Attitude check: Mullen looking for bounce back

Florida coach Dan Mullen talks with quarterback Feleipe Franks in the first half against Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Coming off Saturday’s disappointing loss to Georgia, the Florida Gators find themselves right back where they were seven weeks ago.

In rebound mode.

The first time they were here, after the home loss to Kentucky on Sept. 8, the Gators bounced back in a big way, with a five-game winning streak that vaulted them into the top 10 nationally.

This situation is a little different because this most recent loss came in a much bigger game, one with championship implications.

UF coach Dan Mullen is eager/anxious to see how his team responds this time.

“It’s a big challenge for us,” Mullen said Monday. “After every game, win or lose, it’s how you respond and continue to go during the season. So, it’ll be interesting to see now. Our first loss of the season, I think we handled it really well. Then we started handling success pretty well and now we want to see how we handle this adversity.”

Mullen said he has no set playbook for how to put impactful losses behind a team and refocus on the next game. He’ll learn more about where the Gators are mentally over the course of the week, and on Saturday against Missouri.

“It goes to kind of a gut feeling,” he said. “It’s a feel for how the season is going, the team’s going, the attitude of the team and where we’re at. We handled the first loss excellent.

“Everybody was here for the meeting this morning, ready to go. I want to see how they respond out in practice a little bit. I always think there’s two ways to respond.

“The bad one is you have the ‘woe is me’ attitude and the other one is kind of like, annoyed that that happened and I can’t wait to get out there to go fix it. I hope we’re the second with this one. We certainly were with the first one and I hope we are with the second.”

The players started talking about what their response is going to be as soon as Saturday’s game ended, and during a long, quiet bus ride back to Gainesville.

“That switch comes on as soon as that clock hits zero-zero,” sophomore defensive tackle Kyree Campbell said. “Once that game was over, then we know what we’ve got to do. Something has to click.

“The attitude is to go out and have a great practice. Be physical. The way we handle this loss is going to determine the rest of the season.”

Even though Saturday’s loss has eliminated the Gators in the SEC race, there is a lot of season left, and a lot to play for.

UF has three consecutive home games (Missouri, South Carolina and Idaho) before closing out the regular season at Florida State. The Gators likely will be favored in all four of those games.

If they can run the table, they’d be 10-2 and looking at a possible New Year’s Day bowl game as a reward.

“We’re sitting at 6-2 right now,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “Those two (losses) were definitely winnable games.We all know how good of a team we are at every position, and we’ve just had mistakes, including me.

“You can’t dwell on it too much. You just have to move on to the next week, just finish up the season strong. We have a chance to have a really good record.”

The early vibe among the players has been positive, junior wide receiver Josh Hammond said, citing that everyone showed up for Monday morning’s meeting.

“We went over the mistakes we made and things we could have done better (in the Georgia game),” Hammond said. “There were things we didn’t execute in practice and it showed up on Saturday for us.

“We’ve got to be ready to come out and execute at practice. Be more physical, be better and continue to grow as a football team.”

The Gators are expecting to get a boost from returning to The Swamp, where they’ve played only one game in the past six weeks.

Mullen said he’s also eager to see how the fans respond this week.

“The last time we were here in the stadium we had an unbelievable home-field advantage and it really showed with how we played,” he said. “That was such a huge deal for us winning that game over LSU the last time we were in The Swamp.

“It’s a great challenge for everybody in the Gator Nation to pack The Swamp again and create the exciting atmosphere, exciting energy and make it that home-field advantage for us. The challenges are out there for all of us this week to rebound, get a big win and get ourselves back on track this season.”


    • Get over it with Franks! Mullen’s playing with what he inherited! Franks is what he is, Trask a 2 star and not built for Mullen’s offense and an 18/19 year old small bodied Fr Jones still learning! If anyone is complaining how well this team is doing this season needs their heads examined! And they will easily finish top 10 in recruiting, book it!

  1. im ok with Franks. 1st year in new offense (he has never played in before), he has done a descent job. Just think about how well he will be in yr 2. Dan Mullen may have a better 1st year than Urban lier had his 1st year at Florida, and you all remember what happen in Urban Lier’s 2nd yr at Florida…..

  2. Franks did not cost us this game!! The team as a whole lost this game not one individual!! I guess it’s easier to finger point rather than just give the team credit for what they did right!! Franks did a lot of good things as well, but you will fail to mention those. Why not condemn the Corner backs too ? The D line ? the O line? The Receivers? The Running Backs? Because I could of swore I saw more than one guy on that field playing !! There were mistakes being made by more than the QB play!! After 8 games I’m rather pleased and proud of where the GATORS are at right now. Anyone who thinks we should be playing Bama needs to get their heads examined!! We are NOT that good yet!! I’m with Jhud, next season I’ll have those expectations.

    • Franks did a few, not a lot, of good things. Problem is he did more bad things that did cost us the game. Can’t condemn the DBs that are only playing because the starters are injured and those who do are being unfair. apart from the Scarlett fumble the RBs did well and so did the O line. You can’t overthrow a wide open guy, you can’t fumble at your own 1 yard line, you can’t keep throwing INTs, one in each of the last 3 games, and fumbling, one in each of the last 2 games. You have to be better than that.

