Notebook: Ivey says Mullen’s offense ‘100 times better’

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Florida offensive lineman Martez Ivey is interviewed during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference media days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Amis)

ATLANTA — If Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier’s offense looked predictable at Florida last season, well, that’s because it probably was.

That’s the word coming from the Florida players at SEC Media Days.

“Even my friends who know nothing about football knew what we were going to run,” senior offensive tackle Martez Ivey said. “They were right about 95 percent of the time.”

Senior middle linebacker David Reese said even his aunt knew what plays were coming and when.

The Gators’ offense was predictable.

“I’ve heard,” Reese said. “My aunt used to tell me that. It’s not my side of the ball, so I can’t speak to it.”

McElwain’s offense was predictable.

Dan Mullen’s is not, apparently.

The Gators have embraced Mullen’s offense and its diversity.

“One hundred times better, to be honest with you,” Ivey said. “We’ve got a lot more options and I feel like we do a better job of utilizing our players and our weapons.

“It doesn’t matter who it is, we can put the ball in their hands and gain five to 10 yards every time. Or take deep shots, read pass option, we can confuse the defense and take a shot on them. Or we can be physical up front and just dominate the line of scrimmage. We’ve got options, it’s not a one-dimensional team.”

Barking at the ‘Dogs

Clearly, there is a gap between Florida, coming off a 4-7 season, and Georgia, which was one play away from winning the national championship in January. But the Gators say the gap isn’t as wide as last year’s score — 42-7 — would indicate.

“Oh, most definitely,” senior defensive end/outside linebacker Cece Jefferson said. “Because if you look back a year before (when UF won 24-10), that’s the same backfield, some of the same O-linemen, same defense.

“So, yeah, I would say we are that close and that score doesn’t determine who’s the better team.”

Senior middle linebacker David Reese agrees.

“Most definitely so,” Reese said. “They came to play. They had an older team that all came back for their fifth year and they had a great squad. They went far. They had two of the best backs in college football. That game, we let that one slip away.”

This certainly will provide the Bulldogs with some bulletin board material heading into this season’s game in Jacksonville.

So will this comment, also from Jefferson: “First off, hat’s off to Georgia on a great season. … When we beat them this year it’s going to feel good.”

UF’s young bucks

With junior tackle Taven Bryan moving on to the NFL, there are some questions about the Gators’ depth and experience at defensive tackle.

Jefferson certainly doesn’t seem concerned.

“You’ve got Zach Carter, Elijah Conliffe, Kyree Campbell and T.J. Slaton,” Jefferson said. “That is just a big group of guys. They walk around and they just embrace that ‘bam-bam’ mentality. They just walk around and destroy stuff. You even got Marlon Dunlap in there now.

“So many threats. I’m licking my chops over here. It can be a good (line) but it’s up to us. We have all the tools. We have everything in place. It’s just up to us.”

Jefferson singled out Slaton, who is coming off a strong spring in which he dominated at times, caving in the offensive front.

“T.J. Slaton can be whatever he wants to be,” Jefferson said. “He’s a man among boys. To be 335 pounds, 340 pounds and to run and change direction the way he does, man, that’s a rare talent. T.J. can be whatever he wants to be as long as he puts his mind to it. The only person that can stop T.J. is T.J.”

Savage influence

The harder he is on the Florida players, the tougher he makes it for them, the more they seem to embrace new strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage.

UF coach Dan Mullen says there’s an explanation for that.

“Everything is about development,” Mullen said. “You are either getting better or getting worse, you’re not staying the same. Every day he shows up it’s about developing this team — getting bigger, faster and stronger.

“Through winter conditioning, that first training cycle, they saw massive improvement in themselves, so it was easy for them to understand that I need to buy into this because look how much I’ve changed in a short window.

“I’ve changed and improved my body and gotten bigger, faster, and stronger. Imagine what’s going to happen over the longer term as I buy in and continue to work in the program.”

The players say they’re all in with Savage.

“The competition is insane,” Jefferson said. “When we’re running, that’s when I really found out this team is special. Because in the past it would always revert back to some type of argument. Now it’s straight, ‘Come on, I’m going to dust you.’

