Jim McElwain is watching how the Gators handle success

There’s no guaranteed way to know how a team will handle a big win.

The Gators are coming off their biggest win since at least 2012, beating then-ranked No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10 at home. Florida is up to 5-0 and jumped to No. 11 in the Associated Press Poll, tying the third-largest jump in the poll’s history.

But responding from an emotional win can be a challenge.

The Florida players put the program back on the national map and into the national conversation, even being mentioned as a potential Southeastern Conference champion and playoff team. Getting over that win and turning the focus to the next opponent can sometimes be a challenge.

Through the first three days of practice, McElwain likes where his team’s mentality is. Tuesday’s energy level was “not particularly great” but the focus made up for it. On Wednesday, the Gators worked first-team offense against first-team defense to get the energy and competition building early in practice. That sparked what McElwain called “really good tempo” for Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s too early (to know how the team will handle success),” McElwain said. “When you go through this, you really never know.”

The one area McElwain puts an emphasis on is timeliness and players being ready when they show up. That’s what sparked his tirade after Florida’s narrow win over East Carolina. He saw players all week showing up late to meetings without being taped and ready to practice, and it bled into a sloppy game.

None of those signs were evident this week.

“There was a pretty good sense of urgency. That sounds silly, (but) what it tells me is they're looking forward to the opportunity. I don't think they're taking it lightly or living on their past, either. From a historical standpoint, there's been a lot of guys here that have obviously played (Missouri) for two years and whether they remember the net result of those two games. How much effect does that have? I'm not sure you can really tell, because when it's all over, it's a choice.

“It's an individual choice as to how you prepare and go play. That's what's fun about every opportunity, because you really don't know. Sometimes you get through this week, had great week of practice and you go to the game and fall flat on your face. You kind of scratch your head. And other times where you felt miserable (in practice), you couldn't get a play off and then you go and play pretty good. But I do know this -- when there's a sense of urgency and a sense of focus from the meeting room to the practice field, at least you know comfortably that your guys are going to go compete. And that's what we're going to try to do."


Florida linebacker Jeremi Powell (foot) is questionable for Saturday’s game at Missouri. McElwain said he ran at practice “a little bit” this week, but he wasn’t visible during the portions of practice open to the media on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Safety Marcell Harris was moved up to probable and “should be ready to go” after an undisclosed injury. Cornerback Chris Williamson injured his leg at practice on Wednesday, but his status isn’t known.

Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder) is “doing better” but McElwain doesn’t know when he could return.

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