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Florida’s Dan Mullen says depleted Gators could’ve opted not to play in Cotton Bowl


#Florida coach #Dan #Mullen said his team could have opted to not play in #Wednesday night’s #Goodyear #Cotton #Bowl #Classic based on player availability but chose to anyway because the players wanted to compete.

#Following a 55-20 blowout loss to #No. 6 #Oklahoma, #Mullen said his depleted roster would have allowed the #No. 7 #Gators to skip the game.

“#With the number of people that were out for the game, we were under numbers actually,” #Mullen said. “#We had the numbers to not play the game.

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#Added #Mullen: “I give our guys credit. … #Our young guys wanted to go play in that game, and they wanted to get that experience and wanted to be on that stage.”

#On #Tuesday, #Mullen estimated that he would have 60 scholarship players available. The SEC this season established a minimum threshold of 53 scholarship players for game participation, but teams could opt to play even if they didn’t meet that number. There were also minimums at three key positions: quarterbacks (one), defensive linemen (four) and offensive linemen (seven).

#Mullen did not specify if the #Gators were under the minimum at a specific position.

“I kind of viewed — I don’t know, maybe this is wrong — that wasn’t the 2020 football team that you saw,” #Mullen said of the #Gators. “There were 25 guys missing off the 2020 football team out there tonight. #That was kind of a kickstart for us for the future, an opportunity for the young guys to play.”

#Mullen added: “The last game the 2020 team played was 11 days ago [in the SEC championship].”

#Among the missing #Gators were multiple starters. Their top three receivers — #Kadarius #Toney, #Trevon #Grimes and #Jacob #Copeland — were all out, and so was star tight end #Kyle #Pitts. #Grimes, #Pitts and #Toney opted out of the game as they prepare for the NFL draft, and #Copeland was out because he tested positive for COVID-19. The #Gators were also without four defensive starters.

The missing pass catchers had a significant impact on quarterback #Kyle #Trask, a #Heisman #Trophy finalist. #He threw a season-high three interceptions and did not throw a touchdown after coming into the game with 43 to his credit. #His completion percentage (57.1%) was also a season low. #Sophomore quarterback #Emory #Jones also saw significant playing time in the game, attempting 16 passes and rushing 10 times for 60 yards and a score.

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#Oklahoma dominated #Florida, finishing with 684 yards, including 435 rushing. #Sooners coach #Lincoln #Riley said they decided “we were going to be a team on a mission,” and “we wanted to make a statement with the way that we played.”

#Oklahoma center #Creed #Humphrey said, “#We saw the [Gators’] opt-outs. #We didn’t really care who was opting out and who was staying for this game. #We were ready to roll and go out there and play them anyway, no matter who it was. #We’re just glad they showed up and gave us a chance to play.”

The #Sooners also said they were aware of the comments #Florida linebacker #James #Houston made last week, referring to #Oklahoma as “a good matchup” but “not on our level.” #Oklahoma freshman receiver #Marvin #Mims said, “it definitely fueled the fire a little bit,” and #Sooners quarterback #Spencer #Rattler tweeted after the game, “#It was a good matchup.”

“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t see what our opponent said,” #Rattler later said. “#We went out there and just did our job, executed, focused on what we had to do as a group and came out on top.”





[ source link ]
https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/30627836/florida-dan-mullen-says-depleted-gators-opted-not-play-cotton-bowl

##Floridas ##Dan ##Mullen #depleted ##Gators #couldve #opted #play ##Cotton ##Bowl

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