Jim McElwain Happy with Gators' Scrimmage

GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Jim McElwain is pleased with his team's progress so far this spring and was happy with Saturday's practice. The Florida head coach talked about the scrimmage, injuries and more on Monday.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain was feeling good about the scrimmage on Thursday. 
"We got about 117 snaps in, not counting special teams. Got a lot of guys some, I thought, valuable reps, especially some of the young guys," said McElwain on Monday during his press conference. "
"I thought our defense did a much better job in coming out in third down. I thought they really handled those really well," he said.  "Offensively, I thought they did a really good job of coming out at the beginning of the scrimmage, taking a couple drives down, punching it in. Couple explosive passes, and that was good to see. And yet, consistency, there were some turnovers. There were three turnovers created by the defense that obviously you're not going to win games offensively by putting the ball on the ground.
"I thought all the quarterbacks had their moments, both good and bad, and yet, I think the consistency in which they played was pretty darned good," added McElwian. "We got the old guys some reps also with the twos, and kind of good situations. So to see Kyle [Trask] and Feleipe [Franks] kind of handle that at this early stage was good to see." 
All in all, McElwain is very pleased where his team stands at this point of spring practice compared to last spring. 
“I think that that would be true for any program going into their second year, and you can really tell just how the guys know what to expect from a practice structure standpoint in what they’ve done," he said. "I count probably two practices that you know, I was kind of like, ehh…, you‘ve gotta understand that that’s not how you go about your business. I think today will be a big test, having three days off and trying to see where they’re at.”

Position Breakdown 

Quarterback

No clear leader at quarterback yet, according to McElwain. 

“I think both those older guys [ Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby] had their moments. I think both of the young guys [ Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks] really threw the ball well. I was impressed with how they handled a lot of situations," he said. "But, you know, no clear-cut one way or the other.”

Wide Receivers 

With Ahmad Fulwood and Dre Massey out for the scrimmage on Thursday, a couple of the wide receivers were able to get a lot more reps, including young wide outs: Joshua Hammond and Freddie Swain

“Yeah, they’ve been getting a ton of reps and Alvin Bailey actually had a really good scrimmage, stepped up. He’s had that kind of a back he’s been dealing with, but I thought he did some really good things, as well as Chris and Ryan Sousa made a couple of big plays.

"There are some guys getting extra reps that normally wouldn’t in some situations there. To see those guys kind of compete and get after it, I’m really happy," he said. "I’d be remiss to say we caught the ball really well in the scrimmage, even our running backs out of the backfield."

Running Backs

With Jordan Scarlett out, Mark ThompsonJordan Cronkrite and Mark Herndon took plenty or reps in the backfield. 

Thompson is a real threat as a pass catcher. 

"I guess I knew this and didn’t really realize it with Mark Thompson, he started out as a wide receiver and outgrew the position. He’s got real natural hands and that was good to see."  

However it's Herndon that stole some of the spotlight last week and throughout most of spring. 

"Mark Herndon is a guy that has really had a good spring," said McElwain.  "Obviously he was on every special teams for us and will be again, but he’s a guy that looks like that knee is 100 percent. He’s been running real well.”

The biggest improvement with this group, howeve,r was their pass protection.

"I think that’s something that they’re kind of understanding that that’s gotta be a major thing for them from a playing time standpoint.”

Tight Ends

"There’s really been four guys who have really stood out," said McElwain.  "I'll start with Moral Stephens, who has really become a guy that has kind of taken to the role as an on-line blocker playing physical. Obviously C'Yontai, it's been good to have him back and in there. DeAndre Goolsby  really showed up in the last scrimmage. He made some really big plays in the pass game and has gotten a little bit better as things have gone you know from a blocking standpoint, especially some point of attack stuff. Camrin Knight is a guy that just keeps getting better and better and he'll play a lot of us."

For Goolsby, it's about finding consistency.  

"I would say he has done remarkably better than what he had done in the past is he has come to work and actually go out and to get better everyday. Where sometimes he may take some practices off a little bit," said McElwain. "He's really had a good spring and has developed into a guy that the quarterbacks feel comfortable with too because he's there everyday

 Kicker

"I thought Eddy [Pineiro] kicked really good in the scrimmage. He tried to overkick one on a kickoff and yanked one out of bounds really fast and really hard, but that's not how it's supposed to go," he said. "His hang time, when he swings his leg, I think we’ve got a chance to have a pretty good cover team because of him. He hit a couple of field goals, again with not a lot of pressure. It was good to see those kind of go through the uprights."

Medical Report Card 

OUT

  • Caleb Brantley [sick]
  • Cameron Dillard [Nose]- Should be back at the end of the week
  • Thomas Holley [Hips]- "That hip flared up," said McElwain. "That's going to be a tough one. He did everything he could, obviously losing the weight and taking the pressure off that. We'll see where that is as the spring rolls on." 
  • Ahmad Fulwood [Leg]-McElwain hopes he can come back by Friday
  • Dre Massey [Leg]

RETURNING MONDAY

Moving Forward 

The Gators will focus on a few more situational drills this week.  

"Today [Monday] will be a lot of low-red and two-point play stuff," he said. "Start working last-minute plays or last plays with no timeouts left. Again, work heavy on two-minute stuff, so that's kind of the week moving forward. We'll have another good scrimmage on Friday of this week in which we'll work some overtime and, again, some other things that we need to do to kind of finish out. We need to get some pressure on the kicker this week. We'll work some pressure field goal stuff." 
After a successful scrimmage, McElwain gave his team the Easter weekend off. 
"I think that’s something that’s very important," he said. "Yet they were all back this morning for video, kind of ready to go. Pretty pleased with the way things have been going.”
 

 Odds and Ends 

  • On Bryan Cox: "it’s great to see how hard he plays and how important the game is to him," said McElwain. " Even afterWednesday’s practice, you know, when defense kind of got together he stepped in and said a few things. I thought he’d taken over that leadership role with that, he’s been really good. He plays the game so hard and it’s great to see.”
 
  • Chauncey Gardner Impresses: The freshman is playing safety and caused a turnover down the goal line during scrimmage. "He's a guy  that sometimes isn't getting to the deep middle third like you'd like and some rotational things, but part of that is being young. I've been really proud of the way that he's come up and tried to play physical, especially in our team run stuff."

  • On his raise: McElwain made $4,723 a year in his first job. On Monday, McElwain joked he had to tend bar, teach classes and work at J.C. Penny during his first job coaching quarterbacks and receivers. McElwain is now receiving a $4.25 million paycheck after seeing a $750 thousand raise. 
 
  • "It's so good to know that your university and your administration believes in the direction that we're taking this thing. It's something that sends a message in recruiting. Just the belief in our organization and where we're going. We got a ways to go now, but I'm happy for all of us."
 
  •  McElwain added, "it's something you don't really think about either. You go about doing your job to the best of your abilities. You just work, but, no, nah, I’ve said before there’s times I just even walk out to practice and it’s hard for me to sometimes imagine I’m at the University of Florida. Those are things you just try to go every day and do your job and work hard. I’d have never thought I’d be sitting here talking to you, I know that.”
 
  •  Defensive Backs Step Up “Chris and Duke have been doing a really good job there. Marcus Maye has gotten some reps there, kind of good to see the versatility there, as well. Marcell is doing a really good job back there at safety with Nick. I think we’ve created some pretty good versatility back there.”
 
 
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