Jim McElwain Looking for Better from Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla.--Florida head coach Jim McElwain was straight forward on Friday, he wants more from his team, who did not perform on Wednesday's practice. McElwain talks about the positions that need improvement and what some position battles look like.


“Didn’t feel like we had a great practice on Wednesday, we had a lot of guys that worked their tails off, but I just think the overall attitude to come and attack each day the way we need to, wasn’t there. There is a responsibility as players to understand they are playing at the University of Florida and with that comes a responsibility and part of that responsibility is to come and work your tail off. I’m not sure we did.

“We need to get a little bit better. We will practice (Friday) and (Saturday) and hopefully see a little more energy as we attack each drill. We need to get better every day.”


From an injury standpoint we should be getting some guys back. The only guys missing should be Alvin Bailey with a little bit of a back issue. Jordan Sherit and Kylan Johnson will probably be there but won’t be going today.”


We are getting heavy into situations, so I will be excited to see how we respond in the red area today. We worked pretty (well) in third downs last week and later today we’ll combine both of those periods with tomorrow’s practice.


What were early impressions of Luke Del Rio from high school?

“Jack brought him to camp over to Alabama when he was an 8th grader. You could tell some of the things that he grew up with that he had as a quarterback, in fact we moved him up with the big group. He knew how to take drops, understood timing, and understood how to get the ball out of his hands quickly. You could tell at that point he would be a good quarterback.

“When we were out in Colorado, he was there at Mallard Christian and did a heck of a job and it was fun to watch. We did everything we could do to recruit him there. I think we were the first school to offer him.”

“There is something special about him, but he needs to continue to get better himself. The other day he threw the ball away over the middle and you can’t be doing that kind of thing. There are some things he needs to do to continue to work on to play the position. I just like the way he goes about his business.”


Anything new from the lines of scrimmage?

“I didn’t think we played with great pad level on both sides that first day. It’s something we have to get much better at. That starts with taking the second step in the ground and moving forward and not taking steps back. We’ll continue to work on that.

“The good thing is we have some good point of attack guys on defense. Hopefully it will help going against good players all the time.”


How are the receivers progressing?

“I thought they did a much better job the other day understanding a few of the concepts. We have some young guys in there. My biggest thing is understanding formations and concepts, earning where to be and learning how to get there. I think the learning has been very good. I like what we’re getting out of that room from the standpoint of importance that what you do in the classroom part carries over to the field. I like their attitude that way. I see them communicating which has to be something they have to do on every down. So there are a lot of positives there.”


What about Fred Johnson?

Fred is one of those guys that is getting better every day. He’s relatively new to football, didn’t play all the way through growing up. So, there is a lot of discovery going on with him, yet I love his competitive nature. That is something he brings to that position. He wants to be good and has a real toughness to him. I am excited to see how far he can go.


Do you like the numbers on offensive line?

“Tez is not in there with the injury. We need to get Buchanan and Sandifer… they need to step up where they’re at. T.J. McCoy has really been doing a good job at center. We are really happy with what he’s been doing. We need to get some guys to step up more than anything.

“We have to create some competition within the positions.  There are positions to compete for. The good part is we have really good numbers there and the guys are getting quality reps.”


Do you like running back by committee or one main guy?

“I’ve kind of always been a guy that believes you need to have multiple guys in the backfield. Running back only has so many hits in them. It’s important that you have depth and not one guy carrying the ball 45 times. I believe you need to have guys that complement each other and take some hits off of each other as well. I believe we are getting there.”


What can you say on Thomas Holley?

“He’s got a hip that is like mine. It only has so many more movements in it. To take the weight off for him is huge for him, just long range. He’s not out of the woodworks yet by any stretch of the imagination. He wants to play so badly and this is the one opportunity he had… to slim down and see if he could sustain a little bit.

“I’m excited for him. We obviously monitor his pitch count, but to see him out there he is a guy that can really help this football team.

“His evolution… it’s like he is a new guy. I think that shows the discipline that he has. He just wants to be able to help the Gators.


What about the quarterbacks?

“I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve taken command, especially with the Nascar and Fastball stuff. Getting guys lined up and understanding where certain people are supposed to be, how to cut the splits down, indicating or re-pointing MIKE’s. They appear to be really diving into the playbook.

“I think along with that you can credit both Luke and Austin with helping them. I hear when one is taking a rep, the other one is coaching them all the time. That is good to see.”


Expectations of CeCe Jefferson?

“He has to pick up a lot of Bullard’s production. I’m not saying he has to be Jon Bullard, that guy is a special player, but he has the capability. He has to stay healthy as well. He’s had a wrist and a hamstring. We need to get that out of him.

“The versatility he brings. He really wants to be a dominant guy at the point of attack. Consistency is what he still has to reach for.


What do you see in the offense?

“I am excited about the parts and the way they’ve been going about their business. I think we’ll be alright.”


What about Ahmad Fulwood?

“Ahmad is a guy that we were counting on to step up not only as a player but in a leadership role. I think he’s taken that and kind of run with it a little bit. Not only is he catching it, but I’ve seen him fight for 50/50 balls that are up in the air. Just playing in that aggressive nature, I hope to see that continue. He needs to be a big factor for us.”


Mark Thompson in pads?

“He looked good. Both Jordans did a really good job as well. You need guys at that position and I think we’re getting there. Finding out what they do best and put them in those roles is something we will continue to discover.”


Receivers as a whole?

“I’m excited about them. Dre Massey’s done a heck of a job. His versatility… he took one out of the backfield the other day that was pretty impressive. Just seeing those guys and not having those big wide eyes, like this is too big for them, that’s not the case. They get in and battle. They make some mistakes sometimes and they should. That is part of the position. They haven’t backed down at all.”


Do you guys pay attention to what the kids do at combines and the like?

“That’s all part of your evaluation is how they do at an event. The event aside, the bigger the stage, sometimes guys step up and other guys sometimes maybe hide and don’t show up as much.

“For us, those guys doing that on the big stages like that, shows they aren’t afraid.”


Scrimmage Saturday?

“We’ll have some situational things, but it won’t be 120 play (scrimmage), more like a practice.  I hope we get a little bit better. Each day is an opportunity to work on something new and get something fixed from the previous practice. Every day that is our goal. I wasn’t happy with some things we did Wednesday. Today is another opportunity and we’ll see if our guys are ready to go attack the day or not.”


Quarterback position now compared to a year ago?

“Obviously there are more bodies. That is the biggest picture. There are four guys here that throw the ball pretty darn well. In Luke’s case we have a guy that has been in the system for about a year. It will be interesting when we get to scrimmage and see how the team advances when they are in there.”


C.J. Worton?

“He’s a talented young guy and has some really good ball skills. He has great timing to go up and get it. (He’s got to learn) consistency, attention to detail, understanding the importance that it isn’t just walking out on the field but you have to put some time into it to get better. He seems to have been doing that this offseason. He’s done some pretty good things this spring.”


More on Luke, how much has history with you and Nussmeier helped?

“I don’t think it is that as much as it is familiarity with the system. John Schuup with the Raiders and I think there is some carryover with him as well. Terminology is different everywhere you go, but conceptually with what you’re trying to do, I think both of those guys have benefitted from being in like systems.” 

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