There’s an old football saying that goes, “if you have two starting quarterbacks, you have none.”
That’s where the Florida Gators stand heading into Jim McElwain’s inaugural season as the head coach of the Florida Gators.
The past three years Florida was led, for better or worse, by Jeff Driskel. Heading into 2015 the Florida Gators are looking for either sophomore quarterback Treon Harris or redshirt freshman Will Grier to take the reigns and lead the team. The Gators have two quarterbacks but McElwain is still waiting to find out if he has one.
“I’ll be interested in August to see how they kind of led the team through the player driven OTAs and that kind of thing,” McElwain said speaking to media in Mobile, Alabama on Wednesday. “We’ll get a good sense then of how they kind of affected the people around them.”
McElwain spent most of the spring acclimating himself to his players. Where most schools are fine-tuning technique and honing in on intricacies of the offensive and defensive plans, a new coaching staff had to take time to find out what they have. Who are our playmakers? How can we effectively put those players in a position to be successful? What are our strengths and weaknesses? How do we exploit one while simultaneously hiding the other? It was a learning process, but one that McElwain feels went about as well as expected.
“Those two guys did a great job of what we were trying to accomplish,” he said. “For the most part, threw it to the right color jerseys — that’s something that we kind of stress. That’s something that we kind of stress.
“Really what we did this spring offensively was more so find out what the individual position groups did well, what some of the specific players did well, as we kind of now put the pieces together going into August.”
McElwain isn’t going at it alone. He’s brought along Doug Nussmeier to tutor the most important position on the field. McElwain is involved, but he’s more of a CEO on the field. At practice he oversees everything, not sticking to one position group for too long. That leaves the bulk of the teaching to the guy who will call plays. That involves a lot of trust, something the two coaches have built throughout the years.
“Nuss and I go back, obviously we were at Michigan State together. I coached against him when he was a player at the University of Idaho,” McElwain said. “We’ve been longtime friends. He’s a guy that we kind of have like thoughts and ideas on what we’re trying to accomplish. I’ve got total trust in him to implement the system that we’re looking to do.”
Still it will take time. The past four years were marred by offensive coordinators trying to bend and prod the personnel they had into what their idea of the offense should look like. McElwain and Nussmeier know that it’s a fruitless endeavor and have instead embarked on trying to do the opposite.
“It’s gonna be one of those things, we’re going to have to evolve in to. I’m a believer in trying to fit what you’re doing to the pieces that you have,” McElwain said. “As time goes you kind of build your product or mold it a little bit more to maybe what we will be in the future.”