Offseason discipline responsible for different mindset following Georgia loss, UF players say

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Florida wide receiver Josh Hammond and quarterback Kyle Trask make their way through Gator Walk before Saturday's game against Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

It’s no secret the Gators hung their heads after last season’s 42-7 loss to Georgia.

The program’s head coach at the time, Jim McElwain, was a dead man walking, his fate sealed regardless of the outcome. As such, the players themselves didn’t care about the outcomes throughout the month of November, dropping three of the final four contests to finish the 2017 campaign with a 4-7 mark.

Now, having been eliminated from contention in the SEC following Dan Mullen’s first showdown with the Dawgs, the Gators could be forgiven for focusing on the future development of the program instead of competing in the immediate future.

But Florida’s prompt response following the 19-point defeat to Georgia was one of optimism as the Gators turned their attention to finishing on a high note. The message was simple: there are still numerous variables to play for — double-digit wins and a favorable bowl selection remain in the cards — and giving up on the 2018 campaign with four weeks remaining would be ill-advised.

“The way we handle this loss is going to determine the rest of the season,” defensive tackle Kyree Campbell said prior to Monday evening’s practice session. “So, everybody is expected to come out today and have one of the best practices of the season.”

It’s clear the Gators have a more sound mental resolve, and those inside the locker room have noticed the difference in approach. Asked Monday to reminisce on the offseason overhaul led by Mullen and his coaching staff, the Gators credited the attention to discipline instilled away from the field.

“Just the offseason workouts and conditioning, the whole program, I think that’s helped prepare us for moments like this,” wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “When adversity hits us, we got to continue to persevere and continue to grow, and move forward.”

Asked if the lack of discipline was apparent late in McElwain’s tenure, Campbell didn’t hesitate to point out the difference Mullen’s presence has made.

In hindsight, one of the most strenuous aspects of the team’s conditioning — running up the steps of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium holding a rope — helped prepare the Gators when it came to responding after a hardship.

“I think Coach Mullen and his staff have brought a lot of discipline to this program. Just their whole  side of the Gator standard has changed the whole program around, what it is or what it means to be a Gator and everything around it,” Campbell said. “So the stadiums actually help in a way.”

It’s one thing to say it and another to do it, and the Gators will have to let their actions do the talking against the Tigers. When it comes to preparing for bouncing back — and getting revenge from last season’s embarrassment in Columbia, Missouri — the Gators have to practice what they preach.

“Our first loss of the season, I think we handled it really well, then we started handling success pretty well, and now we want to see how we have to handle this adversity,” Mullen said. “The challenges are out there for all of us this week to rebound, get a big win and get ourselves back on track this season.”

33 COMMENTS

  1. Good article Hoss! We need to remember this is laying the ground work for the future. Mindset; Toughness; Discipline; Strength and Conditioning program. And more important then anything else not putting up with embarrassing ass whippings anymore. Because we weren’t tough enough and werent physical enough. You can say what you want to about Frank’s, turnovers, and missing Henderson last Saturday against the Poodles. But on both lines of scrimmage until the fourth quarter. The Gators were getting the better of Georgia on both lines of scrimmage. The 8 straight stops on the one yard line by the Gator Defense. Will be something I will always remember as a Gator. Opponents use to fear the Mighty Gators and Mullen, Savage, and Dr. Grantham are bringing that back.

  2. We still have a lot to play. We still have 4 games left in the season. OK, Georgia beat us, no big deal. We just need to move on and focus on the remaining games. Next up Missouri. Can we win, yes we can and we will. This is not the same team of last year. I fully expect Coach Mullen to have the players ready to go. I thought that Franks had turn a corner for us and was going to be a good QB for us. I can see that he’s not, but I think he gives us the best chance to win this year. I don’t believe he has the IT factor that a winning QB need to win. He makes to many mistakes. I think Coach Mullen does’t want to burn Jones red shirt this year. I look for a change in QB next year. All in all we still can have a great year this year. Good Day………………….

  3. I can already picture the vile posts on here next August when Mullen names Franks the starter for the Miami game. I guess in my old age I learned to trust the coach that watches the players practice to put the best players on the field. And always remember Gator fans, it could be worse, we could have hired Taggart 😎

  4. Swain and others stated that they did not practice hard the week before Georgia. How could that be when Georgia is your biggest SEC rival and they rolled over you last year? But you are now motivated vs Missouri because how they beat you? Champions practice hard and play hard with execution no matter who they are playing that week. I know Saban demands that every practice. Weary of excuses for not playing well and saying we and I have to do better. Just do better!

    • I know we’ve been at odds more times than not but I agree with you 100% on this. Winners hate losing and don’t make excuses when they do.Winners suck it up and play for pride even if there is no championship to play for. Last year’s team quit even though there was a lot better W/L record available. Hopefully, this year’s team won’t.

