Gators a little sloppy in second and final preseason scrimmage

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida coach Dan Mullen said he saw some sloppiness in the Gators' second scrimmage of the preseason Monday night.

After predicting last week that there would be some sloppy play early in this college football season, Florida coach Dan Mullen caught his first glimpse of some of it Monday night in The Swamp in the Gators’ final preseason scrimmage.

“Still some sloppiness that we’ve got to get corrected,” Mullen said Tuesday. “You can just see it, the sloppiness on the field of lack of playing football. Those are kind of the things you see — some errors, some mistakes.

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Who: No. 8 Florida vs. Ole Miss

When: Noon Sept. 26

Where: Vaught Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.

TV: ESPN. Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

“I did see some good football, where obviously we’re improving. I’m excited about how we’re improving that way. Obviously, you’d like to be further along a little bit as a whole with some of the sloppy little mistakes right now.

“But we’re all pleased with our guys. I really like some of our guys’ effort that we have out there on the field, how our guys are playing hard and trying to figure out how to play the game. Now we’ve just got to start putting it all together at this point.”

Mullen’s prediction of sloppy play came about for two main reasons: the absence of spring football (and a spring game) and SEC schools being restricted by the conference to just 20 hours a week in preseason camp, which includes practices, meetings and workout sessions — basically all football activities.

In the past, there was no weekly hour limit during preseason camp.

“With all the limitations, the things that got eliminated were some of the conditioning and lifting,” Mullen said. “You’ve got about half of what you would normally do (in training camp). You're looking at training camp where it really goes from unlimited hours, with one day off a week, and that day you're allowed two hours of film to 20 hours a week.

 “You’re looking at a normal day, maybe you practice in the morning and you have a recovery lift in the afternoon while you’re watching some film. All that time, a bunch of walkthrough times gets eliminated. A lot of little teaching and all that stuff. You went from having a training camp to basically have an in-season schedule. In season we’re 20 hours a week. Training camp you’re not. It essentially eliminated training camp altogether. That’s the easiest way to put it.”

Before the first scrimmage, which was held a little more than a week ago, the Gators had basically gone eight months without actually being in a game-like situation. Two-and-a-half months after beating Virginia in the Orange Bowl, UF had to shut things down just before the start of spring practice.

So, the Gators are still trying to catch up in many ways.

Despite the new time constraints — and the sloppy play in Monday’s scrimmage — Mullen seems pleased with where his team is at less than three weeks before the start of the season.

“What I’m excited about is that we keep taking steps forward,” he said. “I’m seeing little improvements. I’m seeing improvement from guys we need to create depth to get through this season. Obviously, this is going to be a unique season, not just dealing with injuries as they come along like a normal season, but you’re also going to have to deal with potentially guys missing games for quarantine or other reasons. 

“What I’m really pleased with is that we continue to take steps forward in creating depth across the board. And the next-guy-up mentality. Everything we’re trying to do in practice and scrimmage is rolling (ahead).”

The coaches are giving reps to just about everybody in practice, getting everyone ready to play, because everyone may eventually have to get on the field at some point during this COVID-19 season.

“I can’t tell you how many guys are going to have to play this year for us,” Mullen said. “And so, I am pleased after two scrimmages to see that you do see some young guys coming along. We talk a lot about that. Are we making sure we’re continuing to accelerate these guys because you don’t know when we might have to call on their number to get them into a game?

“Your travel squad for Week One and your travel squad for Week Five could be a completely different roster, so we have to get as many guys ready as possible.” 

Monday’s scrimmage was the final one before the season. The Gators will scale back the contact work this week as the focus starts to turn to the Sept. 26 opener at Ole Miss.

 “When the SEC came out with whatever their rules were, the things that got eliminated were some of the conditioning and lifting,” Mullen said.  “So we’re trying to catch up on some of that over the next two weeks and just make sure we’re ready for four quarters, but a lot of that also too is build depth and make sure we’re creating the proper depth for four quarters.”