Offensively the Florida Gators have a long way to go under a new system and a totally new expectation on level of play. But, again the effort has been there and they are making strides.
“(I like) how they’ve accepted the attention to detail got better as things went on and their understanding of what they need to do,” Jim McElwain said of the offense at the last interview session before the spring debut.
One of his biggest concerns has been the offensive line because of numbers. Only six scholarship linemen remain healthy as spring comes to an end. It has taken a toll on number of reps for both the offense and defense, but again he says they have stepped up to the plate to play their best.
“I will complement the offensive line and as many reps as they took,” he said. “Those guys started to work pretty good together.
“We are out on the waiver wire, s if you know of anybody,” McElwain joked. “We have a crew of six guys coming in. I explained to them that isn’t like they are going to stand in line at Disney World. (They) are in the fast pass line. It will be a huge summer for them, and really a big summer for the guys here teaching them.
“They need to do a great job of showing leadership and getting those guys up to speed. Sheer numbers say those guys are going to be playing.”Playing true freshmen in the trenches can be tough. This time around there is no choice on the offensive line.
“Normally it isn’t a position that you expect (them to play early),” he said. “It’s more a developmental position by nature. However, it has been done and it will come down to us making sure we do a good job of teaching the concepts and the person next to them communicating. That is the hand we are dealt with and we will get them going.”
Florida has had some recent success with senior transfers and McElwain says they are always looking to find someone that can help. A senior physically developed offensive lineman or two would certainly help.
“The only way that can really happen is if a guy graduates and we are able to get him in school,” he said. “Usually in the offensive line we don’t see in that realm.
“Go ahead and spread the word. We have spots, so obviously I wouldn’t say no. We recruited a couple of junior college guys when we got here, we just couldn’t find a program to fit them.”
McElwain does want to see more from his passing game, but says he sees little bits that he believes have him believing.
“It is just okay to be honest, yet conceptually you see some flicker,” he said of the passing offense that is undergoing a total makeover with a new staff. “The detail of which the routes need to be run is a lot better. As much as it is on the quarterback for throwing to the correct colored jersey, it has a lot to do with the tight ends and running backs knowing where they have to be to create the correct field spacing, the route depths down the field. As practice wore on I felt like we got a lot better and yet we have a long way to go.”
Turning the ball over hasn’t been a huge issues, but has shown itself on a few days, something he knows they have to avoid.
“The first scrimmage was great, the second live scrimmage, we changed that week as far as what colored jersey we wore,” he said joking about why they threw the ball at the defenders. “I think today we had three of them which is not acceptable. I will say that as far as taking care of football, it was pretty good (this spring).
The receiver unit has been a weak point for the last several years on the offensive side of the ball. The unit is expected to be a strong point of the team and one that has made big strides as well.
“I think the adapting to the change offensively, they have done a pretty good job,” he said. “I think the understanding of how to play the game and the pace at which we expect it to be played as well as the understanding of the formations and the different things that you have to do to be a great player.”
“It will be a huge summer for that group as far as maintaining and keeping and continuing to learn before we get into the fall.”
Junior Demarcus Robinson showed last year that he can be a formidable force on offense. McElwain knows it and says they really have to find ways to keep him involved.
“D-Rob is a guy that has a little ‘something-something’ to him,” he said. “That is a good thing for us. For him, his consistency has to show and he is a guy we have to take advantage of and get the ball to in certain situations. He is an explosive play capability guy and has become more consistent as he’s gone. That has been good to see.”