GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin announced last November that Dan Mullen would be the 27th head coach in school history, fans thought they were getting an offensive mastermind who would reverse nearly a decade of Gators’ offenses hopelessly wandering in the wilderness.

In time, perhaps he will fix the offense, but as he has repeatedly stated, his primary objective is to do whatever it takes to win football games. For Mullen, that means strong special teams, and not just the kicker and punter. He views special team as one-third of the game, equal in importance to offense and defense.

Mullen has seen first-hand how big of an advantage strong special teams can be. During Urban Meyer’s tenure as head coach from 2005-2010, the Gators averaged 5.2 blocked kicks per year. Mullen was a part of that staff as offensive coordinator from 2005-08. Over the past five years, Florida has averaged just 0.8 blocks per year.

From starting practice with special teams drills, to awarding walk-ons scholarships largely for their roles on special teams, to putting starters on the units, he has emphasized it since day one. Don’t play well on special teams? You won’t play on offense or defense.

“I

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