Jim McElwain has seen plenty to like during the team's scrimmage last Friday.
"I thought from a situational standpoint, I thought our guys really handled some things well, both offensively and defensively," said the Florida head coach. "I thought our defensive line did an outstanding job of finishing plays, whether it be downfield. I thought their energy and effort was outstanding. I think offensively on both accounts they moved the ball pretty well. I think defensively only really had one three-and-out, which tells me there was some consistency there from the offense. That was a good thing."
Although the offense did not record as many points as the previous scrimmage, McElwain was happy what he saw offensively by the group.
"Explosive plays I think stood out offensively, which was good to see," he said. "It was good to see a couple guys: Mark Thompson, [Ahmad] Fulwood, [DeAndre] Goolsby, Jordan Scarlett got loose. [Jordan] Cronkrite, who is a guy we haven't really talked much about but has probably had as steady a spring, him and Mark Herndon back there at the running back spot [had a good scrimmage]."
But there is one offensive group he wants to see more from, the quarterbacks. McElwain told reporters on Monday, the signal callers were "just Ok" and "not great" but "not bad." Simply put, the head coach wants to see more consistency there from the men under center.
"I think we took some steps back," he said. "I'm not so sure they weren't pressing a little bit, trying to maybe create some things that weren't there. Not horribly by any stretch of the imagination. And yet, my expectation at that position is held to a pretty high standard. But all four guys had their moments. I think Austin [Appleby] probably stepped up and did some things in situational stuff that was good to see. I though the team moved really well with Luke [Del Rio] behind it, and both Kyle [Trask] and Feleipe [Franks] had their moments. You can tell there's some arm talent there."
McElwain expects plenty more from his quarterbacks. The head coach says they have done well communication, showing no panic on the field, however, they need to do a better job at not forcing a play to happen.
"I think sometimes, they try to maybe do a little more – I think trying to maybe impress," he said. "Understanding that the key to it is let’s take care of the little things and let it come to you a little bit. Sometimes they try to make too much out of nothing, where the best play you can make is let’s just come back and get back in the huddle.”
Whats on the horizon this week for the Gators.
"We’ll have a pretty heavy practice tomorrow [Tuesday]," said McElwain. "We’ll be in full pads, need to get some work done. A little more four-minute work and a little goal-line work tomorrow, as well as hitting the two minutes and special situations which will really happen on Thursday for us, which will be kind of a dry run for us going into the scrimmage."
Spring Game Format
The spring game is this Friday night at The Swamp. Although the format has yet to be determined, McElwain promises "it will be football," and "fans will enjoy it."
"I think there are a lot of great things going on around it, around the event itself Friday night," he said. “I just think it’s exciting with some of the things we’ll have going. Special guests coaches, which will be announced later in the week. It should be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the guys do under the lights on Friday night."
- McArthur Burnett had a sprain after scrimmage, but he should be back.
- Johnny Townsend should be back this week as well after falling ill [stomach issue]
- Brandon Sandifer will be out for the rest of the spring [leg]
- Ahmad Fulwood returned to scrimmage. McElwain said "he liked the way he really gutted through practice. He made an explosive play for us, that was good to see.
- David Sharpe was held from participating in the scrimmage, and the Gators will see "where he's at" as they finish the week. But he "should" be able to be back.
McElwain had a lot of praise for his strength and conditioning staff as well as the nutrition staff for his team remaining healthy.
"I think you credit that to the strength and conditioning staff and what the guys did in preparation, as well as I think one of the things that goes unnoticed a little bit is the nutrition staff," he said, "and how we’ve been able to increase awareness how guys are actually using and being educated in the nutrition piece, which has been a big push for us when we got here. Things that can help them. I think that’s something to kind of be talked about."
Brandon Powell has also shown great progress with his foot injury.
“Well I think the hot spot’s gone," he said. "We’ve gotten great reports on this last surgery that he had. Time will tell. Obviously that position takes a lot of pounding, right? Putting your foot in the ground, changing direction, that sort of thing. And yet, sounds like in talking with him, too, he doesn’t have that constant dull pain that he had at one time. So I think his psyche and his mindset is he’s ways ahead of where he has been."
The biggest takeaway this spring has been the explosive plays this spring.
"The running back position that have created some of those explosives, which is good to see," he said. "Receiver wise, Dre Massey I think him coming back has had a really good impact, he had four critical big plays in the scrimmage. I mentioned Fulwood, which we know he has that ability, and yet he was hindered a little bit with some injury.
"This is going to be a big week for Alvin Bailey, I think he’s been doing some really good things, but I think we need to see him get a little bit more involved in that because he has some of that ability now. I would just say this, there seems to be we’ve got some guys that are able to finish, and that’s good.”
Odds and Ends
- On Kyle Trask: "Are we surprised the way Kyle has played? No. We saw those things when he kept coming back to camp, putting him in situations. I mean, that's the beauty of getting guys to camp because you're able to kind of see how they react in different environments.
"He's a guy that answered all the questions. Between he and Feleipe they do a great job of studying and working and you can see that those guys have gotten better and better as practices have gone on. Gotta learn when to throw the ball away a little bit, can't force it."
- On Ahmad Fulwood: "I’m not saying he’s 100%, but to me, has as much to do with showing the want and seeing that you know what, there’s some guys and some competition. To see him step up I thought was great. He’s a guy we need. He was really a good special teams player for us as well, but we need to keep continuing that to show some leadership in that role.”
- On Jordan Cronkrite: "Even how he has been handling some of the wildcat packages that we have been doing, you can just see more confidence in how he is playing. The comfort of those guys, you can see... it seems like a different group. They understand what they have to do. They complement each other, they are excited for each other. One of the things that really shows, that I didn't mention from the scrimmage, at that position particular, the pass protection was excellent. We had some heavy blitz opportunities and they really stepped up and gave us opportunities to get the ball off."