How Florida’s Dan Mullen has made it work calling plays as head coach

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The start of any new coaching regime includes change, and the change that has Florida fans most excited following the hire of former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is a new direction on offense.

Former Gators coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier never could turn the tide on that side of the ball, ranking in the 100s nationally each season in total offense.

Florida finished the 2017 season 111th out of 129 FBS teams in that category with 335.9 yards per game. The Gators ranked 108th in scoring at 22.1 points per game.

Mullen, meanwhile, comes in with an established reputation on that side of the ball, including his four successful seasons as offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08.

On Thursday, we took a closer look at new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the effect his 3-4 scheme will have on the team. In the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day, we look at the offense to address a common curiosity many fans have expressed.

Nicholas R. asks … “Who was [Mullen’s] OC at State?”

Mullen’s first two hires at Florida were his co-offensive coordinators from Mississippi State — Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy.

While official titles weren’t announced for the two, it’s likely they will fill the same roles they have held on Mullen’s offense, with Gonzales coaching wide receivers and overseeing the passing game and Hevesy coaching the offensive line and overseeing the running game.

As for the play calling, that will likely be left to Mullen.

He took over play calling at Mississippi State after the 2013 season when his coordinator left.

Mullen explained the arrangement involving Gonzales and Hevesy in this Clarion Ledger story, saying: “That makes the room run very smoothly. It allows me to do what I need to do to call the plays and prepare myself to be a play caller on game day without having all of the offensive coordinator duties. I’m not worried about being the offensive coordinator, but instead have prepared myself to be the play caller. …

“It’s a unique situation in college football that not everybody would have. It might be trickier if I didn’t have the staff that I have to get that done.”

That’s why it’s no surprise that Gonzales and Hevesy were hired the day after Mullen was officially introduced at Florida. The formula certainly works.

Gonzales has spent 14 seasons with Mullen at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Mississippi State. Hevesy, meanwhile, was with Mullen for all nine seasons at Mississippi State and also worked with him at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

In that 2014 season in which Mullen took over the play calling, Mississippi State improved by 9.2 points per game to 36.9, tied for 16th nationally, and by 79.4 yards per game to 513.8, ranking eighth. The Bulldogs’ surge coincided with quarterback Dak Prescott’s breakout that season, and Mississippi State’s four best offensive seasons under Mullen were these last four with him calling plays.

The Bulldogs averaged 34.4 points per game in 2015, 30.4 in 2016, and 32.1 this season.

Florida fans would welcome any of those numbers after the struggles of the McElwain/Nussmeier Era.

Read more answers about the Florida Gators  here .

The post How Florida’s Dan Mullen has made it work calling plays as head coach appeared first on SEC Country.

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