The Florida Gators football team had their eighth practice of fall camp Thursday morning, and head coach Jim McElwain is still boiling over his team’s performance. After a great practice on Tuesday and an off-day on Wednesday that consisted of watching film and doing a walk through, the Gators simply did not show up ready to go back to work on Thursday.
“Thursday morning’s practice was unacceptable,” said McElwain. “We were not firing on all cylinders. It was the first real day that we had sunshine, heat, humidity, all that kind of stuff, which simply put you can use that as an excuse.”
According to McElwain, things did not get any better after the media left from a rough start to practice on Thursday. The effort put out by the players was at the lowest point it has been since fall camp began.
“I think for the most part, yesterday was by far the worst,” McElwain said. “That’s the one that really I saw maybe some guys not coming with the right mindset to go be successful in that given period of time.”
McElwain wants his team to take advantage of every single moment they are able to be on the field and make themselves better, and for the most part, that didn’t happen on Thursday. “We definitely didn’t win the now by any stretch of imagination,’ he said.
“Our issue is we had some guys we need to step up start to endure the practice, whether it’s counting reps, woe is me, feeling sorry for themselves rather than fighting through,” McElwain explained. “What it’s going to take to help yourself get better. I was a little disappointed, quite frankly.”
McElwain was especially frustrated by the lack of effort from the veteran guys. “That’s what’s disappointing. I’m going to be straight up with you,” said McElwain.
He made it clear that he has no problem putting older guys on the bench and playing the younger guys if that is what it takes. “As we discover those guys, they’ll just sit on the bench,” McElwain said. “We’ll find somebody that wants to play. That’s the way it’s going to be.”
“The good thing is we’ve got some choices from some of those spots, including some of those young guys that I think some people may have to buy some programs early to figure out who the jersey numbers are,” he said.
The veterans know they must step up and lead the team better after the disastrous practice on Thursday. “The intensity wasn’t there,” said junior cornerback Teez Tabor. “You know being two-a-days in camp, a lot of guys on the team are letting their minds control their bodies, including me. We’ve got to come out here and get better.”
McElwain said there are players who are going out and grinding every day at practice, he said there are too many guys pushing to have the ones who aren’t pull those guys down. “We had some guys play their tails off through it,” said McElwain. “They would be the normal suspects who you think would do that.”
The Gators may have needed a practice like the one on Thursday morning to take a step back and reevaluate where they are as a team, they are hoping to use it as a teaching moment moving forward. “Every day is not gonna be a great day but as long as we find something we can push towards to and come together when practice is going tough, that’s a good thing for us,” said senior safety Marcus Maye.
Friday’s scrimmage will give a good indication as to whether the team has learned from their mistakes on Thursday, and could separate the players who really want to work from the ones who are going through the motions.