Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, JULY 26, 2019

MULLEN: ON HANDLING SUCCESS AND ADVERSITY

At Florida’s media day Thursday, Dan Mullen expounded on what it’s going to take for the Gators to have an extremely successful 2019. Mullen said that getting better in 2019 will not only be about how the Gators handle adversity but how well they handle success:

“I think we’ll have a much better idea of the type of team we’re going to be sooner this year than we were last year because it was all a feeling out process. So I think we’ll have a good idea what type of team we’re going to be at the end of fall camp but then also during the course of the year we’re going to have to deal with different adversities during the season and that we’re not going to be, have to deal with in training camp. You have the adversity of success. How we’re handling that. The adversity of failure, how we handle that … at times last year we didn’t handle either of those two things very well. At times we did. So it’s going to be how this team responds to that. When good things happen to us, can we keep the chip on our shoulder and the grind mentality to continue to work harder to get better? When bad things happen to us can we focus on getting back to work and making the things that we need to do to be better and do we have the that belief in ourselves that we can be a great team? We get put in a situation in a big game, where we got to go make a play to window we have the confidence and we expect to do that. As our guys said, the margin’s like that, the margin gets really tiny and do we have that mental toughness to handle the success, the mental toughness to handle the failure of things going bad and the mental toughness to finish and the confidence in ourselves to make plays and to think that we can be a championship team.”

HEVESY: IT ALL STARTS WITH THE CENTER

Offensive line coach John Hevesy, who has been working with Dan Mullen since they joined Urban Meyer’s Bowling Green staff in 2001, spoke glowingly of center Nick Buchanan, who earned the starting job last year even though he was undersized (just 290 pounds) and had never played center before. Why Buchanan started last year had everything to do with what’s between his ears. Buchanan is a very intelligent young man who has a very high football IQ. Here’s Hevesy talking about some of the positives he sees in his center:

The center has for me always has been and always will be for me. He’s my quarterback, he’s going to, again, he’s the center of the whole thing so has to, he’s going to direct both sides. He’s got to keep both sides on the same page. I think that Nick’s a very bright kid and he picked it up extremely well last year which put him in that position of picking up the offense, picking up the terminology, accepting what I challenged him to do and he did it. I think that’s helping these kids obviously through the spring and he’s done a great job in the off-season, not just with that part of it, but just with – he’s been around here five years. Didn’t have a lot of playing time early on, but he’s jumped into it and he really embraced it and you see him – even we walked out of meetings the other day and the time limits that we have, we walked out of meetings after 45 minutes, and then we had to go up to a staff meeting, I came back down, I think it was probably 45 minutes later, they’re all walking out of the meeting room. My first question was, what are you guys doing? Nick was like, oh, a couplethe younger guys wanted to go through the installation, get ready for camp, so we just stayed in there.

GRANTHAM: CREATE SOME CONFUSION

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham talked about how defensive philosophies have been forced to change now that most teams go with what is called “11 personnel” – that’s one back, one tight end and three wide receivers. So while teams might list themselves as a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive base, in reality they start and play most games in what is tagged a nickel package, which is five defensive backs. Grantham admitted Florida’s base typically has five defensive backs, but the Gators might go with four down linemen (which would mean two linebackers) or three (five linebackers) depending what he sees in the other team. Here are some comments on Florida’s base defense:

“So it used to be when you started day one you started with base, meaning you went with everything against two wide receiver sets. So you had your base package with your 3-4 and all that kind of stuff. Now days with the three wide looks, you actually start with nickel as your base because you play that 85 to 90 percent of the time. So that’s one change. And then the other change is we say we’re a 3-4, we’re a 3-4 defense but in reality we play as much four down as three down, so I think that gets into you want to be flexible and have ways to give different looks. I think any time you can get in and out of those looks it’s just a matter of trying to make the offense work. Offenses are really good now, they got ways to create space for runners, points go up and things like that. So how can we give them a little confusion to try to put them behind the sticks or to win a possession to give us the chance to get the lead. Because defensively any time you can play with the lead it’s a lot more fun and other teams become a little more predictable. So that’s probably the biggest changes is, one you start with nickel now and then we’re really a multiple defense, just like we were talking about, we have ways that you we can play four down or three down, we can play with multiple outside linebackers playing other position, we can play with multiple corners, and really trying to be multiple in what you do just to create a little bit of confusion in the offense.”

