GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida football team is holding its first preseason scrimmage Friday, and Gators coach Jim McElwain met with reporters prior to the session.
Here were some highlights from his press conference.
- McElwain said his go-to karaoke song is Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.” For what it’s worth.
- McElwain: “This is an important moving day for a lot of guys to see where we’re at.”
- The goal today is to “try to create as many different scenarios as we can,” including substitutions, two-minute, red zone “that hopefully just kind of manifest themselves in the flow of the scrimmage.”
- “We had a great practice on Tuesday night. Wednesday became kind of the day off chance for us to step back, look at what we did, analyze video, get the guys in meetings and do kind of a walk-through. We’re trying to change as many different environments as we can to create chaos.”
- “Thursday’s practice was unacceptable. We were not firing on all cylinders. It was the first real day we had sunshine, heat, humidity, all that stuff. You can use that as an excuse. We had some guys play their tails off through it and they would be the usual suspects you would expect to do it, but we have some guys who need to step up. … So I was a little disappointed to be quite frank. That isn’t everybody, but there are some areas that need to get better and and they’ve been let know.”
- McElwain on having 57 former Gators on NFL rosters right now: “That’s pretty good, I think. I think that really speaks for those players and what they’re doing. … That’s a pretty good stat.”
- Injury updates …
- DB Quincy Lenton “had kind of the same thing as Brandon Powell had in his foot. The good news is after it was discovered we were able to go five hours after it was discovered and we were able to get that screwed back in there. That speaks volumes about our medical staff. … That’s at least probably a 5-8 week (recovery).”
- McElwain speaks vaguely about OL Antonio Riles’ knee injury (torn ACL) and DB C.J. McWilliams’ injury (torn ACL).
- The good news: OL Martez Ivey “has been doing really good.” LB Alex Anzalone “has taken probably more than we anticipated and yet his strength level is there.”
- On drops in practice: “I think our accuracy has been pretty good, getting the ball where it needs to be. I don’t see it as an alarming, something like, ‘Oh boy, here we go’ at all. It’s actually been pretty good.”
- On Jalen “Teez” Tabor’s personality and his headline-grabbing quotes: “I love the guy. He’s a guy who cares. He’s a guy who has really invested in himself. I think he’s grown up immensely about how he goes about his business.” McElwain then asks to be reminded what Tabor said yesterday (regarding his comments about Tennessee and extending the streak). … “We talk quite a bit as a team that history is nothing more than your ability to learn as far as what you need to do one way or the other to be successful at the next event, whenever that is. Does it repeat itself? You hope it doesn’t, especially in a failure situation because you learn from it. The same thing, you learn from the successes and what it takes to carry it forward. We don’t play them until (week) 4 so I don’t know why we’re talking about it. Here’s the beauty of it — the pure honesty of the way somebody thinks. I like the aggressive attitude and, in fact, I wish our whole team in some spots had that same self-confidence because of their work. He’s put in the work, and I can’t say that for everybody based on Thursday’s practice. It will make for a good read, it will give you guys something to write about it, at the end of the day that’s so far down the road we’ll (deal with that) when we get there. But you’ve heard me talk before, I mean, I’m not into censorship. At the same time I’m not into giving guys bulletin board material. But you can take that statement however you choose to take it. I’m sure they’ll put it up and blast it all over the world. Way to go. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll show up in Knoxville.”
- On scuffles at practice: “Here’s usually what happens in those situations. One guy’s going harder than the other, the other guy gets his tail whupped and then he has to get up and bark. That’s what it was. But the piece of the competition, that was the level at which we need to practice. … The mindset on Thursday was ‘Can I just get off this field because it’s a little hot.'”
- On freshmen WRs Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland not at the start of practice Thursday. “They’re a couple of the strain guys who we have to get as much treatment on as possible.”
- On the guys who McElwain wasn’t pleased with at practice Thursday: “They know who they are and we’ll see. … The good thing is we’ve got some choices at some of those spots, including some of those young guys. People are probably going to have to buy some programs early to figure out who the jersey numbers are on some of these guys.”
- On the QB battle: “I think it’s been pretty good. I’m hoping today’s scrimmage, whether it is or isn’t, this is just a hope, that at a lot of the positions it’s kind of what I like to refer to as moving day. In other words, some guys decide to move (up or down) and we’ll find out. I don’t have a crystal ball. I hoping that something (happens) today, and if it doesn’t, that’s fine. We’ll keep going the way we’re going and come up with it.”
- McElwain wants key position battles to be determined after the second scrimmage next Friday.
- More on Tabor’s brashness, particularly on the field: “I would not pin Teez down in that way. He’s a confident guy. That’s the way he goes about his business. … If he believes the psychological warfare of talk is what helps him win … but I’m going to tell you this and don’t forget this — your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”
- On fifth-year senior RB Mark Herndon: “When we first got here he didn’t go through spring ball. And then you could see him dragging a year ago (coming back from ACL tear). This guy goes about his business the right way and he’s set the tone for that running back group. I believe there’s a group there that’s really talented, and the part that he’s doing too is through his actions is really helping mold how they go about their business. Look, this guy is going to be called on for a lot of different things — not only on offense, but obviously on special teams. And this team has a lot of respect of him.”
- Comparing confidence heading into first scrimmage this year vs. last year: “Last year there was so many still unknowns. I think this year there’s less unknowns, but my concern has more to do with the investment by some guys at some positions and learning what a standard is and what that means. So the daily objective is probably where I’m more concerned where last year I was just concerned who we had.”
- On Jalen Tabor choosing to go by Teez: “Is he the ‘cornerback formerly known as …’? … Since I’ve been here that’s what they call him. But they call me Mac. I guess I could change that. Mom and dad would probably be angry with me if I changed my last name.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.