Former Gator wide receiver and current SEC Network analyst Chris Doering, who called this past Saturday’s Orange and Blue Game for the SEC Network, joined “XL Primetime” this week to discuss his thoughts on the Florida football program heading into the 2019 season.
Doering started out by discussing the job Dan Mullen has done in turning Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks’ career around.
“Not only did Dan Mullen have to come in and coach Feleipe Franks up, but he also had to do quite the job to correct the damage that was done by him having to play so early in his career,” Doering told 1010XL. “The expectation level that the fan base had for him as a highly recruited player that flipped from an LSU commitment to sign with the Gators and then to get thrust into what has been a dessert for offensive performance since Tim Tebow left, it was a tough spot for him to be in.
“But he now looks very comfortable with this offense and understands not only the progressions, but he understands his role as a leader. I see him on the sidelines talking with the younger quarterbacks and pulling wide receivers over to coach them up.”
Doering says a personal development has also been beneficial in his improvement.
“He has also been able to close his ears to what the public and the media think about him,” Doering said. “He only listens to what the coaches in the meeting room think about him and I think all those things together have paid off.”
The expectation level coming into 2019 from the Florida fan base is a far cry that the low expectations were coming into 2018. Doering was asked what Mullen has done to turn things around in Gainesville so quickly.
“He has done it in every single aspect,” Doering said. “They’re doing it with offense and they’re doing it with a fun style of play. I’m sure it reminds Gator fans of the Steve Spurrier and the Urban Meyer days. But the thing I worry about is something Florida has suffered with for a long time now, and that is an expectation level that is somewhat unrealistic. The last thing I want to do is see Dan Mullen be a victim of his own success with that bar being set so high in year number one.
“This could very well be a team that is better in a quality and depth standpoint from last year’s team, but it may not look so in the win column.
“A trip to LSU, out of conference games against Miami and Florida State, having Auburn rotate on the schedule as a West opponent. It’s a daunting schedule that Florida plays every year and that is the same this year.
Doering had this message for the Gator fan base.
“The thing I would talk to Gator fans about, which would probably fall on deaf ears, is just to temper the enthusiasm and understand that this is a process,” Doering said. “They need to continue to understand what everybody’s roles are in the offensive and defensive schemes and continue to recruit to build a program.
“That is not something that happens overnight and just because you have that Gator head in the center of the field, that does not entitle you to be an SEC East champion. It takes time.”
Florida’s 2019 season will start on Saturday, August 24 in Orlando as the Gators will play Miami in what will be the kickoff to the 2019 college football season.
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)