Gators acing team chemistry

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) and Kadarius Toney (4) celebrate with teammates their touchdown in the first half of the Orange & Blue game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in April. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

 In their second Nick Savage summer, the Florida Gators put in the work again, stressing and straining, running and lifting, pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits.

 But it hasn’t been all work. There’s been plenty of play, too. 

 Among other things, the players have gone to movies and paintballing together, had cookouts and competed in friendly cannonball contests at the homes of position coaches, and spent a lot of free time just hanging out and chilling together.

 “A lot of things together,” senior tight end Lucas Krull said. “We’ll have get-togethers at each other’s houses, have film study, just relaxing, having a good time, going to the swimming pool or a coach’s house to have dinner. 

 “We always end up hanging around with one another. It’s just us being friends, being brothers.”

 Dan Mullen will be glad to hear this, because he’s a football coach who believes that team bonding off the field is just as important as on.

 “I like all the team stuff, team activities,” Mullen said. “While they’re here at the facility and work their tail off and do what they’re supposed to do, we’re going to improve, we’re going to be solid.

 “The positive stuff is when they leave the facility and they go and hang out and have a team cookout or guys’ll be like, ‘Hey, we’re having all the guys over for a team cookout, pool party today.’ Those are the things to me that show they enjoy being around each other on the field and off the field, just shows the closeness of the team and that’s what I like to hear.” 

 The Gators apparently won the team activities portion of their offseason, because they were together off the field a lot, doing a lot of different things.

 For instance, the wide receivers apparently were inseparable, and that’s one of the most competitive position groups on the team, one that appears to be overflowing with talent, where opportunities may be hard to find for some once the season begins.

 “We’ve hung out day in and day out,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “Whether we’re going to the movies, going bowling. … just hanging out and spending time with each other.”

 It’s been pretty much been the same summer scenario for the running backs, the offensive linemen and every other position group. The players have been doing stuff together off the field, having fun and strengthening bonds and growing team chemistry.

 “Whether it be on the field or off, you have to build relationships with your guys,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “Whether you’re in training camp together or having a barbecue at someone’s house, you want to build relationships with people.

 “That’s what’s important when you come to college and play a sport like this. You want to build relationships. We did a bunch of football stuff. We enjoyed going out there and throwing on our off days and building chemistry, going into the film room and watching our opponents, always trying to get better at the game.”

 Mullen has stressed the importance of doing things together off the field to build friendships and bring the team closer together. Based on this offseason, the players apparently have bought in.

 “Going out a lot together,” senior running back Lamical Perine said. “Paintballing, just handing out, building chemistry like we’re supposed to to be a good team.

 “If you want to win a lot of games, you have to have chemistry.”

 The Gators definitely have it, according to Hammond.

 “We are really, really close,” Hammond said. “This is probably the closest team I’ve been on since I’ve been here, 2016. Everybody is cool with each other.

 “I have everybody’s number in my phone. Guys feel free to reach out to me if they ever need anything and I feel free to reach to other guys. We’re definitely close. We’re brothers. We’re going to continue to work together and get better.”

 Mullen said the fun aspect of the summer for the players — hanging out, doing things together — is just as important as the strength and conditioning portion under Savage.

 “You see successful teams. When the team’s together, they do group activities,” Mullen said. “Team bonding and how they get along together and their desire to want to hang out with each other is huge.”

25 COMMENTS

  1. It is evident that Coach Mullen has learned all of the essential elements to building a consistently successful football team. I admire his devotion to the team and his fellow coaches. This team bonding process is part of building the team into championship calibre. GO GATORS!!!

  2. This is smart, and there are time proven similarities in other fields of endeavor. Ever wonder why some military units fight like tigers while some others may barely fire their weapons? Ever wonder why some troopers who ordinarily wouldn’t be expected to wind up doing heroic things, even to the point of giving their lives? God, Country, and Apple Pie? Not so much — they do it for the guy on their right and the guy on their right. Their brothers, in other words. Bonding leads to teams, and teams lead to giving that extra 5% when 100% isn’t quite enough. I am reminded of Gator65’s famous phrase from last year — “They shouldn’t have won, but win they did”. This is exactly how you get there. God, I’m proud of these kids, of Dan Mullen, and the whole staff! I don’t care if he doesn’t get another 5* for the rest of his life, this is how you wind up winning championships when everybody says you can’t.

      • Hey, what are you hearing down there in the bayou about Florida-LSU this fall, Galvez? I keep hearing that LSU and Texas A&M are supposed to be the second coming of somebody this year…..since I’m right next door to you and about an hour from College Station, I can tell you this ain’t the Year of the Aggie for sure. But other than media propaganda, I’ve got a blank on the Tigers.

