Notes from Dan Mullen’s Pre Week 1 Press Conference (8/27/18)

Here are notes taken live during Dan Mullen’s press conference with the media on August 27th, 2018. News and notes are expected to cover the the game week leading up to Charleston Southern. 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:

  • Feliepe Franks is the Starting Quarterback Week 1
  • Talked to coaches and developed a plan for getting the team into a ‘Game week mentality’. Wants to get them into a good routine that they will be able to focus on each week. The players are excited to get in the Swamp, have a real opponent, and finally get a chance to ‘play for real’.
  • The first two weeks we’ll be practicing later in the evenings to get them adjusted to the later evening games coming up.
  • Shawn Davis is Questionable or GTD.
  • David Reese is Doubtful
  • Jacob Copeland is Doubtful
  • CJ McWilliams is Questionable
  • Interesting being able to open up the 2nd year in a row (for Mullen) playing Charleston Southern. They’ll have some insight into their style, with a little familiarity both ways, but knows they have some talented players that will cause disruption. Might not have the size of other teams we play but they play fast and with a unique offense, with the shotgun/option. Lots of vet players and so it should be a fun and exciting challenge.
  • We looked at who would give us the best opportunity right now to win games, and we felt that was Franks. His ability to extend plays, athleticism, right now gives us a change to win games.
  • The competition was really close. Grades were right there for them both and they were pretty even, it mostly came back down to the small intangibles.
  • Franks has a strong arm that can do some different things for us, purely on talent and athleticism alone. Running the ball and extending plays is good, has good size to be physical as a player as well. Not afraid to be. Those are things we will build on as he continues to grow. The ‘unspectacular plays’ are the ones that we want all the guys to learn to do well every time.
  • Experience really wasn’t a factor in evaluating the quarterbacks.
  • The quarterbacks are coming along in terms of going through more reps, understanding what could and is likely to happen before it happens. They’ll learn the more they play and practice.
  • Last first home opener got ‘lighting-storm delayed’, hopes he doesn’t have to deal with that, but is very excited to be out there again – relaxed knowing he is confident that everyone knows where they are supposed to be and they can focus on coaching the game. The little things he knows they will figure out. Game weeks are great because you can just get into a routine and not have to worry about the random stuff.
  • Wanted the ‘traditional’ uniform combo for his first game. Every knows who they are and everyone recognizes that look. He really wanted that for Game 1. Normally doesn’t get too involved with ‘looks’ and combos.
  • Doesn’t have a plan to get other QB’s in for a specific quarter or series – wants to let the game play out under Franks first. Not sure how they have handled the news, but we will found out and support them knowing we will need them this season.
  • Today we introduce the game plan on offense and defense. Wants to see high intensity level on both starting and scout teams. Wants to look sharp and crisp right away this week. Okay with a couple mistakes as you install, but we need to correct and be absolutely perfect on Thursday so that Friday is a fine-tuning day, and Saturday we’re focused on the task.
  • We kick off at 7:30, so want to stay focused on building. Can’t be fired up at 8 AM and expect to maintain. Have to prepare the right way.
  • Not a bad thing that they start with the same team he faced last season, but knows they are going to look different and play differently that can cause problems for us if we are not prepared. They can come in and prove themselves and we have to be focused and ready for that. We need to play to out level.
  • Franks is improving at the leadership stuff. What is the attitude after a good play, bad play, when teammates need picking up, or boosts. You have to have thick skin to play QB for Mullen and the Gators. You have to be a coach every day – don’t like that pressure? Throw picks and it’ll all be erased and you won’t have to worry about it. Focus on improving and developing and not worry about the outside perception.
  • Safety has been a banged up spot. Stiner has done well stepping in (asked about him specifically). Is taking advantage of situation and has improved his athleticism. Want that at the safety position because we ask them to do a lot of things in our defense.
  • All the QB’s are well liked by the team. Brian Johnson is great getting the QB’s into reps with different groups so there is always confidence of the team no matter who is in there. They need to earn the confidence of the team and becomes everyone’s best friend. There is a respect level that has to be earned from the team.
  • Game Day logistic stuff: Captains will be figured out with how they want it to work out, no smoke to worry about (tells story about trouble seeing in smoke), in the Swamp the sidelines are tight so the fans are on top of you, but has been through this before and his staff has seen it enough that he isn’t worried about everyone transitioning and being comfortable. It becomes routine quick.
  • Asked about Josh Hammond – good leader in the WR group, sets a great example, can play in a lot of different spots and stands out as a hard worker for the group.
  • Suspensions, if any, would be announced on Saturday.
  • You want the team to get to a point where they know what the playcall is going to be before it even comes in, because that means they are comfortable and everyone in in sync. It’s the ideal method and what we will strive for. Some teams need hand holding and he hopes that to not be them.
  • Cece Jefferson has worked his tail off this off season.
  • Kicker situation – hasn’t decided yet, but wants to see how they do this week with the pressure of a game looming. Might be decided as we walk out of the tunnel, it’s one of those things. Handling it live is what makes the real guy show up.
  • It’s a tight battle right now at Center with no clear winner coming up. Brett Heggie just became another option even, so they may rotate guys in this first game to see.
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