Florida Gators practice update: Demarcus Robinson back, team calm, QB notes, injuries

By Adam Silverstein
December 3, 2015

No. 18 Florida Gators football is in the process of preparing for its first Southeastern Conference Championship Game appearance since 2009 when it meets the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Head coach Jim McElwain met with the media early in the week to provide some updates on his team as it prepares for its toughest test of the season.

Guess who’s back, back again: Despite being suspended from last week’s game for “making a choice” (better known as the ol’ “violation of team rules”), junior wide receiver Demarcus Robinson is back with the Gators after the seniors voted and decided to allow him to return to practice.

“The seniors got together, are giving him an opportunity. It was a choice for him not to be with his family and us in the last ballgame. Sometimes the greatest lessons in life are when things are taken away from you and no longer enabled,” McElwain said. “As I’ve said before, he’s come a long ways, but he’s got a long ways to go to understand it’s not OK to make choices that hurt your team. He practiced today. … It was a family decision.”

Following Saturday’s game, McElwain asked if anyone was surprised that Robinson had another transgression. He was not in particularly because he saw it as a personal choice, and Robinson has made a lot of careless ones in the past. “What’s disappointing is somebody would do that to their teammates,” he said. “And yet, I’m not mad at him at all.”

No status change: Contrary to Internet rumors that sophomore quarterback Will Grier was withdrawing from classes and on his way to transferring from Florida, McElwain clarified Wednesday that Grier is on campus and “doing a pretty darn good job” in his classes, based on his last grade report.

Staying put at quarterback: Another game, another opportunity to make a move from sophomore QB Treon Harris that McElwain has decided not to take. McElwain scoffed at the question following Saturday’s loss to Florida State, saying matter-of-factly that “he’s our quarterback” even though the Gators struggled to hit some “pretty good, open receivers.”

On Monday, McElwain said he and the coaching staff were not helping Harris as they were not calling plays for him that were friendly to his skillset and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, in some respects. “Maybe look a bit at me and what I’m asking him to do as well,” the coach said. “Probably haven’t done as good a job … helping some of those things moving forward. He’s learning. He’s there. He’s engaged. He’s our quarterback, and I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”

The goal for Saturday against a team that has been hurt by the quarterback run would be for the Gators to introduce more such plays – draws and options – for Harris to better use his athleticism. The problem? Florida is exceptionally thin at the quarterback position. Perhaps the Gators chose not to take that risk against the last handful of opponents for that very reason, but with the SEC Championship Game being the last meaningful contest of the season, it’s now or never.

So with all that said, how did Harris look through the first three days of practice? “He’s been OK. Hasn’t been great. But you know what? We’ve still got some time,” McElwain said.

Injury updates: McElwain did not provide a detailed list of Florida’s ailments – at least nothing like he did one week ago – but suffice to say a lot of Gators are banged up but still likely to play in Saturday’s game.

Perhaps of most consequence was a re-aggravating of a foot injury that has been bothering sophomore left tackle David Sharpe, who is now questionable for the game. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Quincy Wilson is also dealing with an undisclosed leg issue and “did not look good at all” in practice on Wednesday. Redshirt junior rush defensive end Alex McCalister remains out of action, however.

“We’ve got some guys injured, but you know what, they’re finding a way to go out there and play – obviously in discussion with the team doctors,” McElwain said.

Notes and bits:

» McElwain was not pleased with Florida’s effort in practice on Wednesday, saying it was “[not] great by any stretch of the imagination” but there is still plenty of time before the title game. The Gators had to re-do a few practice periods in order to get them right, he noted.

» On junior running back Kelvin Taylor, who’s played exceptionally well over the last few weeks: “Kelvin left everything he had – as did a lot of guys – on the field. … This guy plays his tail off. This guy plays with energy, practices with energy, plays hard. He loves the game, loves his teammates. It’s great to see. He’s got another couple games left, and he’s going to do everything he can to keep that up.”

» On senior defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard playing through his knee injury: “Bullard, this guy is doing … I just … it’s awesome what he’s doing, and he’s making himself money – believe me – as teams see what he’s doing. Because when you play at the next level, you got to prove you can play with some nicks and some bruises because no one plays in that league healthy. He’s proving some things and continuing to do that.”

» McElwain is happy that Florida is able to travel with 85 players on the SEC title game trip because he believes it is good for the youngsters not playing to get juiced about where the team can go in the future.

» On the kicking situation: “We’ll get a kicker. That’s our responsibility, and we’ll get one. And we’ll get a good one.”

» On former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who was named Maryland head coach on Wednesday: “D.J., what a quality guy, first of all, and what a quality person. what he was able to do in that role at that time, which was hard on everybody, he held it together. he’d come in and visit between practices, that kind of stuff. you could tell that guy’s a real guy and a great coach, obviously. but more than that, I think a real good person and a guy that really cares about his players.”


  1. GatorOne says:

    Coach Mac keeps skirting the issue about Grier. From what I’ve read, his NCAA suspension does not prevent him from practicing with the team; however, he has not yet returned to the practice field with his teammates. Does anyone know why he is not at practice? Is their a UF policy that prevents him from practicing with the team because of this suspension?

