McElwain Notebook: Consistency needed

We haven’t seen a lot of offensive players make a lot of big time plays for the Gators in the last several years. Florida head coach Jim McElwain is tired of the excuses and wants his group of ball carriers and receivers to make some noise. Something he believes they are capable of.

We have heard McElwain talk pretty extensively about receivers Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell and to a lesser extent Ahmad Fulwood. Those guys have readied themselves to take on this new season and new era of Gator football.

He needs more to step up and he’s not ready to name too many just yet.

“It has to be determined,” McElwain said. “Consistency and performance is really what it’s all about. Really, at the end of the day, these guys have the talent to do it. You talk about believing in yourself… confidence.

“Confidence is something that’s gained by believing through knowledge of knowing what to do. Actually, part of it is a responsibility to prepare to handle the details of the position, whatever it is. I don’t know that they’ve been asked to do that consistently. We have to keep honing in on that. We’ve got some guys there who can play, no doubt.”

There is a lot that the receivers have missed in the last several years at Florida. With seven different receiver coaches in the last seven years, it has been as unstable of a position as probably any among major college programs.

“Sometimes you have to lead them by the hand a little bit and say, ‘This is how’ and ‘This is why.’ I think one of the most important things you do in education is not only teaching the subject matter, but teaching why it’s important, OK?

“In this case, we’re going to rotate ... We’ll look to rotate six, seven, eight guys through there. I believe in keeping that fresh, just like we do the running back spot. But consistency is something we’re really looking forward to.”

Then McElwain paused to call out one of the two freshman receivers the Gators signed in the 2015 class.

“Antonio [Callaway] is doing a great job, I’ll say that,” he said. “He’s a guy who has come in and picked it up quickly. (He) still makes some rookie mistakes, like a lot of guys do, but like I’ve told him, he’s not a rookie anymore. He’s been through camp now. That’s just an example of a guy who came in with a mindset that, ‘You know what? I’m going to go out and be good.’ And yet, we need to continue that mindset with some of the other guys who are in that room.”

Excited about the tight end position

It has been a constant theme ever since the second week of spring. The tight end position seems to be deep and athletic. It is a group that you can tell they plan on using a great deal.

“(I’m) really happy with the depth available at tight end… I really am,” McElwain said. “I think we’re going to be able to do some things out of some multiple personnel groups. Consistency with Goolsby has been getting much better. Cyontai Lewis, he’s been a bright spot. Jake McGee, obviously, has been doing great. Moral (Stephens) has stepped up. I’m just excited (with) the development there. What that does is allow us to be formational, trying to create some edges and do some things with those guys. That’s a position I feel pretty good about.”

Turnovers credit to the defense

“We had two picks that were really good plays actually by the secondary,” McElwain said. “I’ll say that. They broke on the ball. I think we held it a little long, not quite crisp getting out of a route. We didn’t put it on the ground with fumbles, which was good. We need to not hurt ourselves, throw the ball to the other team, those type of things. I think that we’ve been getting there, but we’ve got a ways to go.”

Three TD passes, but not much to write home about

There were touchdowns thrown in the scrimmage, but the head coach says they were easy throws and decisions anyone could have made.

“I think we had three touchdowns passes,” McElwain said. “And, you know, you could have thrown it. You could have thrown it to the guy. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I’ll tell you that, not to our expectations I guess. Fans would have been excited for a little bit, but at the same time, consistency.”

Quarterbacks and running backs on same page

The passing game will require everyone to run precise routes and know when to change those routes with any particular defense the team faces. McElwain says the running backs and quarterbacks are doing a good job and starting to connect more often.

“They’ve been doing really good out of the backfield,” McElwain said. “They’ve done a really good job of the things we’re asking for them out of the backfield and in those check-down areas, being in the right spot. You know the key with the field spacing, and being in the right area to build your triangles, they’ve kind of understood why, they have to be in a certain spot based on the design of the route. And when they drop back and take the second or third level away, that’s where the ball’s got to go. The quarterbacks are getting comfortable with knowing where they are at and they’ve been doing a pretty good job of catching them.”

Suspension and injuries have them thin at safety

With the announcement that probable safety starter Marcus Maye is suspended for the opener and the injuries announced Friday of Keanu Neal and Kylan Johnson, a deep safety position has turned thin rather quickly. Neal isn’t expected to miss too much time, but it certainly has the staff figuring out ways to make things work back there in the secondary.

“Right now obviously the secondary is a strength for us,” McElwain said. “We have some really good players there for us. Obviously we’re thinning as you can say. You know, some of the guys are going to have to step up a little bit. Obviously, we’ll get in some nickel situations and some work maybe with some of those corners maybe having to play some safety at times based on the personnel group we have in there. We’ll see. You know, the guy who was coming on there was Kylan Johnson. KC was having a great camp and we’ll see kind of where that is with his leg, but as we go, some of these guys are going to have to take more reps moving forward. There’s no doubt about it, but at the same time, you know, that’s why they’re here and it’s going to happen.”

Almost ready for indoors

If you watch Jim McElwain when he talks about the Gators new Indoor practice Facility being built, you can tell he has anticipated using it since his arrival here at Florida. There is no doubt it is a nice looking structure, but the practicality of the use of the thing is what it is all about. McElwain at times gets lost in thought over the practice time he has lost with his new team due to lightning in the area and the times he could have used the facility to practice inside when the heat was pretty unbearable and limiting on his team. One thing he has done a lot of is praise the people working on the facility for their around the clock work on the project.

It should be any day now that they can move in and try the structure.

“We are hoping to,” McElwain said. “Right now we’re just looking for some clearance things. I just know they’ve done a great job over there. When it’s I don’t know it might be Tuesday I don’t know. It depends and obviously we will have you guys in there for that. We are real excited about it. I know those guys have just worked their tails off over there and just can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”

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