Gators begin work in Atlanta for Peach Bowl

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Florida coach Dan Mullen speaks Monday at the Peach Bowl's news conference. [Photo courtesy of the Peach Bowl]

What UF football coach Dan Mullen said at Monday’s Peach Bowl news conference in Atlanta:

On playing in this year’s Chick A Peach Bowl…
Mullen: It’s a great reward for an unbelievable season and has been for so many years. Go find a guy who played football 20 – 30 years ago and ask him about the bowl experience, and they will say it was one of the great experiences during their college career. They have the opportunity to come to a place they haven’t been. A lot of guys have never been here to the city of Atlanta. They get the opportunity to go over to the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site and get to go to the College Football Hall of Fame and do things they might not have ever done educationally. The Chick-fi-A Peach Bowl is one of the premier games in all of college football. You have two top-10 teams playing each other, I think it’s as great of an experience as anything you’re going to do in college football.
On what preparation looks like during Bowl Week…
Mullen: The priority is to win the game. You know I’ve been able to coach a lot of bowl games. What’s really amazing is when you win the game, it’s an unbelievable bowl experience. When you lose the game, it’s not quite as good of a bowl experience. It just changes the whole narrative of the week. So we talk to our players a lot about splitting the day in eights. They need to get at least eight hours of sleep to get ready for the game, spend eight hours a day worrying about football and then eight hours a day of
social, fun time. In that eight hours of football, that’s how we eat, get dressed, taped, watch film and practice. There’s an awful lot of social, fun time as well to enjoy, but when it’s football time, make sure you’re completely locked down on football.
On rallying the team to make a New Year’s Six Bowl…
Mullen: I’ve been in this situation before. Very rarely are you going to go undefeated. That shouldn’t be the goal. I don’t ever plan on losing a game, but very rarely does that ever happen. So what you have to do is always keep your focus on, are you getting better? The whole goal to me is, are we a much better football team at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year? How have we grown and worked to continue to improve?
Because that’s what you can control a lot of times. And that’s what we talked
about after the Kentucky game and the guys continued to work and continued to buy in. We ended up having a pretty successful season.
On bouncing back after setbacks earlier in the season…
Mullen: I think our guys understood there’s a certain standard that we expect to play at. I know that we talk about the Gator standard and what that is. I’ll tell you that the standard has to mean more inside the program than anywhere else because those are the guys who are carrying the torch right now living up to that standard. And they have had the
personal pride in their performance and going out on the field and performing at that level. I think we had 55 guys over a 3.0 GPA this semester. Grade point average and wins are usually a direct correlation. It’s just how you handle your everyday business. If you’re going to work on being a champion in the classroom, you’re probably going to be a champion on the field and take care of your business by doing the little things the right way. And we were able to do that throughout the year. I think the guys after certain games kind of lived up to what we expect that standard to be, and that’s how we were able to
bounce back a couple times.
On quarterback Feleipe Franks …
Mullen: I think one of the things that I’ve learned through the years is that we’re going to go with a quarterback. You know, we picked him. He was the guy. So he didn’t have to look over his shoulder. He didn’t have to play conservative, and he didn’t have to be worried. He could go out there and learn, develop, play and not worry about anything.
You look at how he performed from the beginning of this season to the end of the season. He was a much better player at the end of the year than the beginning of the year. He was much more comfortable in the offense in leading us and decision making in the plays that he made. I think that gave him the confidence to improve throughout the year.
On how a win could build momentum going into next season…
Mullen: I don’t know if this game has a direct correlation on what next year’s season is going to be like. But I do know that this game has a direct correlation on how we’re going to feel between now and the start of next year. If we win this game, we’re going to finish in the top 10 and have high expectations going into next season, but you’re also going to have an awful lot of confidence going into that offseason – the energy and the boost that it can give you. You know you play on Dec. 29 and we don’t play again until Labor Day next year. That’s a long time to not be smiling that whole time. You want to be smiling after
the win. I love that feeling. You win that last game and you leave on a high note.
On Mullen’s perspective of Michigan’s offense…
Mullen: Shea Patterson, I ’ve faced him before – I don’t know if that is go od or bad –
when he was quarterback at Ole Miss. He’s a very talented quarterback, has a great arm, makes reads, stays in the pocket and delivers the ball, but the thing to me that really makes him even more difficult to defend is when he starts to improvise. When he gets outside of the framework of the offense. Where he drops back, you get a good rush and we have the route covered and now he takes off and starts making things happen, and that is one of the things that makes him very difficult to defend. He has the ability to improvise
within the offense and not just take off and run to try to scramble to stay alive and make big plays.
On how Shea Patterson has changed since his last meeting against Ole Miss…