    • I nearly fell over when I heard they practiced poorly. A huge warning signal. Georgia is the biggest game of the year. And hearing Franks constantly talk about improving is pure rhetoric. After 2 and a half years – he is what he is. We are going against a big time passing attack this week and based on Georgia – that is our weakness. We better control the ball all game this week.

  5. We owe Coach Mullen and his staff our gratitude for being one year ahead of schedule with this team.
    The mental discipline and relentless attitude they have instilled is carrying over into a team of winners.
    Missouri will not know what hit them in the Swamp.
    Let’s finish strong, go 10-2, and earn a New Years Eve Day Bowl bid.

      • I feel like sometimes people are more comfortable taking a “I really didn’t want to win anyway” position as a way of protecting themselves from the sting of a loss. If I don’t give my all in practice or in the game and lose, then I can kind of play it off as ‘I wasn’t really trying anyway.” I do think it is contagious both ways, as I have heard many times coaches say “Winning is a habit. Losing is a habit.”

        I’m just talking out loud here, but I do believe over time Mullen will instill that winning attitude and get the players to embrace the joy of high expectations. The coaches can do a lot, but in the end great teams always have great leaders among the players as well.

        • While we know a great deal about the brain — human neurology, biochemistry, and so on — the human mind at times remains a complete mystery, Jaws. You may be onto something there.

          I think it is ultimately going to take an emerging leader, perhaps of the Tebow type, to finish the job Mullen has started.

  6. Franks has the heart of a champion. You nincompoops have no clue. Just stop your church lady know-best pontificating, put on some glasses and take a look at what that kid has accomplished. He was a 4-7 deer in the headlights, made worse every week by terrible coachlng. Got no support from anyone. Yet he kept his head down, worked his patooty off and has gotten himself off the mat after every blow. And as a result his skin is as thick and as tough as an alligator’s. What are you whiner/experts gonna say about the kid after he finishes 10 and 2? Can’t wait to hear.

    • You are a nincompoop who clearly doesnt know how to analyse football or football players. No one here has said he didnt improve, what people are saying is that with all this time he still makes the same critical errors that are essential not to make for a top QB. He lacks certain skill sets that are essential to succeed at that position such as being able to make progressions and being able to see the field and find wide open receivers. If he hasnt gotten it by now he never will. Some of these traits are innate and he just doesnt possess them. That also doesnt mean we dont support him or the team when they are playing. We all here want them to win but recognize that Franks causes the team to struggle unnecessarily.

      • EVERY player has some “innate” characteristics which cause his performance to be lees than perfect. Occasionally missing assignments – missed tackles. blown coverages, overthrows, dropped balls, fumbles, missed reads on offense OR defense….
        Your point is that you are not satisfied. My point is you are judging one player too harshly.

    • I agree with everything Daz said except the nincompoop part.
      Hopefully we will finish 10 – 2, there’s no reason not to. So if we do it is expected at this point in the season but ifwe dont it will probably have to do with continued struggles and turnovers at the QB position

      • Can “nincompoop” be used as a term of affection? I only ask because for a while as a young lieutenant I actually started thinking my first name was “Jesus Christ” since just about everything a certain general said to me started with, “Jesus Christ, Neal…..”. Despite that, I knew that he secretly liked me, so I figured it was just his way of showing it.

        Yeah, I’d definitely say NINCOMPOOP is better.

        • Or is it? Breaking the word down to its stems, we have NIN….obviously a derivative from the word, “ninny”, which refers to a scatterbrained person. And POOP….well, we all know what that stands for. The problem is in the center, where we have COM…….clearly a reference to the Communist Party USA! So just as clearly, one of these parties knows something about the other that none of the rest of us knows. In this vast world of conspiracies, Smith, I ask you…..just who is the real scatterbrained communist shyt head? Hmmmmmm.
          😜😜😜

          You know, if my application for Pope gets rejected again, I’m going to go ahead and apply for a part time position at the CIA. Sure would beat my current gig as a WalMart greeter!

  7. Last year’s team talked about bouncing back, then laid egg after egg to close out the horrible season. It can be forgiven in light of Sharkman’s antics and subsequent departure. This year there is no reason not to win out.

  8. tampagator…. could not agree with you more. we have a culture problem, and it’s not going to go away in a few games. Not practicing hard for JAX WEEK ??? After the beatdown last year?? I hope it’s not true that as gator fans we care more about rivalry games than the players. I do not know when this culture problem began, but can Mullen change it when the other M’s couldn’t (muschamp, mcelwain)??? That is shocking that players actually admit that…. depressing even ….