GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Offensive line play was problematic in Florida’s season opener.
UF coach Jim McElwain criticized his linemen for their lack of energy following the 24-7 win over UMass. McElwain confirmed what he saw live while evaluating the film Sunday.
“Assignment wise, it was good for the most part,” McElwain said. “We were on edge in protection. We got our head down a little bit. My biggest piece there is the energy and body language in which they get to the line scrimmage.
“Make the call and let’s go. We were slow with that. It’s something’s that’s got to change.”
McElwain added he doesn’t plan on making any changes in the starting lineup, at least not yet.
He called his linemen “dead fish” last year because they didn’t show enough life on the field, and that was an issue again Saturday. McElwain said quarterback Luke Del Rio missed a couple throws in the game because his protection broke down and the pocket collapsed.
“We’ve got to clean that piece up and make sure we keep the chief clean,” McElwain said. “We’ve got to make sure we secure the pocket. … (With) a pretty clean pocket, he’s going to get his feet set and get it to where it needs to go.”
Del Rio didn’t express as much concern over the performance of his line, and he feels the problems are correctable.
“There were a few plays where we got a little loose,” Del Rio said. “The critical downs I thought the protection was good. I thought I did a good job of getting rid of the ball. They opened up some holes for the running backs. It’s really just one block here, another block there.
“We’re really close to scoring a lot of points. It’s just tightening down those things.”
Kentucky’s defensive line will present a tougher — and bigger — test for the Gators. McElwain challenged them to change their demeanor ahead of the first SEC opponent in 2016.
“We’ve got to challenge our guys up front, control the line of scrimmage a little bit,” McElwain said. “My challenge to the guys up front is not only do your job and do you assignment, but let’s do it at a high tempo and an energy to create some spark offensively.”
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.