Will Grier redshirted last season, but he looked impressive in the spring game and is considered to have the leg up on last years starter Treon Harris.
Florida standout defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard first met Chris Rumph at a Clemson recruiting camp as a sophomore in high school. But a stellar defense wasn’t enough to make Florida an SEC contender. “The way his teams play speaks for itself”. “His teammates believe in him”.
McElwain said two players who missed the spring – center Trip Thurman (shoulder) and defensive end Bryan Cox Jr.
Over the past five seasons, Florida’s best yards per play in a season was 5.42 in 2011. Instead, a failed offense became the punch line of the Muschamp era.
In between those milestones, he knocked off another one: His first appearance at an SEC Media Days on Monday in Birmingham, Ala.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain made his SEC Media Day debut as the man in charge of resurrecting the glory days of Gators football, and the media was there to remind him of that mission. It didn’t seem to matter that the Gators are nowhere near reaching Atlanta for the league title game. Hargreaves was asked about having his dad in-conference now. “I got to work with my teammates and everything, show them what I can do”. But culture matters, and the team McElwain inherited does not have a winning culture.
The Gators have a woeful situation up front offensively. He replaces Will Muschamp, who is now serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator.
“The head coach is around the offense a lot, and we really didn’t see that too much previous year”, receiver Brandon Powell said. After all, he’s delivered with patience before.
While Tennessee appears to be trending upward, the Gators are a bit of a mystery under McElwain, who was 22-16 in three seasons at Colorado State following a four-year stint as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama.
“We have said previously that when we look at championship events, we evaluate a full range of issues”. Steve Spurrier’s name appeared in three different questions. He’s resetting expectations and redefining the program, shaping it in his image.
“What it comes down to is when we get in there in August”, McElwain said, “which one of those guys affect the play of the other people around them to be successful”.
Florida ranked 12th or worse in total offense in the 14-team SEC each of the last three years. And it was the Gamecocks who handed the Gators their most demoralizing loss of last season, an improbable comeback and overtime victory in the Swamp that led to the ouster of former head coach Will Muschamp the next day.
“Back when he was coaching there”, McElwain said, “the things he was doing advancing the football through the air, it was a lot of fun to watch”.
“We’d rather have the pressure on defense”, he said. “It’s just what we have to come in and try to do to be successful and help us win football games”.
“This past year, it was a real tough pill to swallow the way we lost that game”, Malzahn said, reflecting on a late fumble at the A&M 1-yard line. Florida defeated them in College Station past year 1-0. The new head coach has an idea of what he’d like to see, but he doesn’t know if the design floating around in his head will translate once the Gators take the field in a couple months. “I told my wife, I’m just going to kind of stay out of the way”.
Either way, McElwain and Florida must face the reality of 2015, a reality that McElwain may want to take as a mulligan when all is said and done. And if he had any problems remembering Spurrier’s influence over the Florida program, he had a constant reminder. The coach knows championships are the standard in Gainesville. They both are taking the leadership and know that this job is up in the air. “I expect the same thing this year”.
The 2015 SEC Media Days are off to a big start in Hoover. For those thinking everything Meyer touches is gold, consider this: four of the eight quarterbacks were signed by Meyer, and another (Driskel) had committed to Meyer before he resigned after the 2009 season.