Notebook: Mullen, Gators dealing with upside down schedule

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida freshman receiver Xzavier Henderson

Florida football coach Dan Mullen has a little bit of a problem with the SEC’s new conference-only schedule.

 He can’t make sense out of why Tennessee and Kentucky, who were at the front of UF’s original schedule, have been pushed to the rear, while Ole Miss and South Carolina are the Gators’ opening two opponents after being in the middle of the original schedule.

 It’s a move that negated some of the planning and research Mullen and his staff did on UF’s opponents earlier this summer.

 “We were supposed to be Kentucky and Tennessee,” he said. “So, you do your off-season research on Kentucky and Tennessee and you get all of that stuff ready for those early season games. What do they do? They shift those two to the end, and then let's move up the two that are supposed to be at the end and move them up to the beginning because we haven't researched them yet.”

 Mullen said it would have made much more sense — for all the teams involved, at least — for Tennessee and Kentucky to remain at the front of UF’s schedule and Ole Miss and South Carolina stay somewhere in the middle.

 If nothing else, for planning purposes.

 “Most coaches. … I  guarantee you Tennessee and Kentucky did their off-season plan on Florida, as well,” Mullen said. “And then Lane (Kiffin) and Will (Muschamp) are probably sitting there looking at it in the offseason saying, ‘Hey, we'll have those guys later, we'll have some film on them to research them as the season goes on.’ 

 “And then they kind of accelerated them. So, we have to get caught up on the research on those two teams."

 Where Ole Miss is concerned, Mullen and his staff will have to do that by watching tape of Kiffin’s teams at Florida Atlantic University.

 “It is a pain in the rear end because you can't watch Ole Miss because he wasn't there last year,” he said. “You're watching Ole Miss film to watch players and you're watching where he was, where the offensive coordinator was, where the defensive coordinator was throughout the years and you're trying to mix and match it all together.”

  Jokingly, Mullen is asking for an assist from the media.

 “If you guys can post their depth charts and what they're doing, it will be a heck of a deal for us,” he said. “I am going to put you guys in charge of that. Get me scoop on Ole Miss practice. You'll give me all theirs, I will give you all mine.”

Richardson impresses

 He’s young and still raw, but true freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson continues making a favorable impression on Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.

 “He's a really good, young guy, picks it up very quickly, very natural, doesn’t get flustered,” Mullen said. “Things he gets, he picks up fast. With two veteran quarterbacks (Kyle Trask and Emory Jones), things have been thrown at him pretty fast, and we haven’t pampered or babied him just to see how he’s picked it all up. He’s done a pretty good job.”

Slot options

 Senior Kadarius Toney is considered the starter at slot wide receiver, but he’s just one of many options at that spot, Mullen said.

 “Rick Wells has played there,” he said. “Trent Whittemore, Ethan Pouncey and Jayline Jackson have played there.

 “In our offense, we have the ability to move guys around schematically to try and create match-ups. Within our system, I can get any of our guys into the slot. I can get any of our guys outside as well, so that's kind of already built-in. And then what we do is build it around the strengths of each individual."