Coming off of 111 scrimmage snaps on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Gators fell flat on Monday afternoon.
“I’m not sure that we got better today,” Jim McElwain said on Monday afternoon. “I think today was the first day that we probably took steps back.”
McElwain and the Gators held their first live scrimmage reps of the spring last Saturday. With low numbers at key positions the coaching staff has had to be creative when drawing up practice schedules, but the true test of where you are as a team is to take off the training wheels and see how the players do on their own at game speed.
We had a really good scrimmage, guys, 111 reps. Give them credit for fighting their way through that. Had good things happen in that scrimmage,” McElwain said. “I thought the offense really took over the red area part of it, did a really good job. Defensively, we didn’t get any turnovers. We need to make sure we’re getting some three-and-outs and we didn’t get that accomplished, but overall, it was a heck of a scrimmage.”
The team met on Sunday to go over film, address the things they did and didn’t do well with their position coaches. Then McElwain addressed the team as a whole. He praised them for their play and the effort they gave but warned them not to take a day off.
There is so much work to be done and dwindling time that Florida can’t afford to go through the motions during a period, let alone an entire practice this spring.
“Our mindset was not to get better today,” he said. “It was to endure the practice. It really bothered me. That’s unacceptable. You don’t do that and play championship football.”
Early and often in the infancy stages of McElwain’s tenure, the head coach has talked about affecting the lives of young men. He wants to be apart of everything his players do on and off the field. Football is a vehicle, a teaching mechanism for life. The lessons the coaching staff is teaching on the field can be carried off it and McElwain sees the lack of effort on the field as a detriment to his team as a whole and a bad habit to begin.
“That’s the disappointing thing. When you invest in yourself, we all make a choice how we’re going to approach that rep, how we’re going to approach that day, how we’re going to approach that practice, that meeting, that class, that tutor session,” he said. “It’s all a choice and a decision. And today a lot of guys – and I’m not saying everybody – a lot of them came out with a choice and a decision not to get anything done, not to focus, and to endure rather than drain the tank and get better. That was irritation.”
Florida will take the day off from the field on Tuesday and then get back after it Wednesday.
In his opening press conference, McElwain said there is no staying the same; you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. By that axiom, as a whole, the Gators got worse on Monday.
“We only get 15 of these opportunities in the spring so. We’ll make up for it, we’ll come back and have a good day on Wednesday.”