The excitement of a new season is no longer present when the team takes the field for practice. Sometimes the attention to detail the Florida staff preaches can waiver. It’s in between the feeling that comes from being able to practice again is two weeks in the rear-view mirror. The excitement of the season’s first game is two weeks away.
This is the point in camp when a team decides what it wants to do.
“I really believe it is (the biggest week in fall camp),” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “I think the novelty of the new season, the fresh new uniforms you’ve got have now been washed a whole bunch. Sometimes the guys’ focus on detail starts to slip as their bodies are really sore and they get tired and the monotony of the every day kind of takes in. We’re really looking to where our leadership moves us forward to where we make a big huge push week rather than just a settle for average week.”
Installation continues on both sides of the ball. McElwain said his offense has now installed four different tempos -- with names ranging from NASCAR to Funny Car -- depending on the situation. This the time in camp when players begin to stand out and final decisions start to be made. The smaller positions like who will play the nickel and the dime begin to be finalized so the staff can look at the rest of the defense. McElwain estimated seven or eight games on the schedule where Florida will be playing mostly in the nickel or dime.
Starting jobs haven’t been finalized, although McElwain joked that “VH3.” This is also the time when McElwain gets a good idea of which freshmen will be ready to play and which will need a redshirt.
“This point in camp is really when a lot of teams decide they're either really going to get better or they're going to try to just endure to get through the grind of what is two-a-days,” McElwain said. “Our need is from here to really keep driving forward and keep putting multiple back-to-back good practices together. We're starting to kind of move some of those parts.”
The good news for the Florida staff is that the third week got off to a great start on Sunday. The Gators had two practice sessions, and McElwain called them “as good a back-to-back practices as I’ve ever seen.” Quarterbacks Will Grier and Treon Harris were both sharp during the day. Harris excelled in the red zone and handled a new tempo that was recently installed. Grier dominated the two-minute portion of practice.
“That probably had something to do with it,” McElwain said about the quarterback’s strong day and a great team practice. “I don't know that the defense would have said it was a great day. At the same time, I thought that there was some real spark there.