The turnaround of the Florida Gators isn’t going to happen overnight, new coach Jim McElwain has said.

McElwain, who came from Colorado State after head coach Will Muschamp was ousted from Gainseville after an awful 2014 (led by an horrific offense), said at the SEC Media Days: “I think part of the experience of being in this conference is realizing it doesn’t happen just overnight,” he said.

He was full of praise of standout corner Vernon Hargreaves, who could well be a Top 5 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft: “I love the way this guy comes to work every day. The way he practices, the way he thrives in competition, and not only that, the way he takes care of himself in the classroom and other things that go along with being successful in life…..I’ll tell you, here’s the best thing, he’s fun to watch practice. The guy loves it. That’s what I think separates some of the guys at times is the ones that really, truly go out there and compete every day to perfect their craft. He’s one of those guys. He’s a lot of fun to be around, and he’s great to watch on tape.”

But the problems for Florida won’t be on defense. They’ll be on offense, where the Gators ranked 72nd in the nation last year – a big reason for Will Muschamp being given the elbow by AD Jeremy Foley. Upon arrival, McElwain has upped the quarterback competition, with Will Grier, Treon Harris and redshirt junior Skyler Mornhinweg all battling it out. Despite some rumors that Grier will get the nod, McElwain said: “I think it’s one of those things that’s kind of exciting for both guys. Really what it comes down to is when we get there in August is which one of those guys affect the play of the other people around them to help them be successful. There’s a lot of talented guys out there that can throw it and do all that, but for some reason don’t click with the guys around them. And how they help those guys play better, that’s something we’re looking for. I know those guys have done a good job of getting the guys together, doing the off-season workouts. To see which one of them kind of stood up, maybe did some other things. What I mean by that, just a little extra work in the weight room, maybe a little pulling the guys aside here or there and communicating with those O-linemen that are going to be their bread and butter as far as being successful.”

And he added probably the most obvious thing you’ll hear all this week: “So I think the biggest thing is who’s going to move the football team up and down the field is really what it’s about.”

Hiring-wise, he said that he was in close contact with his former boss at Alabama – where he won two National Championships as an offensive co-ordiantor – Nick Saban. He said: “He’s been a guy that’s always been there. As soon as I took the job, and a couple times a year, three, four times, in some cases five, just being able to call, have as a resource, he’s there to help along the way. And obviously, taking this job, he’s been a guy that has answered a lot of questions, maybe gave me some things to look for and look out for as we kind of roll through. In fact, something like this, right? But having that relationship is something I’ll cherish forever, and to have a guy that you can pick up the phone and get an answer that has that much experience.”

 

 

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