Critical time coming for Gator football

Barely two months had passed since the Cotton Bowl and the Florida Gators were back in pads and on the practice field. The short break probably helped to mentally move on from the frustrating conclusion to the 2020 season but wasn’t a lot of time to physically recover from a long season.

With the conclusion of camp, last Saturday the team was given a much needed week off from football. Players scattered out of town to relax and unwind from the physical toll of a season and camp but they’ll be back at it soon.

The NCAA requires one week off after spring camp before any other mandatory workouts can resume. When they do, however, Mullen and the coaching staff won’t be allowed to run those workouts or practices. Nick Savage and his staff will take over the physical conditioning part, but the players must take responsibility to work on their own, together, and alone to continue the development that started in the spring.

The decision to start spring camp early, according to Dan Mullen, was based mostly around a different schedule. The recruiting dead period was extended, which meant the coaching staff wasn’t out on the road. They felt that they could use the time where they would typically be out recruiting away from campus to practice with the team, that way every player would have the film to look at and go over. It’s one thing to watch someone else run the offense, or go through a blocking scheme, or cover Justin Shorter. It’s another to have gone through it yourself and to be able to watch that while developing.

“It’s one thing, I can sit there with the quarterbacks and constantly show them Kyle Trask and I can go back and just through the years show other quarterbacks. It’s easier for them and guys are more in tune watching themselves,” Mullen said. “So now we have a lot of film of them watching themselves going forward because now we’ve been through spring practice. That’s at every position for us. I mean, there’s some guys at most positions. We’re a pretty young group.”

That means Mullen wants Emory Jones to organize workouts with his receivers, running backs, and tight ends. The kind of workouts fans will see late at night in the IPF on social media. It’s more than just getting the timing down on passing patterns or making sure you’re on the same page with running backs when running the read-option. Those nights, afternoon, or early mornings spent with just your teammates is what builds the bonds for championship teams. Coaches get paid a lot of money to scheme and teach, but those sessions and that kind of work ethic separate teams in the fall.

Now that Jones is leading the team, the onus is on him.

“The end of spring ball to the start of training camp is one of the most developmental times for the quarterback and I’m not allowed to be with him for that time on the field,” Mullen said. “What they do and how they’re able to handle it is critical.”

Spring camp is great for the staff to install schemes and learn, for players to grow and develop but it’s only a small part of the offseason.

“It’s so critical for each individual to learn how to develop, where they’re at in their career, and what are the big things they need to go work on.”

The next game may be six months away but the team that Florida puts out on the field will be determined by what the players do in the next coming months when the coaching staff isn’t there watching over them.

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