Now that final exams are over for the Summer B semester, things are going to really start getting interesting, and tough, for the Florida football team.
The Gators officially opened camp with a morning practice Saturday. They will also practice Sunday, then hold the first preseason scrimmage Monday.
UF coach Dan Mullen said this is when the real mental and physical grind begins. And it will go on basically non-stop for the next two weeks.
“We’re going to put the players in a lot of adverse situations so that they learn how to flip the switch,” Mullen said. “As it gets harder, we go harder. We get better and tougher as practice goes on.
“As the game goes on, we play harder and tougher. As the season goes on, we’re a much more physical, tougher and play harder at the end of the season than we are at the beginning.
“That’s a mindset that we’re trying to instill in the guys. The great thing is I don’t see the resistance, I just see them trying to figure it all out. So we’ll go from there.”
The Gators enter camp Saturday still not knowing who the starting quarterback is going to be. The competition remains wide open between Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones.
Mullen said he has no timetable for naming a starter, but he’s hoping it happens well before the week of the Sept. 1 opener.
“I’d love to figure it, this guy is going to be our starter then we go with it,” Mullen said. “As soon as we feel comfortable, I want to do it.
“There’s still some stuff we haven’t installed. To sit there and say, ‘Hey, we haven’t even put in the whole offense yet, but the competition’s over for the starting job,’ it’s tough. I don’t really want it to go into the game week. I’d love to get it done way before then.”
Mullen said the quarterbacks “are coming along”, and he might have a better idea if there’s any separation between the three based on performance in the scrimmage Monday.
In the meantime, this is a new offense for everyone and there’s a significant learning curve for the quarterbacks, Mullen said.
“We’re very much a quarterback-based offense, so they have a lot to do,” he said. “They’re learning to do a lot of different things. Learning and managing the offense. What the checks are, what the reads are to get us in the right place, how to make quick decisions.
“And they’re also working technique and fundamentals, how to improve that way. And then the biggest one that I’m always harping on is the leadership. It’s learning to become a complete player. It takes time.”
Just like in the spring, the quarterbacks continue to struggle with consistency. But Mullen seems encouraged by the progress they are making.
“I’ve seen improvement in those guys,” he said. “Each of them have their own little strengths they’ve got to keep working on. And we’ve got to keep making sure, we’ve put a lot on them, to keep them working.”
Over the next two weeks, the quarterbacks — like the players in every other position group — are going to be put in adverse situations to see how they handle them.
“Don’t let them just get comfortable and say, ‘I’m going to be really good at just the things I’m good at,’ ” Mullen said. “Work through the things to continue to improve. Then as we get closer to the season, we’ll take care of them and cut back and kind of hone in and make life a little easier for them.”