Del Rio striving for perfection too

Saturday’s game against Kentucky led quarterback Luke Del Rio to a career high 320 yards passing; the most by a Gator quarterback since Chris Leak in 2004.  Florida head coach Jim McElwain was quick to credit the play of the offensive line, as they didn’t allow any sacks and gave Del Rio a lot of time. McElwain also expressed he’s not satisfied and wants to keep reaching for better with Del Rio.  Monday’s press conference allowed a sneak peek into the quarterback-coach relationship between the t

Even after the banner day which saw Del Rio go 19-for-32 for the 320 yards and four touchdowns, McElwain really sees the situations where Del Rio could have done better.  With an interception and a few throws into double and triple coverage, McElwain made it clear that there still is a lot of work to put in with the long season ahead. 

“He just did what he was supposed to do,” McElwain said.  “He did his job. And yet, if he does his job better, which he can, he'll hit those throws. And really, it irritates me."

Del Rio really understands his coach, but the quarterback actually feeds off of the criticism.  McElwain compared him to a sponge; a guy who just loves being coached to improve. 

“He gets after me pretty good,” Del Rio said.  “Yeah, you can ask guys during practice, he’ll get after me. I expect it though. I came here to play for him. I knew what kind of coach he was and is. I never really want to play for a coach that’s like ‘ah, it’s ok, get the next one,’ you know?  You understand that as a player but you want to be held to the standard the coaches set.”

 Since arriving at Florida 20 months ago, Del Rio appreciates McElwain’s simplicity and experience.  McElwain himself was a quarterback for Eastern Washington during his college career, giving him insight into Del Rio’s thoughts as a quarterback. 

“He does a really good job,” Del Rio said.   “We have a lot of plays that there (are) a lot of good options. He says look, if you get this they’re there. If you get this, here, here. End of discussion. As a quarterback, for him to do that, and Coach Nuss to do that, it makes playing so much easier. You can think so much faster. You don’t have all this clutter in your mind.”

He just finished his second game as a collegiate starter. Coach McElwain says that he expects Del Rio to make mistakes.  Of course it’s not pretty or desired to watch, but that’s what builds a player day by day. 

“Here's the amazing thing as you go through no matter what you do, you actually have to fail to learn,” McElwain said.  “Think about what I just said there, and all the great ones failed more than they won. It's because they're willing to go out there and do it, right? Learning from failure is the key and that's for every position.”

Despite competition, it seems that the backup players all have each other’s backs, which McElwain says is what makes a great team.  Whether it’s studying or on the sidelines, these guys are constantly feeding off each other to make them better. 

“They’re guys that it’s really important to them,” McElwain said.  “They study it and they help each other. When you have that kind of competition and you have camaraderie in it that group. That means you’ve got a chance to be better at that position.”

"They each have their own specific job and they're each watching certain things during the play,” Del Rio said.  “It is very useful because you get different vantage points…So it is very useful and it's nice to have them engaged in the game. I've been other places where guys are just kind of hanging out and watching it on the Jumbo-tron and hoping to get on TV or something like that. It's nice to have everybody locked in and focused."

With much learned and a lot to look forward to next week against North Texas, Saturday was still a pleasant victory for the Gators.

“We've got good players that are playing hard,” McElwain said.  “But we've got to play smart as well as we're moving forward. So, you know what, good ball game… and a lot of fun.”


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