Florida football looks ‘cleaner’ in second scrimmage, Dan Mullen says

By Michael Phillips
August 14, 2019
Florida football looks ‘cleaner’ in second scrimmage, Dan Mullen says
Football

As the No. 8 Florida Gators gear up for their Week Zero showdown in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes, the team completed its second scrimmage over the weekend. This one was designed much closer to how a real game would be, and it appeared to go well, according to head coach Dan Mullen.

“The scrimmage last night, I thought it was better,” Mullen said on Monday. “The guys on the team took some steps forward. I think it was just cleaner football from top to bottom. It makes it easier to coach off of.

“The key is making sure guys are getting ready. More into the game mentality, so the scrimmage is better for being able to transition from one situation to the other.”

Typically, fall camp begins with going back to the basics — installation of the playbook and general conditioning to refresh the players. That’s also how the first scrimmage is set up as well. 

It’s a very controlled environment with some practice periods, special teams specific work and 11-on-11 plays. By the second scrimmage, the team has shaken off the rust from the summer and is ready for a more true live-game experience. 

“It is a little more situational in the second scrimmage, in more terms of a realistic game,” Mullen said. “Every drive starts in a set field position in the first scrimmage, so you make sure to hit everything, while in the second scrimmage you play more like a game. You got to punt in between series instead all in the beginning or a special teams scrimmage period, team scrimmage period. Special teams is mixed in and more game like, and you have to transition from one to the next.”

With the opener fast-approaching, it is certainly time to sharpen things up as the Gators begin to shift their focus toward game week. 

“It’s on us quick,” Mullen said. “I think we have really three more practices. [Monday] will be helmets, Friday will be shorts and T-shirts, walk-through type practice. There are only three more practices and then game week, so we have to have a sense of urgency. 

“Within our development — you know, guys are developing at different levels but making sure they’re ready to go play. Fortunately, I think we were able to get through the scrimmage. We’ll see when we get out at practice how guys feel today with minimal injuries, just some bumps and bruises. Get guys ready to play and staying healthy is obviously a huge part, especially with a long season this year with the three bye weeks.” 

Mullen continued: “There will be that and there will be different opportunities for guys to stay healthy during the course of the season. But it’s spread out, so we just have to work to stay healthy and to see if the guys continually improve and take steps in the right direction.”

The scrimmage is the closest Florida can get to what it will have to face in Week Zero, and it took advantage of the opportunity to improve. There was some reported sloppiness in the first scrimmage this fall, making it hard for the coaches to tell who was truly improving and where they needed to focus.

However, that wasn’t the case this past Sunday. And with a cleaner look all-around, the coaches had an easier time evaluating where they were at as a team and what they needed to hone in on before the Gators face the Canes.

“When there are a lot of [missed assignments], broken plays, it’s hard to coach,” Mullen said. “You get our of weird situations and weird things happen. We had a lot of missed tackles, which is good because you have to be careful with how much you tackle just with player safety. 

“So you’re kind of managing how you’re doing that and how you’re teaching it and how you’re practicing it. We had a lot less missed tackles. But I thought, overall, the breakdowns weren’t massive breakdowns. Breakdowns were one or two mistake here or there that you can really coach and see what goes on. 

“And our coaching staff we create adverse situations. Hey, we want to see this series, we are going only see these type of defenses, in this series we are only going to see these formations so that we can get the calls we need and we can coach them in game situations offensively and defensively.”

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