Staying the course: Gators preparing as usual despite facing 41-point underdogs

Florida coach Dan Mullen gets ready to lead his team onto the field to open the Camping World Kickoff against the Miami Hurricanes at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Aug. 24. The Gators say they are not taking UT Martin lightly. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Upon learning that his team is a 41-point favorite for Saturday night’s game against UT Martin, Florida coach Dan Mullen felt compelled Wednesday to reveal his idea for making college football a little more interesting.

“I was talking about this the other day,” Mullen said. “You want to make college football different? If we walked out on The Swamp Saturday and we were losing 41-0 to start the game. That would certainly change things.

“I was thinking about it off the PGA Tour. I was like, ‘Boy, if they did that like the Tour Championship and you walked in and you’re already 10 under.’ That would be a crazy change to college football, wouldn’t it?”

It would be crazy.

But the No. 11 Gators don’t want crazy. That’s the last thing they want to see Saturday night. They want to see bland, routine, the expected. A comfortable victory.

Nothing crazy.

That’s why the players are ignoring that giant spread and the expectation of others that this is going to be an easy blowout win where all the backups will be in the game early in the second half, or maybe even sooner.

“You should approach every game with the same attitude,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “I don’t come out here and practice any different because we’re playing Tennessee, if we’re playing Alabama, if we’re playing UT Martin. I don’t prepare any different.

“I don’t think any of these guys should either. They won’t. Obviously, the talent level may be there. I don’t know. I’ve never played them before. But, you don’t want to take these games lightly. You can see all across the board what happens sometimes when a team takes another team lightly.”

There was a perfect example of that just this past Saturday. And the Gators, who were off, watched it unfold on television: Tennessee, favored by more than 30 points, fell at home to Georgia State, a team that went 2-9 last season.


They can happen anywhere, any time, against anybody. That’s what is crazy about college football.

And the Gators seem determined to avoid crazy against the Skyhawks.

That was evident in Franks’ response when he was asked if this game would be a big confidence booster for some of the young players who usually don’t play much.

“I think that’s the wrong mindset to approach it with,” Franks said.

Senior wide receiver Josh Hammond agrees.

“You can’t take anyone lightly,” he said. “You have to be prepared to work week in and week out. A bunch of teams got upset in week one. Definitely take the approach that every team is going to come in and try to win the football game. No one plans to lose.

“We still game plan as if it is the No. 1 team in the country. We prepare the same way every week, trying to keep the same things every week to make it easier on guys.”

The coaches and some of the veteran players have been stressing to the younger players this week that they need to stay focused on preparation — and not get distracted or grow overconfident because of the 41-point spread.

“We’ve definitely had scares, like Vanderbilt almost last year,” senior linebacker David Reese said. “Teams like Georgia State, very good teams with very good athletes, so people have got to understand you can’t take any team for granted. I feel like we have enough seniors on our team to know how important it is to be 1-0 every week.”

Franks said it’s important that the approach this week be the same as it was the week heading into the opener against arch-rival Miami.

“You don’t want to take teams like this lightly,” he said. “You want to go out there and perform and prepare like you’re playing any other team. That’s what is most important.”


Who: Tennessee-Martin (1-0) vs. No. 11 Florida (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


  1. 2 points…

    1: I love the look on Coach Mullen’s face in the pic above.

    2: And my real reason for commenting. ‘IF’ the UAA and the UF big dog brass can call the football stadium, ”Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium” (and I agree for the record, Coach Spurrier deserved it), then it is high time to call the other stadium nearby, ”The Exact Tech Arena – Billy Donovan Court at The Stephen C. O’ Connell Center.” And the brass all KNOW IT, too! So just do it already, damn! Because I remember back in the ”Alligator Alley” days ZERO Gator Men’s Basketball fans ever thought that the Univ. of Florida would win a national championship in Div. I Men’s College Basketball. Coach Billy ‘D’ won 2, and Back ‘2’ Back! And that Billy ‘D’ squad was the last team/school to do it, too. And before them it was Duke’s ”back to back” in the early 90’s. So what the hell does former Coach Billy ‘D’ have to do to get the RECOGNITION HE SO RIGHTLY DESERVES? And much like Coach Spurrier received.
    It’s high time to do the right thing for the man, Billy ‘D’, who helped make Florida Men’s Basketball relevant in college basketball today.