        • The question here is if the “new offense” is going to produce. The word is that the Qb is never under center and it’s fast fast fast. Also that Burrow has really taken to the offense.
          Tiger fans don’t seem too hyped. They have a wait and see approach. They definitely don’t think they can beat ‘Bama. Gators
          Go Gators!

          • It’s also interesting that as much as LSU fans love coach O, they don’t seem to have much confidence in him. They like his recruiting but game day is another thing.

          • Well, I’m also kind of fond of that crazy — whoops, I almost said a term that will certainly be misunderstood as not the term of endearment that it is in your neck of the woods and get me in trouble with somebody — so I’ll just say “crazy cajun”. Mainly because I went to grad school up in Natchitoches, where he played football. I think tho that he’s coming into his own as a head coach, but at the same time has a lot of negatives yet to overcome from his early years of coaching. Still, that goes out the window once a year when I want to beat him like a red headed step child. Of course he’s recruiting well tho — LSU is the only game in the entire state.

      • Well anyway, I thought it’s use last year was brilliant and very descriptive of what we were seeing evolve on the field, game to game.

        Hey, just for S&G — in the upper right hand corner of this page, just before it says Howdy Gator65, there’s a little circle with the number 2 in it. It will take you to (1) responses to your last several posts, and (2) to responses to your last posts going back at least a year and some change. It’s a fast short cut to going back and seeing what we were saying way back when. I had a blast this morning doing it — saw the evolution of Jaws and Albert, saw posts from our pals on here….some of whom haven’t posted in a long time…..tho sad to see that some never came back, like old Leland. He in particular used to crack most of us up with his quips, which infuriated one or two people with no sense of humor who used to question whether he was even a Gator. I got to know him quit deeper on the messenger side — the old boy had about 5 degrees from UF, two of which were PhDs! Anyway, give it a shot sometime if you have a few minutes to spare — it’s a hoot going back in time without having to stare at photos of everybody with sideburns and bell bottoms.

    • Yes! Ray Berry, talking about his playing days, said that when he felt exhausted, gassed, not a drop left in the tank, he would find the strength within himself because he owed it to his brothers. That is the difference between a great team and a bunch of individuals.

  3. John Wayne in “Big Jake” picks a bar fight with a man bigger than he is. Hits him with a pool stick and just pisses him off. Stops the man from hitting him for the umpteenth time and asks, “Have you ever been to Natchitoches?” The guy say no, and John Wayne apologizes for the mistakes and stumbles away.

    That’s what’s gonna happen when we play LS lUsers.

    OUR John Wayne says, “I’m here to kick-ass and drink whiskey, and Pilgrim, I’m all out of whiskey.

    • ”John Wayne says, ‘I’m here to kick-ass and drink whiskey, and Pilgrim, I’m all out of whiskey.’ ”
      Thanks for that, SpringHillPhil, I can dig it! I thought I’d seen all of the Duke’s movies, but that one I must’ve missed. Good stuff! Go Gators… ”All outta’ whiskey this year,” so…

      • Have you seen “Trouble Along the Way” where The Duke is a college football coach? It’s the precursor to Gene Hackman’s “Hoosiers.”

        Once a famous football coach, Steve Williams (John Wayne) is now a bookie in a pool hall. To earn enough money to keep custody of his tomboy daughter, Carole (Sherry Jackson), Steve accepts an offer to take over the football program of impoverished St. Anthony’s College in New York City.

        So talk about recruiting improprieties, watch this flick! Great movie where Wayne isn’t either a cowboy or a soldier. The only other film I can think of where he isn’t either one of those is “The Quiet Man,” starring Maureen O’Hara.

        After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) leaves America and returns to his native Ireland, hoping buy his family’s homestead and live in peace.

        True Grit, The Cowboys and The Shootist, with Ronnie Howard, Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Boone, Harry Morgan (Col. Potter of MASH) and Scatman Crothers, are my favorite Wayne films, and it was his last film, shot In Carson City in 1976.

        And to keep this a football post, the Gators in 1976, under Doug Dickey, whose son, Daryl, was my catcher when I played baseball at Buchholz High then, went 8 – 4, winning against rivals LSU, FSU, the Vols, Auburn and Miami. Lost the Sun Bowl to Texas A & M.

  4. Wings Of Eagles. The High and Mighty. Sand of Iwo Jima. Flying Leathernecks.

    These are forgotten mostly, but among the best of the best.

    Speaking of long forgotten, anybody remember ZZ Top’s best album of all time? “ZZ Top Does Sinatra”.