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Mullen defends Florida spirit: If we play hoops, you're probably going to get an elbow in the eye

Gators coach Dan Mullen says he competes at running, walking, and is ready to play football in a parking lot.

Dan Mullen got asked about having a smile on his face to greet Mark Stoops in the post-game handshake-line Saturday night after Mullen's Gators lost at Kentucky – Florida's first loss in Kentucky since 1986.

Mullen got asked if his Gators' program likewise lacked a necessary competitive fire.

“Not at all,” Mullen said. “Not in any way, shape or form I promise you that.”

Soon, after more questions of Florida's competitive fire amidst a 3-2 start that includes the come-from-ahead loss to the Wildcats and the ill-fated rally two weeks ago against Alabama, Mullen talked of cutting people off walking and throwing elbows in playground basketball.

The Gators host Vanderbilt Saturday for homecoming.

“You're a competitor. You know what I mean? I don't know. I guess you're just a competitor,” Mullen said. “If you had gone out on a run with me this morning and we get to the last half mile, I'm going to beat you.

“If you walk with me, I'm going to walk a step in front of you because I don't like to be behind people

“If you go play pickup hoops and it's a friendly game of hoops, if it gets close, you're probably going to get an elbow in the eye.

“I don't care if we play at 6 a.m. Friday in the parking lot or in the Swamp at noon. …

“I certainly don't think we have any lack of competitors or competitiveness on this team.”

Mullen also dismissed the notion that this Gators' season is lost with seven games still to play or that the program is stuck at a good level but not able to challenge for the College Football Playoff.

Florida lost its final three games of the 2020 season, including being blown out by Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, and has dropped two of three games this season against Power 5 competition; its only win came at home against Tennessee Sept. 25.

“We were there last year, so …,” Mullen said of opposing Alabama in the 2020 SEC Championship game. “Each year is independent of itself. Lot of different factors go into things from one year to the next.

“Lot of football left to be played this year. We'll see how this year plays out.”