Notes from Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham’s Mid Week Press Conference (8/23/18)

Here are notes taken live during Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham’s press conference with the media on August 23rd, 2018. News and notes are expected to cover the first few weeks of fall practice and prep for game week. Apologies for any spelling errors or related – I’ll do my best to go back and correct later. Also the video is at the bottom of the page:

  • Getting ready to transition from practices to game week preparation. Our players are all ready to go onto the next phase. We touched on some things in practice including what our expectations are supposed to be for game week. Mullen imagines it’ll be a lot different and that it will be a lot of learning from everyone.
  • Have had conversations about the QB position and will sit down after today’s practice to look at who will help us win games. It’s all about winning games this year.
  • Other key position battles: Placekicker and punter are still up for grabs. Mullen doesn’t see at as ‘position battles’ or think too much about starters but more so who is ready to get into the game and play. Do we have 27 ready to play, 30, or 22? We need to know who those guys are and get them on the field. Based on what you have available to you to play you have to move guys around. It’s more a ‘depth building battle’ than a position battle.
  • Sets the bar really high and is pleased with how the guys have bought in in what they are trying to do. Thinks they are learning and are giving their all but knows they can give and grow a lot more. It’s a learning curve for a lot of the guys. Wants them to always ask themselves ‘is this the hardest I can go?’ and if the answer is YES then you’ve given me [Mullen] what I want. Wants guys to prove their ability and realizes it’s hard to learn how hard you can go on every play. The attitude
  • Has the bar been reached? The standards are extremely high but he is very happy with the effort to learn it.
  • A lot of position battles will absolutely be going into the game. You may earn 20 reps in Game 1, but how you perform in that game could mean you get 15 the next game or 25. It’s a constant battle for playing time.
  • We have a specific way we will practice during game week as we prepare to face someone else besides ourselves. We’ve had 34 practices of our offense going against our defense. Starting Monday we will go against a totally new defense (scout team). It’s a totally different deal.
  • Quarterbacks have made a lot of progress to understand the offense and how to respond to coaching and start to come out of their shells some. Wants to see how they respond to focusing on the plan for game week and how they transition week to week. Comfortable with all of our guys and, you know what, that’s who we got either way. We got each other and we’re going to be a good team together. I’m comfortable with them and hope they’re comfortable with me.
  • Injuries: Again will not elaborate on injuries until game weeks. (was asked about David Reese) Says that media is already reporting on it, so don’t need his knowledge. Joked he was reading an article all about their injuries, so assumes they must already know.
  • Has a feeling who the QB will be right now, but wants to sit down with Brian and really evaluate all the small details. Not going to hide who the QB is, it’s not meant to be a secret, but wants to give the due diligence to see who gives us as a team the best opportunity to win games right now. We will go into next week knowing who the starter is going to be. If it leaks out it leaks out, that stuff doesn’t matter. Maybe they’ll run out on twitter and celebrate, or a release video he jokes.
  • What drew him to Grantham? It was really weird – had a chance to hire a DC and they have the same agent, knew he was interested in a new job. Gave him a look at his abilities, history, and stats and saw his ability to be a ‘firey guy’. Wasn’t sure if they would work at first because of their personalities but after meeting for the first time and seeing they meshed well together, outside of football, it was a great situation and has worked out. You don’t always know when you hire someone how they will pan out until they actually do. It was a really good gel and mix, and hopefully he would say the same thing.
  • Remembers taking on Grantham while at Mississippi St, which they split. Recalls some situations in those games, but overall is more impressed with his consistency as a coach. Jokes since he came from the NFL they would try and confuse him with different looks that you wouldn’t see at that level. He was hired more so from his performance overall than in the games they faced each other.
  • Asked about Grantham’s personality – at first you only know him as this guy screaming on the other side of the sideline, but when you sit down you learn more about him and see how much he cares and puts into the job.
  • Going to let Malik Davis go in the game. Checked his confidence and comfort in the scrimmage and seeing him go through that was good. Going to let him play!
  • Asked about guys who got scholarships – emphasizes who participates and gives everything on special teams is significant. Punt team is most important part of the team. If you’re on that team you eat first. Those guys are the elite of the elite on this team and the mindset I [Mullen] believes in. If you can’t play on special teams you can’t play in the game.
  • Need to hammer home every day that players are not meant to be pigeon holed into their position and that special teams will carry the team. When you play great on special teams during the game you usually only have to only be good on either offense or defense. I’m good with a score of 3-0 or 51-50 because I’ll be singing the fight song either way. Now will people be thrilled with those scores? Maybe not but as a team we accomplished our goal of winning and that’s the focus.
  • On hiring Christian Robinson – met with Grantham and said they wanted to hire a 10th coach and Robinson was the guy he really wanted. He’s a young coach but a mature coach. Notes he was trusted as a young coach at Florida and was helped along as he learned, something he wants to share with Robinson. It helps he’s been on that field and played at all levels. Plus being younger is always great at recruiting and it helps to relate.

