GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Injuries have kept the Florida Gators from having a traditional spring game the past two years, but that won’t be the case in 2016.
With a deeper roster and only a handful of players out, UF will conduct a four-quarter scrimmage next Friday with the offensive and defensive personnel split up into two units on each side of the ball.
“It’s going to be a football. It’s not going to be a practice,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “It’s still a little bit to be determined from the standpoint of how we’re going to split the teams to see where we’re at injury wise and make it as competition oriented as possible. We need to create game situations and a game-type atmosphere to see how these guys play on a stage. So that’s why we’re going to do that simulation as much as possible.”
For the first time in school history, the Gators will hold the Orange & Blue Debut on a Friday night in The Swamp. Florida went with a new strategy to provide a better experience for fans, players and recruits.
“We open the season usually at night,” McElwain said. “I try to simulate as many of those things as we can so the preparation piece is another learning experience. As you know in the fall, we try to do different practices at different times simply to prepare you for the different times you’re going to play during the day. So that’s part of it.
“Getting people here in a night atmosphere in The Swamp I think is fantastic and a lot of fun. Then it also allows us a good Saturday with a lot of those recruits that are coming in where we can spend quality time with them, showing them the campus, all the new things we have facility wise. They can get a good chance to get through that without a game going on, which will be done the night before.”
But when first asked about the day and time change for the spring game, McElwain revealed the real reason behind it all.
“I kind of like having weekends off, don’t you?” McElwain said. “You get it done on Friday, you got Saturday and Sunday off. You don’t have to come write on Saturday. I did it for you guys. You would not believe how painstakingly I actually go through in mind to help you guys out in a lot of different ways. This is one of them.”
Nice try, McElwain. April Fools.