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Whoa, there! This wasn't about the crowd

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
Texas A&M place kicker Seth Small (47) reacts with teammates after making the game-winning field goal Saturday against Florida as time expired in College Station, Texas.

So here is the list of things Dan Mullen was irritated about during a terse, six-minute postgame Zoom call with the media Saturday afternoon.

1. That Texas A&M on the road was on the schedule because of the SEC deciding to go to a 10-game season.

2. That the crowd was loud and affected the game because A&M is willing to do what Florida is not and let more people into the game than I think anyone in Gainesville expected.

3. That despite a defense that is playing historically bad three games into the season, it was still a game that Florida could have pulled out but fell short.

That's how good of an offense Mullen has built, a program that could lose four receivers to the NFL and be better a year later.

But we'll get to that later.

What was most surprising after the game was that a ticked-off Mullen challenged Gator fans  and challenged the UF administration. 

He said he wants a packed house next week when the Gators face another defensively-inept team. You know, the 1-2 defending national champs.

"I want to see 90,000 next week," he said.

Dan, baby. We all know you are angry. At some point this week you will walk those comments back because that's not happening. 

Florida opened up the home season last week and couldn't fill a 17,000-seat shell of a stadium. Now you want people to stiff-arm a pandemic just because the governor said it was OK?

I checked with Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and he said that nothing has changed at Florida, that the administration will continue to follow UF Heath guidelines.

As it has and should.

Look, we all get the frustration Mullen is feeling after a loss that should have been a win.

He's incensed.

He can get in a long line of people who were exasperated watching a defense that has a shot at doing things we never thought we'd see under coordinator Todd Grantham or those orange helmets with the script blue "Gators."

Florida has allowed 100 points this season. We are three games in. Last year, that didn't happen until the eighth game.

So I asked Mullen if there was any way to see this coming. Because I sure as heck didn't.

"Coming into a season, you never know because you're only going against each other," he said. "Now we know."

His plan is to re-evaluate and get the right players in position to make plays.

My plan is not to watch when the defense is on the field.

Because Jon Greenard and David Reese III are not walking through that door.

The players clearly are not there for a championship defense. Not even close. This is what you are going to have to live with and it should be, as Mullen called it, a "unique year."

I used to have an aunt who was unique. She played the piccolo with her feet. But I got tired of watching her too.

Remember all of those Florida fans who pined for offense when the Gators stunk like boiled cabbage in a Diaper Genie when they had the ball? 

Defense was a luxury. Now, it's what is going to keep this from being a special season.

Because on the other side of the ball, there is no shortage of special players.

Kyle Trask tried to play the good solider proclaiming a team loss. 

"We had plenty of opportunities," he said. "It shouldn't have been that close."

But it was that close because Florida's defense made a quarterback with a history of being as erratic as a dazed butterfly look like he deserved a statue. and because the defensive line simply doesn't have it whether we are talking about size or strength or technique or, well, really, anything else.

Gator fans, your defense has given up 86 first downs in three games. That's almost 29 a game. Three-and-outs are about as rare as albino alligators.

At some point on the flight home, Mullen probably thought about how every team in the SEC got tough games added to their schedules and how the crowd (24,709 announced at Kyle Field) wasn't the reason the Gators lost the game.

But when he turned on the film Saturday night, that same defense is going to be staring back at him.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney is stopped just short of the goal line by Texas A&M defensive back Myles Jones during the second quarter Saturday in College Station, Texas.