullen rejects rumors about defensive back

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Florida defensive back Brad Stewart Jr. listens to teammates after a touchdown he scored off an interception against LSU at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium earlier this month. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

Florida coach Dan Mullen has dismissed internet rumors that sophomore safety Brad Stewart Jr. likely has been suspended from Saturday’s game against Georgia due to a possible failed drug test.

When asked on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday if he expected Stewart to play Saturday, Mullen said. “Why wouldn’t he?”

Mullen was then told about the rumors concerning Stewart.

“I make those decisions, not the internet,” he said. “Our injury report … everybody is healthy, ready to go.”

In the past, Mullen has not announced player suspensions until the day of the game.

New starting QB?

Speaking of rumors, there has been a lot of speculation in Athens this week that Georgia true freshman quarterback Justin Fields will see extensive playing time in Saturday’s game and could even possibly be the surprise starter ahead of sophomore Jake Fromm.

UGA coach Kirby Smart was asked on the teleconference if Fields is going to be more involved in the offense Saturday. He had only one carry for three yards in the LSU loss two weeks ago.

“I don’t know that I’d say there’s a plan or anything that says that’s going to happen,” Smart said. “I certainly think (Fields) has gotten better with the off week. Lots of work, lots of reps. He continues to grow as a player. If we see the opportunity, it certainly could happen.”

RBs have UGA’s attention

Smart seems impressed with Florida’s running backs. All three of them — Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine and true freshman Dameon Pierce, who is from Georgia.

“They’re physical. They’re built very similarly,” Smart said. “They have big lower bodies. They’re had to tackle. I tell people all the time there’s a mold of an SEC back and it’s like all these guys on these teams we play that have really thick, 220-pound backs that run through tackles and play really physical.

“Both of those guys (Scarlett and Perine) have done that, and done it well, behind an offensive line that has gotten better with each and every game.”

Mullen the play-caller

Mullen is an offensive coach who calls the plays for the Gators, while Smart is a defensive guy who calls the UGA defense. So, it will be a chess match between the two head coaches Saturday.

Smart seems to have a lot of respect for Mullen and what he does with his offense.

“He does a great job,” Smart said. “He does a really good job of changing the rhythm of the game, the pace of the game. Some hurry-up stuff, some check-with-me stuff, some easy throws, some vertical passing game. He stretches the field both vertically and horizontally. He’s a really good play caller.

“At the end of the day, it will boil down to the players making the plays, not the guys calling the plays.”

Neighborly rivalry

Mullen and Smart are neighbors in the summer. They both own summer homes at Lake Oconee in central Georgia.

“He has a home there. Our family has a home there,” Smart said. “I see him over the summers — the years he’s been at Mississippi State quite a bit.”

Mullen said he occasionally runs into Smart and his family in the neighborhood.

“Kirby and I have played golf a couple of times up there in the summer,” Mullen said. “We’ll pass each other over at the kids’ pool coming and going, when we take the family out to the swimming pool. We get to see each other. It’s a great place.

“There’s a whole bunch of coaches up there. The calendar fits coaches well because there are all kinds of coaches there (in the summer).”

36 COMMENTS

  1. Come on Gators! No screwing up this week, especially this week! Go to class, keep your noses clean, work hard in practice, and then Saturday, THUMP U.G.A.! ”It’s not revenge we’re after, it’s the reckoning!” And then sit back and watch the media eat crow, and have to talk about FLORIDA as a possible ”CHAMPION” again all next week. Go Gators!

    • gatotgi70x7 – I agree with you 100%, and I hope the young men on our team do as well. Nothing would be better than to beat the dawgs when very few are giving us a chance. If you think about it, the dawgs have everything to lose in this game and just might be playing scared. We aren’t supposed to be as good as our record this year, so we have nothing to lose (since we are already bowl eligible). GO GATORS!!! WE WANT BAMA!!!

  2. If Georgia is thinking of starting a kid who hasn’t started a game this year at QB, it tells me we are in their heads…again. I hope Kirby follows the path of Mark Richt and freaks out every end of October. Jedi mind tricks means he has to shake it up bc he has less confidence in his team’s chances of beating us .

  3. Mullen didn’t outright claim Stewart was playing, he just said I make those decision not the internet. Then he changes the subject by saying the injury report is clean and everyone is ready to go. Sorry but suspended players aren’t on the injury report. Gator fans should fully expect to hear Stewart is suspended on game day.

  4. If Stewart is suspended, that would be a shame, as he has been playing well. But better to get high than to play in the biggest SEC game of the year and have your teammates’ backs, I guess. But the language used by Mullen makes one believe that he will not play vs. Georgia. Fingers crossed that this rumor is not true.

    • Say it isnt so. i suspect sometimes guys think illegal drugs will make them feel better after an injury or soreness, but self medication is not the answer, particularly when you have a million dollar health care program available to you. and for those that chose crime, again, has anyone looked at the unemployment stats for ex-cons? just not a good career choice. even if you are nfl caliber, missing games for this kind of stuff will cost you $ on your contract or draft status. and your team is better when you can play, even if its only a few plays.

  5. Comments can be read however you prefer to read them. Mullen asked “why wouldn’t he” when asked if Stewart was going to play Saturday. If the rumor turns out to be false, a lot of people should be embarrassed to say they helped keep it going.

    • mr. spark, i suspect thats what the ole ball coach probably thought, and CDM being sharp as a tack, doesnt let the opponent know anything to help him plan. imo, not that im some sort of a master of this or anything, one play or ten plays are better than no plays.

    • Spark very true that an injury could take a man out but self-inflicted things hurt the team. Lack of individual personal discipline. There are a lot of things the coaches can fix but the can’t fix stupid. I hope this is not true that a player has let the rest of his team down by being selfish and immature. If true I hope a lesson is learned individually and not something the team pays for in the result of the game.

  6. I’m curious about whether or not Houston (targeting) and Joseph ( 2 Unsportsman like calls) will be able to play in the first half after both were ejected in the first half of the Vandy game 2 weeks ago? Joseph would be a big loss, even if just for a half. Anybody have an update on that (fact, not rumor). Maybe I’ve missed that announcement somewhere.