A whole month of preparing for a game, a lot can get said on social media or in press conferences. Michigan and Florida have been quiet on social media when it comes from the players or coaches trying to start something, but this week there has been lots of talk from players and coaches from both sides as they have been in Georiga. Along with the press conferences, there has been a friendly bowl games competition between the two teams before the actual football game that Michigan won last night.
There was a lot said over the past few days, so let’s start with Florida head coach Dan Mullen and what he thinks about the Michigan offense.
“Shea Patterson, I’ve faced him before – I don’t know if that is good or bad – when he was quarterback at Ole Miss,” Mullen said. “He’s a very talented quarterback, has a great arm, makes reads, stays in the pocket and delivers the ball, but the thing to me that really makes him even more difficult to defend is when he starts to improvise. When he gets outside of the framework of the offense. Where he drops back, you get a good rush and we have the route covered and now he takes off and starts making things happen, and that is one of the things that makes him very difficult to defend. He has the ability to improvise within the offense and not just take off and run to try to scramble to stay alive and make big plays.”
Patterson seemed to be a hot topic to be brought up when players were talking about Michigan. At Ole Miss, Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson was teammates with Patterson, so Jefferson had some comments on his former teammate and how he almost became a Wolverine.
“Yeah, we talked about it (both being a package deal to go to Michigan),” Jefferson said. “Like I said, we took a visit up there. We were both saying that we’re going to Michigan. But I just didn’t feel like that was the place for me. So he was pushing for me to come there. But ultimately, I wanted to be a Gator. Me and Shea talked, it’s crazy we’re playing in a bowl game against each other when we just left. So it’s kind of crazy that I’m playing against him. But it will be against an opposing team now”
Jefferson was asked more about him going to Florida over Michigan and if he told Patterson it was because of coach Mullen that brought him over. Jefferson was honest with his former teammate.
“He asked me,” Jefferson said. “He’s like, where are you going to go, man? I said man, I think I’m going to go to Florida. He’s like why? I said Coach Mullen, the way he’s talked to me, how he’s going to change the program around, I want to be part of that. He was still trying to persuade me, but Coach Mullen is doing a great job in his first year, especially playing in a big-time bowl game a top tier program. It’s going to be exciting.”
Jefferson said the trash talk has begun between the two, but it’s all friendly and love.
“I think last night (trash talk started),” Jefferson said. “I think, yeah, last night. Last night, Shea was giving me crap a little bit last night. But, you know, it was all fun and games. We talked, and like I told him, I said, you’re doing good this season, man. Keep it up, but Saturday, you know, it’s on.”
Speaking of the game itself, many players on this team were on the team last year when they lost to Michigan. Quarterback Feleipe Franks discussed how different this year is from last.
“You can’t compare, like — like you said, to compare like the last year’s Michigan game to this year’s Michigan game, which I think is totally different,” Franks said. “We have a totally different coaching staff. New players have come in and out. It’s a totally different program and team now. I think it’s just going to be another great experience for us to go out there and play in a big-time game in general.”
Wide receiver Freddie Swain believes this team is different from last year and the results will show that.
“I feel like we’re just a whole new team,” Swain said. “A whole new mindset. The atmosphere is different, so I feel like the result will be different.”
Another Florida wide receiver, Josh Hammond thinks this team is different than last years.
“I think this year’s team is definitely different with the new coaching staff, the new offense and defense, and a different mindset moving forward,” Hammond said. “I think we have just been preparing differently for a lot of different things, and I think that’s how we’ll continue to go through moving forward.”
Florida offensive lineman Martez Ivey went in about what changed about this Florida team from last year.
“As a unit on our front line, tremendous,” Ivey said. “As a team as well, we play harder and a lot smarter. We know football a little bit more and we are more confident than the last time we played Michigan. I feel like we have more confidence as a team.”
Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph was excited to get his revenge against Michigan in this game.
“It’s just a big rematch,” Joseph said. “I was low-key looking forward to playing them, just because they’re a powerhouse team and I want to play against somebody that is good enough.”
Florida Co-Offensive Coordinator and offensive line coach John Hevesy went in on how the offense has to prepare for the number one defense in Michigan and without linebacker Devin Bush and defensive end Rashan Gary.
“Each person on our team offensively, from Feleipe to Jordan to Van to all the guys up front, I think it’s always a challenge to each individual on a team and a challenge as a unit not — again, whether it’s Michigan or whether it’s LSU or whoever we’re playing,” Hevesy said. “I think it’s for us, each week to get better at what we do. As a unit, as an offense, but as an individual too, to learn — every game is a learning experience for them, for us as coaches. So I think the biggest thing for us is just to get better Saturday than we were the last Saturday we played. It’s always a great challenge to play a top-five defense and who they are. I think for us, again, it’s just for us to get better and execute the way we’re supposed to execute.”
When bringing up players sitting out and how Florida doesn’t have any of their players sitting out, Hevesy took a small dig about the player’s decisions to not play the game on Saturday.
“Each individual has their own things and there are reasons for us knowing why their kids are sitting out,” Hevesy said. “I guess that’s their business between Michigan and their individuals. I think it the one thing you educate the kids on, you know what it’s for and what you’re doing. You’re playing for your team and we always emphasize team. It’s not an individual game, it is a team sport. For us, all our kids are playing. For them, we can’t answer for why they didn’t. They probably have their own reasons. That’s for them to worry about, and not us.”