GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida head coach Jim McElwain met with reporters Friday prior to the team’s second preseason scrimmage.
Here were the highlights.
- On the energy at practice: “I’ve just got to say yesterday was awesome. We had obviously a two-a-day and had a ‘Perfect Thursday’ simulation in the evening practice. How we went about it was really good, especially from a teaching standpoint of the older guys kind of showing the younger guys what our expectation on that kind of practice is. The energy was great.”
- On scrimmaging Friday evening: “We went in the heat of the afternoon on the last scrimmage. In preparation for those different kickoff times, we’re going to do an evening one tonight. To go into an evening scrimmage and try to prepare them in as many ways we can to prepare them for the different kickoff times that you have throughout the year. That’s something we plan on well ahead to help our guys be prepared for the different things that are going on.”
- On the suspensions of Jalen Tabor and C’yontai Lewis: “I want everybody to understand first and foremost these are two really good guys and good teammates and guys that are valuable members of this football team and this family. You know, they’re good people, and yet as we go on there’s certain things and (a) level of expectations that we have in everything we do. When you have moments and things occur, you can read into whatever you want, you can guess at whatever you want and yet our responsibility for everybody in the organization is to help them understand behavior and things that can help them later in life in football’s well over. That’s part of the educational piece. We’ll look forward to getting those guys back hopefully on Thursday of next week and move forward and support them in every way we can and yet not enable. … This is game that no one plays forever, and yet the real game that happens is when football is done and you move forward and now you’re a father, no you’re someone working in a job, now you’re someone that’s giving back to your community and those sort of things. These are two guys that are two good teammates that need to learn from a standard that we have in our program.”
- On the quarterbacks: “Going into this scrimmage we just felt it was time to make this move, and yet as you guys know, I’m excited about all the guys and our team is — about all four of the quarterbacks and what they bring and how they’re going to continue to work. You know how long a season is, you know the things that can happen. The expectation is those guys continue to work and prepare like they’re a starter because you just never know.
- Injury updates: DB Duke Dawson will be limited in scrimmage. … WR Chris Thompson is going “to get a look on his leg — a continuous bother that he’s had. … We’ll know more about that once we get results on that. I don’t think it’s anything that’s long term.” … OL Andrew Mike and OL Kavaris Harmless will be held out today. … WR C.J. Worton is still out with a foot injury. “If we were to play a game today, he probably wouldn’t go.” … Punter Johnny Townsend “hurt his thumb on the Jugs machine … and his thumb kind of bent back. I told him it’s a good thing it wasn’t his kicking toe, but if he shows up and has his thumb wrap, it was a Jugs machine incident.”
- On kicker Eddy Pineiro: “I’ve been really happy with where Eddy is and what he’s done. We still need to put him in as many game-type situations. I bring all the guys up and harass him while he’s kicking … but he’s got a powerful leg.”
- On fan day Saturday, the Gators will be doing a new fan interaction event in the indoor facility.
- On Rally in the Swamp on Sunday: “The students are really what make The Swamp what it is and hard to play when others come here.”
- On CeCe Jefferson’s weight: “This is a concern with him hovering in that 265-270 range, (but) the thing with him is the natural strength he has. … He’s got some real natural strength and suddenness that helps him on the inside. the flip side of that is when you get those big, big guys leaning on you, especially on the double teams, that is a little bit of a concern, but he’s done a great job with his quickness and being able to split some of those double teams. He’s still doing some things on the outside.”
- On Steve Spurrier’s presence: “Just the overall practice format and the things go on, being able to bounce some of those things off of him and getting that feedback has been great and it’s fun to have him out there. … He wasn’t there last night, might have been past his bedtime when he went, but him sitting and observing the first scrimmage, taking a look at the video and saying these are some of the things he saw (is valuable.”
- More on the QBs: “We talked about consistent movement in different situations and the response of maybe some of the people around that position. Luke has got a great command, as has, I’m telling you, all of them. I’m really happy with that spot. We’ll see. There’s a lot of guys happy right now with their different position spots and yet you don’t really know until you get into live games. Luke’s command with everything we’re trying to do has been (good), but he’s made some mistakes. He knows that by no means (does this mean it couldn’t change at some point).”
- Comparison to a year ago at this time: “I think the comfort level that they have from an expectation standpoint. The piece I see is them establishing a certain … way that we expect to go about our work, and I’ve seen that. A prime example is just going through the perfect Thursday. They know, and the coaches know and the trainers know and the anybody that stands in there knows that thing better be crisp. I thought that was a prime example when I saw that last night.”
- More on Del Rio’s ability to read defenses “Understanding what we hope to get accomplished at that position, he’s shown a real understanding of that.”
- More on the suspensions and the goal of making it public and getting the guys away from the team: “I don’t know that there’s a goal. Each situation is different, and yet we’ve got a sense of expectation, but more than that I’ve got a sense of responsibility to help every individual within the organization. … Nothing has changed from anything we’ve ever done.”
- On Del Rio’s response to being named the starter: “Obviously he was excited, and yet he also acknowledged the fact that ‘I haven’t made it.’ And the response I thought more importantly were from the other three guys — ‘We’re going to continue to work to be that starter.’ That’s what you want to see and I think that’s going to help us moving forward.”
- Candidates for kickoff return: “Obviously Brandon Powell, who handled it last year, but Dre Massey is a guy who gives us a lot of versatility in a lot of different ways — not only in the return game but in some of things we’re going to be able to do offensively. He can throw it, he can catch it and he can run it. … Chauncey Gardner is a guy as we look down the road too that has some of that ability as well.”
- On having more things settled this camp: “I probably don’t do a good enough job of this, looking to kind of reflect, I’m always kind of driving forward, other than trying to learn from the notes I take from things that happened a year ago and different pieces, what I try to do each week is look back on the notes I took of that week that was the previous year and from that create notes from previous years in the past of what we’ve got to make sure we’re accomplishing. And yet each year’s different. Someday hopefully I’ll sit back and take a look at what was, but really we always try to stay ahead.”
- On who else has emerged at cornerback: “Jeawon Taylor has really emerged in the secondary, which has allowed us to multi use some guys at corner and nickel.” McElwain mentioned Chauncey Garnder, Joseph Putu, Chris Williamson, Duke Dawson and McArthur Burnett. … On Burnett: “He checked in at 157.5 pounds. that was his check-in weight. The guy’s 186 right now just from eating meals. He’s another guy at that spot.”
- On Nick Washington: “Here’s the interesting thing, Nick is one of those guys that just goes about his business and does it well — maybe not flashy — but he’s kind of the stronghold of that group as far as the way he plays. I don’t talk about him enough and it’s probably because it’s not flash, it’s really just good consistent play, and on special teams as well.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.