    • Because he’s no longer part of the team this year. Team decision.

      • Kevin says:

        But that’s what I don’t get. He could ONLY be a help to Treon. Not to mention keeping him in the practice cycles, bonding with teammates, etc. This has bothered me ever since that he’s not with the team.

    • BRLgator says:

      Grier cant play for the gators for 10 months. There is no reason for him to be practicing with the team and taking reps from other players. “He made a choice and now he has deal with the consequences.” He should be going to class and working out.

  2. ryan v says:

    need to update that 2016 commit list on the right there now that we got Franks!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I am hoping that at the end of his 3 day official visit, we have Eason on our commit list as well, but I recognize that is likely a long shot.

  3. G8trATL says:

    Don’t you think the decision via “the team” not having Grier participate with the team even if it’s just film sessions etc or even help run a scout team is kind of bizarre?
    Given the way Coach Mac came out with his support from a “team standpoint”, when the initial suspension was handed out, I thought Coach MAC said as well (correct me if I’m wrong) that Grier will still practice with the team, tells me things may have changed in regards to Grier’s future with the team. I also don’t think he was with the team before the appeal as well.
    Also after the suspension is done ½ way through next year, he still has several years left of eligibility which is tremendous given his huge potential. Another words we have yet to see him reach his ceiling to where we know we have with Harris.

    • I should correct myself and say coaches’ decision. Basically, he’s done for the year with the Gators, so McElwain doesn’t want him around as a constant distraction. If Grier’s in practice every day looking good, players could get even more down and believes less in Harris.

      I do think Grier’s future with the team is up in the air. I don’t think he’s 100 percent to come back next season. But I also think it’s more likely than not that he returns. I do not see any benefit for him to leave Florida and go elsewhere. It’s not like the suspension gets reduced or erased if he changes schools.

      • Buster says:

        The situation is weird though. Practice time for a QB is important and to give that up for the lame excuse that it makes Treon look bad doesn’t make sense to me. I mean Mac didn’t even give the job to Grier until almost halfway though the season even though to most people he was clearly the better player. I mean he must not have been making Treon look to bad in practice. It’s just very odd.

        There is no benefit to him leaving so if he does I think it’s safe to say that there is more to this than is being told.

        • Kevin says:

          I’m not ready to call for some sort of conspiracy or anything… but I also don’t understand it. I think it would be huge to be there supporting Treon, showing him what he saw or what he might’ve done, basically being a practice partner/assistant/second conscience. You think Treon has Jacob Guy as any sort of a reference? (No offense to Jacob.)

          Also… with him being gone and not around as the rest of the team goes through this CRAZY season, there is definitely a loss on the comradery and experience side of things. When someone is out of sight out of mind, you start to become an outsider of sorts. As he comes back and starts to practice again next year, he’ll literally be having to re-get to know his teammates again. Just seems very counterproductive to me all the way around. :/

        • Michael Jones says:

          I’m with you, Buster. It seems like he should be at practice. Continuing to learn. Probably should not even be taking snaps because that should go to the 2nd and 3rd teamers who are actually eligible to play, but he should be out there. Weird.

  4. Ken (CA) says:

    Sounds like Mac expects Taylor to be gone next year. Not sure why people are so high on him. He runs hard, but doesn’t really gain a lot most of the time. Unless it is just the runs called for him or our O-line deficiency, I don’t see why he would be a high draft pick.

    • G2 says:

      I’m with you, don’t get it. He has made some progress from year 2 to year 3, needs a year 4….not ready for the NFL.

      • Buster says:

        I’m not sure his stock will ever be higher. That said he is still a day 3 pick.

        He has an average skill set except for his vision which I think is good.
        He’s not overly fast, powerful, or agile. He gets what’s blocked with an exception here or there, but he also knows where to run and does a solid job in protection.

        Overall a nice little player, but in the NFL he would be….whats the phrase… JAG Just a Guy. Dime a dozen

    • Michael Jones says:

      He is day and night a better RB than last year. He’s a hell of back this year IMO. He runs hard, makes good decisions, one cut and downhill and reads his blocking about as good as any Gator RB I’ve seen since Emmitt. That’s saying a lot.

  5. G8trATL says:

    Great point as always! Given the struggles on offense, i.e. you have Grier making throws and good decisions in practice that may impact the mindset and or confidence for and in Harris.
    If you had to put a % on if Harris will be back given the potential recruits and the “Grier factor” what’s your bet?
    BTW thanks for your time you put in on the site as I enjoy reading your posts and insights compared to the so called local Gainesville biased media.

  6. Nick says:

    Thanks for a straight answer about why Grier isn’t doing anything with the team this year and a short paragraph about Grier’s future. A refreshing cut to the chase.

  7. Jemery says:

    What would be the benefit of Grier leaving?

  8. Gil says:

    What’s up with QB Jacob Guy? He looked good in the spring game , he is 6′ 4″ 225pds. has a pretty good arm. Can’t do any worse than Harris.

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