Highlights from Jim McElwain’s comments at Gators media day
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain met with reporters at the team’s preseason media day Wednesday.
Here were the highlights from his comments as he discussed the Gators’ quarterback competition, Antonio Callaway’s status, the loss of Marcell Harris in the secondary and plenty more.
- Opening comments: “If there was one thing that I would say about this year’s camp that may be a little bit different than in the past is the true competition at so many position groups. Our roster is on balance, pretty darn close. We’ve got a really good group numbers-wise at all the spots which will allow us to practice the way we expect to practice. … This camp is going to be uncomfortable for our guys. There’s going to be a lot of things stressed, such as sweating every small detail. There is no detail small enough to be overlooked. It’s going to be hard, and that’s intentional. I’m looking for us to take the next step where the uncomfortable becomes comfortable.”
- On freshman WR James Robinson’s status: “We’re still waiting on some things to clear up on James Robinson. I’ll let you know when that happens and we’ll move on from there.”
- On WR Antonio Callaway, indiretly, as to whether anyone will miss first game: “Right now everybody’s doing a great job. I don’t anticipate it. But there’s still some requirements on everybody. … As of right now, all hands on deck.”
- Guys that will be limited in practice: DE Jordan Sherit, OL Antonio Riles and Kavaris Harkless.
- On QB Malik Zaire: “He’s obviously on a mission and he’s here to help us win a bunch of games. I think the one really good thing it brings, it brings great competition to the position. Somewhere along the line at SEC Media Days I must have said I know who the starting quarterback was … I don’t know if I said that, but I guess if I did you had the scoop.”
- “I think the one thing Coach Shannon has done since he’s (taken over as defensive coordinator) is simplify and let those guys go play.”
- Expectations for offense: “The offensive line is dramatically improved and I am so excited about that. I think the depth at the WR position now allows us some unique weapons. Now we’re going to have to stay healthy, but so is everyone else. I think our RB room is real. Time will tell. And I’m excited about the competition at the QB position.”
- On restoring offensive culture at Florida: “It’s one of the things we all know I was brought here to do. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s constantly evolving. … I was also brought here to win. Whatever hand you’re given, you figure out how to play that hand. Sometimes you’ve got to bluff, but you’ve got to get a win at the end of the day and I think our guys have done a decent job of that.”
- On Luke Del Rio’s status: “It will be interesting to see where he’s at off his injuries. I’ve said it, this guy was 5-1 and let’s call it, he should have been 5-0 as a quarterback a year ago had I not played him in the Arkansas game. … We’ll see where he is, but he’s definitely in the plans.”
- On Feleipe Franks’ attitude: “If you’re a true competitor … I think he’s a guy in his makeup that this is another challenge that’s going to help him elevate his play, and also another guy that’s been in the arena that can help him. … I believe that he’s a guy that’s ready to go do this.”
- On adjusting to a left-handed QB: “First thing we do is I go ahead and watch the film backwards so everything’s thrown right handed. … We’ve had left-handers, we’ve had right-handers. Coach Nussmeier is a left-hander, so teaching wise, progression wise …
- No thought of flipping offensive tackles to accommodate a lefty? “We have in the past. Martez Ivey at left, Jawaan Taylor at right, I feel pretty good about it. But that’s a great question.”
- On DT Taven Bryan: “It’s time. This guy has learned from a couple really good players that have moved on. He’s got to be a big key for us in there. I know he’s not a young guy, but he hasn’t taken a lot of snaps.”
- “I’m looking for Antonneous Clayton to be a change-up guy and be ready to go when we’re looking to get after the passer a little bit.”
- On the DL: “We need some guys to really step up interior wise. We’ll find out early in camp.”
- On Kadarius Toney: “You guys will be able to see at practice what we’re working on that day what kind of position he’s at. He’s going to be a little bit of everywhere, which is a good thing. Same thing with Dre Massey.”
- Jim McElwain has not put a timeline on the QB competition.
- On young DBs: “I know that these guys chose to come here not only for what the University of Florida can do for them, but for the opportunity that they have to play.”
- On RB Jordan Scarlett: “I think he’s done a much better job and he’s really worked on some of the things, especially be able to catch the ball more and be more of a three-down back.”
- On LT Martez Ivey: “He’s embraced full-on. I think he’s at his comfort level now back at tackle. However I think what he learned at the guard position with the communication piece alone has helped him be a better player. … When he talks the team listens.”
- On Alabama coach Nick Saban’s suggestion that Power 5 programs should only play Power 5 programs: “I think it’s what people want. And in doing that, possibly expanding into that playoff and using the bowl system as part of that, I think there’s probably some merit to that. And yet nobody at the NCAA has called me or asked my opinion, and it will probably stay that way.”
- On center TJ McCoy: “I think TJ McCoy was kind of a lightning rod for his from a transformation piece. The care, the want, being a legacy and playing in The Swamp for him, that’s real. You hear me talk about how to affect the guys around you in a positive way. He’s definitely one of those guys.”
- Will Chauncey Gardner be safety? “He’s still going to start at corner. That’s his natural position, but what he did obviously moving to nickel and safety was highlighted in the bowl game. As of right now we’ve got to see where that competition is. … We still want him early in camp to focus on the corner.”
- On Quincy Lenton and Jeawon Taylor at safety: “Quincy and Jeawon, two guys who got hurt last year but were in our plans. … And yet what we saw early when they were out there are guys we feel can play for us. It will be interesting to see that battle with those guys.”
- On the freshmen DBs: “I don’t throw those young guys’ names out because it’s not fair, and yet I’m excited to see those guys (compete).”
- On the recruiting momentum: “This whole thing’s about relationships. Not a lot people knew much about us. I think what comes to fruition is the honesty in which we talk to them … and our current players (reiterate) that it’s true. … The way we treat our players I think is something that’s a real positive. … It takes some time to develop that.”