Kan Li / Scout

Notes: Florida Gators preparing for early kickoff

Florida has played six night games with two 3:30 p.m. kickoffs so far this season.

The Gators will have their first noon kickoff on Saturday when they host Vanderbilt for homecoming. Florida coach Jim McElwain made arrangements during fall camp to ensure his team was ready for kickoffs at any time, but that happened over two months ago.

When Florida was in fall camp, they held scrimmages at noon, 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. to simulate any of the times they could kick off. When the Gators had their team breakfast, it was at 8 a.m. every day. Instead of giving the players a chance to sleep in at times, McElwain wanted them prepared for the earliest they could eat breakfast before heading to the stadium for a potential noon game.

“Our guys ask, ‘Why do we do this?’ Well, that’s the reason we did that was to prepare,” McElwain said. “Getting their bodies, their understanding (to) exactly where that is, we try to do those things to prepare them for whatever it’s going to be.”

It’s still a different situation for Florida, and it’s one they’ll have to get used to since next week’s game at South Carolina will also kick off at 12 p.m. The Gators are used to having the day to spend at the team hotel, going over film and watching other college football games.

The players will wake up early on Saturday and have to begin mental preparation to play.

“It is different,” McElwain said. “There’s no doubt about that, especially when you’re accustomed to those later ones. Some of the things we’re going to do is, we try to simulate as many things that can happen within a season (during fall camp).

“In this case, one of the questions on the test is can you answer at noon? I don’t know, but we’ll see. There’s certain things we’ll do along the way to make sure they understand what it is."

PASSING GAME SLOPPY AGAINST GEORGIA

After Treon Harris completed 53.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 271 yards at LSU, the numbers took a step back against Georgia. The sophomore quarterback completed 42.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 155 yards and one touchdown against the Bulldogs.

Harris wasn’t as accurate and simply missed open receivers despite spending the bye week working with the Florida offense as the starter. McElwain said Georgia’s two pass rushers -- Davin Bellamy and Leonard Floyd -- made a difference and kept the Florida passing game from getting started.

“I think they created some pressure in the pocket; some of it he may have created himself the way he moved in the pocket, [though] maybe pressed it a little bit,” McElwain said.

McElwain joked that Harris’ completion percentage needs to improve because it’s a number that Shaquille O’Neal would be happy with as a free throw percentage. However, McElwain was then told that Harris’ 52.4 career completion percentage is actually lower than O’Neal’s 52.7 career free throw percentage.

"So I really disrespected Shaq because he's better. I apologize for that,” McElwain said with a grin.

RUN GAME MOVING FORWARD

The Florida coaches and players insisted that they found something during the bye week that would drastically improve the run game. The results were easy to see, as the Gators ran 48 times for 272 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

McElwain said the Gators emphasized that the running backs match their footwork to the offensive line.

“We have not done a good job of that,” McElwain said. “We have been too fast to the hole at times, too slow to the hole at times. That’s all about matching up what they do up front, understanding if it’s offset, if it’s pistol or under center, the match of that has to be the same. Sometimes it happens. We haven’t been consistent with it.”


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