University of Florida

Gators coach Mullen is more focused on UF’s depth than position battles. This is why

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) throws a pass during a game against Michigan in Arlington, Texas.
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) throws a pass during a game against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. AP

Dan Mullen’s expectations for Florida football haven’t fully been met during Fall camp.

The first-year UF head coach said Thursday that he’s set the bar high for his team, and while he feels players still have more to give, he is content with the steady improvements and efforts that certain guys have shown so far.

“I wouldn’t say everybody’s reached my bar,” Mullen said, “but I’m pleased with how our guys have bought in and what they’ve tried to do.”

As they head into their final week of preparation before the start of the 2018 season, the Gators still face unknowns as to which players will lace up their cleats to start in their home opener against Charleston Southern on Sept 2.

The highest point of interest thus far has been the ongoing position battle at quarterback. However, this isn’t the team’s only hole as it closes fall camp. Punter, place-kicker and the status of the offensive line are all keys that the Gators’ must solve come game day.

But for Mullen, it’s more about depth-building than position battles.

“If this guy goes down,” he said, “where do the chess pieces move of who’s ready to play.”

And when asked during about his comfort level with the quarterbacks, the coach chuckled.

“I’m comfortable with them,” Mullen said. “I hope they’re comfortable with me cause that’s all we got.”

For redshirt-sophomores Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask and freshman Emory Jones, they’ve all made the progress that Mullen had hoped for as far as understanding the offense.

Though Mullen said he has a feeling about who the guy will be when game day arrives, he and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson still plan to look at every aspect before making that final decision.

“While they’re in school there’s a little bit of extra time for some coaches’ meetings for us to evaluate some different things of who gives us, as a team, with where everybody is at right now, the best opportunity to win games,” Mullen said. “We’ll go in to the game week knowing who our starter is going to be for the first game. That’s not going to be a game-time decision deal.”

With so many questions remaining before the Gators’ take the field for the first time, one thing is certain: Guys are finally showing that they’ve bought into the system on both offense and defense.

According to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, players like junior Jachai Polite and sophomores C.J. Henderson and Marco Wilson have worked hard at improving their skill sets and doing things they way the new coaching staff wants.

“Every year you’re going to change your system to the players you have, and you’re going to try to always enhance the talents of the players you have and their skill sets,” Grantham said. “We’ll be fully prepared for anybody that we play this year, schematically.”

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