The Gators are coming off of a tough game at Vanderbilt and are looking forward to getting back home after two weeks on the road. That of course could be derailed by Hurricane Matthew, but the plan as of this writing is for the game to go on as planned Saturday at noon in The Swamp.
McElwain is hoping things go as planned at this point.
“Well, first of all, after a couple weeks on the road, we're really looking forward to getting back in The Swamp,” he said. “Our crowd's been great, even on the road. This last game was outstanding and looking forward to obviously playing a team that's really been playing inspired ball with a lot of energy and the unknowns obviously about what they're doing a little bit offensively and those types of things. It should make it for a lot of fun and really looking forward to getting back home."
The hope for the Gators is to get quarterback Luke Del Rio back as well. The starter in each of the first three games, he was hurt in the fourth quarter of the North Texas game and missed both road contests the last two weeks. He saw a little time in practice before the Vanderbilt game but was ruled out. He has upped that practice time this week and the prospects of him being available are going up.
"Been pretty good,” he said about the health of his quarterback. “This morning, just checking kind of the stiffness, soreness, swelling based off of a little more reps than he has been taking on a Tuesday, but right now we're still splitting him a little bit more with Austin (Appleby), but we'll see here after the Wednesday third-down, red-area and obviously our normal good-on-good stuff to kind of see where that is and his ability to play and perform at a high level."
McElwain has been pretty adamant that if Del Rio can’t play at a high level and is at any kind of risk, he won’t go.
"I've said this over and over -- it doesn't matter the position, but my long-term concern and care and welfare for these players, you know, we're going to make sure they can go at a high level,” he said. “Part of that in Luke's case is being able to perform the things he was able to perform the first couple games. That's how we handle the injury situation and it doesn't matter what position it is. We did the same thing with Jordan Sherit, who we ended up scoping based on his ability to really play at a high level for us defensively last week and we'll do the same thing with Luke."
Looking for more explosive plays to help offense…
While we have seen a few more explosive plays from the Florida offense compared to recent years, McElwain is looking for much more. He believes getting those explosive plays on a semi0regular basis will open things up. Right now teams are able to suffocate Florida up front because they aren’t respecting that ability. Vanderbilt was able to do just that.
"I will tell you this… they whooped our tails up front,” he said of the Commodores. “Their inside guys did a great job against us and my hat's off to Derek and what they're doing. They played the game exactly how they're built to play it. We played into their hands a little bit. Being able to hit some of those explosive plays a little bit, especially early in the game to get them loosened up, was something that we weren't able to do and yet you know what, we figured out a way to get a win on the road and I'm happy for that."