Jim McElwain saw red Saturday night. OK, maybe it was just orange, considering the Florida Gators decided to wear a set of eye-straining, single-color uniforms for the first time since 1989.
But no matter how questionable the Gators’ outfits were Saturday during their 31-24 win over the East Carolina Pirates, it was nothing compared to Florida’s play on the field.
Just one week after being praised by McElwain for their improved discipline, the Gators committed 12 penalties for 105 yards, many of them costly and some of them bone-headed. McElwain believes Florida let it’s 61-13 win over New Mexico State get to their heads (seriously) and that the issues all started from the beginning of the week.
There is no reason for us to spell this out any further, though. McElwain had no problem going right after the Gators in his post-game press conference. Though context has been added where necessary, below are his complete comments, edited only slightly for clarity and brevity.
“That was embarrassing, didn’t deserve to win the ball game. I thought Ruffin [McNeil, ECU’s coach] and his team came in here and took it to us. Our lack of playing with discipline and understanding how you play the game crept up and it was embarrassing. Penalties inside the red area? We’ve got a long ways to go.
“It starts with understanding selfish acts hurt the team, and it will be dealt with. And it’s not how it’s going to be around here anymore. Over the last 10 years, the most penalized team in the league – in the country. It’s not going to happen, and we’ve got to learn. And it was embarrassing. It was embarrassing to our administration, our university … and it almost came back to bite us in the end.
“There was some decent things that went on but there were a heck of a lot worse and bad things than there were good things, so there’s not a lot of positive to talk about other than the fact that we figured out how to win a ball game. But it’s not the brand or style of ball we’re going to play. We were inconsistent offensively. Defensively, obviously after the first one you know not getting off to a fast start, but they settled into the game and played pretty decent. …
“We had trouble all day. It was horrible. It was unexcusable (sic). It was all over the field.”
McElwain was asked how he can go about coaching these issues out of his players.
“You correct the mistakes. OK? And part of it is you can’t enable the behavior to happen continually. You got to teach them it’s not OK. It’s not OK to act that way. It’s not OK to call attention to yourself when the selfish act hurts the whole team. It’s not OK.
“It’s not like we didn’t know what they were going to run. And their D-line took it to us. … It was ridiculous.”
McElwain, in a brief moment of brevity, insisted the media should feel the same way about the team they had to cover on Saturday night.
“You guys should be embarrassed having to write about it.”
He sensed that a major letdown was coming this week.
“It started Monday. We had 30-plus guys that didn’t have their ankles taped for the first meeting – 30-plus. Now, before I got here, there was a lot more, but that’s unacceptable. You have to come prepared. That was a look into maybe what was gonna go on this week.
“They were feeling good about themselves. For what? Because they took care of one opportunity? Look, the thing in life, you don’t get many opportunities, so how are you going to let one slip away when you’ve got a chance to play a game. …
“It came to be that the way you prepare is how you’re going to play. That’s unexcusable (sic). And we do that? Shoot, it’s not the way you play, it’s not the way you prepare, it’s not the way you give up yourself for the benefit of others.
“It’s a bunch of entitlement. Entitled for what? How about invested?”
The Gators will move on from here, but it won’t be easy.
“We’ll correct the mistakes, bury it, tear off the rear view mirror and get ready to play a very good Kentucky team on the road that arguably beat us a year ago here, is going to have a lot of confidence, new stadium, new facilities, a lot of energy. I’m sure right now they’re going to look at this and say, ‘You know what? We can beat these guys.’”