Planned chaos has McElwain happy with team

You can tell Jim McElwain has been around the block a few times in college football and also know that he isn’t going to do everything by the proverbial book like most coaches do. With that in mind, Wednesday’s practice was somewhat like a boat in choppy water and he wanted to see how his team waded through the rough seas and came out on the other side.

They seemed to do well.

“We did some things a little different today in dealing with some chaos,” McElwain told a throng of reporters after practice.  “Kind of through the practice schedule up and then jumped around a little bit period wise just to see how our guys handled that kind of thing.”

With four penalties coming on special teams on Saturday against Kentucky and a couple of other misadventures in that part of the game, McElwain was tying those units as much as anything.  

“We needed the emphasis, obviously, on special teams,” he said. “We wanted to start off with that early today and getting an opportunity to get some guys in there who understand the importance of what it is to do your job and help us be successful there. More than that, don’t be lazy and make stupid penalties. I felt we got that accomplished pretty well.

His guys flew around hard and went first team versus first team and afterward, he liked where they stood for the week.

“Our intensity, especially in our good-on-good stuff, I thought was really good,” he said. “And (we still have) got some things to clean up. That’s why we get Thursday, tomorrow, and it should be ready to go.”

It is all about keeping the eye straight ahead and on the task at hand, which is taking on a North Texas team that doesn’t really scare anyone. Through all of the craziness they created in practice, the boys did their thing.

"I thought we were pretty good,” McElwain said. “I was really happy with Tuesday. Then today, on purpose, created a bunch of different things for them. Not only that, but did it for the coaches, as well. People in the organization that were running practice, to kind of keep an edge. You know, I'm excited to see how these guys play on Saturday and see if we're going to be a different Gator team or not."

Letdown has been like a curse word around town this week. McElwain wants none of it.

"Here's the thing,” he started when asked about the possibility. “To me, I don't know how you can ever do anything and not go out and do your best. And yet that doesn't mean you're ever going to be perfect. No one's ever perfect. But the energy and the way you prepare to go out against anybody, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter if it's football or if it's Tiddlywinks or if it's going to the ice cream truck really fast; you want to go do it the best way you can. And yet, just organizationally, program-wise, from a historical standpoint, this has been something that's been a little bit of an Achilles heel for Florida football. So I stressed to our guys this is an opportunity to create your own identity and be different. You know, we'll see on Saturday."

“I’m obviously a not a psychiatrist or anything, but I just think there’s a certain way you go about your business no matter what it is. I think you can get too up for whatever rivalries and that kind of stuff. What I would hope is guys had enough personal pride to go out and do their job at the highest level that they can, knowing they’re not going to be perfect. No. I don’t know. I should read more books.”

Offensive Line Shuffle

McElwain announced today that starting right guard Tyler Jordan will be out a couple of weeks or more because of an eye condition of which his mother spoke more of HERE.  That move isn’t a great one for an offensive line that had a great game Saturday but still looking to be a lot more consistent in their play.

The fact is Jordan is out and in his place they will start redshirt freshman Richerd Desir-Jones.  They also will try and insert sophomore Fredrick Johnson at the right guard spot after he started the first two games at right tackle. They like the play of freshman Jawaan Taylor at right tackle right now. McElwain says the communication between Jordan and center Cameron Dillard and the other guys will be hard to replace.

“The biggest thing is he obviously had taken a lot of snaps, and the communication piece from Cam to him and then to Fred or Jawaan I thought was really, really good,” McElwain said. “Obviously a bigger guy in there, a little more stout. But the thing Richard gives you is he gives you 110 percent at all times.”

“Richerd, the thing that he does, he has great quickness, he gets on you quick. I’m excited to see him play. He graded out well in the last game. He got a lot snaps in there. This will be a great opportunity for him. This will be a great opportunity for us to look at Fred and Jawaan together a little bit at times. Not only just in the heavy package that we use but obviously working side by side there at guard and tackle. So, you know what, there again it’s an opportunity. And what you take advantage of the opportunity you’re given. This is an opportunity for those guys at that spot.”

“Those two guys (Johnson and Jawaan Taylor) can play interchangeable guard/tackle. That's why we do what we do, but Richerd  will go and I'm excited for that as well."

Defensive line staying on point…

One thing that Jim McElwain has been pleased with is the understanding of his defensive linemen when it comes to their role up front within the defense. There is plenty of talent among the group to form a defense around, but what they are finding out is if they just do their assignment, the game will come to them. The results have been really positive so far.

“I’d say the biggest thing is the discipline in their pass rush lanes,” McElwain said when asked about the fact that they have nine sacks and why. “Now this quarterback that we’re playing this week is quick, shifty, he’ll get out of the way. I’m sure they’re going to do a lot of things, seven-man protection, full slide, double guys off the edge, things like that to give him some time. I know this, they’ll move him out of the pocket and get him on the edge, which the nine sacks is great but the discipline of the pass rush lanes and there again guys that don’t show up in the box score by being disciplined keeps the quarterback where maybe somebody else can get in there. And you don’t create those gaps for long quarterback runs when sometimes guys are getting out of their lanes. So I credit that to the guys up front playing unselfish and really playing disciplined and doing their job and understanding against this double-team slide, now I got to press back against this to hold the pocket then hopefully somebody else gets loose. I think that’s what we’ve seen.”

Cleveland out again with injury…

Freshman receiver Tyrie Cleveland will miss more game action with a hamstring pull. Evidently it isn’t the same hamstring that he pulled when he missed a lot of fall camp, but still significant. While it is hard on Cleveland, he said the young man has had the best mindset over the matter.

"That's one of those things,” McElwain said shaking his head. “Look, you've got to go through things. And in this case, really the first time he's ever been injured, and yet he's done a great job with the rehab piece. The new injury was in a total different spot, so it wasn't a re-aggravation, and yet what he's done from the standpoint of obviously being disappointed, you all are disappointed when something happens, yet how you deal with it… I think he's done a great job with that.

It is apparent that they would like to utilize Cleveland’s skill set, but McElwain said getting junior receiver C.J. Worton back from injury last week, along with a few others, was a big deal too.

“Having C.J. back really helps and helped us last week having some guys back in the lineup,” he said.  Cyontai (Lewis) really helped us, did a great job. Obviously Jalen (Tabor), what he did defensively. And really the one that probably didn't get mentioned as far as guys back is Duke Dawson who only played 17 plays in that first game and made a big play on that one. But he had a heck of a game at that nickel spot for us. That’s going to be really important this week, so getting those guys back is something that’s really good.


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