Gators with good practices so far this week

The Florida Gators are coming off an emotional and draining month of October where they didn’t play a single game at home. Saturday Homecoming is the perfect title as the Gators host Vanderbilt and so far Jim McElwain likes his team’s preparation leading up to the contest.

“Our organization is excited to get back home,” McElwain began on his SEC Teleconference talk with the media Wednesday. “It seems like a home opener. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a home game and are looking forward to that. 

“We’re playing a Vanderbilt team that when you watch on film, their numbers defensively speak for themselves. I think it is a credit to Derek (Mason) and his staff and what they’ve done. The kids are playing with a great deal of energy in every ball game.  This will be a challenge and we’re looking forward to it and we’re just looking forward to getting back and playing a game.”

Focus has been a word that McElwain has used a lot this season and his team has continued to stay focused all season long. So far this week, he likes what he is seeing.

“It will be interesting to see,” he said about how the team plays on Saturday. “I like how we practiced (Tuesday), I liked our demeanor on Monday. We’ll see today as they go into ‘Special Treat Wednesday’ how they handle third down and red area and some special plays… how their focus is. Not necessarily the energy, but ‘this is what we learned in the meeting, let’s go execute it’.  So far, credit these seniors, they have been pretty darn good at that.

With the release of the first College Football Playoff poll out on Tuesday, the Gators are sitting at 10th overall. Just six spots out of making it into the playoff, the expectations for this team have gone from zero to 100 pretty quickly.  McElwain as usual doesn’t fight the expectations.

“I don’t downplay it because it’s there and yet they should be excited about some of the noise they are making,” he said. “What is important is realizing what created the noise. In our case, it is kind of how we went about our business. That is kind of the message. We don’t hide it and we know what is at stake. When you come to the University of Florida, all these games in November should be big games. Let’s embrace it but not forget the reason it’s a big game.”

That understanding is preparation and the fact that every Saturday is a new test they need to prepare for. The win over Georgia over the weekend was huge, but the stakes now are even higher.

“One of the things that they have understood is that no matter what game we are playing it is the most important game because it’s the next game,” McElwain said. “I think they have done a pretty darn good job of understanding that. We’ve talked about and it answered the elephant in the room. It is human nature when that event is over to have a drop off, that’s just the way it is.

“The explanation is are you able to and it’s really your choice. It’s all our choice in how we approach this next ball game. Each game has as much meaning or more. As you continue to win, each game becomes a little bigger.”

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