“Here's what I really was excited about,” McElwain started at his press conference late Tuesday morning. “Watching our guys running around yesterday coming off of spring break, obviously you're a little nervous that guys maybe, how much did they do? But it was great to see what shape they came back in. Just seeing what they did kind of working out yesterday and that kind of stuff. It will be interesting to see the tempo of practice today.”
In fact, a handful of is players to took to social media last week during spring break and shared some of their workout moments. At a time when they should be on the beach and having a good time with college friends, a bunch of his players were getting after it on the grass and working hard to further prepare for what should be an important season.
“I was really proud of them,” McElwain said. “We asked them to take some workouts with them and make sure they come back and they took it to heart. A lot of them got together in certain areas that they were at. Some guys worked out obviously a lot of them at their high schools or whatever. I could see… a lot of guys got a lot done over the break. And I think that speaks a little bit kind of why I'm so excited about this team. They really have focused on what they need to do to get better, and part of that is accepting the responsibility to keep pushing yourself and that's what we've seen."
McElwain said he isn’t sure he would have had enough fortitude to work as hard as some of his players did over the break. He would have been having all of the fun.
"You know, probably what I would have done as a college guy,” he said. “But these guys are all from around the beach anyway so that's nothing new, right? But at the same time, I think it just shows their kind of commitment, want, and their willingness to accept responsibility to go get yourself better and that's something that we as a program have stressed, and these guys are really getting after it. It's great to see."
With two days in the bank for the start of spring practice, McElwain says there is one thing really standing out about this team so far that he has noticed in the first two days.
“One of the things kind of going back and reviewing those first couple of days… I tell you what, guys, we're fast,” McElwain said. “I mean we've got guys that can really run, really have stood out in the way that they've approached the practices. It's something that gets you kind of really excited as a coach. But it's fun to see guys competing, flying around, and playing their tails off. That's been really good.”
Now it is time to buckle down for the last 13 practice which includes the Orange and Blue Debut on Friday April 7.
"Big key this week, we'll go to no pads one more time today, we'll get some shells on here Thursday and then… we'll go Saturday,” McElwain said. "I’m excited to get those pads on toward the end of the week and really see how the guys on the offensive line (do). It’s been fun to watch the new coaches work and just kind of the energy that they’re working with at all those spots. It’s been fun to see.
"To me, the huge thing is are we going to play with pad level and are we going to allow ourselves to finish and not kind of get there and stop. The big key there to me is are we going to climb to the second level when we need to on the defensive front? Are we going to get that second step in the ground and control blockers and get our hands where we need to and that kind of thing and not pick aside those kinds of things? But I'm excited to see our guys finish."