Mullen: He probably trusts the offense a little bit more when you talk about his improvisation. He’s going to hang in the pocket a little bit longer and he’s going to trust the system and not all of a sudden try to take off and make a play. He is going to trust the system a little bit more.

On Florida’s approach to this game…
Mullen: We break up the bowl game in a couple different phases. The first phase is very much a development stage. A lot of the young guys are getting reps and we’re reviewing a lot of things we don’t have time to do during regular season. Then we get in phase two, which is our game plan on campus. I thought that they really switched well into that phase of understanding the game plan. Now we’re starting phase three, which is here at the game and at Bowl Week. The game being on a Saturday is a big benefit for us
because today’s Monday and today’s a Monday, and you don’t have to go to this crazy schedule of what day it is in the week. We’ll go through regular game week preparation and get ready to go put on a show.
On the similarities between Michigan and Florida…
Mullen: These are two teams that are very sound in what they do. They’re sound schematically. The guys are coached and disciplined well on the field and the guys play extremely hard. That’s what you want to have in common and obviously the fact that we’re both here in the top 10. You turn on the tape and both teams have some talent and guys who are able to go make some plays. That’s what makes it. It should be a pretty exciting game.
The role Atlanta plays in recruiting strategy…
Mullen: Well I think if you look, this is such a great area for football. In the Atlanta area, there are so many talented football players and the fact that you know we’re not very far away from home. I mean Mom and Dad can get in the car every weekend and drive down to see your games. You don’t have to make them get on a plane and fly around the country to go see their son play. I think this being somewhat of a local area and you’re looking at the five-hour drive to Gainesville, it’s a straight shot right down the highway.
On Christmas plans during Bowl Week…
Mullen: Well, there are two aspects to it. Christmas is Christmas Day, but it’s also Tuesday on a game week. We’ll try to do a great job of separating the two. We’ll walk out early in the morning and we’ll have a whole big Christmas celebration. There will be a lot of big gifts under the tree and a big Christmas breakfast. Then we’ll switch into game mode in the in the afternoon.

 


Editor’s Note: Sun staff writer Robbie Andreu and sports columnist Pat Dooley, who are enjoying the holiday with their families, pick up coverage from the Peach Bowl starting Wednesday.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I hope the Gators will give their coach a great end-of–the-year victory for all the improvements he’s helped make this year. One area of improvement has been in how he conducts himself in representing the program when being interviewed by sports writers or the media. It’s refreshing to have someone with clarity of vision and great communication skills. When Coach Mullen talks, you don’t have to scratch your head trying to figure out what he’s really saying. He’s a straight talker, no patronising coach speak or affected euphemisims. Big improvement over what came just before him.

  2. All this Gator Coach love until he loses a couple games. Gator fans will turn on a team and coach faster than any fan base in America. A joke of a fan base. It will be equally embarrassing when Mich fans outnumber UF fans @70% to 30%.
    Florida fans are more ACCesque than SEC. Florida is the only non southern school in the SEC.
    GATOR 6 the mayor of the board proclaims his love for Mullen? He will be the first to set up firemullen.com .Merry Christmas Gator 6

  3. You guys know the new Congress will do that . It’s in the plan. Sparky I’m sure you and Gator 6 will be watching Florida on TV because as most Gainsvillians too cheap to travel to the ATL. Why are people from Gville so damn cheap.. ?? All of them. Worst sports town I have ever seen. Talk to me §