Gators preparing for whole new game-day experience

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida will go through a mock gameday experience to prepare for an usual season-opener.

With the season fast approaching, Dan Mullen has set aside Thursday morning for Florida to hold a mock game, which is just another way of saying the Gators will be going over their game-day routine for the Sept. 26 opener at Ole Miss.

 Sounds simple enough, right?


 Thanks to COVID-19, there is nothing routine about the routine anymore.

 This game, this road trip, is going to be a whole new experience for the Gators, Mullen said Monday.

 “Just totally different. Everything's different,” he said. “You show up at the stadium, well we're using different locker rooms, we're using different meeting rooms, OK? We're going to have actually a specifically assigned seat on the buses to the airport. Different groups leave at different times.

 “Our seating arrangements on the plane will be different than they've been. The buses when we get off the plane will be very different. How we travel, what we're bringing with us will be different.”

 The hotel experience is going to be totally different, too. As will the pregame, the postgame and the during game experience. So, the Gators, even the veteran players who have been around for three or four years, are going to have a lot to absorb during Thursday’s mock game.

 “When you get to the hotel, we're going to have to tweak our routine about that for spacing at the hotel,” Mullen said. “Roommates will be different, of who you normally would room with on the road. The fact that some people won't have roommates and we'll be able to have more single rooms. The bus on the way to the stadium will be different. Pregame locker room setup will be different. There will be a bunch." 

 UF’s mock game will be comprehensive, as it usually is. It will include everything except an actual game.

“We won’t even have helmets on,” Mullen said.

The coaches are hoping Thursday’s mock game will help eliminate any potential confusion that might come with the totally new routine.

 “We come up with a mock game from every aspect,” Mullen said. “I'm talking we start in the locker room, what the schedule is pregame, how we walk on the field to warm up, to every single situation that you could come across in the game.

 “We try to walk through and review, from substituting (to other things). We have a huge script we always do every year within a mock game. It goes all the way from walking into the stadium to singing the fight song after the game." 

 The mock game also serves as a primer to start getting everyone focused and fired up for the actual game and the start of the season. The Gators aren’t quite there yet with a little more than two weeks to go.

 “Hopefully the intensity picks up (with the mock game),” Mullen said. “Our guys, they’ve got to continue to find that balance right now of making sure we’re getting better, getting everything in that we need to continue to improve and get the reps we need without the, ‘Holy cow, game week just get here. Can we move onto game week?’

 “I think there is a balance between that. I think our guys are ready to get into game week. I think our guys are ready to start playing football. We’re still two weeks away and we have some work to do before we get there and we’ve got to make sure we take care of that business, take care of the task at hand this week. I’m hoping by next week we’ll be pretty juiced up ready to get into game week.”

Mullen said his biggest concern is getting the Gators out of their preseason camp mode and into game mode.

 “Translating into game speed,” he said. “The defense, if you give up a big play (in practice), you can kind of bring the ball back, play the next play with whatever it is, whatever the drill is you're working on.

 “Offense, you make a mistake, you don't feel the turnover, you don't feel the penalty, and how it affects the drive or the complete flow of the game within the practice period that you're working on. So, probably  the biggest concern is that, getting into the game flow of things and how you know every little detail affects the big aspect of the game." 

Up next

Who: No. 6 Florida vs. Ole Miss

Where: Vaught Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.

When: Noon, Sept. 26


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850