"I just got to say yesterday was awesome," said McElwain during his presser on Friday. "Obviously had a two-a-day, which we had a Perfect Thursday simulation in the evening practice. It carried over and how we went about it was really good, especially from a teaching standpoint of the older guys kind of showing the younger guys our expectations on that type of practice is. Energy was great. In fact, the morning practice actually finished nine minutes early."
Just before the Gators' second practice of the day, however, McElwain made the decision to announce that there will no longer be a quarterback question heading into the first game of the season, making Luke Del Rio the starter.
"Going into this scrimmage we just felt it was time to make this move," said McElwain. "I'm excited about all the guys and our team is -- about all four of the quarterbacks and what they bring and how they're going to continue to work. You know how long a season is, you know the things that can happen, the expectation is those guys are all continuing to work and prepare as if they're a starter because you just never know."
McElwain is confident in what he has seen so far from the signal caller.
"Luke has a great command," he said. "Luke’s command on everything we’re trying to do has been good. Now, he’s made some mistakes. He knows that this is by no means, ‘Now I have it and it’s there for good.’ There’s constant competition going on as there is in a lot of the spots. He’s done a heck of a job. I’m excited to roll him out there.”
On Wednesday UF announced that Jalen Tabor and C'yontai Lewis were both suspended and would not participate in team activities and would miss the first game of the year.
"I want everyone to understand first and foremost these are two really good guys and good teammates. They're valuable members of this football team and this family. And you know what, they're good people. And yet as we go on, there's certain things and levels of expectations that we have in everything that we do," said McElwain. "These are two guys that are two good teammates that need to learn from a standard that we have in our program."
Although no specific timeline was given earlier this week, Mac alerted the media that the end of their suspension could be near.
"We'll look forward to getting those guys back hopefully on Thursday of next week and move forward and support them in every way we can, and yet not enable."
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
The Gators have had their share of distractions, however, McElwain would not have it any other way.
"You guys have kind of heard me talk about things in the past and one of the things I enjoy is the chaos," said Mac. "It’s something. … you can’t simulate the chaos that goes on in a game. And yet you can use distractions, uncertainty and use that to help hopefully strengthen you in those times when you’re in those games. Our guys have handled that I think very well."
Some players will be held back from the scrimmage on Friday night
- Duke Dawson will be limited
- Chris Thompson (leg)-McElwain says Thompson's left has been "a continuous bother" and will be looked at, but says he does not believe it is anything long term.
- Andrew Mike and Kavaris Harkless both are out with hamstring issues
- C.J. Worton (foot)- McElwain says this injury is not season ending, however, he says if the team were to play a game on Friday, he would have missed it.
- Although expected to participate in scrimmage, Johnny Townsend hurt his thumb on the JUGS machine.
After a successful week, the Gators will hold its second scrimmage on Friday night. McElwain wants this practice to help simulate a night game.
"We're going to do an evening one tonight kind of from a routine standpoint for what it's like to go into an evening scrimmage to try to prepare them in as many ways as we can to get ready for the different kickoff times that you have throughout the year. That's something we plan on well ahead just to try to help our guys kind of be prepared for the different things that are going on."
The team is also looking forward to fan day on Saturday.
"We actually stepped out of our comfort zone and are doing something different over in the indoor, which will be fan interaction with our players and some things going on," said McElwain. "I’m excited to have our guys interact with the fans in a different way. An opportunity for them to get over and do some things in the indoor, as well, which I think is really good.
On Eddy Pineiro
"I’ve been really happy with kind of where Eddy is and what he’s done. We still need to put him in as many game-type situations. I bring all the guys up and harass him as he’s kicking. We’re trying to create as many as we can from that. He’s got a powerful leg, and it’s great to have Jorge back, too, at the kicking piece. That’s a good thing."
"He’s got some real natural strength and suddenness that helps him on the inside. The flip side to that is, you know, when you get those big, big guys leaning on you, especially on the double teams, that it a little bit of a concern and yet he’s done an unbelievable job with his quickness and ability to split some of those double teams and learning. He’s still been doing some of those things on the outside, but for us, the importance of him, from a depth standpoint, being able to rotate different guys versus those offenses that we see, and I gotta tell you he’s having a great camp, too. I’m really excited about where he is, where he has come."
The CB Battle
"Jeawon Taylor has really emerged in the secondary, which has allowed us now to multi-use some guys at corner and nickel. Chauncey obviously, Joseph Putugets better every day. Chris Williamson was doing good, had that back thing. He’s played now the last couple days. We’ll see there probably from an endurance standpoint in that case. Duke Dawson, we knew from the spring did a heck of a job there. And McArthur Burnett, who I haven’t talked much about, ‘Nut Nut.’ This guy and his energy and what he does, it’s kind of interesting. We were talking the other day. He checked in at 157 and a half pounds. That was his check-in. The guy is 186 right now, just from eating meals. He’s another guy obviously at that spot.”
"When you talk about Nick, he’s one of those guys that goes about his business and does it well. Maybe not flashy, but he’s kind of the stronghold of that group as far as the way he plays. And I don’t talk about him enough, and it’s probably because it’s not flash, it’s really just good, consistent play. And on special teams as well.”