McElwain Notebook: Saban influenced a lot

Look for the Florida program under Jim McElwain to be built a lot like the national power program at Alabama under Nick Saban. McElwain said Tuesday night that the Crimson Tide head coach has had a big influence on the way he feels a program should be built.

Much like Alabama, McElwain spent the first few months on the job adding a support staff the likes have never been seen of at Florida. He has new personnel in roles quality control assistants, recruiting assistants, and other off-the-field roles in order to get every nuance out of an organization he can get to compete with the likes of Alabama and other power programs in the conference.

With all of the assistants he has added, McElwain said mid-spring that he would likely add more help when he figured out some area that they might need it after going through spring ball.

Nothing has happened yet since spring concluded a little more than a week ago.

“Not yet,” he said before the Polk County Gator Club meeting on Tuesday. “We are still looking in a couple of the areas and haven’t finished that up. One is we have a (Graduate Assistant) spot that we are looking to fill on offense due to guys that are done with their clock. There are a couple of off-the-field roles that we are looking at yet.

“Part of it is kind of being patient to see exactly the certain pieces we may need. I’m not sure we have figured out all of that yet.”

McElwain spent four years at Alabama under the influence of head coach Nick Saban. He has two National Championship rings to show for it and a ton of knowledge and ideas to work with as he tries to build his program at Florida.

“He really confirmed a lot of things, I guess… “The why”,” McElwain said. As far as the need and ability to stay current. The ability to bring guys that bring different things to the table, you know not all the same. We are really fortunate to see all that kind of work there and how it works.

“…so yes, he has influenced it a lot.”

He isn’t so sure that 10 years ago he would have that same mindset as a younger and less wise pupil of the game.

Now one of the things he believes the program can utilize from this larger group of extra support personnel is just a broad base of knowledge and new things that they can bring to the table.

“You know, I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he believes he would think this same way about things as a mid-30’s old coach. “I say that and I don’t know. I see how it can enhance the whole program and that’s really good. No matter what the numbers are, the key is the detail in which they bring and the way they influence the program. We all know as we move through life some of the little things are the best things.”

Team gets rest to prepare for finals before starting summer offseason conditioning…

As the spring semester at Florida comes to a close, the coaching staff wants the guys to buckle down in their classes and finish strong with their finals before they have a week off for summer.

“This (right now) is truly discretionary time,” McElwain said in terms of the players working out. “Our main focus right now is our guys buckling down academically.”

The program under McElwain utilizes a total staff approach to keeping the kids in line and doing the things they are supposed to be doing.

“For the most part we get, right now it’s a daily update, but a weekly update through the course of the year from our academic staff and that is for the whole staff,” he said. “When you see somebody in the hallway you can say ‘hey, you did a great job on that paper’. Well part of it is them knowing we care and are aware.

“It’s been really effective.”

“We’re in good shape right now going into finals, but we have to finish. It’s one of the details we talk about in everything we do. Whether it’s the Swamp Life program, it doesn’t matter what it is. It all carries over to the detail of finish and right now this is no different. We’ve got to finish and in this case it’s academically.”

McElwain reiterated that more than just the assistants taking care of their specific unit of players, they are all supposed to understand what is going on with every player, especially academically.

“They are heavily involved in each of the position group’s lives, but part of the main reason we do it as a staff is you don’t know what the impact an O-line coach can have on a DB,” he said. “Just aware of the things they are doing every day. It’s more of everyone in the building is aware what they are doing because you never know when you are going to see them.

“That degree is going to do more for you in the longevity of your life than anything else. The importance of maintaining that balance (between football and academics) is something we don’t just talk about, we actually get involved in.

May 11th the offseason program will begin in earnest. Like most coaches believe he says that this is the time when teams are made.

“I am looking to see how the guys attack it,” McElwain said of the offseason strength program. “Not necessarily at the beginning, but during the dog days when the monotony kind of (sets in).

“Within that, the development of the leadership and who will step up and really kind of rally the troops.

“I’ve often said and I believe this. ‘Your team is made over the summer’. It’s just them, there are no lights, and it’s the actual work that is needed to be put in to be successful.

“I believe you learn a lot about your football team when you get back in August based on what they actually did in the summer.”

Rules changes have come about to help the staff stay on top of the players a little bit during offseason workouts.

“It is a little different now because you are given that little window now for two hours a week. You can be with the guys for two hours during the week. So the monitoring of that part of it is maybe a little better than it was in the past, because you really had no contact with them.

But, he says the support staff in the strength program is a huge part of a successful program as well.

“Part of it is your strength and conditioning staff and the bond they make with your guys as well as having those guys want to be there. We are real fortunate to have a strong group of five guys in there that are dedicated to the development of the kids and the kids have really taken to them as far as what they bring to the table as well.”

Adam Lane has a lot of catching up to do

With some family issues that kept him away for a bit and an injury that also sidelined him for much of spring drills, sophomore running back Adam Lane is a bit farther behind than the staff would like.

“He’s a guy that showed flashes (this spring) and showed flashes in the bowl game as well, which was good to see,” McElwain said. “The details in which he needs to lead his life and he was injured… (I’m looking for) the consistency factor. He also put the ball on the ground in that game as well.

“Those are all things that when you talk about handling details in your life on a daily basis to help you be successful on the field. That is what we are hoping. We didn’t really see enough of him based on the injuries that he had in the spring. He started out pretty well, but he missed probably seven or eight practices.

“I think seeing what he can do on a consistent basis is kind of a wait and see, but we definitely see the flashes of what he can do.”

Lakeland has been good to the Gators

With the Pouncey twins, Ahmad Black, Chris Rainey, Wayne Peace, and so many more down the line, Lakeland has been a big area for the Gators in terms of star power in the past. McElwain knows all about it.

“This is kind of a special area because I believe there are more Bull Gators per capita than anywhere else in the state. Plus, think about the history of the great players that have come out of Polk County that have made a difference for the Gators. That speaks volumes for this area.

“On a personal note, this is an area I spent a lot of time recruiting when I was at Louisville and even at Alabama. I made some great friendships down here and hope to see a lot of those guys in the audience. It has obviously been very good to the Gators.”

Sophomore Jay-nard Bostwick is still working through personal issues

One player that made little of spring practice is sophomore defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick who has been out for reasons undisclosed, but still has a chance to return to the team.

“He’s dealing with personal issues and hopefully he can find his way a little bit,” McElwain said of Bostwick. “We are there to support him in any way we can and time will tell.”

Scooters strike again

Sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor posted a picture on Instagram of his bloody hand early Tuesday. Evidently the culprit is one that Gator fans are all too familiar with.

“He got in a scooter (accident),” McElwain said. “That was on the training report in the staff meeting. I guess he fell down on his scooter.

McElwain is starting to learn what a nuisance the two wheel motorized vehicles can be to the injury status of his program.

“Since I’ve been here, the amount of scooter incidents… I don’t know whether that is a real solid thing to be out on.

“You worry about a lot of thing and you don’t think that scooters would be on top of it, but based on historical data that is one we really have to worry about.”

Fightin Gators Top Stories