Notebook: Gators took a look in the mirror during off week

Florida coach Dan Mullen talks with his players during in the first half Saturday against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Florida coach Dan Mullen said he and the coaching staff spent considerable time self-scouting the Gators during the bye week last week.

 “You’re looking at a lot of little things,” Mullen said. “It gives you the opportunity to catch up some. You do a little bit of self-scouting — what you’re doing well, what you’re doing poorly, you’re looking at what our tendencies are. 

 “Just because you have a tendency doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. How do you defend it or set up things off of your tendency? Making sure we’re just putting guys in position to be successful. 

 “And also you have time for development, which we were able to do, getting some guys some extra reps. As we’ve seen this year, with what we’ve had to deal with, we’re not done. There might be a lot of young guys who still have to step up and play as the year goes on.”

Word on Cox

Even eight games into the season, Florida is hoping to gain a special waiver from the NCAA that would make Georgia defensive end transfer Brenton Cox eligible to play in the remaining games.

 If ruled eligible, Cox, a true sophomore, could play in four games this season and still redshirt.

 “We’re still working with the NCAA on that, with some more information,” Mullen said Monday.

Mullen on staying in Jax

 Mullen is OK with the Florida-Georgia game remaining in Jacksonville. At least for now. Jacksonville and the two schools Ok’d a new agreement last week that will keep the game there through at least the 2023 season, with an option to go through 2025.

 “It’s been there since 1933 except for twice. That’s a long time, a lot of history involved in that,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s the best thing to do because we’ve always done that. I’m never going to be someone who says that’s how we’ve always done it, so don’t think about it. It’s a really unique scene for college football. There’s not many games like this in the country so I think that part of the game is pretty special. 

 “The landscape of college football is constantly changing. Right now, for the next couple of years, it’s beneficial for that and then we’ll see as it continues to go forward if that’s the case.”

Nothing extra needed

 Mullen’s former boss at UF, Urban Meyer, always treated rivalry games differently, coming up with special motivational ploys and props the week of those games.

 Mullen doesn’t do that.

 “Nah, I don’t have to,” he said. “This is a big game. If our guys aren’t juiced to play in the game, they’ve got problems. You come to Florida to play in big games, to play in rivalry games like this. If I have to go motivate our team, it ain’t much a rivalry game then.”

Winning the fourth quarter

 The Gators have clearly become a fourth-quarter team this season, outscoring their opponents 85-21 during the final 15 minutes of games. Much of the credit goes to Nick Savage and the strength and conditioning staff, Mullen said.

 “They do a great job,” Mullen said. “Especially throughout the offseason, making sure guys are in shape, but also developing that mental toughness. Everybody can do it when it’s easy. But when it gets hard, when you’re facing adversity, when you’re tired, do you have the mental toughness to go push yourself to another level? He does a great job and our staff does in preparing guys for that. Not just physically, but mentally.”

Mullen and the TV clicker

 When he has time off, like he did this past weekend, Mullen watches as much football as he can on television. He said if he sees different plays that he likes, he’ll jot them down or make a mental note of  them and possibly add them to his offense.

 “Always. Always,” he said. “In everything. I’m probably not fun to watch games with because I’m analyzing, seeing a lot of different things. I flip a lot, too. 

 “Mathematically you’re looking at every game situation and watching a game saying, ‘Here’s the situation, here’s what we need to do, offensively, what’s your strategy, are you punting, are you going for it, you need this many first downs, where’s the clock, how are you doing, how are you going to manage, is it worth taking a shot, hey, better have the on-sides team or hands team ready in this situation, punt, don’t punt.’

 “I mean, everything. I watch it very differently than probably the normal person.”

Vandy time

Florida’s Nov. 9 home game against Vanderbilt is scheduled for a noon start with ESPN providing television coverage.

Last season, the Gators defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., 37-27. Florida leads the all-time series over the Commodores, 40-10-2, and has won 10 of the last 11 meeting.