Florida Gators football mailbag: South Carolina

The Florida Gators football team are the SEC East Champions but there are still three games left before Florida can pack its bags for Atlanta. With a desperate South Carolina team waiting to play just its third home game of the season this week, the Gators will need to remain focused if they want to keep their playoff hopes and dreams alive.

The Gator Country members had plenty of questions about their team for this week’s mailbag and we have their answers.

Section8_row1821015: A lot of Coach Mac’s comments about focusing on the present instead of the results, preparing on a given day so that the chances to be successful on Saturday increase sound Saban-esque. Other than Saban, who has mentored Mac’s coaching philosophies?

The most recent one, and one that he got a lot of his organizational skills from is Nick Saban. Saban runs a very tight ship over at Alabama and that is where McElwain saw first hand how helpful having a team of graduate assistants and other coaches can help in the scouting opponents, breaking down film and recruiting. Mac also got his 18-month calendar from Saban. The coaching staff has everything mapped out from the team to recruiting on a continually updated 18-month calendar. The theory is that nothing should surprise him.

The late Cliff Hysell, who spent 20 years at Montana State as a player, assistant coach and head coach, was an early mentor for McElwain. Hysell was the head coach at Montana State from 1992-99 and McElwain was the Bobcats’ offensive coordinator, special teams coach and wide receivers coach during that time.

John L. Smith was also a mentor to McElwain. The two were on the Louisville staff together from 2000-02 and then again on staff together at Michigan State from 2003-2005.


Gator_nica: What do you expect from this team for next year, assuming Grier is eligible from Day 1? What will be our strength and weaknesses?

If Grier is eligible from day one I believe he will be the starter. The offensive line is getting a lot of good experience for the younger players right now and the team will return four starters next season in David Sharpe, Martez Ivey, Cam Dillard and Fred Johnson (who started last week and should earn a starting job next season as well).

The backfield will be absolutely loaded. Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite return and the additions of Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson give Florida a deep stable of backs. The receiver situation is what it is. You’ll have Antonio Callaway returning, yes, but after that, who knows. Florida will need a freshman to come in and contribute. Tight end is solid with DeAndre Goolsby and C’yontai Lewis.

Defensively it all depends on how many players leave early for the NFL. Antonio Morrison and Jon Bullard are gone. Vernon Hargreaves III is as good as gone and guys like Jarrad Davis, Keanu Neal and Marcus Maye could all opt to leave school early. If everyone on defense that is draft eligible leaves school early it will be hard to fill all of those holes in 2016.


UFLaw: Where is the best place to go for Beer and Food in Columbia? Where do the Gators Tailgate?

My go-to spots in Columbia for food are the Blue Marlin (seafood), Little Pigs BBQ and the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium has more than 200 beers on tap.


MrGator: Every game tells you a little bit more about your team. The Vandy game gave no reason to be overt in your praise for what they are accomplishing on the offensive side where you wonder if teams are starting to figure the Gators out. A loss to South Carolina after the showing against Vandy would tell me that we are regressing as a team. Do you agree or am I getting in the lifeboat too soon?

The Florida offense is running as well as a 1971 Ford Pinto. I don’t know what Florida can do to make things better right now. Former Florida Gators offensive linemen Max Starks pointed out to me that teams are blitzing the middle against Florida, creating a clog there where Treon Harris, being a shorter quarterback, can’t throw. This is making Florida have to roll Treon out or make Treon roll out on his own and it’s taking away those under throws and slants that seemed like they were wide open against Vanderbilt.

Until the Florida offensive line can get a push, create a new line of scrimmage and open running lanes the Gators are going to continue to struggle. Fortunately, Florida’s defense is playing as well as any unit in the country and they’re dragging the offense along with them.


FlFan: Is Sherit out for the entire game or just the first half?

I have been told that it is just the first half.

MrB-Gator: I know this is for next year but what do you see in the spring as far as QB’s competition?
Is Luke Del Rio a good one (heard they really like him)?
And can Grier compete in the spring?
And will we have Franks in the spring as well?

The coaching staff really liked Luke Del Rio but I think this is Grier’s job to lose. I’m not going to hold my breath, and you shouldn’t either, and wait for McElwain to name a starter right away, but it will be Grier. You just need to look at what the offense was doing with Grier and what it is doing without him to see the impact he had.

If Feleipe Franks flips and commits to Florida his intention is to enroll early. He’s a big-time project, nowhere near ready to play as a freshman though.


Gatrpe: Two pieces of info came across the boards suggesting big news to come, presumably about Gator football. One was from Rod Johnson and the other was from the “it will change the landscape” guy. Are the two connected? Is this idle gossip or is there something brewing?

This is idle gossip. Rod Johnson’s injury is serious. Not, just football serious, but life altering serious. Florida’s medical staff would not and could not clear them based off of the test results they got. I don’t know what Johnson could do to come back and make them change their minds. Jarvis Jones had a similar situation, he transferred schools and Georgia cleared him to play. If Rod Johnson is going to play college football, and I don’t know that he should given his situation, it won’t be at Florida.


Gatordon: What is the extent of Joey Ivie’s injury and what is the prognosis? Same for Bullard’s arm injury?
What is the status for Martez Ivey and David Sharpe for Saturday?
Do the coaches feel that Treon’s struggles are correctable or are there natural flaws?

Joey Ivie has a leg injury. He had to have a procedure done and the earliest he would be able to return would be against Florida State.

Jon Bullard practiced on Thursday and I think he will play this week at South Carolina.

Most of what Treon is struggling with is correctable, it’s just takes time and when you’re putting in a gameplan and working on a new opponent each week, you don’t have time to fix those things. Treon has been a very successful quarterback at every stage of his life and, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. He has a lot to work on, but what you’ve seen these past three games is what he is right now. You’re not going to tune in on Saturday at noon and see him play like Aaron Rogers. At this point Treon is what he has shown you. That’s good enough to win ballgames as long as the other guys around him continue playing well.


G8trDave: O-Line: Is there any information that can make us feel better about the O-Line heading into this last 1/3 of the schedule, which will include matchups against two extremely formidable defenses, and one ok defense.

The offensive line is getting healthier. David Sharpe should be back closer to 100 percent this week against South Carolina. Martez Ivey is doing a tremendous job playing guard, a position he has never played before and I think Fred Johnson is playing like a future All-SEC offensive lineman. Those two freshmen and sophomore are real bright spots moving forward.


Jlh6121: Will Brandon Powell ever get the ball on a jet sweep? He must run past the quarterback 12 times a game with no hand off.

This poor kid probably runs 300 yards a game on fakes. I hope for his sake Treon leaves the football in his gut one of these times.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC