After nine years of coaching the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Florida head coach Dan Mullen will return for the first time since he left the team at the end of last season.
Both teams are entering the game 3-1 overall on the season, and both teams were defeated by Kentucky this year. The game is at 6:00 pm on Saturday. It will be televised on ESPN, and coverage from ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF will begin at 2:00 pm.
Although he spent nearly a decade with the team, Mullen may not receive a warm welcome. There is a large group of fans who are still sore that Mullen left the team. Analyst Matt Wyatt had this to say about the issue:
For what it’s worth, a local clothing store created 500 shirts with “Dan Who?” written across the front. They quickly sold out.
Gators coach Dan Mullen's return to Starkville prompted a "Dan Who?" T-shirt. It sold out.https://t.co/l6uKKSeeau
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) September 28, 2018
In his time at Mississippi State, Mullen had a 69-46 record. Some of his top achievements include a 2011 Gator Bowl Victory over Michigan, as well as a 2015 Belk Bowl victory over NC State.
His most notable season was 2014, in which his team finished 10-3 but lost in the Orange Bowl to Georgia Tech. Mullen looks back fondly of his time in Mississippi, particularly the fans that helped to establish the culture by selling out every game:
Filling Mullen’s shoes is Joe Moorhead, former Penn State offensive coordinator.
Under Moorhead (and with some help form Saquon Barkley), Penn State had one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation. So far, the Bulldogs are ranked 25th this year in total offense.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been a big part of their success. His athleticism makes him a dual-threat for opposing defenses, who have to respect his potential to rush for over 100 yards in a game, a feat he has already accomplished twice this season.
Florida is coming off a dominant victory over Tennessee. This was perhaps Florida’s best game yet defensively. They forced 6 turnovers and even held their ground on two attempted 4th down conversions.
This relieved a lot of pressure off Feleipe Franks, who managed to throw for 3 touchdowns and even rushed one in himself. A repeat performance by the defense isn’t likely, so the emphasis will continue to be on how Franks can compose himself under pressure. A problem he has faced since arriving in Gainesville is that he often holds on to the ball too long, forcing him to either throw it away or scramble.
However, he has shown some improvement this year. The Bulldogs are Florida’s toughest challenge yet, and the first of several ranked opponents playing the Gators in the next month.