FLORIDA FLASHBACK: A BEATDOWN OF EPIC PROPORTIONS

Wilber Marshall stood on the midfield logo at Florida Field, hands on his hips. On the north end of the field, the Florida State Seminoles were going through their pregame calisthenics and trying their best to avoid anyone making eye contact with Wilber. Though they did their best to ignore him, they really couldn’t. Wilber wasn’t really calling them out. He was taunting them. All-American running back Greg Allen bore the brunt of the taunts, but Wilber saved a few for Bobby Bowden, too. Bobby just turned the collar up on his windbreaker and probably was reciting “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

It was December 3, 1983, Senior Day at Florida Field and Wilber Marshall’s final home game. Nobody was going to tell Wilber Marshall what he could or couldn’t do on this day. There was a certain swag for the Gators of the Charley Pell but no one had more than Wilber Marshall, who would be named the national defensive player of the year a second straight year when the awards were handed out

“He wasn’t sweet and nice to any of our opponents but especially FSU,” recalled Ward Pell. “He had a way of intimidating folks. That day he’s yelling things you can’t say in polite company and … well, who was going to say, ‘Wilber, be nice’?”

Wilber wasn’t nice that day nor was the rest of the Florida defense. The Gators held the Seminoles to 13 points, 257 yards and forced six turnovers. Wilber knocked FSU QB Kelly Lowry out of the game and even though FSU was using three blockers on him, they couldn’t keep him out of their backfield or from pressuring the QBs into one bad throw after another.

Florida gained 509 yards, Bobby Raymond kicked six field goals and as bad as this beatdown was, it could have been worse except Charley Pell played everyone except the student managers and let third string Donnie Whiting play quarterback the entire fourth quarter.

Pell was carried off the field by his seniors.

Leaving the stadium, two Seminoles who were friends walked beside me. One of them asked, “Do you think we’ll ever beat the Gators again?” The other replied, “Not as long as Bobby Bowden is our coach.”

SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR FRIDAY

Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden on why he turned down a chance to become Alabama’s football coach in the years after Bear Bryant’s retirement:

“I felt like Alabama was Bear Bryant’s and there’s no way Bobby Bowden could overcome that. In fact, I wouldn’t even want to overcome it. I felt like I’d always be in his shadow. So, anyway, there were a lot of reasons for me not to go back to Alabama.”

From Yahoo Sports Brad Agnew, former UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. on some of the reasons football lags way behind in the Pac-12:

“Young men on the West Coast, recruits, high school kids, have so many more options in life than kids down south … In the South, football is very much a religion, it’s extremely important. It’s a focus from a time that they’re very, very young. There’s huge alliance to the conference, to the schools.”

SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF

Gary Danielson of CBS Sports on UF quarterback Feleipe Franks and why he has a chance to join Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm of Georgia among the truly elite QBs in the SEC: “Feleipe took a big step forward. Dan (Mullen) has had a great track record with his quarterbacks. They’re loaded at wide receiver finally – for a Florida team. I think Feleipe is a much more confident player. His success, I think, will carry over this year.”

Writing for ESPN.com, Phil Steele rated the 10 toughest schedules in all of college football for 2019: (1) South Carolina; (2) Auburn; (3) Southern Cal; (4) Texas A&M; (5) Colorado; (6) LSU; (7) Tennessee; (8) UCLA; (9) Michigan; (10) Florida

Kentucky safety Davonte Robinson will miss all of 2019 after suffering a right quadriceps injury. Robinson had 42 tackles, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries last season.

The matchups have been determined for basketball’s seventh annual Big 12/SEC Challenge: Baylor at FLORIDA; Kansas State at Alabama; TCU at Arkansas; Iowa State at Auburn; LSU at Texas; Mississippi State at Oklahoma; Missouri at West Virginia; and Oklahoma State at Texas A&M. Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt won’t be playing.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Notre Dame and UF quarterback Malik Zaire is joining CBS Sports as a college football analyst … Troy Tulowitzki announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. He immediately took a job on the University of Texas baseball staff as an assistant coach … UNC-Greensboro’s athletic department has been placed on three years probation and fined $15,000 by the NCAA after two of the athletic department staff placed several bets including some on the men’s basketball team … The San Francisco 49ers and first round draft pick Nick Bosa have agreed to a 4-year deal worth $33.55 million. The 49ers also signed rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, their second round pick … J.B. Holmes must still be in a funk after his final round of 87 at the British Open. Holmes shot a 6-over par 76 Thursday in the opening round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Open in Memphis. That’s a two-way tie for next to last place.