The overall play of the Florida defense in the first preseason scrimmage Monday received a passing grade from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
“I like our play,” he said. “I liked our run fits. I like the way that, for the most part, the way our guys set the edge. I thought there were really good plays in the scrimmage. There were good individual plays.
“We’ve got to continue to improve and develop consistency to just make sure we’ve got three or four really good plays and then you don’t have a negative play that can kind of erase a lot of good things.
“Overall, I was pleased with their energy, the physicality with which we played. And I thought we continued from play one through the scrimmage.”
Offensive line coach John Hevesy has expressed confidence in, and comfort with, his starting five up front. The big concern has been with the second five, the backups.
Well, it’s a little bit less of a worry coming out of the first scrimmage of the preseason.
“As you look at the next five between Richard (Gouraige), Ethan (White), Tanner (Rowell) and Michael (Tarquin), they’ve all made a lot of progress,” Hevesy said. “T.J. Moore has made a lot of progress. They’re stepping up and getting their opportunity to run with the ones. They did a good job in the scrimmage.
“There wasn’t a big drop off, so you say, ‘OK, they’ve made progress.’ Now, as we get closer we’ve got to start shrinking things down for them just to finalize it. When it comes to game week everyone’s going to be shrunk down from the complete installation. I think they’ve done a pretty good job right now of getting themselves ready.”
Right on track
One scrimmage in, and at the midpoint of preseason camp, the Gators are on schedule to be fully prepared for the Aug. 24 opener against Miami in Orlando, Mullen said.
“Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said. “I think we’re OK. There are some guys that are probably behind. The positions that are behind are where we’re really young. You’re asking guys to develop faster than we’d normally need them to develop, if that makes sense.
“We have some young O-linemen that are going to have to develop faster than normal. So when you look at it, there are certain ones. Like we’re way ahead at the receiver position of where you want to be.
“It’s kind of subjective throughout the team with guys. Overall, I’m not concerned that we’re behind. It’s just at positions and then what we have to do is make sure we’re accelerating guys. There’s guys that are probably going to have to play sooner than you’d normally want them to have to play. We have to accelerate and make sure those guys are ready to go.”
Return to form
Sophomore running back Malik Davis, who missed most of last season after injuring his foot in the third game, has been back at full go in camp and is running like his old self, Mullen said.
“Obviously, it’s great when you get him in the scrimmages now,” he said. “In the spring, the first one was a little tentative, the second one he started playing. Now he’s back and looks kind of what he looked like before he got hurt. Which is great.
“I love rolling the backs (in and out) if you can. I love the opportunity to have guys be fresh. Obviously, with a guy like (Lamical) Perine coming back that is a premiere back in the league, a guy that has an opportunity to be an unbelievable Alpha Dog for us and can be a premiere guy for us. But to have the ability to have other guys come in that are really good players that can take the load off of and give him the opportunity to stay fresh. It’s a pretty good deal.”
2020 schedule is set
Florida coach Dan Mullen will be returning to the state of Mississippi for the second time in three years when the Gators play at Ole Miss in the middle of their 2020 schedule, which was released Wednesday by the SEC.
The Gators will be in Oxford on Oct. 17, UF’s first time playing there since 2017.
Other than Ole Miss coming on as a rotating team from the West, it is the Gators’ regular SEC schedule in 2020 — home games against Kentucky, South Carolina, LSU and Missouri, road games at Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and Georgia in Jacksonville.
UF opens the season Sept. 5 against Eastern Washington in The Swamp. The Gators’ other non-conference games are against Southern Alabama, New Mexico State and Florida State.
In Mullen’s first return to Mississippi after leaving Mississippi State to take the Florida job, the Gators beat the Bulldogs 13-6 this past season.