Dan Mullen gives little credit to UGA
Following No. 8 Georgia’s 24-17 victory over No. 6 Florida, Gators’ head coach Dan Mullen and a few of his players met with the media to discuss their loss in the 98th meeting of the series.
...In his opening comments, Mullen curiously stated, "On third down, our third-down defense was really good," after Georgia had converted 12 of 18 on third downs. The head coach continued, "Our red-zone defense, I thought was good, for the most part, you know what I mean. But, we didn't get off the field on third down. ... Third-down defense was a big one for us."
…Also according to Mullen, Florida desperately wanted to establish a lead against Georgia, whereby they thought they could then control the game. Instead, the Gators never had the lead and, in turn, were forced out of their game plan, to some degree.
“You want to play with the lead against [Georgia]. They don’t play very well from behind, I don’t think,” Mullen said. “We wanted to play with the lead, and we weren’t able to do that early. From that, you’re kind of changing—get out of your game plan a little bit.”
…An important aspect of the game was that Florida was never able to establish a running game, netting just 21 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Even if sack yardage is not considered, Gators backs averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Still, according to Mullen, Georgia didn’t necessarily do anything “special” to stop Florida’s ground game, but rather the Gators were forced to pass more.
“No, [Georgia] didn’t do anything, to me,” Mullen responded when asked about the Bulldogs stopping Florida’s ground game. “We fell behind and wanted to take the lead early. So, we were throwing a little more. ... I don’t think we tried to call too many run-game plays.”
…Besides having no run game, Florida’s offense, although not committing a turnover, shot itself in the foot apparently with penalties and a lack of execution.
“I think we did a good job on offense moving the ball, at times, when we needed to. It just comes down to execution and staying locked in when we needed to—all the false-start penalties,” said Gators’ quarterback Kyle Trask, who completed 21 of 33 passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. “What [Georgia’s defensive line] did is something we expected them to be doing. It was just a lack of execution [on our part] from an offensive standpoint.”
…Mullen did give credit to Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 279 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Bulldogs’ offensive line, which didn’t allow a sack to a defense that had been averaging almost four sacks per game.
“I thought [Fromm] did a good job,” Mullen said. “And, give their o-line credit. They did a good job of not allowing pressure.”
…According to standout Florida linebacker David Reese, the Gators’ defense performed well, overall; however, their inability to get off the field on third down was another key aspect which led to a Bulldog victory.
“I think we did a good job in [maintaining] a great back in [D’Andre] Swift,” said Reese, who made six tackles including one for loss, of Swift (25 carries for 86 yards). “Also, against their complementary backs in No. 35 (Brian Herrien) and No. 3 (Zamir White), we did a good job. We put ourselves in good situations to get off the field—but we didn’t.”
According to Mullen, there were multiple reasons for Florida’s inability to stop Georgia on third down.
“You can go in every direction you want to go,” Mullen said regarding why Florida had a difficult time holding Georgia on third down. “We had a missed tackle. [Georgia] got helped out a couple of times. There was miscoverage…”
...Finally, although the result of today’s game should go a long way in determining who will win the SEC East, “there’s a lot of football left to be played,” Mullen declared multiple times.
“The division hasn’t been clinched by anybody. It wasn’t going to be clinched today by anybody,” Mullen said. “So, whether we won or lost this game, next week’s game is going to be really big for us. That's how it works."
...As far as how his Gators compare with Georgia considering the Bulldogs have been the "standard in the SEC East" the last few seasons, yet Mullen is now 0-2 against them as Florida's head coach, "seven points," he promptly declared when asked how close Florida is to reaching the Georgia program's level.
"No," said Mullen in regard to using the 24-17 loss as a measuring stick for the Florida program, "we're seven points behind Georgia, I know that."