GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s 24-7 win over Massachusetts on Saturday night was not exactly what the Gators or their fans had in mind for the season opener.
Florida had a narrow 10-7 lead through three quarters before breaking out in the fourth.
After the game, head coach Jim McElwain shared his perspective on what he liked and what he didn’t. Here were the highlights:
- “As you watched the game, we’ve got a long way to go.”
- “I’m not happy at all with the penalties, especially the three personal fouls. In one case their touchdown scoring drive was 35 yards of unforced errors by us. That’s not how you’re going to play winning football.”
- “I think Luke did some pretty darn good things, took care of the football. If there are some positives out of it, I thought the turnover piece was really good in terms of taking care of the football and that’s how you become successful as a team.”
- “Dre Massey went down early. We’re going to have to take a good look at that. I’m not sure where that’s going to be. Duke Dawson went down with an arm injury. We’ll get that looked out. We held him out. But it enabled us to get Chauncey and Putu and Chris in there at corner a little bit. I thought that was good. That’s going to help us down the road.”
- On Luke Del Rio attempting 44 passes: “That’s kind of who we want to be a little bit. I don’t know is that a lot or not enough? … To me that wasn’t very many. … My guesses we were probably pretty balanced.”
- “I thought our defense was just OK, I’ll be honest. I thought they did some things on some third downs. I thought they played just OK. We can play definitely better and they will.”
- On how he’ll address the three 15-yard penalties: “I can’t wait.”
- “I thought Luke did a pretty good job. He took care of the ball, he put it where it’s supposed to be. I don’t know how many drops there were, but there were a couple in the first half that would have helped. … He scrambled a little bit. We’ve got to get out of the pocket a little more and get out and see. … He got flushed a couple of times, but he got rid of the ball when he needed to. I thought he played OK. He’ll play better, but you could see the sense of calm out there. There wasn’t a lot of panic. That’s crediting a good quarterback. His team believes in him.”
- On the OL: “You know, I think they played better in our uptempo stuff. I’ll tell you what bothers me is the way they just mope around and walk around out there instead of just hustle to the line of scrimmage and get ready to go. I thought they did better in the second half, but that energy, that’s all part of it. Their energy has to be a lot better.”
- On Luke’s pocket awareness: “I’ll tell you what he does, he does a good job of studying the plan. .. I thought he lost his eyes on a couple, gave up on them pretty quick, but that’s all part of playing.”
- On playing Kentucky last week: “They’ll come in pretty confident that they can whoop our tails.”
- On adjusting to not having Massey in second half: “There were some things we were going to do with him that obviously we held out. But we’ll go back and we’ll get some more.”
- On LB Alex Anzalone: “Boy, did he play good. those two linebackers, Alex and Jarrad, it would be hard for me to think there’s a better two in the country than those guys. And the way they feed off each other and communicate. Yeah, I didn’t think Alex missed a step at all, made some big plays.”
- On DL play: “I didn’t think it was good enough. I thought it was very average. We have to play at better pad level. We let them block us and that’s not a good sign.”
- On kicker Eddy Pineiro: “That guy can really kick and I’m glad he’s here. He’s a lot of fun to have on the team and be around, and it was interesting, he told me going into the game, he said, ‘Coach, kicking doesn’t matter who’s all there. It’s all about timing and rhythm. The environment doesn’t matter.” To me that tells me he has the right mindset.”
- “Any time you get a win, win’s are hard. It’s not easy. I’m excited about that peace. I’m excited about playing Kentucky, putting in the game plan and kind of seeing what we’re made of a little bit. … We certainly opened the door for them with this performance today, but we’ll see.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.