Gators' McElwain took personal foul personal

The emotion of the Gators’ post-game press conference for a 32-0 win over North Texas was stolen by an injury to starting quarterback Luke Del Rio. The injury sparked a response from head coach Jim McElwain where had to be restrained by his players on the field. A response he wasn’t apologizing for, but one from the heart.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE  Luke Del Rio was hit below the knee in a game that was 19-0 midway through the third quarter against a team that managed 53 total yards in the entirety of the game. With the game not in doubt, a defender was actually kind of blocked into Del Rio on the play, but McElwain’s emotions got the better of him.

“I obviously took that low hit on Luke awful personal and I told him after the ball game that I am sure his guy was just scrambling trying to make a play and you know what I really care about these players,” McElwain said. “I care about them in more ways than just as football players. When you see something like that, it’s my responsibility when their parents aren’t here, to be their parents. Each and every guy on this football team knows how much I care for them and I’ve got their back.”

McElwain after a break felt assured there was no intention.

“No bad blood at the end at all,” he said. “Like I said, their guy was probably just trying to make a play. They’ve been called on it a couple of times in previous games, but it isn’t something they coach. I know that.

Florida’s head man said he would have to go back to his High School JV days of coaching to find a similar situation in terms of him getting that heated.

“I never have,” he started when asked if he’s had an outburst like that before. “I take that back. We were playing University High School JV’s playing at North Central and had three straight things happen, that was ’84 I guess. I haven’t had to.”

McElwain made mention only of Del Rio’s injury after the game, didn’t name another injury on the roster.

“Luke is getting his leg looked at right now,” he said. “It doesn’t look great, but you know we’ll do whatever. Someone else will play, we’ll get some guys ready and move forward and get ready to go play next week,. It’s real exciting.

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Outstanding game for the defense…

The Florida defense surrendered a school record low of just 53 yards of offense to the Mean Green of North Texas and the first shutout of the season for a defense that has only surrendered 14 points total in three games. The seven sacks registered by the Gators were the most by Florida since the Tennessee game in 1999. It was a dominating performance despite the opponent.

“It’s a good win, not a great win,” McElwain said. “There were some really good things obviously in that game on defense. We gave up half a (hundred), that’s pretty impressive. We really got after them I thought our energy was pretty good.

The Florida defense helped on the scoreboard as well. On North Texas’ second play from scrimmage, Caleb Brantley submarined into quarterback Mason Fine for a safety.

“That was a great way to start,” McElwain said. “That was pretty impressive.”

Last week against Kentucky Florida allowed just three completions and also intercepted the ball three times. Against North Texas, they surrendered just six catches and junior safety Marcell Harris hauled in another interception for this play making defense.

“Here’s what I saw,” said McElwain. “I saw a bunch of guys that did a really good job of film study. They’re starting to understand what it takes from the preparation to help you play even faster, by the keys they give you, line up the way they do or whatever the tip might be. Our guys are starting to understand it’s more than just the practice on the field. It’s the cerebral practice it takes in knowing your opponent. I think they’ve done a heck of a job in that.”

The offense has its work cut out…

With no doubt the toughest match up of the new year and on the road coming up this week against Tennessee, the offense really didn’t perform as well as McElwain would have liked. The Gators were in the red zone seven times on the night and came away with just four touchdowns. They went for it on fourth down twice in the red area and came away empty handed both times, they also settled for a field goal not making the head man happy.

“We produced some things on offense, but we’ve got to put points on the board when we’re down there in the red area,” McElwain said. “I took some points off the board and I would do it again, that’s just the way it is. We’ve got to punch the ball into the end zone.”

On the fourth downs McElwain was trying to see what his offense was made of. He also had reassurances with the defense playing as well as they were.  

“(I was) challenging our team and yet I know our defense has our back,” he said. “How would you like to go against that defense from the one yard line or inside the five. I’d feel pretty good about the field position you’re going to get.”

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

There were some things going on up front as well on offense. Sophomore starting guard Tyler Jordan missed the game having had surgery on his eye on Friday. He is probably out at least one more contest. Sophomore starting receiver Antonio Callaway, the most experienced pay maker on the squad, also missed the contest.

McElwain saw the issues, but also saw some god signs by the young linemen up front like redshirt freshman guard Richerd Desir-Jones, redshirt sophomore tackle Kavaris Harkless, and sophomore lineman Fredrick Johnson.

“Like I’ve said, the o-line’s getting better,” he said. “We did some good things there with Tyler Jordan being out. I thought Kavaris Harkless did a little bit there and did a great job. Fred did a good job. Richerd played his tail off.

“We still have to do a good job on our cutoffs and things like that to puncture the defense a little better.”

With Del Rio probably out against Tennessee, don’t expect them to back off of the game plan in the throwing game.

“You know what, we’ll play action and throw it deep,” he said. “All of our guys have good arms. We’ll stretch the field. The plan doesn’t change. We’ll do what we need to do to get some guys down field. We had another couple of explosive (plays) today, I thought Josh Hammond showed up a little today. That was really good. We’re not going to change as far as throwing the ball down the field.

McElwain will get all three of the remaining scholarship quarterbacks ready for the trip to Knoxville. Senior Austin Appleby, who replaced Del Rio in the game along with freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask.

“Austin (is the starter) and then we’ll get both Feleipe and Trask ready to go,” McElwain said. “We’ll get a good week of work in, put a good plan in and I am excited for those opportunities if that is what happens.”

McElwain knows the Volunteers are going to bring their best game to the field on Saturday.

“I’m sure it’s one of those games they are zeroed in on since last year in The Swamp,” he said of the miracle come-from-behind win by the gators. “We’ll show up. We’ll be there. It should be a lot of fun.”


Fightin Gators Top Stories