Notebook: Gators’ first scrimmage ‘solid’, Mullen says

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Florida coach Dan Mullen talks with quarterback Feleipe Franks during a recent practice. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Solid but inconsistent.

That’s Florida coach Dan Mullen’s take on the Gators first preseason scrimmage, which was held Monday night in The Swamp.

“I thought it was solid,” he said Tuesday. “Probably disappointed in consistency of play, which that happens sometimes in training camp, with the install, with all the different things going in offensively and defensively.

“We had some guys make some plays. I love to see good quality football. I think we had guys make a lot of great plays. We have guys that are making great plays, but I want to see it on a consistent basis across the board instead of guys making spectacular plays.”

Mullen said the scrimmage could be summed up in a two-play sequence involving senior wide receiver Josh Hammond. On the first, he got wide open but dropped the pass. On the second, he leaped over two defenders to make a spectacular touchdown catch.

“I want the consistency,” Mullen said. “Make the first one. I love that we’re making the second one, but make the first one. And I think that’s just something as we continue, as our guys get going and get more closer to game week, we’ll start to do that.”

Mullen said quarterback Feleipe Franks has a better grasp of the offense and continues to make strides.

“The biggest thing with him is consistency,” Mullen said. “And leadership is one thing I’m constantly working on with him. His performance, I think he has a much better grasp of the offense, he made some really good throws. But just his constant, his leadership, is he making everyone around him better? Not just by the plays that he makes, just his presence, how he talks to guys, how he leads them between series, all those things. That’s the constant things that we work on.”

Play of the day

Mullen’s favorite play of the scrimmage is one that likely would not ever end up on ESPN — or any other network.

“It would probably bore you,” he said. “It was probably like a counter that we ran for like six yards. We blocked it perfectly and the defense fit perfectly and made a good tackle in the open field.

“For me, that’s what I want to see — great football from all 22 guys on the field executing at a high level more than guys making a great catch or a great, individual coverage play. You know me, too, I don’t know if there were any good plays in the scrimmage to my level. I want it so high.”

Davis makes a move

With senior safety Jeawon Taylor missing some practice with an injured shoulder, junior Shawn Davis has seen extended reps and has responded favorably, Mullen said.

“I thought Shawn did a really good job in the scrimmage,” he said. “That was a real big positive. I thought Shawn had a really good scrimmage, made some really good, solid plays. He made some explosive plays, made some open-field tackles. I thought (he) played pretty well.”

Mullen said Taylor is on schedule to return to practice later this week.

Freshmen progressing

Along with the three cornerbacks (Kaiir Elam, Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough), Mullen mention four other true freshmen who are making a push for playing time — rush ends Khris Bogle and Mohamoud Diabate and offensive linemen Michael Tarquin and Ethan White.

“You look at Bogle, I think he’s doing a good job,” Mullen said. “You look at Mohamoud, he’s going to have the opportunity to play as a freshman. You look at Michael Tarquin and Ethan White. Ethan got some reps with the ones. Not that it always looks pretty, but that standard of play has to be raised.”

Mullen also mentioned freshman wide receiver Trent Whittemore from Buchholz High and freshman running back Nay’Quan Wright. Both made plays in the scrimmage, but both are at deep positions.

“Trent Whittemore, I thought did some really good things and Nay’Quan did some good things,” Mullen said. “But the pressure is not on them to go perform right now. Even though it’s a real positive that they’re doing those things, I think the sense of urgency for the other guys, you pay more attention to.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. Most of the time you have to read between the lines of coach-speak to get any true meaning. I think with CDM, you get honest answers and a better read on what he’s thinking. Here’s my takeaway from this article….the talent level and the skill level of newcomers has already improved to the point where the head coach is talking up multiple true freshman who may get playing time. And while it may be discouraging for a freshman WR to see a crowded path to the field, it is encouraging for the Gator Team to finally have solid depth at WR, RB, QB among other positions.

  2. Can’t say I like hearing about inconsistency with Frank’s play. That’s always been one of his biggest issues. And am surprised to hear leadership qualities in question at this stage of his career. Guess we’ll see soon if Mullen has been able work his QB magic.

    • Take it with a grain of salt. No coach with high standards is ever going to be satisfied with anything but that level of performance. It’s his way of tempering overconfidence and motivating players more than, in my opinion, a falloff in consistency or lack of leadership.

  3. so we have about ten true freshmen doing well enough to be mentioned, but everyone thinks we had a bad class. its early but im thinking this group will be a pleasant surprise.
    franks on leadership is very important; i know they work hard with him, and he has a boatload of talent in some areas, im for being cautious with expectations for franks for a while. some guys have their own pace of development.

  4. First scrimmage of the camp. I don’t care if it was perfect* I would find things that need to be improved on.
    * Perfection? There is no such thing as there is always something that could have been done better. Striving for perfection is what CDM is looking for out of his players. They do this by competing. If the true freshman are buying in and understanding the program and putting in the work the acceleration of the program will really speed up. Sometimes I think it is harder to reprogram the older guys than the newer ones. I would expect a few true freshmen to make the field as starters or in rotation. If someone makes a mistake they have plans for that. If the team has each others back on the field they will be fine.
    Mveal in another life I taught things and had the pleasure of working with some very talented students. Finding the way a student could comprehend and grow was harder than the subject matter.

  5. CDM and the team are the new kids on the block. They showed last year what a motivated bunch of underachievers could do. They won’t be taken lightly this year, CDM knows that. They won’t have the luck of indecision from opponents they had last year. But they will be better than last year with a year of experience under their belts.
    https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?iso=20190824T00&p0=3287&font=cursive
    GO GATORS!! FEEL THE CHOMP!!