GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain met with reporters Monday for the first time since the team’s Friday scrimmage.
Here were the highlights from his press conference.
- McElwain on Friday’s scrimmage: “We were able to get in about 118 snaps, not counting special teams. So there was a lot of good work by a lot of guys … especially with some of the young or more inexperienced guys, especially on defense at linebacker and in the secondary a little bit. And I saw some really good things from some guys as they fought through.”
- “I thought both quarterbacks, both Austin (Appleby) and Luke (Del Rio), had their moments and had some other moments we need to get cleaned up a little bit. … No I haven’t named a starter yet, and yet we’re moving the ball pretty well. That’s what makes me really excited.”
- Among the notable injury updates: Quincy Wilson was held out with an ankle. “It’s nothing serious.” Duke Dawson was held out. “But he’ll be OK. A lot of those were preventative things.”
- McElwain on depth in the secondary: “I thought Joseph Putu has done a heck of a job.”
- “I was really encouraged with practice 13, practice 14.” Gators have another scrimmage Friday night to simulate the night time environment after scrimmaging during the day last Friday.
- “I like this team. I like these guys. We’re starting to show some leadership on offense and some sparks there.”
- On the OL: “You can just see us kind of take it a step further.”
- On the WRs: “Brandon Powell when he’s in there just carries a little confidence and he can make guys miss.” Also made a special mention of Dre Massey. “I’m really happy with how far he has come since spring.”
- “We talk about the opportunity to establish a standard and I think sometimes the word standard can be taken a lot of different ways. … It starts with how you’re going to approach your day to day activity, and that’s what really disappointed me (last Thursday). And to see, I think what they’ve gathered and learned from that, we’ve had some great speakers in, this has been their third and fourth time with our team carrying certain themes and reminders. I think that helps you as well. I think it’s a great sign.”
- More on the OL: “That’s been helpful and yet (Antonio Riles) was playing great. It’s forced us to work some flexibility pieces at some of the spots, but it was an opportunity for (Brandon) Sandifer and (Nick) Buchanan to say ‘It’s time.'”
- On competition and movement on the depth charts, with reference to the OL: “What happens sometimes is guys are so stuck on depth charts. What depth charts are, are a way to organize practice. What they don’t understand is it’s a way to be able to put people at different spots during practice based on those colors or numbers or whatever you use in your program. But it’s an ever-changing thing based on your actions and your ability to perform whatever task you’re asking them to do — at a high level. And sometimes guys get, ‘Well I’m just on this,’ rather than, ‘No, let me show that I can move up to that next one and compete and take that spot.’ I think kind of that open door there for some more spots, for lack of a better term, I think has helped those guys, and yet that’s really not the right mindset. And I think too often guys get left in that rut and don’t realize, you know what, you’re responsible for your own actions to get moved up. That’s what I’ve seen from a couple of those spots.”
- McElwain praised redshirt-sophomore Moral Stephens. “He’s come leaps and bounds … and I’m proud of him. I think he’s seeing what he’s capable of doing.”
- On the Callaway decision: “Like the university can’t (comment), I’m part of the university and I kind of follow their lead.”
- On redshirt-junior LB Matt Rolin leaving the program: “He’s kind of lost the love the game. He’s going to stay and graduate and should be done actually this semester if he chooses to use his time right. That’s kind of the goal for him, for the right reasons. He wasn’t really into it and he saw he was taking some reps from some young guys who are showing promise. For him an the injuries he’s had he’s just (decided) that maybe there’s something else in his life.”
- On the QBs. “I really liked Luke in the red area — I thought (he) was really good. He did take a two-minute drive. We didn’t get points in the two-minute before the half, but we got points at the end of the game when we needed them. So I thought that was good. I thought Austin handled, just the team moved the field and especially our (run/pass option) stuff, I thought he handled that better during the play of the scrimmage. But both of them had their moments.”
- More on Callaway: No time line on decision for his eligibility for the first game.
- And McElwain’s reaction on the marijuana revelation in Callaway case: “Here’s kind of the piece of that. Part of our job is to help educate, and if there are some issues find help. If it becomes habitual then there’s some consequences. But at the same time, through the stuff we do, through the education piece, I’m here to help him and I’m here to make sure if there is something there that isn’t a one-off but obviously is something that’s going to be a huge program — which you’re obviously aware of some of the cases here over the years that have missed some things because of those details — I truly am here to help these guys learn and grow, become better fathers when they grow up, help society and help their communities. Anything I can do through teaching, through historical precedents, be it something good or something not so good, that’s what’s it all about. If it becomes one of those deals, the counseling hasn’t worked and all of that stuff, there will be some harder consequences and yet those haven’t come up yet. …
- “He has dealt with a lot. Obviously not being on campus (during his suspension), not being part of the family, not being part of what we can do to help, be supportive. There was a lot of time there to sit and think and really look down deep inside of you and say, ‘What am I learning from this? … Time will tell.”
- More from the scrimmage last Friday: “Here’s what I saw. We took some of those older guys out after their third series in the rotation of what we were doing, and in the past sometimes you take some guys out is what they do is go take their helmet out, hang out on the sideline and play too cool for school and don’t care what’s going on on the field. These guys were sitting right there on the edge not only encouraging but coaching some of the guys who are pushing them for their job. … I think that speaks to the leadership in those older guys.”
- On the RBs: “Jordan Cronkrite’s consistency in being an every-down back is (standing out). I thought Jordan Scarlett had some really explosive runs. Mark (Thompson), he can really catch the ball too and he gives you some versatility. Mark Herndon played in a lot of packages (including special teams). And this Lamical Perine guy, this guy’s pretty good.”
- More on Perine and the RB depth: “This guy, I thought he was good obviously, but I tell ya, I feel really good about that running back room. We’ve got some really good players that formationally tells you to get your guys on the field, you’ve got to do some things from personnel groups to get multiple guys on the field at the same time.”
- And yet more on the RBs: “I think we had one backfield at one of the places I was at, Eddie Lacy was our fourth-teamer and this guy was a pretty good player and we found carries for him. here’s the one thing at running back these guys have to realize too. Sometimes they get people in their ear, ‘You should be toting it 35 times’ … you only have so many totes in you so the ability to spread it around helps you in the long run. Sometimes it’s hard for guys to see that, but the great ones do. When we had a Heisman Trophy winner and another guy behind him and then Eddie, all of them are playing in the league at some point and yet there was enough to go around. … You’re going to find out about their make-up too when it comes to that.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.