This is going to be a long year, isn’t it? One could say it already HAS been a long season for the Florida Gators under Dan Mullen. This is not a surprise.
By Matt Zemek
Morale had eroded in and around the program. Recruiting was much less than robust before Mullen was hired to take over for Jim McElwain. When Urban Meyer came to Gainesville with Dan Mullen by his side in 2005, he inherited a noticeably flawed team and needed a year to adjust. It seems that Mullen will need at least one year to adjust, and that he will need to crush it on the recruiting trail to set up this program for a revival in 2019.
This might be a case of getting ahead of ourselves, but it is hard to look at the whole of this 2018 season and envision any meaningful achievements for this team. Georgia is in a different solar system right now. After losing to Kentucky at home, it is very hard to envision a big January bowl game. Developing habits, playing young players, and not having overly fixed ideas about who should – or shouldn’t play are all important concepts for Mullen and his staff to keep in mind.
NEXT MAN UP ON THE BACK LINE
Young Gators will need to step up in the secondary. Cornerback Marco Wilson was injured and knocked out for the season against Kentucky, removing a prime performer from Florida’s back line of defense. Colorado State will throw the ball. So will Vanderbilt and South Carolina and Florida State. The Gators need to leave this game against Colorado State knowing they have solid new solutions at corner and can establish smooth communication with the safeties. Opponents can’t go into SEC games knowing that Florida has a glaring weak spot in the secondary. They will pick on it without ceasing, putting that much more strain on the other members of the defense to do something valuable.
Feleipe Franks and the deep ball did not enjoy the kind of relationship they needed to establish against Kentucky. A meager 16-point showing – 19 if that field goal had been properly called good – would be understandable against LSU or Alabama, but not at home against Kentucky. It has been a very, very long time since a Florida passing game looked good on a sustained basis. Will Grier provided a brief spark in early 2015 but then ran into off-field problems before he could stick around and make an added difference to the Gators. It is easy and understandable for fans to give up on Franks after the Kentucky game, but Mullen and his staff can’t. Florida needs the big downfield strike, and it needs to unlock Franks’ ability to make the big play a regular part of the Gators’ weekly diet.
MAKE A STAND
Kentucky rushed for over 300 yards against Florida in The Swamp in a night game. Completely unacceptable. The offense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain, and the defense didn’t hemorrhage points, but Kentucky was still able to control the ball. Some guys need to get angry and punch some offensive linemen in the mouth – metaphorically speaking, of course.