Florida's Dan Mullen Shares First Impressions of Michigan

Florida's Dan Mullen Shares First Impressions of Michigan

Football

Florida's Dan Mullen Shares First Impressions of Michigan

It’ll be a familiar matchup in many ways, but the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, which pits No. 7 Michigan and No. 10 Florida teams against each other that have played twice already in three years, will have some intrigue, given that it’s Gators head coach Dan Mullen’s first year with the program.

The last coach that Florida had was Jim McElwain, who just spent the entire season on staff in Ann Arbor before taking the Central Michigan head coaching job on Monday morning. Mullen, his replacement in Gainesville, is an Urban Meyer disciple, having followed him from his early days at Bowling Green, to Utah, and then was his offensive coordinator at Florida. His success there led to getting the job in Starkville, coaching Mississippi State from 2009-2017.

As Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh noted, the two have met, but haven’t exactly crossed paths. This will be a first for the two to meet on the football field, but Mullen has seen what Harbaugh-coached teams can do, and he says that Florida will have its work cut out for it.

“Well, you watch, they’re always an intense, physical football team,” Mullen said. “When I’ve gotten to see them play, they’re not afraid to think outside the box. Their defense obviously comes at you from a lot of different angles. They pressure you in different ways, and then offensively obviously they’re used to run power one, run, but they’re very, very creative in what they do and give you a lot of different looks out there on the field.”

While Mullen might not have played a Jim Harbaugh-coached team before, he does have familiarity in facing one prominent Wolverine: Shea Patterson.

Mullen says in what little time he had to scout this Michigan team, he paid more attention to the defense. But still, the Wolverines offense presents some challenges with Patterson at quarterback.

“Boy, it’s going to be hard because they are very diverse in what they do,” Mullen said. “I’ve played their quarterback before. Both of us were at different schools at the time. There’s some familiarity with him. I know he’s a great player, can extend plays. He’s a great athlete, throws the ball exceptionally well, and then I’ve gotten to watch a little more of their defense than their offense.

“When we got on the plane to head out recruiting yesterday morning, really didn’t know who we were going to play, and as soon as we found that out, luckily I had about six different teams loaded into the laptop, and hit the Michigan button to start watching their defense. I’ve seen a little bit more of their defense, which I know is very aggressive and attacking, comes at you from a lot of different angles.”

What does Mullen remember about Patterson?

Naturally, there was a lot of familiarity between the two, given that Patterson was playing at Mississippi State’s rival over in Oxford. Patterson had one crack at the Bulldogs in Mullen’s tenure — as he was injured midway through his sophomore season — and played well, despite the Rebels losing in a blowout.

In that game he did play, during his freshman campaign, Patterson completed 27 of 48 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Mullen says that he hasn’t seen what he’s done since arriving in Ann Arbor, but he knows what kind of dynamic playmaker he’s capable of being.

“I haven’t gotten to watch him at Michigan yet, but I got to watch him a lot when I was at Mississippi State, and when he was at Ole Miss,” Mullen said. “He was a guy that could really create on his own, and one of the things that makes him dangerous as a quarterback is obviously he can execute within the offense. He can run the offense and make the throws, make the plays, get the ball, make the checks, get the ball where he needs to get it to.

“But the thing that makes him a dangerous player is when he gets outside of the offense, when a play breaks down, his ability to improvise and extend plays makes him difficult to defend.”

Michigan and Florida will kick off the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

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