True freshman cornerback Trey Dean continues to make strides as Marco Wilson’s replacement in the starting lineup.
“Trey is a guy who has played a lot of snaps. He’s probably one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever been around,” UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He has a passion to play the game. Has length, size for the position, has athletic ability, has a competitive edge to want to be the best at his position.
“He has continued to work to perfect his craft and has done a good job for us and has been in some situations where he’s had to make some plays out there on an island. We’re going to continue to work to develop him and make sure he continues to be productive for us.”
Some of Dean’s rapid growth might be attributable to the fact teams are throwing his way more to avoid the other corner, the more experienced and proven CJ Henderson.
Dean, who has started four games, has recorded 17 tackles and broken up four passes, tying him for second for the team lead.
O-line depth improving
Offensive line coach John Hevesy won’t name names, but he says some of the backup offensive linemen are starting to make a move toward possible playing time.
“They’re getting better,” Hevesy said. “I think one thing is you earn your right to play in practice. The ones are getting better, the twos are getting better. It’s the same thing. When opportunity comes, you’ve got to be ready. When your number’s called, be ready to go. There’s a bunch of them that are. Always, knock on wood, stay healthy. It’s just to keep working and getting better.”
Overall, the line seems to get a little bit better with each performance.
“They’re starting to adjust to the game plan Coach Mullen and the staff are putting together,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “They’re starting to practice it more intensely throughout the week. “
A new attitude
The Gators seemed to hang their heads after losses during their 4-7 run last season. It’s different now. UF has been motivated to work even harder coming off the losses to Kentucky and Georgia.
“It’s a big difference,” junior offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor said. “The way we prepare and the way we practice, it shows on the field on Saturday. I feel like the way we prepared last year wasn’t as good. This year we prepare a lot better. I feel like everything is going better.
“Just mental toughness and mental focus. Stuff like that and small things. Coach Mullen has done a great job of getting us mentally tough.”
Receptions for everyone
The offense has done a nice job spreading the ball around in the passing game. Franks has completed passes to 19 different players.
As a result, UF’s go-to receiver, Van Jefferson, has only 19 receptions through eight games. But he’s fine with that.
“You’ve just got to keep a positive mindset,” Jefferson said. “We’re all unselfish guys, so whoever eats that day eats. Whoever has the big plays has the big plays. We’re all a family unit, so we don’t care who gets the credit as long as we go out there and play.”
Homecoming for Davis
Missouri offensive line coach Brad Davis probably will be setting some Swamp record Saturday.
Davis, the UF offensive line coach last season, will be coaching at Florida Field for the fourth consecutive year with four different schools — East Carolina, North Texas, Florida and Missouri.
Davis apparently is doing a heck of a job for the Tigers. His offensive line has given up only 10 sacks this season, tied for the second fewest in the SEC with Florida and South Carolina.