“It’s just embracing the grind. It’s a beautiful thing. I enjoy every day. This team enjoys every day. The energy Coach Savage and his staff bring, it’s a constant thing, every day.

“We just feed off him. That man has a way of getting in your head and making you want it more. We appreciate him for that.”

Tide quarterback TBD

Like Mullen, Alabama’s Nick Saban isn’t even close to naming a starting quarterback.

Many are assuming it will be national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa, but that is still to be determined between him and two-year starter Jalen Hurts.

“It’s our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position,” Saban said. “Obviously, both are capable. We’ll create a role for one or both of those guys on our team, and they’ll have to make a decision based on what that outcome is as to what their future is at Alabama.”

Hurts’ father has said his son will transfer if he’s not named the starter.

“We certainly would love for every player on our team to stay at the University of Alabama and graduate,” Saban said. “Jalen has a great opportunity to do that in December. So, we are hopeful that he will stay there and be a graduate regardless of what his circumstance is as a player.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. So you mean, ”Hey diddle-diddle, dude in the middle! Is who you throw it to…”, said Coach Mac in an episode of ”SEC Inside” (Florida Football) isn’t as good as Coach Mullen’s offense?!?
    But seriously, we (Gator fans) know what we get with Coach Dan Mullen, and ”I’m all in!”
    P.S.- ”talking season” ends soon, and ”full-boat, 2-a-days” are coming! So, ”Go Gators! Just do it!”

  2. Gotta love Nick Saban. He runs his team like a pro team and that is why they are playing for the national championship almost every year. He basically said the best guy will play and the other guy will have to decide if he wants to stay or leave. That’s the way it should be. Why the heck didn’t coach Mac have the same philosophy and process since he coached under Saban. Something got lost in translation. That’s “pretty cool” though huh. Based on what I am hearing Coach Mullen has a similar philosophy to Saban and once he gets the players in and develops the ones he has here the Gators should be back in the front of the SEC East. Now beating Alabama and Saban is a whole different challenge. Saban has to retire some time though right???

  3. It must have been maddening for these players to be hearing how much the game planning sucked from their friends, their cousins, their aunties– and yet experiencing a total break from reality as Yellow Teeth and Nussmire pounded their chests screaming about how great their game plans were and what offensive masterminds they were and how only spoiled fans questioned their wizardry.

    Meanwhile, the player’s freaking aunties are calling them on the way to church and telling them the offensive play calling sucks and the game plan is actually the exact same one every week regardless of the opponent proving Nussmire was not just incompetent but also insane (insanity= doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results).

    Who wouldn’t become jaded and lose motivation when the offensive coaches and their enablers were that detached from reality and seemed incapable of understanding that they were terrible?

    Well, we have a real coach now with a proven track record. Despite the snide “apparently” comment, we actually know Mullen’s offense it is less predictable because we have seen it for years! And it will be another version this year as Mullen will finesse his offense to match his players instead of designing an offense to be executed by his dog.

    Someone posted here last year that Clucko the tic tac toe playing chicken could have done better by randomly pecking on a list of plays, and that was funny because it was true!

  4. Geez this is too easy for me to pounce (sorry Mike and Maurkice) on. Yea, you think we had a predictable offense? This last coaching staff made Ron Zook look and Ed Zaunbrecher like Don Coryell from the 1980’s San Diego Chargers. The plague they infected us with has now been cured, and we should see a progression over time back to the days when it actually brought fear into SEC opponents to play Florida. As bad as we think McElwain sucks now, time will show us how much we underestimated his ability to bring this program to its knees. For those who think his 2 SEC East titles he stumbled into have meaning, my question is this… How many games do we win through that stretch without Will Muschamp’s defensive recruits? (HINT: Not many).

    • Totally agree especially with that last part. Muschamps D was the only saving grace all those years till Shannon, in his 1st year as DC “simplified it” and they stunk last year. It was never the players it was the coaching I give all blame to!

