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Florida coach Jim McElwain, pictured Wednesday during Gators media day.

What Jim McElwain said after Florida’s first day of practice

Ryan Young

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida opened fall camp Thursday with a pair of split-squad practice sessions inside the indoor practice facility as rain poured down outside.

The first session featured the team’s rookies and young players while the veterans, including the competitors for the quarterback job, participated in the second session.

Gators coach Jim McElwain is met with reporters afterward. Here were the highlights from his post-practice comments.

RELATED: Practice report from Day 1 | Photo gallery as Gators open fall camp


Florida coach Jim McElwain recaps the first day of fall practice.

Posted by Florida Gators Insiders on Thursday, August 3, 2017

  • “As always, the first day, it’s just fun to be back out there, it’s fun to be with the guys and more than that it’s fun to observe how they handled phase 5.”
  • On the first session with the young guys: “We did pretty darn good in recruiting, guys. I really feel, without naming guys, that it was really a good looking crew. I liked the way that they hustled, I liked the way that they didn’t get affected by the chaos that’s created in our practice plan. If I was going to single out a group, those defensive backs looked like they belonged. Now we’ve got a lot of camp left, but as far as walking off the bus, those guys are going to be OK. That’s a good thing, now we’ve got to teach them what to do and get them comfortable in everything that we throw at them.
  • On the second session with the veterans: “I thought the vets came back with a purpose. Really good excitement and you know what? Some of the things that we threw at them that were not necessarily told to the coaches or by the coaches to them, I thought they handled that really well as we got into some of our compete stuff and some of our situational stuff right off the bat. I thought that was really good. Heavy emphasis today down in the red area or short-field kind of stuff.”
  • OL TJ Moore’s back “locked up on him a little bit. Other than we came out of it good.”
  • “Liked the way all the quarterbacks threw. It was a little shaky to begin with. You could tell some of the nerves, and yet as the practice wore on I thought we were very accurate in where we were going with the football. There were some big plays made on the outside, and that’s a good thing, so we’ve just got to continue that moving forward.”
  • On the energy of the veterans: “I think probably a little bit has to do with the fact that the expectations of them is obviously pretty low from the standpoint of the outside world. That’s OK. I think that they feel they have something to maybe prove.”
  • On significance of Feleipe Franks taking fastball reps at first-team QB: “That he got reps on the first little bit. He deserves it. He’s a guy that came out of spring (atop the depth chart). Luke took some 1s today based on the drill, Malik took some as well in the red area. Those will flip as the situations change.”
  • On Malik Zaire: “You know what, he does really have some good feet. He’s got some real good pocket awareness. When it did break down, or I shouldn’t say as much break down as when the defense was not in their pass rush lanes, he actually made them pay a little bit.”
  • On Chauncey Gardner Jr. working at safety today:  “It was a split squad thing where you’ve got to have all the numbers in there. Like I said, to probably build on the disclaimer, I wouldn’t read a whole bunch into it. But here’s a good thing is I do feel like we’re going to have some flexibility back there.”
  • On Brad Stewart working with safeties: “Well, you know right now we’ve got to develop that nickel position. We’ve worked Marco (Wilson) in at that. Right now Brad kind of handled in at the safeties with that young group, more based on numbers than anything. The thing we don’t want to do is overload, we gotta figure out what they do best and then get them in that spot.”
  • On physical size of freshman class: “That was one of the things I talked about, just trying to get longer, thicker, bigger. I think when you look at your schedule, some of those teams that you have to beat, a wiseman once told me that there’s a reason that lightweights don’t fight heavyweights.”
  • On tight end DeAndre Goolsby: “We had to upsize his jersey. I think he sees this is his opportunity to jump in and go. He and C’yontai are really a good duo. I’ll be excited to see if he stays consistent. Just the interaction and the things you see around the facility, I’ve been really proud of his personal growth.”
  • On getting the tight ends more involved: “I don’t think there’s any doubt … that’s one of those spots in an ideal world to be able to be flexible with your shifts, motions and formations, you can do a lot of that with those guys. We put a lot on them and we’ve got to get a lot out of them.”