After week one, Luke Del Rio sits fourth in the SEC in quarterback rating. That is against UMass, but there were a lot of firsts involved in the outing for Del Rio. Most importantly it was his first game in The Swamp and as the leader of the Florida Gators. It was a good effort and one that he knows can get better.
“I'd say about a handful of throws here or there (I’d like back), Del Rio said Monday when asked by the Florida media. “ Just missed a little bit. I thought decision making, I was pretty sound. Just a few things in there, just lining my feet with my eyes. It's things that are correctable and we're going to work on them."
After watching the game film over the weekend, Del Rio said his impression right after the game mirrored what he saw on film.
"It's about the same,” he said. “Kind of what I expected. We had long drives. We played like 77 plays. We just need to finish those drives, and we will."
The Gators have their first action in SEC play this weekend when they host Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. The Wildcats are coming off an upset loss to Southern Miss last weekend so they will be ramped up coming into Gainesville wanting and needing a victory.
The last two years the contest has been too close for comfort over the Wildcats although the Gators hold a 29 game winning streak against the blue bloods from Kentucky.
"Yeah, well you definitely have a lot more time for the first game. You've got pretty much all of camp. But you know just getting into the routine, weekly routine, Mondays what we're doing on Monday, Tuesdays, just taking it one day at a time. Just sticking with the routine and the coaches will make a great game plan and it's our job to execute."
For Del Rio and his team, they are taking things one game at a time. The task at head is the Kentucky game now and all their attention is focused there.
"They don't want us looking ahead,” Del Rio said. “That's kind of when you get into trouble is when you look weeks down the road to what you think might be a big game or might not be a big game. You take it one week at a time.
The schedule for these football players is nothing to scoff at. Classes, practice time, film time, meeting time, time for recovery in the training room… it all adds up
“It does (get tougher),” Del Rio said about time constraints during the season. “Class schedule, I’m trying to graduate in December. Regular meetings and then trying to get extra film in on your own, yes it’s tough.”
Del Rio should graduate in December with a degree in Family and Community Sciences, which will then allow him to pursue a Master’s Degree of some kind. This week, his thoughts are on the first SEC contest he will be a part of and the guys he will be throwing to.
The Gators suffered a big loss Saturday night with the season ending injury to junior receiver Dre Massey. Del Rio has all the respect in the world for Massey enduring the injury.
That's tough,” he said. “That's a hard injury to have happen to him, but I think he showed how tough he is. He got hurt on the first play and played the whole first half, so I know that injury is kind of unique in that some guys are in excruciating pain and others don't feel it. He said he felt it. You know, it's going to be tough to lose a great player like Dre, but we're talented in that room and we'll rally around him and support him through the rehab process."
Del Rio was happy with the way the other receivers did their thing and filled in, including freshmen Joshua Hammond and Freddie Swain.
“I thought the guys that we had did a great job, especially with all of the young guys that we had playing -- Freddie, Josh, Dre,” Del Rio said. “He's not as young as the other guys, but he is new. They did a really good job. I think we just need to finish in the red zone and put seven on the board."
The Gators are hoping to get back injured junior C.J., Worton and will welcome back freshmen Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells who return from suspensions.
"Tyrie and Rick are extremely athletic and fast,” Del Rio said. “Big guys for freshmen. If you just saw them in the locker room, you probably wouldn't think that they're true freshmen because they're pretty developed physically. You know, the biggest thing with them is just getting comfortable. They both had hamstrings, so just getting them comfortable and reintegrated back into the offense. It's really good to have them back, especially with Dre being down."
The Gators also get back redshirt sophomore tight end Cyontai Lewis, another welcome option with the loss of Massey.
“Absolutely, really athletic, long tight end,” Del Rio said when asked how good it will be to get Lewis back. “He’s extremely coachable and has good hands. We’re definitely excited to have him back. The guys did a good job with Cyontai suspended, but we are definitely excited to have him back.”
We should see more two tight end sets now.
“It’s hard for defenses because they see you have two tight ends and they think you will run the ball, but if you look at those guys they are great pass catching tight ends,” he said of Lewis and junior DeAndre Goolsby. “It does put some stress on defenses. Do they go nickel or do they stay base. It’s interesting to see how each team addresses that personnel.”
Happy with offensive line play…
There has been a lot of talk about the offensive line play yet again this season. It was a big black mark on a squad with a few of them last season and there were some moments on Saturday night where the guys up front didn’t play very well. Del Rio says they did what they needed to do.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” he said. “There were a few plays here we got a little loose. I thought we did a pretty good job. The critical downs I thought the protection was good. I thought I did a good job of getting rid of the ball. They opened up some holes for the running backs. It’s really just one block here another block there. You know, we are really close to scoring a lot of points. It’s just tightening down those things.”
Head coach Jim McElwain has been on the guys up front to pick things up energy wise, especially between plays. He wants a sense of urgency to get set for the next play. Del Rio understands it.
“As the season goes along, we need to police ourselves,” Del Rio said. “Good teams, that’s what they do. They don’t need coaches to get on them to realize they aren’t doing what they need to be doing. Through camp we started to do that... started to take ownership of our team, but it’s just a recurring process.”