Gator notebook: Florida grinding its way back into game mode

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida coach Dan Mullen, left, said the team is building up to Saturday's return to action.

After being idle for two weeks, completely shut down by a COVID-19 outbreak, the Florida Gators are attempting to make a steady and sure buildup to Saturday’s game against Missouri, UF coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday.

 “We were better (in practice) yesterday than we were the day before,” Mullen said on the SEC coaches teleconference. “When you just haven’t even practiced in two weeks, we’ve had to treat it like coming back from a bye.

 “When you haven’t done anything in two weeks, it’s a little bit slower start than a regular bye week. I was pleased to see us better yesterday than the day before. Hopefully, we’ll be a little sharper (each day).”

 Mullen came into the week anticipating a slow start, with the idea the Gators would become more game ready each day. He relayed his thoughts on that to the players during Monday morning’s team meeting.

 “One thing we talked about as a team is the buildup,” Mullen said. “I told everybody I didn’t expect Monday to be this unbelievably sharp practice. I just wanted us to have a great attitude and be excited to be out there. You saw the energy and excitement.

 “We’ve got to build up to get ready to play on Saturday. I don’t think anybody’s had this type of deal in football before. It’s not like in a bowl game, where you have a lot of time off, but you’re able to practice and kind of set everything. We were shut down for two complete weeks.

 “Our attitude has been really good. We talked about how it would be this way. It’s going to be a buildup all the way to Saturday for us.”

Different kind of Georgia week 

 Mullen is not happy with the NCAA rule that there be no team activities across the board in college sports on national election day because it has disrupted the Gators’ game-week schedule for Georgia next week.

 Usually off on Sunday, the Gators are going to have to practice Sunday coming off a Saturday night game against Missouri.

 “The buildup. … you have a set routine, a set schedule, you practice a certain way building up to Saturday,” Mullen said. “Now, you can’t do it. I wasn’t a big fan of the NCAA doing that.

 “We’ve had to redo this entire schedule. It messes with your preparation, the physical preparation for the players and the safety of them getting ready for the game. I’m disappointed the NCAA did that.

 “Normally, we’re off on Sunday. That’s a day of rest and recovery. We can’t do that now. We’ve got to go immediately into preparing for the next game.”

Mullen remains mum

 Just as he did Monday, Mullen would not reveal how many scholarship players the Gators will have available for Saturday’s game against the Tigers.

 “We should have some people to play,” he said. “I’m not going to get into that. I don’t get into any of the medical records of our guys. There’s a privacy act for students, so I’m not going to say. I haven’t done that all year.

 “I don’t think it’s fair to these young guys to release their medical records. I don’t know if you do that personally every day, put your medical records out there. I know most businesses and most Americans don’t put their medical records out there publicly.”

Much respect for Mizzou

 Mullen has been so impressed with the Tigers that he voted them in his top 25 in this week’s coaches poll.

 “That’s an excellent football team,” he said. “Defensive scheme ... they play hard, play physical, run to the ball really well. They have a good scheme that creates issues and problems for you all over the field.

 “Offensively, they’ve shown they can do it both ways. They can play the ground-it-out-ball-control-game or light it up. A great challenge. I don’t  recall exactly where, but I voted them a top-25 team in the country. It will be a great challenge for us.”