The Florida Gators held their first scrimmage last Friday. It was the team’s eighth practice this spring, a mid way point for camp. Mullen was asked on Monday what, if anything, did he like about the scrimmage.
“Not really. The thing I didn’t like in the scrimmage, it was very herky-jerky. It wasn’t great football to me,” he said. “Offense, there’s a lot of mistakes and you’re seeing three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, 90-yard touchdown, three-and-out, three-and-out, 50-yard touchdown. That goes offensively and defensively, right there. When you see good football, you see execution on both sides of the ball and some playmaking.”
That’s’ pretty cut and dry but it doesn’t mean Mullen is sounding the alarm or smashing the panic button either.
Friday’s scrimmage was open to the media and unofficial stats kept by Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun showed Feleipe Franks completing just 7-of-22 passes for 127 yards, 2 touchdowns and three interceptions. Kyle Trask completed 12-of-18 passes for 182 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
It was clear that the defense was ahead of the offense for the most part, but as the above quote stated there were some major defensive breakdowns that led to huge plays for the offense.
It’s a hard thing to decipher in the spring. If one unit is doing well, is it because the unit they’re going against isn’t up to snuff, or are both units playing well, hard and picking up their assignments with just a clear winner? Mullen is a veteran coach now and he understands that. It’s why his message to the team was to just play hard and have fun. Install is done so the guys should be able to do that and they did.
“If I was happy with something, I think our guys play hard. When I talk about playing with great effort, they really try to buy into that and pay attention to that, of how to go hard. That’s to me the most important thing. If you go hard, we can teach you how to play football. If we’re constantly spending all our time saying, ‘Run faster, go harder, finish the play,’ I’m not coaching you about where you step, where your hand placement was and where your technique was. So I was pleased with that.”
Even that instruction, though, came with another knocking point from the head coach.
“I thought early on they were hesitant and they were trying to figure out maybe what we were looking for as coaches in the scrimmage instead of just going and playing as hard as they can and having fun doing it, which is what we told them to do,” he said. “But I think they’re kind of like, ‘Is this the right way to have fun?’ Instead of just having fun.”
Florida will practice on Wednesday, Friday and scrimmage again on Saturday. Monday is being spent going over film from last Friday’s scrimmage where Mullen and his coaching staff will aim to hammer home the corrections from the first scrimmage and set the tone for the last seven practices this spring.