Jim McElwain Says Saturday was the Best Practice he has seen this Spring

GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Florida head coach Jim McElwain was very happy with his team after Saturday's practice, calling it the team's best practice so far. McElwain discusses the standouts from that practice and much more in the video above. [Transcript below]

Transcript of Florida head coach Jim McElwain's time at the podium on Monday. 


We were able to get a lot accomplished. I thought there were a lot of really good things going on in our situational work. The thing is to see if we can follow up with a good Monday. Today we’ll be in shells. We’ll be in different two-minute situations today. Overall we’re really excited about the way they came… especially after a good Friday practice, they backed it up with the a good Saturday. That was good to see.

Friday, we did some feaux tackling circuit work. That is usually something when you get away from it, I think our tackling needs to get a little better, especially from a wrap-up stand point. Offensively, (we were) just consistently coming off the ball with the pad level on the offensive line. Overall, I felt really good about what we did.

I’m looking forward to this week. We’ll have three good practices this week, going into Easter weekend. We’ll give the guys off so they can spend some time with their families over the weekend. We’ll get back after it after that.

Tomorrow is a big day for our guys as far as Pro Day and I’m really excited for them. Seeing the guys around, I think they are in great shape. I think they will do some really good things there. I’m excited for all the scouts and different personnel that will be around campus. I think it’s a great day for the Gators. We have some really deserving guys that are ready to take that next step into the next level. That should be a lot of fun and a lot of excitement around here.

We should be getting Bailey and Sherit back this week. I think Dre Massey has really done a good job. He has probably benefited from Bailey not being here as far as getting a lot more reps at a couple of different positions. I feel like he’s really taken a couple of steps forward in that receiver group.

The same thing on defense with Keivonnis Davis talking advantage of the extra reps with Jordan Sherit being out, I think he’s taken a few steps forward.

Q: Looking for separation in the spring as compared to summer and fall?

I think that it happens naturally. You see guys that have constantly shown or are flashing, or making strides. The big thing I think for us is we still need to learn what it is to come out every day and be focused on the details. Not just be here or there or hit or miss, but I think naturally some guys start to separate themselves with consistency of play more than anything.

Is there something you look for in particular in the spring?

We’ve pretty much started to work on almost all of our situation things, now we’ll go back and recap this week and see more competition in some of those areas.

The biggest thing we try and do is to look for consistent improvement in some of the areas we were lacking. Coming off of Saturday’s practice I felt like some of those areas were answered. We will see how they respond today.

Last week you wanted to see more movement up front from the OLine, did you see that?

I felt like they really came to practice on the o-line. The communication seemed to be better. We didn’t have as many pure busts as far as combination blocks and who they were targeting. I thought we did a better job of moving forward off the ball and no taking steps backwards. Then again the consistency is wheat we’re looking for.

Increase of bodies along the line, has it helped?

Every day that they get an opportunity with the communication and getting to know the guy next to them is really important. Having the numbers has allowed us to get a lot more work done in practice which is really good for the defensive side as well. We have to keep plugging away at it and see if we are going to be able to play with some consistency, that’s really what we’re looking for.

 Is there a confidence from Luke Del Rio having been in the system for over a year?

Actually all four of the guys have done a really good job of some of the little things, more than just playing the game and being at practice. Their consistency being around and watching film together, seeing them interact in the locker room… those types of things have been really good. They are showing leadership in all the drills. I thought all of them have done some really good things.

Eddy Pineiro’s progress?

He’s been good. The operation time has steadily been coming down. It is something we’ve needed to work on since the start of practice. We are putting him in situations every day where he doesn’t really know when it’s going to happen. His understanding that you kind of have to be ready throughout the practice, just like a game, you never know when the kick will come.

The thing I am happy with is that the operation time has come down a lot. He’s getting on the ball a little quicker and it is great to see the ball really get up

Receivers stepping up?

I was really happy with Ahmad’s practice… I mentioned Dre and he’s really making strides. That has been good to see. You just see the competitive nature that Ahmad has been practicing with, that would probably be a guy that I would circle.

Facilities, what is next?

The biggest thing now is to get into the operation piece. We have to continue to work on our dorms and our living situations. Those are getting better and we are taking another one off-lne this summer. That’s a huge piece for us. Then the ultimate is the academic center. That will be a top flight facility.

Then we have to work on the operations center and get some things going there. There have been a couple of groups that have been on campus that have done some feasibility studies to see what the exact best thing to do is based on what we have and what we need.

Explain operations center?

The locker rooms, training rooms, meeting rooms… you name it. We have a long ways to go. The good thing is we are moving in the direction and people are opened to listening and opened to look and see what we need for a long time to come. 

Was the best thing this weekend having a good Friday and Saturday after a bad Wednesday?

I think it was a big thing to go from Friday to Saturday and the quick turnaround. To see them respond and immediately hit the field ready to practice was something I was ready to see. We got a lot better. We got a lot of guys in and a lot of reps.

With their focus, their energy, the way they attack the practice, they can see how much better they got with that practice. It will be interesting to see today if they’re able to get it together or not.

You mentioned Dre and Ahmad, any other individuals stand out?

A lot of guys got better. It was good to see. Our runners did good, especially in the ball security area. We made pretty good decisions, all four quarterbacks in some of the drill work. Up front, I think our defensive line is really playing gap solid defense. they are peaking and keeping people off the linebackers. In general I thought it was a lot better.

What is the situational stuff?

Different tempos that we play at… you see us open practice every day with (fastball). It is something we do offensively as much to help our defense with some of the things they will see. Part of practicing is helping each other get better and I feel like we did a pretty good job there.

Mark Thompson and keeping pads low…

He was a little high at times and that is natural, but there is a ways to go. He had some valuable yards after contact in some of those situational things. It was good to see that.

Is staying low hard for his size?

It becomes a natural body move when you’ve been working on it. The guys  actually caught the ball out of the backfield and it was good to see.

Special teams, good time to work them now?

I think it is a great time to work them, not the schemes, but the fundamental parts. That’s where some of our best competition drills come from. Whether it is the crunch drill, the Jesse Owns drill, the lions and the gazelles, the edge drill, there is a lot of good stuff that we get out of it and a lot of good things we can carry over into other pieces… from a turnover standpoint, a lot of the same fundamentals that you use in the return or cover games. That has been good to see and good to see how our guys compete. I really like that part of it. 

No specifics?

Those become specific to what you see that week (in games). The fundamentals involved in how we get a block, or how you sink your hips and retrace, shade paint, are things we get a really good look at. We mentioned Eddy earlier, their operation time is huge, so that is something we work on.

Other defensive guys stepping up?

Duke and Marcell are guys that played last year and quite significant amounts. I like the way those guys are competing and communicating more than anything.

Some of those have had a good spring. Keivonnis (Davis) and Luke (Ancrum) have been good. Taven Bryan has had a good spring up till now, understanding gap responsibilities and things like that.

How different is it now with the OL numbers?

Those guys are doing a god job. We have a long way in understanding how to go about it. There is never a time off. Don’t take no for an answer. The physical nature you have to play with and the aggressive nature they have to play with. They have a long ways to go. 

Rod Johnson involved, can he bring energy while not playing?

It is hard to see because he isn’t able to get out there. He is a guy that played the game in a way it was supposed to be played.

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