Florida coach Dan Mullen has a pretty good feel for how Towson’s week has probably gone, and what the Tigers’ approach likely will be when they step into The Swamp today.
That’s because he’s been on the wrong end of one of these small school vs. big school mismatches before, back when he and Urban Meyer were coaching at Bowling Green.
So, how are the 33-point underdog Tigers feeling about playing the mighty Gators?
“You look at it, and you come in with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, and you view it as an unbelievable opportunity to come in and say, ‘Hey, what do we have to lose?’ ” Mullen said. “They’re getting the opportunity to come play in The Swamp. I imagine that’s a pretty unique opportunity for those guys, playing in these types of stadiums. The energy and excitement you have, you kind of let it go. You have nothing to lose. ‘Let’s go throw it all out there and have some fun while we do it.’ It makes you pretty loose and allows you to go play at a pretty high level.”
Towson really has nothing to lose (other than the game) and everything to gain. It’s a chance to play in one of college football’s iconic stadiums against a top-10 team on national television. And then there’s the payout: $500,000, which is a whole lot of money for an FCS program that runs on a tight budget.
So, yeah, it’s all good for the Tigers.
“It’s going to be fun, there’s no question about it,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. “We’re going to go down there and have a blast.”
Mullen knows they are. And they’re also going to compete and give the Gators their best shot.
“It’s a challenge playing a team like Towson that might not have the national recognition, but they’re a top-10 football team within their division,” he said. “They know how to win, they expect to win. We’ve got to come out and play a great game Saturday.”
That may sound like typical coachspeak, but maybe it’s not. Because Towson is a good FCS team, one that is ranked 11th in the nation and is averaging 40 points and 423.8 yards a game and is led by a quarterback with name recognition — Tom Flacco, the younger brother of Denver Broncos’ quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Tigers are coming down here to have fun, and they’re bringing a game plan to win with them.
Mullen certainly isn’t taking Towson lightly. He’s expecting his players not to, either.
The Gators will be challenged today, Mullen said.
“They’re a very good football team, playing in one of the best conferences in their division, the Colonial Athletic Association,” Mullen said. “When you look at them — very, very sound football team. Solid football team, back to front.
“They’ve got a couple of guys that have transferred in, but really they’re kind of a home-grown built team. They develop players, have a veteran group that’s out there on the field. They know how to win. They expect to win. And you can see that on how they play and how they are in games.
“Front to back and top to bottom, their roster is very solid with how its been built to be a championship and a top 10-level team within their division.”
While the Tigers will be seeking a little respect — and a lot of fun — in today’s game, the Gators will be focusing on themselves and trying to continue their current trend of showing improvement from week to week.
With Auburn looming next Saturday, it’s imperative.
“If we don’t continue to take a step forward this week, it’ll show,” Mullen said. “And it’ll show not just this week, it’ll show the next week and the week after that and the week after that as you continue to move forward. That’s the message for the guys.”
“Definitely one game at a time,” quarterback Kyle Trask said. “Really comes back to consistency and maximizing every rep. We want to be an elite team. In order to do that, we have to maximize every rep and be the most consistent team possible.”