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CBS Sports predictions for Samford game


It was certainly a tough week in Gainesville after the Gators’ 40-17 loss at South Carolina on Saturday. Coach Dan Mullen fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach/running game coordinator John Hevesy, the latter of which had coached under him in some capacity since 2001, in the wake of the loss.

While Mullen’s job could still be in jeopardy as the team needs to win two of its final three games to reach bowl eligibility, it seems he’s at least getting the chance to turn things around. In the coach’s press conferences this week, there seems to have been a noticeable tone shift as Mullen took responsibility for the team’s shortcomings.

CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee, who has been critical of Mullen this season, gave him credit for the way he’s handled the mounting pressure.

Mullen isn’t exactly known for his grace and comfort behind the microphone, but he did handle the pressure he’s facing relatively well during Monday’s press conference.

“I’m the head coach, so I bear all of it. It’s on my shoulders,” he said. “I’m the one that’s responsible for this program. I’m the one that’s responsible for this team and how we got to perform. That’s your job here as the head coach is to take on that responsibility. And my job is to make sure we go perform, that this team plays to the Gator Standard, which we’re not doing right now. It’s my responsibility to find a way to fix that. I’m pretty confident in myself, and I’ve won a lot of football games as a head coach, won championships here. What I’m pretty confident in is finding the solution.”

Wow. He wasn’t defensive, didn’t make it awkward and showed a little … dare I say … humility.

That, at the very least, should give Florida fans a small bit of hope that Mullen can turn this thing around. He is never one to doubt his ability, but recognizing that he is the main problem suggests that he’s more likely to expedite the rehabilitation process.

Words in a press conference are just that: words. At the end of the day, if Mullen is going to get things turned around and remain the head coach in Gainesville, those words will have to lead to actual action on the field.

Still, as Sallee notes, it’s certainly a good start and better than the alternative. UF also has a good opportunity to get back in the win column and halfway to bowl eligibility this week as the team welcomes a Football Championship Subdivision opponent in the Samford Bulldogs.

While there’s no betting line for the game, Sallee did indeed pick the Gators to win straight up.

There’s no line on this one, so I’ll take the Gators to win. It’s a huge indictment of the Dan Mullen regime that I at least thought about this game for a fleeting moment. Pick: Florida (NL)

There are no guarantees in these games of course (see: 2013 vs. Georgia Southern), but Florida has fared very well in games against FCS opponents historically, especially under Mullen. Since he took over as head coach in 2018, the Gators have outscored their FCS opponents 199-16.

He’ll hope that trend continues and that UF can get back to .500 before finishing the season with a two-game stretch at Missouri and at home vs. Florida State that looks a lot more dangerous than it did earlier in the season.

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