The Gators travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday to play #6 LSU and as good as the #8 Gators’ season has gone so far, they have hit a wall of sorts this week. McElwain knows his group has a lot in front of them.
“It should be a great challenge,” he said of the big game =during his few moments on the SEC’s Coaches’ Teleconference. “We’ll see how our guys respond with all of this stuff going on around here. It should be a great learning experience for all of guys.”
The latest stuff was the dismissal of redshirt freshman cornerback Deiondre Porter. Officially the team has labeled it an indefinite suspension, but after four felony charges and one misdemeanor charge were filed against Porter, McElwain made it sound much more definitive.
“He’s no longer with the football team,” McElwain said. “He’s suspended indefinitely. Obviously it is his choice not to be with us. You will read about it soon enough. It is obviously something we don’t condone and it is his choice.”
This Wednesday morning ordeal comes on the heels of a Monday morning that shook Gator Nation. Starting redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier was suspended for a year Monday for testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs. Pending an appeal, he will be forced to miss the rest of this season and six games of next season.
With that in mind, Treon Harris will get the nod again. The incumbent starter from a year ago actually started two games earlier in the season while in competition with Grier before being suspended for a game himself. He’s played sparingly since, but will have to be ‘the guy’ now.
“He’s been a starter for us and I really have liked the two guys we’ve had and obviously Treon is one of them,” McElwain said and has always mentioned Harris in connection with the quarterback leaders on the team. “Based on Monday’s work, Tuesday’s short yardage, goal line, 2nd and long, and blitz period…. I was most impressed with our competition good on good periods and the way the team responded to him.”
McElwain understands the two quarterbacks are different and with that in mind, we will likely see one of his specialties as a coach this week. Putting players in a position to win by using their best abilities instead of making them do something they aren’t comfortable with.
“It allows us to do maybe some different things from a package standpoint,” McElwain said of the quarterback change. “At the same time that is what is kind of fun about coaching… putting the pieces together with the guys that are in there.”
One big positive for the week is the return of redshirt freshman tight end Cyontai Lewis. Lewis caught fire in the first couple of games before injuring his hand. He has dealt with the injury for weeks now, but the healing process is close to done and they are able to deal with it now.
“Here’s what I am excited about,” McElwain said. “I think we will be able to get into some of our explosive things in our (multiple tight end) package. I would say that he has moved from doubtful to probable. We are excited about getting into some of those personnel packages again and it should be something good for us.”