GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Speaking Wednesday during Florida’s bye week, coach Jim McElwain was upbeat while reflecting on quarterback Luke Del Rio’s performance in his return from injury.
Despite Del Rio’s three interceptions in the Gators’ 40-14 win over Missouri on Saturday, McElwain saw some positives as well.
And more to the point, he felt the mistakes from his quarterback were easily correctable.
“Oh absolutely, 100 percent. I think the biggest thing is don’t try to do too much,” McElwain said. “He took the plan, he knew the plan and yet he got himself into trouble. I don’t know, I like to refer to it sometimes when you’re playing that position as seeing ghosts rather than just taking what’s real and doing it. And I think he saw that when he watched the video. I mean, he was down on himself, and yet he shouldn’t be that down. He still played pretty darn good in some areas, and yet he knows he can play a little bit better.”
Del Rio completed 18 of 38 passes for 236 yards, 1 touchdown and those three picks.
He had missed the previous two games with a sprained knee sustained in Florida’s Week 3 win over North Texas. McElwain didn’t feel the knee affected his quarterback on Saturday.
“It was sore, as to be expected. But I’d say the biggest thing that was hurt is just his competitive nature and how he played the game. He didn’t do bad, but he didn’t do as well as he wanted to either,” he said. “And that’s a good thing. He had a really good day yesterday and you could see him working on those things, not trying to do too much but doing what’s asked of him. So I thought that was good.”
Through four starts, Del Rio has now completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 998 yards, 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Asked what specifically he liked from Del Rio’s performance Saturday and what he thought the quarterback’s return brought to the offense, McElwain indicated that his poise and sense of calm despite the struggles showed through as the offense eventually found a rhythm.
The Gators finished with 523 yards, including a season-high 287 rushing yards. They also got three touchdowns from their defense and special teams.
“There was a sense of, you know, we’ll get it, we’ll get it going. And I thought we kind of did there,” he said. “So, there’s some throws that he wants back, but here’s the good thing here, the one thing he’s got to realize here is you never get it back. But what do you learn from it? And he’s one of those guys.”