GAINESVILLE Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain held his final news conference of the week Wednesday, looking ahead to the No. 19 Gators’ game at No. 14 Tennessee this weekend.
He provided some injury updates and talked about the rivalry with the Vols and what it’s like to be part of a winning streak as long as the Gators’ 11-game run in the series with Tennessee.
Here were the highlights:
- “It’s been a fun week of practice. I think we’ve got a lot of things accomplished. I felt really good about a couple phases that we needed to get cleaned up. I think we’ve got a really good plan and some things in special teams — it was good to get that kind of handled and ironed out a bit. I think we’ve been kind of sloppy there and these guys really make their hay, and have traditionally, in their special teams so we’ve got to make sure we’re on top of it there.”
- Injuries: WR Antonio Callaway: “You know what, he got around pretty good today. I’d say take him off the doubtful list and put him questionable to probable as we go. We’ll see kind of how that thing goes, but he’s got to be running 100 percent for us to put him out there. But I know how much it means to him.” … LB Daniel McMillian is “still banged up” and “very, very questionable, probably doubtful.” … WR Tyrie Cleveland should be able to go. “Should be able to go. He hasn’t practiced a bunch anyway, so it’s kind of tough, but he ran good, did some special teams for us, which was good.”
- On being part of a streak like this (Florida’s 11 straight wins over Tennessee): “At Montana State now, so there was about a 13-year streak there where we kept muddling around with the (Montana) Grizzlies on the other end. That was one of those things where you talk about games that stick to you, we took a two-minute drive down and put it in the end zone and our kicker kicked it out of bounds and gave the ball to them on the 35. They threw a grab post against quarters coverage, the guy catches it, the kicker kicks a game-winner with no time left to push a streak. And that was for the Big Sky championship that year. That’s one of those that always stays with you. … You really brought up a bad memory right there, by the way.”
- On addressing the streak: “I can’t speak for what they do. I know they’ve had this circled and probably whatever since … I get it. That’s just not my gig. To me it’s a huge game, and I tell our guys, ‘This is a huge game. Huge. Because it’s the next game.’ When you become a team that’s able to understand that and keep it in perspective, the juice of the game itself, man, they’re going to be excited. How can you not be excited running out in front of 100,000 that are booing you. Man, that is so cool. I mean, where else does that happen, right? So I tell them more, ‘Let’s just go enjoy it because not everybody can ever experience this and just be proud of what you put on film.’ That’s really what it’s all about.”
- “I love this kind of stuff. It’s one of the things even the short time I was in the NFL I kind of missed. There’s something special about the college rivalries. As I’ve said, I’ve been at a place where you had to create rivalries because you didn’t really have any, and then to be at a place that has three of them like that that are so much that goes into it, man, that’s awesome.”
- On whether McElwain plans to play the true freshmen QBs in the game: “Well, let me just give you my game plan. Here you go. Next. (laughing). … You think I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday, don’t you?”
- On how kicker Eddy Pineiro will handle the challenge at Tennessee: “Unless it was the World Cup, I don’t think anything would ever bother him, I really don’t.”
- On the defense facing its first big test: “These guys just ran right through us a year ago. I don’t think we tackled them one time. But give them that credit because they’re pretty good. They’ve got really good players. You about their recruiting every year, they’ve got the best players in the country and they play that way. I think it’s a good test. Anytime you have an opportunity to go out and prove yourself, go do it and have a good time doing it.”