Gainesville, Fla.-- Florida head coach Jim McElwain was once again pleased with his team's efforts after Wednesday's practice. But with a few more on the injured list, who does he expect to step up for the Gators' first scrimmage this spring.
will have its first scrimmage on Thursday afternoon, and Jim McElwain
is eager to see where his team stands with different situation drills.
"Looking to get somewhere between probably about 117 to 128 reps based on kind of how series go,"said McElwain during his presser. "We'll work some situational things, some third down, some red area, some goal-line, some coming out, just so we're kind of doing some two-minute before the half, two-minute at the end of the game, some of those kind of things just from a situation standpoint and see how the guys handle that."
This is also an opportunity to see how several of the new faces handle not only live situations, but playing in The Swamp.
"For some new guys, just to kind of see how they handle that will be exciting," he added. "I know the guys really look forward to it. This is something that we had planned. I think it's important with Easter weekend coming up that they had an opportunity for those who could to get with their families and then we'll get back to work on Monday after that. That'll give us a good chance to get this digested and graded and talk some personnel after this is over tomorrow."
Before Thursday, McElwain has been very pleased at where his team stands half way through spring especially after another successful practice on Wednesday.
"The guys really came to work. It was good to see. Just the energy and bouncing between drills and some of the production, both offensively and defensively, I felt we got a lot of good work, especially with some of the young guys. Just kind of learning how to go about your daily business is something that I really feel good about this team."
Medical Report Card
There will be some guys that will not practice on Thursday:
"That'll give some other guys more opportunity," said McElwain. "It'll good to see McCoy in there at center obviously. I think he's had a really good spring up to this point and this will be a good test for him. We'll get us some other guys in there. Tyler Jordan will get some snaps at center as well out of the misfortune obviously for Cam. It gives us the opportunity to give some guys some extra work. Should be fun."
Jordan Scarlett could practice a little bit on Thursday after missing a few practices with a leg issue. "It will be interesting to see if he can go a little bit today," said McElwain. But C.J. Worton is expected to practice after falling in drills on Wednesday, when he hit the front gate/wall.
With battles happening in many positions like at running backs, McElwain is eager to see how these players handle adversity.
“Injuries happens. It’s how I think you stay engaged while you’re going back through that re-hab that is really important, so this will tell a lot about that," he said. "But those other three [running backs] guys are getting a ton of reps and doing a really good job.
"A guy I’ve been really happy with and obviously did a great job for us last year on all our special teams is Mark Herndon," added McElwain. "I think he’s back from the leg injury that we’ve had. Granted he played last year, but you can tell that full year recovery is something I think he’s really doing a heck of a job.”
Time to Shine
With guys like Fulwood and Massey out on Thursday, it's also time for the freshman wide outs, Freddie Swain and Joshua Hammond to show what they can add to the team.
"Those guys are obviously going to get a ton of reps today," he said. "Excited to see what Chris Thompson does. Alvin Bailey should be back and we need to get some production out of him, so this will be an opportunity for some guys...They'll need to get in the ice tubs after this. I guarantee ya.
"But those guys [Swain and Hammond] have both been doing a good job. Just learning. They'll make some mistakes today. It's one of those deals where I kind of like the coaches are off [the field] and guys are out there having to fend for themselves. But you also see the communication that goes on between the different players and I think that's an important piece today whenever you go out and scrimmage for the first time."
Timeline at Quarterback?
McElwain certainly has the bodies at quarterback this season, but he remains hesitant to name a number one-even when he has said that Luke Del Rio has a leg up on the competition.
“I think here’s the interesting thing – obviously he’s [Del Rio] been here, so from a familiarity standpoint, you would hope that he is … you know, just terminology, verbiage, that kind of thing. But he hadn’t played either, so where you look at maybe Austin [Appleby] is he’s lined up in some big stadiums. So it’ll be interesting to see from there and I’m glad they’re here.”
Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks has each played their roles in practice with Trask showing his accuracy several times. McElwain is in no rush to decide on red-shirts this spring.
"We will actually play Feliepe [Franks] and [Kyle] Trask with the ones as well probably, depending on the situation piece and how it goes. But I'm excited to see how all those guys kind of operate in The Swamp," he said. "We don't have a timeframe at all for [deciding who to red-shirt]. I think what we learned from spring, and how they take that into summer throwing and things that they do as a group, and then to see how far the've come from a recall standpoint once fall camp starts, I think thats truly important.
Many former Gators made their return for practice on Wednesday including legendary coach Steve Spurrier.
"I can't tell you how great it is to just to see former Gators come back," said McElwain. "Obviously having arguably one of the best ever in coach Spurrier to come out there and see his former team. That's something that's pretty special having that guy around.... Just having him stop in n practice is something, as all the former Gators that are out there, that’s a lot of fun to see. I think it’s really good for our team.
"Sitting down it’s always great to talk to him," McElwain added. "The guy meant so much to this program obviously, not only as a player but what he did as a coach. Let’s face it, the guy’s a former Gator and that’s cool.”
Spurrier and McElwain even discussed the quarterback situation at Florida.
(Say anything about your quarterbacks)
“He was excited to see we had some," McElwain joked. "They threw the ball well, he said. He gave me a little, good little critique about throwing the corner balls when we’re down in the low red. It’s something that we’ve definitely talked about in the staff meetings. It makes a lot of sense. Like I said, having that guy there, that’s pretty neat.”