GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coaches and players were not happy with the outcome of last Wednesday’s practice.
After playing well the first three days of spring, the Gators took a step back when the pads came on.
“Didn’t feel like we had a great practice on Wednesday,” UF coach Jim McElwain said Friday. “Players need to understand that they’re playing at the University of Florida. With that comes a little responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to come to work and work your tail off in practice. I’m not sure we did.
“That’s kind of what we’re looking for, because we do need to get a little bit better each day, there’s no doubt about it.”
McElwain’s players got the message.
He said the team performed much better on Friday and had its best practice of the spring in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Thought the guys really came from start to finish with the attitude and the energy to get a lot accomplished,” McElwain said. “I thought there were some really, really good things that went on, especially in our situational drill work. It was really good to see.
“The question will be is: Can they kind of follow up with a good Monday? … But overall I was really excited that they came, especially after a good Friday practice, and backed it up with a good Saturday.”
Last week, McElwain said the offensive line needed to block with a better pad level. He saw improvement with that group Saturday.
“I felt that they really came to practice from start to finish on the O-line,” McElwain said. “I think their communication appeared to be a little bit better. We didn’t have as many just true busts as far as the combination blocks and where they were targeted to and that kind of thing.
“I thought we did a little bit better job moving forward off the ball and not taking steps backwards. There again, the consistency piece is really what we’re looking for.”
McElwain didn’t mention many individual standouts from Saturday. Rather, several positions as a whole stood out to him.
“A lot of guys got better,” McElwain said. “I thought our runners did good, especially in the ball security area. We made pretty good decisions — all four quarterbacks in some of the drill work. That was good to see.
“Up front, I think our defensive line, they’re really playing gaps solid defense. They’re peaking and they’re kind of doing their jobs, keeping people off the linebackers. So overall just in general, I thought it was a lot better.”
McElwain did single out senior wideout Ahmad Fulwood for his leadership on offense. He said slot receiver Dre Massey, a junior college transfer, has benefited from the extra reps with Alvin Bailey (back) and Brandon Powell (foot) out.
Defensively, McElwain praised the play of defensive end Keivonnis Davis, who’s been running with the first team. He added that nickelback Duke Dawson and safety Marcell Harris are coming to their own this spring as they compete for the starting jobs vacated by Brian Poole and Keanu Neal.
“You see guys that are constantly showing or flashing or, you know, making strides,” McElwain said. “The thing I think for us is we still need to learn what it is to come out every day and be focused on details, not just kind of be here or there, hit or miss. I think naturally some guys start to separate themselves just from the consistency of their play more than anything.
“The biggest thing we kind of try to do is look for consistent improvement in some of the areas that we were lacking in. Just coming off Saturday’s practice, some of those areas, I thought, were answered. It will interesting to see how we respond Monday.”