Florida football coach Dan Mullen still isn’t sure what the format will be for Saturday’s spring game. But he is certain about at least two aspects of the game.
It’s going to be a good, fun time for players and fans. And the game is going to last exactly two hours.
“On the dot,” Mullen said Monday.
That’s a sure thing. So is the fun aspect, Mullen said.
“The spring game weekend every year is a lot of fun. A lot of great things happening,” Mullen said. “I know for us, for all of our fans, the opportunity to come out, to come see some players, the last time to see these guys until we kick it off. But a great opportunity to come see some young players, guys you haven’t seen before.
“For our fans, just kind of a fun day. We’ll have a lot of recruits on campus. A really exciting, fun time for us. It will be a great Saturday. Should be a lot of fun. A lot of fun activities, a lot of fun to be on campus.”
As for the actual format of the game, Mullen said he will come up with one later in the week, once he knows which players will be available and those that won’t due to injury.
“I haven’t done all that yet,” he said. “We still have three practices. There’s injuries. Depth can affect that stuff. Usually, I don’t even hit the format until about Friday when we know who’s going to be cleared to play medically and how comfortable we are and what our rep count by player is. We meet on all those things and how it’s going to shape up, and then we’ll kind of figure the format out after that.”
In his first spring game a year ago, the Gators split into two teams and held a traditional game. But it also included some untraditional moments involving some former players. Lawrence Wright and Travis McGriff both came off the sideline to catch wide-open touchdown passes. The TD pass to McGriff was supposed to be thrown by Doug Johnson, but Feleipe Franks missed the signal and threw the pass himself, his only TD pass of the game.
Mullen may be mulling some similar surprises for Saturday’s game.
“I usually always have some surprises up my sleeve,” Mullen said. “I don’t want to give any of my tricks away. But I know this, the format, the game will last two hours.”
The game will feature two guest coaches — former quarterback Tommy Shannon and longtime Gator booster Bryan Kornblau.
“A unique experience for those guys to get to see what it’s like,” Mullen said. “A little bit of what it is like to have to deal with some of the pressures we have to deal with on a daily basis. It will be a good experience for them.”
Last year’s spring game drew an announced 53,015 fans to The Swamp. Mullen is hoping for another big crowd Saturday, but is not giving UF fans a number to shoot for.
“The more the better,” he said. “The only reason I say that is because you create the environment, create the exciting environment for recruiting one, for all the recruits we have on campus. But also the pressure for the players because there’s a lot of guys that haven’t played in front of a crowd before.
“There will be times you’re going to roll some guys out there on the field that you want to see (perform in front of a big crowd). It’s one thing when we’re on the practice field and it’s not that big a deal. But go into the stadium as a young player, that can change the psyche of an 18-, 19-year-old kid.”
Mullen wants his young players to feel some of the pressure of playing in front of a big crowd for the first time. He also wants them to enjoy the overall experience.
Having fun is the spring theme at Florida.
“The spring game, it’s a festival day on campus,” Mullen said. “That’s No. 1. Next, the opportunity to see the players and see the team and see guys you haven’t seen before.
“It’s kind of a festival weekend on campus and the game is part of the festivities. We try to have some fun with it. And exciting week. We need to have a good week of practice, wrap up spring the right way and hopefully leave on a positive note and continue to build getting ready for next season.”
What: Orange & Blue Game
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Tickets: Free admission