As the Florida Gators prepare to take on the Miami Hurricanes this weekend, practice makes perfect. But, as the team runs the same drills and completes the same plays it has all off-season, Coach Mullen is looking for more. His desire for Gators to step up and be “alpha dogs” is clear. One of the ways players can fill that role is zeroing in and limiting Miami’s alpha dogs.
Keep Your Friends Close…
The Florida game will be Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz’s first college football game at the helm of a program. A lengthy resume of assisting positions led to Diaz receiving a head coaching job. One of the programs that previously employed Diaz was Mississippi State — twice. Mullen was the coach both times.
Although Mullen acknowledged the fact that Diaz learned valuable lessons under his wing, he gave the first-time coach credit on and off the field.
The Hurricanes’ defense ranked fourth last season with Diaz serving as defensive coordinator. Despite the team’s 7-6 (4-4 ACC) overall record, the defense limited opposing teams to just 4.3 yards per play.
As for Diaz as a motivator, his mantra “The New Miami” seems to be taking flight among his players. The Canes also have the 12th ranked recruiting class for 2020 and the top-ranked class for 2021. Coaches who can relate to players often create a strong on-field rapport.
Offensive Genius vs. Offensive Genius
Reports refer to Mullen as one of college football’s best head coaches. It is no secret that he is a strong quarterback developer either. In addition to Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, and Dak Prescott, Mullen transformed Feleipe Franks into one of the SEC’s better quarterbacks.
This Saturday, the Gators will face another man who knows how to make an offense go — Dan Enos. Enos ran the offense at Arkansas from 2015-2017, where he set school records. In 2018, he served as Quarterbacks Coach at Alabama, which speaks for itself. Mullen praised Enos for getting creative on the offense.
Miami will roll out redshirt freshman Jarren Williams as the starting quarterback against Florida. Williams’ only game experience comes against Savannah State, where he passed 1-for-3 and ran one yard for a touchdown. But, under Enos’ expertise, Williams’ own lack of experience may look better than expected.
So Who Impresses Mullen on His Own Team?
Mullen’s enacting of a leadership council helps Gators guide other Gators. However, he is still reluctant to name player(s) who stand out in terms of leading the team. The “Gator Standard” is one of Florida’s marquee traits during the Mullen Era. And in short, the standards are high.
Whether it is being the guy who is the first one in and last one out, sticking around to help out freshmen, or simply keeping his head down and out of trouble, the quantity of leadership a player shows comes down to one thing: consistency.
Being up to the challenge is not the same as taking on the challenge. But, who knows? After the Miami game, an alpha dog may emerge.