        • Winston is also now holding the clipboard, George, because those 4 ints he just threw are a pattern. Franks…we have learned to live with a couple of bad plays, but being honest, he had a bad game overall. I don’t think anyone is beating up on the kid personally…just his play, particularly in this game. On this team, he basically needs to not lose the game. His turnovers stung and quelled momentum, making it hard to overcome. Like I said in previous posts…I am riding with him…the team seems to believe in him and a fast way to lost the locker room is to play guys that should be out there.

    • Guys: Dan doesn’t trust him to throw. Poor guy is a certified fumbler. We just need someone who has the cool to hit open people. Another problem is it doesn’t appear our receivers are getting open. Bad route designs? The GA tight-end simply moved to the open area of grass, four plays in a row! Why can’t our guys do that? Overall I’m happy with our results, IF they don’t collapse after this type of lose. At 14-13, we should have been headed to a win. That one yard line fumble was a game killer. I didn’t like the call, plus he should have had both arms around the ball. Again, If they recover and win out, I’m super happy.

  3. Gators took a lead in the 2nd half, all the defense had to do was shut out GA and we win. Simple as that. Or make Fromm look horrible the entire game like LSU did 2 weeks ago. Franks has played 8 games with a real offensive coordinator. He’s not great, but he’s the best we have right now. I trust Mullen more than any posters on here to know what’s best for the team.

    • That’s kind of like saying if you score a field goal in the first quarter the defense should be able to stop them the rest of the game. Our offense did nothing the rest of the half, in large part thanks to Franks. We know the defense had some key guys missing, so yes, they had some struggles. UGA is the better team. I agree with your comments about Franks, but I can still say that after 8 games this season his improvement has stalled, and I really get the feeling that he isn’t going to get much better in the future. One occasional bullet strike doesn’t make up for a game of inaccurate passes and not seeing open receivers. I might be wrong. I hope I am. Otherwise, I suspect it will be Jones or another recruit next year or the year after.

  4. As a kid I started watching Florida play with my dad during Spurrier’s first season and don’t have any experience with the misery of the pre-Spurrier Gators. Although the Zook, Champ and Chester Cheetos Teeth years were not fun I’ve been mostly spoiled with great Gator teams and seasons. During those seasons I felt confident we would win each game no matter the opponent or their ranking. There have also been years where I felt every win was an act of God. This year feels like neither to me. I feel like we are an improving team relearning how to win and be great. When we win I don’t feel like it was pure luck or was only because of a Herculean performance by our defense. I feel like we have a chance in every game but am not confident in a win no matter the opponent (with the exception of Idaho).

    I think CDM has us heading back (faster than most thought) to the level of all those seasons where I remember expecting to win every game. There’s no factual basis or statistical analysis to back up my opinion. I just know through experience what good Gator teams look and feel like. We aren’t there yet but give it time. Just my non-expert opinion.

  5. Caleo is playing!!!!!!! Way down we go!
    Put fuzzy face at wide receiver! Do it soon! He is exactly why we lost. Even the announcers said the teams were even except at Quarterback. They said Florida’s quarterback was non productive, That means he stinks!

  6. When Franks throws a dart it’s usually a thing of beauty. That was an NFL throw to Freddie Swain that thread the needle. The same dart throw to Jefferson on the flea flicker ended up badly overthrown.
    The problem is Franks doesn’t have much touch on the ball currently. Fromm threw several fades into the end zone successfully with lots of air under the ball and away from our defenders. Franks needs to spend the off season learning to put the same touch on the ball and to get some air under the ball. There are times when the dart is perfect, there are other times when some touch is needed.

    • No doubt that Franks is a perplexing QB.

      Has he progressed from last year? Yes, no doubt he is way better. Does he give Florida the best option to win this year? Yes, I have to trust the coaches. Does he have amazing arm talent? Yes, the bullet to Swain was a NFL quality throw. Is he a decent runner? Yes, he has average running capability.

      Does he miss open receivers? Yes, every game. Is he prone to throw to the wrong team? Yes, the interception in the end zone to Vandy and the one to Georgia we’re either horrible throws or bad reads. Is he prone to fumbling? Yes, he has a penchant for holding the ball out from his body leading to fumbles.

      Will he be the starting QB next year? No, either Emory Jones will have learned enough to become the starter by next fall or Jalon Jones will have an amazing spring and fall camp to become the starter.

    • Exactly. His inability to throw with touch costs us every game.
      -Crossing routes and screens where the ball comes so hard the receiver cannot adjust or hits too hard for a difficult catch
      -No touch trajectory passes frequently get batted down at the line of scrimmage
      This is not a trivial problem. If Franks had touch he’d be a much better QB.

  7. Franks just appears or (feels to me) when he is playing, like he is mentally fragile in his confidence. He may have been ruined by McElwain. If he is going to be our starter maybe someone is working constantly to help him with his mindset during the week so the game can be played without nibbling around the edges to keep him mentally in tune. Young guy with what feels like a world of pressure on his shoulders from a demanding fan base, cant blame him. The thing we dont see as were not upclose, is does he have a deep competetive fire to go along with his physical gifts or tenuous fear of failure?
    He’s a good young man hope he figures out the nuances for his future.