    • Cj what’s that say about Muschamp though considering he could only win 11 games combined his last 2 seasons with those same defensive recruits? It still boggles my mind how Mac was able to accomplish more with his players than he could. He seems to be doing much better now at USC, kind’ve like Mac did a hell of a lot better at CSU. Makes you wonder if this program really is cursed and coaches suddenly lose their ability to coach the moment they put the orange and blue on. Lets hope Mullen breaks the curse, and considering his leaving the first time seems to have started it, maybe him coming back is what was needed to end it.

      • The job was too big for Champ at the time…and unfortunately we sat back and went through the growing process while he was learning. You don’t learn here…not that type of program. He just seemed to get in the way of the offense and took our identity and tried to force us into a downhill team (Bama Jr.), and under utilized speed.

      • Joe I respectfully disagree. Muschamp lost 11 games in his last 2 years because he had no clue on offense, and we lost games that we generally in until late in the 4th quarter, when our phenomenal D finally gave out after being on the field for 40 minutes. Winning 10 games in the Mountain West does not amount to a hill of beans, nor does being an OC for a Nick Saban team. You or I could win 11 games as Nick Saban’s OC. The man was a disaster, and without Mus’ defensive recruits he would have struggled to win a third of his games. Plus he had the benefit of Geoff Collins (another damn good defensive coach) running the D in 2015-16. He didn’t care about strength, conditioning, creativity on offense, or recruiting any higher than 3-star. That’s why he’s a wide receivers coach at UM saying he hopes to “learn” from Jim Harbaugh, a coach who has won nothing at the collegiate level in a big-boy conference.

  5. Au contraire mon freur. Predictability is not the sin you make it out to be. Yes you need to mix in a few low cost potentially high upside plays but we don’t need to go crazy here. I think Alabama is very predictable too but they win.

    Think if it like this. One year the hatter was playing the Gators and we kept getting them to fourth and short. Then they would run up the middle and get the first down. Everybody in the stadium knew the call. But they outwilled us and won a national championship that year.
    So predictable is not a big deal to me. Of course I am from Ocala so I’m not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed…knowing that there is no reason for me to tell a coach how to do their business.

    • When the coach in question has been proven to be terrible, tell em. Now, the reason Hatter kept doing the same thing is because it kept working. That is the difference. There is a tried and true philosophy in football that you do in fact keep doing the same thing unless the other team shows you they can stop you.

      The difference with Nussbrainer and Yellow Teeth is that what they were doing did NOT work, and yet they kept doing it over and over and over, producing offenses ranked among the worst in the entire nation. What do you call it when a coach sticks to a predictable scheme that doesn’t work? I call it Foley Brain, or else incompetent insanity.

      I will give you another counter example. Let’s suppose a team calls hitch passes so often and from the same formation and the same down and distance, that when the ball touches the receiver’s fingers three opposing defenders slam him to the ground laughing in his face at how easy it was so see that lame play coming. I saw this happen many times with Brandon Powell to the point I feared for his physical safety.

      What an intelligent coach would do is, seeing that the defense was pouncing on the hitch pass, fake it and have someone(s) go deep in the area vacated by the over-reacting players. This uses predictability to set up a big play and also keeps the defense from pouncing on the hitch. What stupid and idiot did was keep running the same play that wasn’t working. That’s what they sucked and made these players look terrible to the point there own relatives were like what the h^&^&?

      Meanwhile, as Powell was dragging his aching body from the field and our team got ready for another punt after another three and out, Nussmire was dancing in the press box screaming, “I am the God of football! Bow down and worship me!”

      Nussbrain is a fool and Yellow Teeth a boob. Good riddance to both of these blundering nincompoops. Let them ruin other players lives with their nitwittery. Nussbrain already forced Jason Witten into retirement, so what does that say about what a fool he is?

    • To a degree Mveal…however, teams like Bama for instance will have the same formations, but keep you guessing with counters to those sets and breaking tendency. When you run the same sets, with certain personnel and run on 1st down for instance, no matter the spot on the field…never breaking tendency…you do the players a disservice. Good offense will run sets early to set up big plays later in the game. You then label highly recruited receivers, average…and busts, when the route trees were horrible, and schemes were not on high school level at times.