HOOVER — In Year One for Florida coach Dan Mullen, the Gators capped a 10-win season with a 41-14 drubbing of Michigan in the Peach Bowl and finished No. 7 in The Associated Press poll.
The bar for Year Two is set pretty high and that’s just fine with Mullen.
I set the bar high,” Mullen said Monday in Hoover at SEC Media Days. “I don’t know if there is anyone who has higher expectations than I do. I like them. I like players to have high expectations.”
Be careful what you wish for.
The expectations are lofty but the reality is harsh.
Florida, which hasn’t won an SEC Championship game since 2008, has to contend with SEC East foe Georgia, ranked No 3 by several preseason media outlets. Even if the Bulldogs clear that hurdle, Alabama could be waiting on them in the SEC title game.
Mullen expects to get back to the “Florida standard” but it sure won’t be easy.
Still, Mullen likes what he’s been dealt for 2019. Especially now that starting quarterback Feleipe Franks has utilized his dual-threat skills.
“As the (2018 season) went on I think he started to realize what his abilities were and started to use all his talents,” Mullen said. “The light came on that ‘I’m 6-6, 245 pounds and pretty athletic, and if (the defense) is going to completely empty the middle of the field and I can run into the end zone from 20 yards away untouched, I can do that.’”
The biggest difference Mullen has seen from Year One to Year Two is the team having made the adjustment to a new coach and a new scheme.
Coming in now everyone understands the program, Mullen said. In Year Two there is a lot more of a comfort level. They knew what to expect in the offseason and were ready to attack it. Weve made tremendous gains from this offseason.
Consistency is another big key Mullen touched on Monday. Six of the Gators wins last season were by more than 20 points, but they lost to Georgia by 19 and Missouri by 21. And they lost to Kentucky by 11 points.
There is a lot to building programs, Mullen said. I was allowed to build a program that could win consistently (at Mississippi State). Thats the same thing I want to accomplish at Florida. Sometimes that takes time.