GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The first time, Florida coach Jim McElwain was asked if he was disappointed in the offense through five games. The second time, he was asked about the offensive line.
In both responses, McElwain segued his answer into a tangent on the external pressures and voices that can distract his players.
And it’s not the first time this season he has discussed the issue unprompted.
“You know, I think sometimes guys put undue pressures on themselves. And I think part of those pressures actually comes externally, which is noise — dad, mom, auntie, uncle, street agent,” he said. “You know, ‘You’ve got to go do this because you’re going to be the lifeblood of our family.’ And these guys are 18 to 22 year-old guys, and sometimes they let that affect their joy and energy to where you start to ball up a little bit. And I’m seeing that.”
It’s an interesting observation, and surely one every college coach deals with to some degree.
It’s uncertain if McElwain was referring to a specific instance or simply trying to send a message to his players in general, but it’s clearly something he wanted to put out there.
“I mean, it’s unbelievable,” he continued in his next response. “And what these guys live with now, if you only knew some of the things that are, we just get so consumed with this football piece, right? There’s a lot of things going on with these guys, and you know what, that’s my responsibility to help them ease that and get them to play at a high level.”
McElwain lauds fan support in Nashville
It was an impressive scene Saturday in Nashville as fans clad in orange and blue comprised the bulk of one side of Vanderbilt Stadium.
It certainly didn’t look or feel like a road game, and McElwain spoke of his appreciation for the Florida fan contingent.
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“Plain and simple, players of the game were our fans,” he said. “I mean, our guys were, when we came back into the locker room after warmups, they were just like, ‘Coach, you see the whole half of the stadium there was orange and blue.’ Even our defensive guys, there was a time when they were down in the horseshoe end there, on the grass end, and caused them an issue on a third down and that was on the road. That was because of our fans.
“Man, that was something special. We’re going to need that same thing this week.”
In addition to McElwain’s update on quarterback Luke Del Rio and his chance to play this week, and in addition to the mash unit that is the Gators’ defensive line, the coach provided some other injury updates as well.
Junior left tackle David Sharpe is dealing with a shoulder injury and his status for this week is uncertain.
“We’ll see what we can get out of him,” McElwain said.
Also, redshirt-junior linebacker Alex Anzalone will play with a splint on his hand, but he’ll be fine. Senior Chris Thompson, who mostly plays on special teams, reinjured his hamstring. And junior receiver Brandon Powell has an ankle injury of some sort, but Powell said he would be fine as well.
“I’ll be able to play. If I can walk, I can play,” he said.