GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Florida has turned its attention to Kentucky. The Gators head coach, Jim McElwain met with the media on Monday to discuss the upcoming game and the shake up at certain positions after injuries.
will open up SEC play on Saturday, when the Gators welcome Kentucky
to the Swamp. Jim McElwain
and company are hoping for a better overall performance from Saturday's 24-7 win over UMass, because despite the win, no one was content.
"In a game I felt like defensively we did a great job of shutting them down," reflected McELwain over Saturday's win. "The one drive they scored, we hurt ourselves with 35 yards worth of penalties, and yet there are things we can learn from that.
"Offensively, we gave Eddy [Pineiro] some shots at some field goals, but I’d rather have touchdowns," he added. "We’ve got to do that. We hurt ourselves on three drives there with unforced errors. So there are things, obviously, we have to work on, yet UMass came in and did exactly what you’re supposed to do."
McElwain had several players that to him stood out in the win after watching film. On defense, the head coach not only praised linebacker, Alex Anzalone
, who in his mind had the most production points, but he named Khairi Clark
as the best defensive player in the win. "What he did to hold point... maintaining his gap control and not peek in the a game like that where they were running the lead fullback and that kind of stuff, I thought he really, really played well for us defensively."
Offensively, Jordan Scarlett
and Brandon Powell
earned McElwain's praises, "Scarlett I think showed up a little bit, did a great job in pass protection as well. Brandon Powell, the big plays he made I thought energized our team offensively."
There was no surprises on who McElwain named on special teams. Eddy Pineiro
booted and made his first career field goal and was instrumental in securing the win over UMass. However, punter Johnny Townsend
and wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood
also received equal moments.
“Couple of his hang-time kickoffs really helped us pin them down inside the 20. I think their starting point for the game was about the 19. That gives you a chance to be successful. That’s Johnny Townsend with him putting the punts where he needs to. Our coverage units, and a guy that really stood out was Ahmad Fulwood. I just can’t tell you how hard he played. And as a senior, doing not only what he does as a wideout, but on every special team. He’s a guy I was really excited how he came into the game and played the game."
The Gators on Saturday allowed UMass to amass just 187 yards offensively, however, 107 of those game in just three plays. UF understands that against Kentucky on Saturday, limiting those big plays is key.
If you look at this Kentucky game, they had about eight or nine plays over 30 yards offensively," said McElwain. "Obviously, the explosive plays we have to do a great job of shutting them down and getting off the field there."
According to McElwain on Monday, at least four suspended players will once again factor for the Gators. Wide receivers Tyrie Cleveland
and Rick Wells
, cornerback Jalen Tabor
and tight end C'yontai Lewis will be able to play for Florida.
However, the head coach did not say whether the mystery suspended senior will return, simply stating, "we'll see."
Injuries for this week:
- WR Dre Massey (knee) is out for the season. He will be operated on as soon as the swelling goes down.
- LB Daniel McMillian (ankle) looks to be out. Jeremiah Moon expected to take a lot more reps on Saturday with his absence.
- WR C.J. Worton - McElwain hopes he can come back, but says "we'll see. Time will tell."
- DB Duke Dawson (shoulder)- Dawson will have limited contact rep, however, is okay.
Moving on from Loss
It is no secret that the Gators had planned their offense with Massey in mind. However, after injuring his knee in the first half against UMass, Massey's season came to close. Although the wide receiver did put up a fight.
"Dre did it [the injury] on the very opening kickoff and played all the way through halftime on something that needs to be surgically repaired," said McElwain. "That showed his toughness and his want to do what he can for this football team."
According to McElewain, Massey has leaned on his teammates as the playmaker prepares for surgery and received the news concerning his injury.
“There’s obviously a disappointment anytime something like that happens, and yet, the beautiful thing about teammates, family is they’re there to support, elevate, pick him up," said McElwain. "He’ll get this thing handled. He’s a guy that will work at the rehab piece."
For now, Florida is looking at another game plan.
“Reconfiguring some things at the wideout spot. Getting some bodies back, that’s going to be huge," said McElwain. "Then we need to increase our explosive plays. Part of that is we’ve got to challenge our guys up front, control the line of scrimmage a little bit. This is a lot bigger team front wise that we’re playing this week. My challenge to the guys up front is not only do your job and do you assignment but let’s do it at a high tempo and an energy to create some spark offensively.
"I’ll know a little more on Wednesday, when I kind of see what we have and what parts we have," he added. "Obviously our use of multiple running backs, which we haven’t really done a ton of in the past, is something you’ll see more of. That’s a position that we’ve got to lean on a little bit. Same thing with Gools and C’yontai in the pass game.”
The Gators will face Kentucky at home on Saturday, kickoff is set at 3:30 p.m.
"We’re really looking forward to this week as we move forward to a 3:30 game, national television against a team that is hurting little bit. Obviously, they had a 25-point lead, only had the ball 15 [plays] in the second half. Kentucky was going up and down the field and stopped themselves a couple times," said McElwain. :They're going to come in here obviously with that mentality where the last time they played in this stadium probably felt they could have won the ballgame. You know, a lot of things that go into that, but more importantly for us, opening of SEC play. Earlier than last year, so we have to grow up and grow up soon. Looking forward to that transformation as we go into this ballgame.
Offensive line play
"Assignment wise, it was good for the most part. We were on edge in protection. We got our head down a little bit. My biggest piece there is the energy and body language in which they get to the line scrimmage. Make the call and let's go. We were slow with that. It's something's that's got to change."
“I thought they played good. Obviously we got beat on a double move. The nickel spot hurt us a little bit on a couple of the underneath big plays that I know we covered – watched one reel twice as a team. When they’re in a certain split, this is what’s going to happen. And they got us twice on it. That’s the disappointing thing. And yet those guys did a good job. I mean, shoot. When you look at the offensive production which they had, our guys did a pretty darn good job.”
On Luke Del Rio
“Luke, you know, did all right. Probably about six throws that I know he would like back. He had four drops, I think. You take those throws back, I thought he was good as far as not taking sacks. He did a good job of that. Threw it to our colored jersey and was pretty efficient for a first start. Literally got his feet wet. I thought played pretty darn good.”