This is more of what Gators' Jim McElwain expects

Maybe Saturday’s game wasn’t exactly how Florida head coach Jim McElwain would draw it up if he could, but it wasn’t far from it. The meticulous McElwain was pleased with the 45-7 drubbing his team laid on SEC foe Kentucky had far more good things happen than bad and was a welcome sight all around.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE In fact, every phase of the team did some really good things. Florida threw for 320 yards and gave up just 55 yards in the air. The gators rushed for 244 yards and gave up just 94 yards on the ground. The final 45-7 score was probably a little light in terms of how much the Gators dominated the contest.

“I thought today we took a big step in coming together as a true football team with a common goal,” McElwain told the media contingent shortly after the contest. “I didn’t see a lot of separation between the different units. I thought they played well together, they played team football. Defense gave us some opportunities that we didn’t have last week. We got some turnovers and that’s how we have to play and that was good.

This is more of what Jim McElwain envisions his team to look like every week.

“I would expect that, yes,” he said of what Gator fans saw much to their delight on Saturday. “You know we had a lot of guys do their job today. And yet, they not only did their job, they did it at a higher level. There was an extra sense of urgency. I thought we came out aggressively on both sides of the ball and we’re not going to take no for an answer. That’s the edge we have to play with moving forward on both sides of the ball.

Not everything was golden. Junior quarterback Luke Del Rio, who went 19-32 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, did throw an interception intended for junior receiver C.J. Worton. McElwain was particularly disappointed in the play because they practiced it so much during the week and the game presented the play just how you practiced.

“I was disappointed on our interception,” he said. “We were a little too tight, supposed to be out between the numbers and the divider. The route got squeezed inside and that is unacceptable. That is something we have to work on and again that is the discipline of route running and knowing where we have to be. On third downs overall I thought we did a pretty darn good job. We had some explosives, but still have to get some explosive runs. Moving forward that is something we can work on.”

“That interception is haunting me, because it was exactly the way we drew it up against the right defense. The understanding of the attention to detail it takes to win in this league… that is unacceptable. I will say this… teachable moment. The defense came in and they clanked a field goal off the uprights, so we didn’t give up any points. As you play in this league, you cannot do that. I thought it was a great job by our defense, and then our offense drove down there and put some points on the board. That was a positive there in that sequence, but not the way we’ve got to play.”

Florida went three for four in the red zone, a welcome change and all three were touchdowns. McElwain kind of shook his head at sophomore kicker Eddy Pineiro  who let his confidence get the better of him and was trying to showboat instead of just doing his job.

“It was actually good for Eddy,” McElwain said.  “He was actually trying to see how far he could kick the ball up on the ‘Good Hands People’ net instead of just swinging his leg.  On the kickoffs he put one through the goalposts so that became a goal for him. So he missed a couple of those. He has to understand what this is about, but in a game like this I thought he grew up a little bit.”

McElwain said sophomore receiver Antonio Callaway hurt his quad late in the game and freshman receiver Tyrie Cleveland pulled up with a hamstring issue as well. Right tackle Fredrick Johnson hurt his ankle but tried to play through it. He was seen on crutches after the contest. Freshman Jawaan Taylor (Wanny) was inserted for Johnson and did a really nice job.

“Injury wise Callaway has a quad Tyrie Cleveland pulled that hammy again so I don’t know if we will ever get him back,” McElwain said. “Wanny played quite a bit and Fred had an ankle he twisted a little bit and gave up the pressure early. He came back in and did a decent job. I was happy with that spot as we were going.

“I thought he did well,” McElwain said of Taylor. “Fred was on a gimp ankle, and to his credit he wanted to go out and try and got ran by a couple of times. I thought Wanny did a pretty good job in protection and yet the film will tell. In our heavy silver and blue stuff those guys are side-by-side in those packages. I thought Wanny did his job for the most part.”

Del Rio kept his jersey clean for most of the night. Hardly touched during the game, the offensive line really showed up well in terms of pass protection.

“We have to create some more creases and yet our protection was much better,” McElwain said. “Bits and Pieces. We put some dents in them today. We just have to continue on keeping our feet moving. Playing low to high, and playing with a never say die attitude up there.

Del Rio had somewhat of a record night. No Florida quarterback has thrown for more yards (320) in an SEC contest since Chris Leak did so against Arkansas in 2003. Also no quarterback has thrown for 300 yards in an SEC contest since Tyler Murphy in 2013. McElwain liked what his quarterback did but knows he can get better.

“Continue to grow,” he said in terms of what he expects from Del Rio. “Take what the defense gives you and eventually they give you the game. I’m not ready to put him in the Gator Hall of Fame or the National Football League Hall of Fame, but he’s really learning the position and knows what to expect… and starting to feel real comfortable with his pieces around him. He’s spreading it around and throwing it to the guys that are open and for the most part throwing it to the guys in the right color jersey and that is what I expect him to do.”

With the running game hitting pretty hard, it opened up the play action game for Del Rio as well.

“If you can establish in your ability to run the ball at a four (yards) or better clip, you usually have the opportunity to be a good play action team,” he said.  I thought Luke hit a couple of shots and they were off of play action and that’s a good thing.

Florida tallied 247 yards rushing, a stout night for the running game. Freshman running back Lamical Perine finished with the best numbers toting the ball 17 times for 106 yards, Mark Thompson finished with 60 yards, Jordan Scarlett with 43, Jordan Cronkrite with 29, and Mark Herndon carried twice for a total of four yards.

“I thought Mark getting that touchdown early was huge,” McElwain said of his junior college transfer. “I think that is something that will help him and his confidence and toting the rock. Lamical is a pretty good player and he’s an SEC back.”

Defense starred as well…

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

It was a point of emphasis the entire week that Florida secured no turnovers against UMass a week ago. That was a part of the game that the Gators prided themselves on a year ago. The gators started to make up for it this week, tallying three interceptions and a fumble recovery, of which the offense scored 28 of 45 points on.

The return of Jalen Taborfrom suspension and Duke Dawson from an injury in the first quarter of last week’s game was a big part of why things played out so well for Florida. Tabor picked off a screen pass where he jumped the route and Quincy Wilson made a ‘Play of the Day’ type interception deep in the secondary and on the sideline. Senior safety Marcus Mayegot in the act as well picking off an overthrown Drew Barker football in the middle of the field.

“You have veterans and guys that have played a lot of snaps,” McElwain said. “That was a big time play from Quincy. When you see what Jalen did and how quickly he reacted to what was film study. It tells you about Jalen. In other words this is important to him. The way he studied he knew the tendencies, he knew the look, and he knew the split. He broke on it perfectly. As we tell these guys over and over, through your film study and learning tendencies, you can actually play faster. In that case, it was a big time play by him.

Maybe nobody set the tone for the defense more than redshirt junior linebacker Alex Anzalone. Screaming from one of the two middle linebacker spots played by him and senior Jarrad Davis, Anzalone smacked Barker for a big loss and a sack on the first play on offense for the Wildcats.

“I could sit and talk about both of those linebackers, what they do, and how they do it,” McElwain said of Anzalone and Davis. “Alex is a special player. I’m sure glad he’s healthy and playing at the level he’s playing at. When he and JD are in there together, they just feed off of each other and it’s great to see. I thought (freshman linebacker) Kylan Johnson came in and played pretty well too at the linebacker spot, (freshman) David Reese played quite a bit as well. That was great to see form that linebacker spot.


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