Dan Mullen gave the impression of a coach with a safe future at Florida, but confronted with myriad challenges — together with two crucial coaching hires — to reverse the Gators’ fortunes this season and past.
Mullen nonetheless couldn’t totally clarify his staff’s collapse Saturday at South Carolina, however the necessity to hearth defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy turned crystal clear in Columbia.
Grantham and Hevesy’s futures successfully had been determined earlier than the 40-17 defeat, however the Gators’ alarming lack of physicality and execution sealed the deal.
“It was something that was weighing on me,” Mullen mentioned. “It was something that I was looking and saying, ‘Hey, I’m probably going to make changes at the end of the season,’ and I thought for the health of the program, for the health of everybody, let’s make that move now and get us headed in the direction.
“I look at the way we played Saturday and some things that build up to it of we weren’t where we needed to be.”
The flop at South Carolina, an 18-point underdog sitting 1-4 in SEC play, blindsided Mullen. He was at a loss for solutions 48 hours later.
“I really don’t. I wish I did,” he mentioned Monday. “I wish I could sit up here and tell you, we had a terrible week of practice … there is apathy in the locker room.
“I thought we had a pretty decent plan going in … obviously not.”
The Gators yielded a season-high 459 yards and 6.8 per carry throughout at South Carolina. Running behind Hevesy’s O-line, Florida gained a season-low 82 yards.
But Mullen didn’t put the blame on his former assistants as Florida (4-5) rides a three-game skid into Saturday’s midday go to from FSC foe Samford (3-4).
“I’m the head coach, so I bear all of (the responsibility),” Mullen mentioned. “It’s on my shoulders.”
Staff modifications 10 weeks into the season won’t salvage it. Whether the strikes set a brand new course for Florida’s program is unclear.
“We’re going to find out,” Mullen mentioned.
Mullen mentioned he plans later within the week to discover candidates to interchange Grantham and Hevesy however won’t make an in-season rent.
Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will assume defensive play-calling duties. Veteran coach Paul Pasqualoni, the particular assistant to the top coach, will play an on-field function throughout the closing three video games. Michael Sollenne, in his second yr with the program 2020, will coach the offensive line.
Mullen expects whoever joins the Gators will stroll into a greater scenario than may seem regardless of the program’s speedy regression.
“We’re not better than we were earlier in the year,” Mullen mentioned. “In fact we’re worse than we were earlier in the year.”
This stark actuality has positioned Mullen squarely within the crosshairs and led a vocal faction of the fan base to demand his ouster. The 49-year-old mentioned he’s expects to return in 2022 based mostly on his conversations with athletic director Scott Stricklin.
“Scott is he is pretty confident that we’re going to get this fixed,” Mullen mentioned. “I can’t speak for him on that deal, but within his confidence, it wasn’t about this year and next year. It was a long-term picture of where we want this program to be in many years to come.”
To have an opportunity to repair Florida’s program, Mullen and his employees should enhance their recruiting efforts.
247Sports ranks Gators’ 2022 No. 22 and ninth amongst SEC colleges. LSU and USC, two applications presently led by interim coaches, have five-star commitments whereas Florida has none.
Two sturdy coaching hires and the completion of a state-of-the-art standalone soccer facility within the spring may enhance Florida’s means to lure high expertise. The Gators have areas of must fill throughout the board.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson has flashed big-play means and a formidable talent set, however whether or not Mullen can construct the offense across the 19-year-old hinges on his means to develop and keep wholesome.
Richardson missed two video games in September with a hamstring pressure, sustained a concussion throughout his first profession begin Oct. 30 in opposition to Georgia and injured his knee dancing within the staff resort the evening earlier than the South Carolina recreation. An MRI didn’t reveal harm, however his availability this week is questionable.
“He was gimping around earlier today, so we’ll see,” Mullen mentioned.
Mullen’s program is limping to the end, too, however must discover a second wind and a few wins. Otherwise, extra modifications might be in retailer for the Gators, together with the top coach.
“I’m pretty confident in myself and I’ve won a lot of football games as a head coach, won championships here (in 2006 and 2008 as offensive coordinator),” Mullen mentioned. “Everybody has problems. The key is to having solutions.
“What I’m pretty confident in is finding the solution.”
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