Having successfully navigated Phase One in their return to football, the Florida Gators are now set to move on to Phase Two.
It starts Friday.
For the first time since Orange Bowl preparation back in late December, the Gators will come together on the practice field as a team Friday. Not just players, but coaches, trainers, videographers — everybody.
The Gators will go through their first walkthrough practice Friday as part of the new NCAA summer model that is in response to COVID-19, which forced schools across the nation to cancel spring practice.
Per the new model, the Gators will be able to spend six hours a week on the practice field for the next two weeks going through walkthroughs with the coaching staff, plus spend six hours a week in meetings with the coaches.
“To me that is really the opportunity for the players to prepare themselves mentally, get out there through walkthroughs to start getting some muscle memory to prepare for the season and start doing movements that will be involved in during the season so that our guys can kind of be prepared rolling into training camp,” UF coach Dan Mullen said in June.
Phase Two runs from Friday through Aug. 6, which leads the Gators right into preseason camp, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 7. UF is still on track, in terms of planning and preparation, to open the season Sept. 5.
Coaches usually aren’t allowed to work with the players during the summer, but they now have a two-week window to do so to get ready for the start of camp.
During the next two weeks, the players will be allowed to participate in 20 hours of football activity a week — eight hours of weightlifting and conditioning, six hours on the practice field for walkthroughs and six hours for meetings that can include film review, team meetings, position meetings and one-on-one meetings. The players are required to have two days off during the 14-day period.
Mullen said the two-week period will give him and the coaches an opportunity to see what kind of progress the players have made this summer during voluntary workouts, which began June 8, and in Nick Savage’s strength and conditioning program — and what they’ve retained from multiple Zoom meetings dating back to late March.
“We’ll see when we get on the field,” Mullen said. “It’s one thing to take notes and write it down in the classroom, but to be able to go and actually do it on the field is something very different.
“So, we’re going to see how much knowledge guys have retained and how much they can translate that knowledge from a virtual meeting onto an on-the-field application.”
At the end of week one of Phase Two, Mullen and the Gators might know more about their upcoming season in terms of when (or if) it starts and what it’s going to look like. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has said the league is likely to announce its plan for the season by the end of the month.
For now, the Gators are taking the approach that preseason camp will begin Aug. 7 and they’ll be kicking off the season Sept. 5 against Eastern Washington.
“We’re worrying about what we can control,” Mullen said. “As of right now, we’re planning a training camp as normal and we’re planning a normal regular season because that’s what we know at this point.
“I think it’s a waste of energy to speculate on all the different things that can happen. As we get knowledge and some solid facts, we’ll adjust accordingly.”