Questions went unanswered in Jim McElwain’s press conference for good reason
When the Gators hired Will Muschamp four years ago, he had no problem whatsoever laying out specifics about what Florida football would look like under his leadership. He declared that the Gators would be a pro-style, blue-collar, lunch pail-toting team from their first practice through his last day, and while he saw most of that through, obviously the offense underwent radical changes with similarly lacking results throughout his four seasons.
New head coach Jim McElwain took a completely different approach during his introductory press conference. Granted, he was asked fewer questions about his football philosophies than Muschamp when he was behind the podium, but McElwain responded to the questions by refusing to provide specifics and diverting the subject in one way or another.
Asked what style of offense the Gators will run in 2015, McElwain said, “Whatever works. I’ve seen some pretty good stuff that’s worked here in the past. We’ll get that going.” Was he referring to a return of the fun-and-gun under Steve Spurrier? “I don’t know what you call it, but it will be a blast,” he said. “How about the Humane Society?”
A man who obviously likes to share his sense of humor (Muschamp has one too, though it took him four years to get comfortable in his own skin), McElwain’s “Humane Society” reference was a call back to one of his non-answers earlier in the press conference, when he was asked about who has influenced him offensively throughout his career.
“That’s a pretty interesting [question]. I always get that. It’s like, ‘Who are you?’ Well, here is who I am,” he began. “I’m the dog they dropped off down at the Humane Society. He has a little bit of about every breed in him. Whatever the situation is, you try to bring that breed out that helps success.”
He added: “There’s not been one thing that I’ve invented. A lot of guys in this business think they invented it. It’s been done somewhere along the way. Somebody did it before.”
More than anything, this was likely a purposeful avoidance technique by McElwain, who in an anti-Muschamp move has decided to take a closer look at Florida’s roster – and evaluate its players – in hopes of employing a style that fits them rather than force-feeding the team something it is not fit to execute next season.
“It’s about the evaluation of the talent that’s here, really accentuate what they do well, adapt to that, then recruit to some of the areas that maybe we need to get to as we form who we are and an identity,” he explained.
“Obviously, we believe in balance. Yet some games, based on what the defense has taken away, you need to have the versatility to do the other thing. That’s really where it evolves.
“But as we kind of do this, the one thing is, been pretty successful over the years of putting up some pretty good numbers with whoever we have back there, whether it’s the quarterback, running back, wideout, offensive line. It’s going to be one of those deals that we will develop it based on first what we have to play with.”
While this is not a novel concept, it is certainly one that many successful coaches employ, including a two-time national championship winner with the Gators, Urban Meyer.
Upon arriving at Florida, Meyer inherited a two-year starter and pro-style quarterback in Chris Leak who possessed drop-back ability and limited speed. So he ensured that the Gators’ offense played to Leak’s strengths in order to maximize its effectiveness. One year later, as Meyer had a chance to recruit toward his preferred offensive identity, Leak’s skills were supplemented with those of Tim Tebow, and everyone knows the result.
McElwain also shares one other thing in common with Meyer, a commitment to letting his playmakers, you know, make plays. McElwain turned two-star wideout Rashard Higgins, who only possessed offers from Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa, into Colorado State’s leading receiver and one of the nation’s top playmakers this year. Higgins has hauled in 89 balls for 1,640 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2014 and will be a high draft pick in 2015. Meyer did something similar in 2005 when he ensured that Leak found Chad Jackson, who registered 88 receptions for 900 yards and nine scores; Jackson, a five-star prospect that underperformed prior to Meyer’s arrival, went from late-round upside pick to the No. 36 overall selection.
Again, it’s a simple philosophy but nevertheless an important one.
“On your call sheet, it says, ‘Get It To.’ Pretty simple. There’s this column that says, ‘Get It To,’ that means get it to the guy that can score, right?” McElwain asked rhetorically.
“It’s about ‘Get It Tos;’ it’s about finding who those people are, then determining situations and touches throughout a game for you to be successful. You got to do that through multiple formations and shifts because people can start to take guys away if they’re just standing in one position. That’s where the multiplicity of what you’re trying to accomplish comes to fruition.”
Plenty of questions remain about McElwain (unfortunate rhyme), but early indications are that – at least from an offensive standpoint – he understands two concepts his predecessor did not: 1) There is no need to force square pegs into round holes, 2) games and seasons are rapidly changing on a dime and require a coach and his players to constantly adapt to the situation.
Not Only Gators: Reheating pizza
There are a few things I do well in the kitchen. I am no chef, nor will I ever claim to be, but I have about 20 dishes that I can make from scratch and a couple of tricks that I have picked up along the way from friends.
But no matter how well you make something, how great it tastes or how many people (tell you they) enjoy it, the simple fact is that it is easy and usually just as satisfying to order a quality pizza pie.
The ultimate tragedy with pizza, even the best pies, is that if you are neither in a large group nor planning to stuff your face, there are usually plenty of leftovers. And leftovers never taste as good as fresh food. (Yes, I understand millions of people love cold pizza in the morning, and I do too, but pizza is better hot, period.)
Microwaving pizza gets it hot and bubbly but results in soggy crust. Trying to reanimate pizza in an oven or toaster oven creates what amounts to a flatbread; at best a pizza that is way too crispy or not hot enough. Therefore, I came up with one simple, multi-step process to reheat pizza that maintains its integrity – crispy crust, bubbly cheese, puffy and steaming hot outside crust.
1) Place a nonstick pan on your stove top large enough to hold two slices of pizza in this formation: V/\. Turn the burner up to medium-low (slightly closer to medium).
2) Place two slices of cold pizza on a plate, insert into microwave for approximately 20 seconds, long enough to take the chill off the pizza and see the cheese react.
3) Remove the plate from the microwave and move the two slices into the pan. The bottom of the slices will crisp up from indirect heat from the nonstick pan, while the cheese, sauce and outer crust will be heated upward, ensuring they are cooked evenly and do not toast or burn (the issue with using an oven).
4) Check the bottom of the pizza every few minutes by lifting it with a spatula and tapping it with your finger or a utensil. It will get crispy fast but may need longer to heat through.
5) Once the cheese is bubbling and the crust is crispy, remove it from the pan and enjoy the best reanimated pizza you’ve ever tasted.
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The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
Films featuring Adam Sandler (1996-2002):
1. Happy Gilmore
2. Billy Madison
3. The Waterboy
4. The Wedding Singer
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