Todd Grantham at the podium

  • Has seen guys improve and get better – Polite, CJ, and Marco as well as others have really improved and raised their standards. Happy with them as a group.
  • Asked about Polite: excited to see him play and thinks he has a natural ability to get downfield.
  • When you look at our safeties he has seen Stiner really improve.
  • Injuries can sometimes create depth. As those guys who are stepping in and getting reps improve, they are helping the team get better overall when those other guys come back to the field.
  • Iverson could play safety, but they are going to work and develop him to see what he can do.
  • Asked what the linebackers have shown: Vosean Joseph is a guy who is really explosive and fast. Rashaad Jackson has been solid and will play both spots. James Houston has kept fighting and made good progress. KC Johnson has been playing the ‘money position’. Ventrell Miller will continue to develop as well. We’re really young at the position and all have shown flashes at times. Wants to get them playing consistently.
  • ¬†Shaping the system to the personnel. They’re going to play their system like they want, but every year you make adjustments based on who you have and what you can do. That will be every year, not just because this is their first. We’ll be prepared to play every team we face this year.
  • Points Allowed is the most important stat. Turnovers will win you ballgames, so you always want to be plus one. At the end of the day if they get a turnover, then we need to get two. Need to have positive turnover ratios to really separate yourself as the better team. At this level that can make things swing one way or another. It’s definitely not THE reason teams win games, but it is very crucial.
  • Do we a have a ‘turnover chain’ type of deal at Florida? We believe in playing fast and hard. We call it Code Orange (?).
  • Trey Dean is going to play this season and be a part of the rotation. Has good size and skillsets for a corner. Has done well to learn the mechanics and is easily one of the most competitive guys on the team.
  • Asked about Mississippi State and their ability to improve so much. They had talent but you have to be able to give relentless effort and that’s what they were able to do. They bought into that and you saw it on the field. Here we need to continue to develop those habits to become that team. Wants the guys to understand what the standard is that the coaches want. There is no ‘magic dust’ to having a good defense, you have to make plays.
  • Celebrate your play makers and also make sure you understand the mistakes so you can improve and start making more plays. On defense if one guy isn’t giving 100% and doing things the right way it can hurt the defense and create a weakness to esploit. Happy with what the guys are doing and knows they can continue to get better.
  • Conliffe and Slaton: Coming along well, have lost some weight. They are really different players between spring and now and have improved tremendously. Learned to push themselves and overcome that barrier. All guys have to learn to push themselves past that to become great.
  • As a program you have to be on the same page to make sure the players and the coaches are living that mindset of always giving relentless effort to improve.
  • When deciding to take a coaching job – you of course think of what is best for your family and what is best for you. If you feel like it’s the right thing for you you go ahead and do it. It’s different for everyone.
  • Generally speaking Mullen is an offensive coach, but he has a defensive mentality. Working with him is really fun because it challenges us schematically, but he also lets us do our thing to improve. He has a great big picture look; the CEO of the organization that knows all the things we need to do to win championships.
  • Camp can be a grind and you want to reward guys who create ‘juice’ in practice. We give out The Juice Award to those guys and now it’s a competition for it. Rewarding guys for playing the way you want them to and are giving all the energy they have is important towards making that contagious.

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