The depth chart was released about 10 minutes before Jim McElwain’s Monday press conference, and the highlight wasn’t the quarterback battle or the three players returning from suspension. It was Demarcus Robinson sitting third team wide receiver. Antonio Callaway, Ahmad Fulwood and Brandon Powell were the three listed starters. C.J. Worton was listed as the backup to Fulwood with Robinson third behind him.
“At the end of the day, it's about doing what's right and really what you put on film,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said.
Robinson made a team-high six catches for 34 yards in the season-opening win over New Mexico State. He was the only player on the Florida roster with more than three catches. Robinson worked with the first team offense throughout fall camp, but it only took one game of the season for that to change.
Robinson ended the 2014 season with 53 catches for 810 yards and seven touchdowns. It was the best season by a Florida receiver since Riley Cooper in 2009. However, he’s now forced to work his way back up the depth chart.
“We had some guys step up and play pretty good at that position and were in the right spots and did what’s right,” McElwain said. “(Robinson will) still play. Each and every one of us are responsible for our actions. Whatever those actions are -- be proud of what you put on film and give up yourself for the benefit of others, that’s what it’s all about.”
LEWIS A PLAYMAKER: McElwain has talked about the tight end position being a strength of the offense, but none of the players had caught a pass in their Florida careers before Saturday. They made up for that by combining for seven catches, 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The two touchdowns came from C’yontai Lewis, a redshirt freshman that looks like he’ll be an important part of the passing game. He has the size and speed to get open, but his strength as a blocker means the Gators don’t have to take him off the field on run plays.
“He’s one of those versatile guys,” McElwain said. “He still needs to get bigger and stronger, but he might be our best point of attack blocker as well. Our ability to use multiple tight ends at that position and then create what you hope are matchup problems, that’s what we’re trying to get to offensively and we’ll get there as time goes on.”
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENTS: The box score makes the special teams play look good from Saturday, but McElwain wants improvement. He wants more effort on kickoff coverage unit. Kicker Austin Hardin has improved his leg strength and knocked every kickoff through the end zone on Saturday. That won’t happen every time this season and McElwain wants his coverage units sprinting down the field and assuming it won’t go through the end zone.
The kickoff return unit wasn’t where it needed to be. Brandon Powell took both kickoffs Florida received in the game and averaged 23 yards per return.
“Disappointed in the kickoff return, because that thing, we expect that to be an offensive play and we had a couple guys miscommunicate a twist,” McElwain said. “We've got to get that cleaned up because we've got to make that unit something that is to our advantage.”
Johnny Townsend punted one time for 40 yards.
“Only having to punt once, I'm good with that," McElwain said through a grin.
PACKAGE FOR HARGREAVES: Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves II caught one pass for six yards on Saturday, but McElwain insists that they have multiple packages for the All-American cornerback to get involved with the Florida offense as it continues to search for playmakers.
“We have packages we build for him week to week,” McElwain said. “Whether we use it or don’t use it, you always work things ahead. There’s some things we do with him that I’m not sure is game-ready, but we haven’t practice this week, either. It’s all about those things being game-ready to use them. Hopefully they’re successful.
“Now, his ball security? That’s something he needs to work on. The ball came loose on the sideline. Unacceptable. That’s something he needs to work on.”