The frustration in Jim McElwain’s voice was easy to here when he talked about his offense during Monday morning’s press conference. Fresh off an overtime win over Florida Atlantic that saw the Gators struggling to get points, the offense was the clear problem.
Florida sputtered for 252 yards. McElwain said the Gators had open receivers running down the field, but quarterback Treon Harris didn’t have enough time to find them, and when he did, the sophomore didn’t throw to the right player.
“We’ve got to complete passes when guys are open and create some explosive plays and consistency,” McElwain said.
The offense has been playing banged up in recent weeks. Left tackle David Sharpe has been playing with a foot injury while left guard Martez Ivey (shoulder) is highly questionable for Saturday. Center Cam Dillard (leg) is the third starter battling an injury, and McElwain said on Monday that guard Trip Thurman has been playing hurt with a shoulder injury that almost ended his career before the start of the season.
The unit is banged up, but even when they were all on the field together on Saturday, McElwain didn’t like the energy of the group. He saw heads hanging and frustrated players.
“We need a little bit more energy out of that group,” McElwain said.
As the offensive line struggled to block or open up holes in the running game, the pressure on Harris forced him into bad throws. McElwain knows the quarterback production is a continued issue, and the players up front hurt it.
Those issues were all important, but the lack of energy on the offensive line was McElwain’s biggest point when he spoke to the media after Saturday’s game and on Monday morning. The veteran Florida players know it’s something that has to be fixed and will be.
“I think there’s some young guys up there and guys that are new to the grind of the season,” McElwain said. “This game, it should be there. If it’s not there, in a game like this, really there’s more to worry about than just the effort level with the guys.
“I really don’t think effort and energy will be an issue really going at all for them. As a leader on the team it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen either.”