Despite starting spring early, busy offseason awaits UF staff

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida coach Dan Mullen is balancing the schedule for the final week of spring practice.

Despite starting spring camp early, a busy offseason awaits Florida coach Dan Mullen and his staff. 

The Gators have a few practices left this week before holding their final scrimmage Saturday. With no traditional spring game this year, Mullen plans to switch it up as he continues to evaluate his players. 

“We’ll do it a little bit different than last week’s scrimmage. We kind of tweak each week a little bit differently to create situations that we want to create during the game,” Mullen said. “I couldn't sit here and tell you this is the strength of this team yet because we are still evaluating it all.

“There's a lot of things we're doing that we're probably not going to do in the fall, but we want to evaluate those things first. We install, we put everything in, we look at where the strengths of individual players are, we mash those strengths together and how we put that all together within the package, and then we go forward from there.”

Florida’s assistant coaches, who typically hit the road to recruit after spring ball ends, will instead get a jump start on watching spring cut-ups with the dead period in its 13th consecutive month. Later this week, the NCAA Football Oversight Committee will reportedly recommend transitioning to a quiet period June 1, allowing coaches to once again host recruits on campus for visits and summer camps. 

“I think it’s huge,” Mullen said of the dead period possibly coming to an end. “We did spring practice a little bit earlier. Some of the stuff you would be doing in June with your spring cut-ups, you’re moving that into April. May, the guys aren’t out on the road recruiting so we’re doing a lot more of our offseason stuff at that point. June’s going to be an onslaught of just non-stops kids desperate to go visit because they haven’t had the chance to visit anywhere.

“There’s still just so many questions. Is it June 1 and life back to normal? Does it include the summer dead period? Is it official visits, unofficial visits, camps, everything? So I think the tricky part for us … is the balance of how that works. It’s going to be great to do that and I know kids are dying and excited to get here. I think there will be a mad rush as soon as that happens.”

Mullen has already had to adjust the offseason routine once for spring practice, and the looming quiet period will likely force more changes to the schedule. Even with camp wrapping up earlier, there won’t be extra down time for the coaches this summer. 

“I don’t know if there’s any more free time, there might be less free time this year because of how June is going to play out,” Mullen said. “You have that dead period at the end of June and July where you can actually go see your family at some point, as a coach. I don’t know if they keep that or don’t keep that. They haven’t let us know yet.

“I have to then try to squeeze a little bit of family time in before that hits, if they eliminate that dead period for the coaching staff. It’s all just trying to balance the schedule and make it all fit with what we have to work with. Hopefully they’ll get us the information sooner rather than later so we can have the opportunity to put a strategy in place before it gets thrown on us.”

Once the Gators hold their last scrimmage Saturday, nearly six months will pass before the team takes the field for their season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4. While Mullen and his staff shift their focus to recruiting, the players will continue offseason workouts with strength coach Nick Savage. 

“When all the coaches aren’t around it’s such a huge time. Summer is such a critical time for the strength coach and his control on the team,” Mullen said. “Our developmental time is going to be even bigger in May and June this year, maybe then it was in January, February, beginning of March like it’s been in the past. 

“I think we thought this would be the best for us right now. It’s something we might continue to do in the future because I know guys learn more watching themselves. So now we have a lot of film of them watching themselves going forward because we’ve been through spring practice. That’s at every position for us.”