University of Florida head coach Jim McElwain addressed the media following the Florida Gators final full-padded practice before playing host to East Carolina in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.
It has been just eight months since the Gators and Pirates took the field together in the Birmingham Bowl; a game McElwain was in attendance for and McElwain was fired up talking about the way he sees his team preparing for their opponent this week.
Someone will start at quarterback, but that is TBD
McElwain admitted that a quarterback will start the game (obviously), but the offensive coaching staff has not made a final determination as to whom that will be.
We’re going to basically do the same thing. Which guy is going to trot out there first we’re going to visit after tonight’s practice but it will be very similar. Again, the partnership, the guys working to help each other get better. There again it’s about the rise of the other 10 around those guys as we go forward.”
Two players in the dog house?
On the SEC teleconference Wednesday McElwain confirmed that Alex McCallister and Marcus Maye would return from one game suspensions but he did not mention Latroy Pittman, who was also suspended. Unfortunately for Pittman, his time watching on the sidelines isn’t done yet and doesn’t seem to have a real timetable either.
He’s got a little time to go and, again, it’s about earning your way back, doing what’s right every single day.”
Multiple ACL surgeries have set linebacker Matt Rolin’s career back. Rolin was finally cleared for regular football activities this spring but he has drawn the ire of McElwain on several occasions the past few months as other issues pop up.
Yea. I don’t know what it is. He’s got something everyday.”
Preparing for ECU’s spread attack
ECU averaged 80 plays a game in the regular season in 2014 and ran off 101 against Florida in the Birmingham Bowl in January.
The Florida Gators are not an up-tempo, spread offense so trying to replicate the speed at which the Pirates will play this Saturday has been a challenge for the coaching staff.
There’s no way you can, unless you do that yourself, it’s really hard to truly duplicate it.”
Still, the defensive staff is trying to get the Gators ready for that pace of play as best they can. Florida runs several periods in practice — like the fastball portion of practice that is open to the media each week — where the tempo is accelerated.
The challenge of being able to keep up with a team that is used to running 80, 90 or even 100 snaps on offense could test Florida’s defense on Saturday.
Safety Keanu Neal returned to the practice field on Wednesday. Neal had been held out of practice since August 21 when he aggravated a hamstring injury, something he has dealt with in the past.
Neal missed the season opener but sources told Gator Country that if the Florida Gators were playing a conference game that Neal would have been healthy enough to play. The coaching staff knows that Neal plays a big role on the defense and that they will need him down the line so they are playing it safe here.
It was good to get Keanu out there at practice today. I would say he probably moved from doubtful to questionable today, which is good to see.
The news was not as good for freshman offensive lineman Martez Ivey. Ivey had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee the week before the season opener and, while he may be able to return to practice in some capacity this week, appears unlikely to suit up on Saturday.
Tez is probably still a week away, however he’s done great and should be back ready to go. He may actually get a couple reps tomorrow, we’ll see what happens after we get it looked at again.