Dan Mullen casually mentioned that the Florida Gators would hold a “mock game day” this Thursday eight days before they travel to Oxford, Mississippi and nine days until they kick off the 2020 season.
My follow up question to Mullen seemed innocuous. I know what a typical mock game day routine would be: the team would gather in the stadium and go through a normal routine. They would get on busses, drive to the hotel they stay in before games if it were a home game, they would drive to the airport if it was an away game then back to the stadium. They would walk in just like any other game and go through an entire game day routine all the way up to running out on the field. Everything is simulated so that when the Gators take the field on September 26, it’s not the first time they’re doing it. The detail even goes down to how the team will walk over to the band to sing the fight song after the game. Nothing is left out.
But this isn’t a typical year and this won’t be a typical road trip.
When I asked the question about what would be different this year, the coach chuckled, probably wishing I had asked what didn’t change this year rather than what did change.
“I mean everything’s different,” he said. “You show up at the stadium, well we’re using different locker rooms, we’re using different meeting rooms. 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. When you get to the hotel, we’re going to have to tweak our routine about that for spacing at the hotel. Roommate will be different, of how you normally would roommate 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, so there will be a bunch.”
The mock game isn’t a scrimmage, Florida held just two scrimmages this camp. It’s more about the procedural things that go into a game day and to have the guys run through how the Florida football program does things on game day.
Its’ just another way that Mullen and his staff make sure they are as prepared as possible.
“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 this. We have a huge script we always do every year within a mock game.”