UF notebook: Gators’ aggressive approach on fourth down

Florida punter Tommy Townsend gets the first down off a fake punt against Miami last season in Orlando. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

The Gators may have converted only two of 10 third-down plays in the win over Miami, but they were a perfect four-for-four on fourth down.

“One, we wanted to take an aggressive approach to the game,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “Two, we knew they’re a great third-down team, and we wanted to create momentum. Within the game, you look at things, you sit there and look at things, and you say, ‘OK, we had some third-and-10 calls against the best defense against third down in the country last year.’ We might not be as aggressive on that call. But suddenly, we have a fourth-down-and-3 call and we really feel good about that call.”

The first fourth-down conversion came on UF’s opening offensive possession on a fake punt by punter Tommy Townsend. Mullen made that decision earlier in the week.

“That one, we knew, I kind of went in and said, ‘We’re going to call a fake punt on the first drive of the game,’ ” Mullen said. “I spoke to a class on campus yesterday and they said, ‘Hey, when did you know you were going to fake a punt?’ I said, ‘Monday.’ ”

Suspended players status

There will be no news on the four players who were suspended from the opener until just before kickoff of next Saturday’s game against UT-Martin.

Safety Brad Stewart, defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton, defensive back Patrick Moorer and wide receiver Rick Wells were suspended from last Saturday’s game for not living up to what Mullen calls the Gator standard.

“As always, if they will play or not play, we will let you know,” Mullen said Wednesday. “As with anything with all our suspensions, if those guys are suspended for that game or as we say, not living up to the Gator standard and what we expect of them, we will always announce that the day of (the game).”

Wrap ’em up

Mullen said the issue with missed tackles against Miami can be corrected on the practice field.

“By practicing with a little better intensity,” he said. “I told our guys, I loved our effort and I love our attitude that we have. I just think the attention to detail and the intensity in how we finish things in practice has got to be better.

“Whether it’s finishing blocks on offense, whether it’s the exactness of all 11 guys and the execution on offense or whether it’s thudding or wrapping up, making sure we’re in position to make tackles on defense that way.”

Line holds up

Even though the running game was almost non-existent against Miami, the young offensive line showed promise with its overall performance, Mullen said. Quarterback Feleipe Franks was only sacked once.

“If you look at (Lamical) Perine, there was some consistency when he was in running the ball with his numbers,” Mullen said. “But I think the flow of the game got us out of it. We only gave up one sack against a team that had some dynamic pass-rushers. I’m encouraged. I think we’ve got a long way to go, but I am encouraged with some things that I saw from them up front on Saturday night.”

Injury update

The Gators made it through the opener without sustaining any serious injuries.

“We came out pretty healthy,” Mullen said. “ A sprained ankle or two, but nobody we expect to miss that next game at this point. A couple of guys are not going to practice this week. But to be honest with you, we had a lot of guys that were not going to practice or be very minimal with what they were going to do for health purposes and recovery.”

Mullen’s bad call

Mullen said he made a poor play call in the third quarter when he had Franks check into a quarterback run on third-and-goal from the UM 7-yard line. Franks was stopped for no gain and the Gators had to settle for a field goal.

“I checked to that. That was on me,” Mullen said. “I thought I saw them in a look and I checked to that. (Franks) got to it late, he kind of looked over and I got his attention. I thought that they were all walked out. That was probably a bad call by me in that situation. It was one that if we executed clean, he’s got a chance to walk in. The young linemen, we missed that one.”


  1. The aggression on 4th downs was a delight to witness. A relentless and and unbridled mindset and force of violence is required to destroy the object blocking your way. I remember when FSU stepped on Danny W’s hand on purpose, and what happened to them from that play onward in the game. Sometimes, even a personal foul penalty is the best thing that can happen to get the Gator’s to be the beasts they’re supposed to be.

    • On the other hand, 3rd and out is never a delight, and neither is a preponderance of arm tackling. But there is good news that was truly a delight to witness, as you mentioned, and the rest can be corrected. In CDM we trust — same goes for his staff, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. Now lets get to it before Kentucky!