JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jim McElwain knew it was coming.
There’s a few guarantees that happen at his pressers.
You’ll hear “and yet” at least 10 times. A body part will be listed as a diagnosis. He’s going to pick on the injury guy and the iPhone camera man.
And somebody will ask what’s wrong with the offense.
When the latter came after Florida’s 24-10 win over UGA, McElwain revealed some frustration about media members and fans dwelling on the offensive struggles rather than judging the team as a whole.
And he gave that unit a vote of confidence Saturday.
“One thing I will say, you know, people pick this team apart quite a bit, and this and that,” McElwain said. “Guys, this is a good football team. The Florida Gators are a good team, all right?
“I’ll go with these guys against anybody. And we’ll figure out a way to get it done. And that’s the way they are in that locker room.”
There’s seemingly a new issue with this offense every week.
Three-and-outs at Tennessee. Penalties and turnovers against Missouri. Lack of production (less than 240 yards) in the Vanderbilt and Georgia games.
Maybe the problem has been quarterback shuffling and too much time off.
“I don’t know,” McElwain said. “I’m looking for all kinds of things. It’s no excuse … we’ve got to get better.
“We’ve got some good players. We need to get them the ball and get the ball in their hands and let them do their thing.”
Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett got plenty of touches Saturday and both found the end zone. But after racking up 523 yards in their last game, the Gators managed just 231 yards against Georgia.
“We just need to sustain drives more,” Scarlett said. “We can do a lot better. We need to improve on our passing game, need to be able to take a couple more shots and get some more explosive runs.”
Luke Del Rio threw for a season-low 131 yards, but McElwain said his quarterback managed the game well and took care of the football after throwing a pick on his first pass attempt.
Then he added, “Did we win? OK. Good. All right. Just want make sure.”
A big reason Florida keeps winning is its defense, which held the Bulldogs to 21 yards rushing and totaled 16 quarterback hurries on Jacob Eason. UF hasn’t had that many in a game since 2006.
Asked if he can win the SEC with his defense, McElwain responded bluntly.
“Sure,” he said, pausing for a few seconds. “I believe we can. I believe we have the ingredients here both offensively and defensively and special teams to make a heck of a run.”
The Gators lead the SEC East standings, but they need to win two of their next three games to clinch the division. Next up for them is a road test at Arkansas, then a visit from their former coach.
They close conference play with a trip to Death Valley. That’s a tough slate for this team, but the players don’t lack confidence.
“If we don’t believe in ourselves, who will,” UF linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “There’s a lot of belief in that locker room and a lot of true leaders that will lead us to Atlanta and hopefully beyond that.”
One of those leaders is linebacker Jarrad Davis, who played through a sprained ankle against Georgia. He returned for his senior season to bring UF back to Atlanta, but leave with a different result.
“We definitely know we’re a good team,” Davis said. “And there’s a lot of things we can do to elevate our game. And this run that’s coming up, we’ve got to really, really take the time out to put in the extra effort to really make ourselves the team that we can be.
“We’re the Florida Gators. We need to prepare like the Florida Gators. That name holds a lot of weight, a lot of respect in this country. We need to demand it throughout the week so we can show up on Saturday and really impose our will.”