Five takeaways from Florida football’s time at the 2018 SEC Media Days

By Adam Silverstein
July 18, 2018
Five takeaways from Florida football’s time at the 2018 SEC Media Days
Football

Image Credit: UAA / @GatorsFB

The Florida Gators hope to actually takeover Atlanta at some point in the future, but for now, Tuesday’s temporary settlement will have to do. Those in attendance at the College Football Hall of Fame during the 2018 SEC Media Days claimed Florida representatives dominated the fans that showed up for Day 2 of the proceedings; considering Georgia was the featured player on the day, that certainly stands as a positive for the Gators.

Head coach Dan Mullen, senior offensive lineman Martez Ivey, senior defensive end Cece Jeferson and junior linebacker David Reese held court throughout the day before unveiling Florida’s new Jordan Brand uniforms in the evening. You can check those out here.

Let’s take a look at what went down on Tuesday in Atlanta.

1. The Gators made an impression: As mentioned above, Florida took over Day 2 of the SEC Media Days. Considering the fact that Georgia is coming off a near national title win a year ago, that’s significant even if surface level. SEC Network spent most of the day building up Mullen’s appearance behind the podium and on the “Paul Finebaum Show.” Mullen held court with national college football writers and delivered a number of quotable lines, such as that he’s unlike Donald Trump because he wants to fill The Swamp, not drain it. None of this will immediately change Florida’s standing in the SEC East or nationally after a 4-8 season, but perception can often be reality in the world of college football, and the Gators felt like a big deal for the first time in a while.

2. No news is … no news: All those questions we had about quarterbacks and transfer wide receivers went largely unanswered on Tuesday. Mullen said there has been no news in the eligibility of his wideouts, but Florida does hope to learn their fate sooner than later. Regarding the signal callers, Mullen did admit the Gators would run from that position more than they have in recent years, but he remained firm that there has been no movement in the battle for the starting job. In fact, he said there was a 50-50 chance that more than one quarterback would wind up starting in the season opener against Charleston Southern, which really should not be much of a surprise to anyone considering how close the battle seems. “There’s not a specific way to do it,” said Mullen of teaching quarterbacks. What he did promise is that he would put them in a position to be successful as often as possible.

3. Shots fired at the old offense … Ivey did not hold back when asked about the Gators’ offense and where it would be going this season. “One hundred times better, to be honest with you,” he said while comparing it to the unit under Jim McElwain. “We’ve got a lot more options, and I feel like we do a better job at utilizing our players and our weapons [now], and it doesn’t matter who it is we can get the ball in their hands.” Referring to the previous offensive structure as “one-dimensional,” Ivey noted how predictable Florida’s offense was a year ago, at which point Reese chimed in that one of his aunts called out the Gators’ plays before they ran them.

4. … and the strength and conditioning: Ivey and Jefferson also praised new director of strength and conditioning Nick Savage for how he’s transformed their bodies and made the entire team stronger. Recalling back to a year ago, Ivey said Florida’s players “could just tell [opponents] were stronger than you” every week when they stepped on the field. He continued: “You would see [recruits] come in that you hosted on their official [visits] that turned out to be bigger than you.” Added Reese: “Coach Savage has been the biggest difference since Day 1. Him and his accountability.’

5. Tim Tebow stepped up to bring Mullen to UF: OK, let’s face it: Mullen probably decided he would take the Gators job the second it was offered. Still, Florida’s new head coach shared for the first time Tuesday that he actually spoke with Tebow before accepting the job to gauge his opinion of returning to Gainesville. Mullen shared: “[Tebow] said, ‘You know what a special place Florida is.'” That he did. “The opportunity to be head coach at the University of Florida was one I couldn’t pass up,” Mullen added. “It’s a dream job for me.” This was Mullen’s 10th straight appearance at the SEC Media Days.

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