Gators resting while improving during critical open week

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) and teammates celebrate Satuday after the Gators defeated Vanderbilt 37-27 in Nashville, Tenn. [Mark Humphrey/Associated Press]

Florida entered the bye week in an unlikely spot: ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll with a 6-1 record, and an opportunity to gain some significant ground in the SEC Eastern Division when the Gators meet No. 8 Georgia at TIAA Bank Field on Oct. 27.

Until then, however, UF is getting a much-needed reprieve following a strenuous start to the 2018 season, in addition to a whirlwind 10 months following Dan Mullen’s arrival in Gainesville, with the current open week.

Things began easing up Monday morning — well, Sunday night — when the Gators were allowed to arrive at the facilities later than normal.

Off the field, we’re getting enough sleep,” UF linebacker Rayshad Jackson said. “And the early mornings, we usually come in around 8:15, (but) now this whole week we’re not coming in at 8:15, so we get enough sleep.”

The goal is to recover, mentally, physically and emotionally, before closing the season on a high note, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

The mental exhaustion almost resulted in a letdown in Nashville, as the Commodores jumped out to a 21-3 lead over a sleepwalking UF team, before the Gators eventually received a decisive jumpstart just prior to the second half.

Mullen said after Saturday’s 37-27 win over the ’Dores that there was a noticeable difference in Florida’s preparation in the buildup to the comeback win — specifically, Mullen watched as the lethargic Gators looked ahead toward the impending week of rest.

“We didn’t have the best week of practice ’cause we had three really emotional games in a row, and that is, physically and mentally, exhausting and draining for everybody on the team,” Mullen said. “Everybody gets a chance to catch their breath. Then we come back, we got five (games) in a row. So we got to get rested and then build our mental toughness for those next five as we come back.”

Sometimes it takes seeing loved ones to revitalize a person, and many Gators will use the extended break to travel back home. Some will head north, like sophomore defensive tackle and Virginia native Elijah Conliffe, while many players will journey within the confines of Florida.

CJ Henderson is heading back to his home in Miami — after a week of preparation, that is.

Even though he’s supposed to be decompressing away from the field, Henderson’s focus remains on football, with the presence of his former Columbus High teammates — who he intends on watching college football on TV with Saturday — and family providing the necessary solace in UF’s interim stretch away from the field.

“I’m trying to get in the training room a little more (this week) and get my legs back, and work on my technique a little,” Henderson said. “Even when I go home, I will probably still work out and stay in shape.”

Mullen and the Gators can preach mental recovery all they want, but the physical recuperation will likely go the longest in determining UF’s success the rest of the season. After the Gators avoided disaster at Vanderbilt, quarterback Feleipe Franks didn’t mince words: the bye week is critical in the SEC.

And how the Gators balance their preparation with recovery over the next nine days will either verify or nullify the work to date.

“I think it’s important. We have to get a bunch of our guys’ bodies back. You got seven weeks playing SEC ball, and you play against really good players, your body gets kind of beat up,” Franks said. “I think that’s one of the main things (the bye week) is going to help us out with is catching up on our rest.”



  1. I have been a gator fan all my life. I am a heart and kidney patient. I do dialysis 3 times a week and there is this guy in my dialysis center that is a Georgia Bulldog fan. Every time I go into the treatment center this guy barks at me. I chomp back at him but he really irritates me. Please Please Please beat Georgia, if you dont I will die(just Kidding) but it would mean so much to me for a Gator victory over the Pups. Get lots of rest, stay out of trouble, and GO GATORS!!!!!!!!

    • Hang in there BD my gut has been telling me all year we are better than the stats show. That by itself is no indicator of our performance. While I agree with everyone the stats comparison with UGA show some mismatch I think the Gators are coming along faster than expected. They will still make mistakes but I hope to see the exodus of UGA fans leaving the game in the 3rd qtr. GO GATORS!!🐊

        • I’ve been following 65 ever since he first started on here Sly…..he has a knack for these things that’s hard to dispute. I don’t know if it’s a spiritual gift or what, but if ever teams up with Daz Wazlle and starts laying bets, I want a piece of it too!

          • Sly, 6, In going to the games I did during the Muschamp and Mac era’s I never doubted the talent but I often did the calls or the coaching and later the S&C. Maybe the chosen talent was a bit of a question but I am not getting paid the big bucks. When Mac was fired and all the hype was on who we were going to hire my first choice (mine doesn’t count) was Mullen. He gets it and has been there done that. Maybe not at MST but the record shows he understands the SEC. Bringing him in was what I felt we needed to get to where we all want to be. The players buying in was the next step and with the transfers we know some that didn’t. So my gut was happy with coaching and talent with the variable of how fast they would start to get it. I know a lot of guys laughed at the spring game but the changes in attitude were palpable and that is where I got to see how they reacted to things again much different. What I saw was when players came off the filed they were addressed by staff right then and there (they used to get none of this before). I saw Mullen grab a player by the pads who was trying to avoid him when he came off the field. He let him know what he did wrong and how to correct it but moved on. (Muschamp couldn’t move on). Long winded I know. We are going to lose games. But this team with these coaches won’t get beat by lack of effort. Don’t back down. Tom Petty.

          • LOL. Thanks for for playing along with the chuckles at your expense. I like to kid using double entendres.

  2. Have a good rest Gators and thanks for the first 7 games and your 11th place ranking. What a gift!
    With relentless effort and continuous improvement in the second half of the season you will accomplish
    great things in 2018.

  3. Yes, it’ is time for a rest not only for the Gators but also for the Gator Fans. So far it’s been a lot of fun watching our team growing up. Rest and relax and come back next week prepared to play some more excellent football. After we whup up on the Dawgs we have Missouri and South Carolina so it doesn’t get easier to get to the SEC Championship game, somehow I just fill we will get it done. GO GATORS. Good Day…………….

  4. Yes, this season has been a delight to see. The transformation has been tremendous and ahead of what most thought could happen in less than a season. Were very fortunate to have Mullen. Win or lose, the games are fun to watch again instead of being stressful, wondering if the offense is ever going to score enough to win. go Gators!

  5. I have to keep my expectations reasonable still. It has been awesome to see the progress week-to-week this year. As long as these guys continue to make this kind of progress under coach Mullen I will be very happy with the entire season however it plays out. Extremely proud of the entire football program and also all of the other sports as well. Go Gators forever!