It’s one of those game day things that largely goes unnoticed, but is very important in the big scheme of things when it comes to game time performance. What coaches are going to be up in the coaches’ booth during a game, and who are the guys that are going to be on the field.
In general, most staffs try to have a coach that coaches players near the line of scrimmage and one that coaches players that play away from the line up in the coaches’ booth. You need eyeballs on two main things on either side.
A defensive staff needs a person or two up top to watch the different pass routes being thrown along with any receivers or players lined up outside the offensive line. They also need someone upstairs to watch the line of scrimmage and how the offensive line is blocking, what kind of different schemes are they using etc.
On offense, usually the receiver coach is upstairs and watching the different coverages of the opposing secondary. Then you have an offensive line coach or maybe tight end coach watching the different fronts that are working or not working against your offense.
All of this is charted during a game and within a few series your entire game plan may change depending on the success or lack of success you are having on either side.
Jim McElwain and the staff were able to work through a lot of the communication things that moving up in the box entails. He liked most of what came out of the scrimmage on Friday when they tried it for the first time.
“For our second scrimmage, it was the first time the coaches (kind of) worked out of the box as far as guys in the press box, guys on the field, trying to get some combinations working that way and organizationally I thought it went really well,” McElwain said. “We had a couple delays in the special teams that we need to make sure we get mapped out a little bit, understanding what it is to get on the mat and get on the field, so we need to be able to handle those. Again, unforced errors, that’s something we need to work on.
“Defensively, Geoff (Collins) will be down, Randy (Shannon) will be down, (Chris) Rumph's down. (Kirk Callahan) is up, along with the GAs. And then offensively, Doug Nussmeier was down. He wanted to see kind of how that went. (Greg) Nord was up, (Tim Skipper) is down. Obviously (Mike Summers) is down, and who's that leave? Kerry (Dixon), he's up. But we've got that GA tandem down. So, you know, they'll work ... we'll talk about how the communication went today and see if that's how they want to do it. Really, it's a comfort (thing) for both coordinators."
In other words it could change, but for those keeping count, On offense, tight end coach Greg Nord and Kerry Dixon will be in the booth. On defense, the only real assistant upstairs will be defensive back coach Kirk Callahan, but both sides of the ball will have a a group of GA’s and the like that will help them with spotting stuff on the field.
For McElwain, he knows he needs to be on the sideline, but as an assistant he preferred to be on the field.
"I get too kind of maybe emotionally involved probably during the game a little bit,” he said. “So the sterile environment of the booth, being able to focus on the next play and not worrying about what's going on probably fit my personality a little bit better. I felt I could see a lot more up there, try to stay ahead of the game a little bit. But it's whatever."
Won’t dodge high expectations
McElwain has understood the expectations that fans and everyone has of the University of Florida. When he talks about the season, he talks about playing 15 games, only achievable if Florida plays and wins an SEC title and plays for a national championship. When he made his public appearance in front of fans for the first time he talked about winning championships.
Most believe it can’t be done this season. Don’t tell that to McElwain right now.
“Why not?,” he replied to the notion of it happening this year and having to see the trophy case toting three national titles for the Gators. “I also have to drive by three Heisman trophies statues every day and that is pretty cool too. In my whole life I never guessed in a million years I would be at a place like this. I think it is an honor to try and pursue that. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. I had someone tell me, ‘I think that’s good enough’. That’s the expectation you get in this business… that can’t be the attitude. You have to constantly go because someone is getting better. You have to go man.”