COMMENTARY: Five burning questions for the Gators
The winner of World Cup will be decided today, which stinks because it helped us sports fans temporarily escape boredom during this slow summer cycle. But don't worry – we should be able to avoid fading back into an oblivion. Auto racing? Blah. Mid-season baseball? Who cares. SEC Media Days begins on Monday, a friendly reminder that college football season is just around the corner. Whew! Thank God.
Back to the regularly scheduled programming.
SEC Media Days kicks off this week in a new location (finally moving from Hoover, Alabama to Atlanta), but don't expect anything different from previous summers.
You can expect more of than same – pointless questions, empty answers – but it's always interesting to hear from the hodgepodge of coaching personalities. It's also a good introduction for the new coaches like Florida's Dan Mullen, who isn't new to the league, but will be wearing a different color necktie than his previous eight trips.
Here's five burning questions the first-year coach will inevitably be asked:
1. How's the quarterback competition going?
The revolving question every offseason at Florida – one that hasn't been answered since Tim Tebow left town. Mullen certainly will be asked about the ongoing competition between Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. If nobody has separated themselves by the fall, would Mullen consider a two-man system? I know some fans grimace at the thought – but it could be the most likely scenario. Don't expect a starter to be named any time soon.
2. How's the transition been with the new defense?
Florida made Todd Grantham the highest paid assistant in school history. There's no doubt Mullen will be questioned about the former UGA defensive coordinator, who helped fuel the UGA-UF rivalry with the infamous 'choke' sign in 2010. Grantham has a reputation for being a change-agent, so expect eyes to be on that 3-4 defense as the offense tries to catch up. How are the players adjusting? How's the summer workouts been? Mullen will be peppered with defensive questions.
3. How strong is this wide receiver group?
This is arguably the strongest unit on that side of the ball, depending if transfers Trevon Grimes and Van Jefferson can suit up (still awaiting word). Tyrie Cleveland and Dre Massey are also back as well as the human joystick Kadarius Toney. So if Florida can someone who can deliver the strikes downfield, there could be an upside to an offense that has made Florida fans pull their hair out for years now. With Mullen adding new wrinkles and schemes, I am sure he'll be asked about the development of his wideouts and their ability to adapt to his offensive system.
4. What a difference has NIck Savage made?
Mullen brought along several of his comrades from Mississippi State. But one of those key holdovers might turn out to be Nick Savage. Florida's new Director of Football Strength and Conditioning is
already making his mark, by preaching accountability and mental toughness. The truth is: the best teams work just as hard during the offseason as the regular season. I never heard McElwain talk about the importance of detail as much as Mullen. If he has success early on in Gainesville, it's hard not to point to Savage as one of the biggest difference-makers in 2018.
5. What do you think your emotions will be like on Sept. 29
In case you didn't know, the Gators return to Starkville to face Mullen's former team that day. While Mullen probably will downplay the homecoming, that doesn't mean fans of both teams won't be anticipating his first trip back to Mississippi State. It's just not Mullen either, several on his staff, too, as well as Florida A.D. Scott Stricklin. So Florida fans get ready to hear those cowbells rocking all night long.