One of the primary tenets of Jim McElwain‘s coaching philosophy is putting his players in the position to succeed not just in the game of football but life in general. With the Florida Gators quarterback situation still very much up in the air and the player who ended the 2014 season as starter, freshman Treon Harris recently embroiled in legal trouble, McElwain said this week that he is looking forward to helping one of the team’s more promising players, mature as a player and a person.
“Part of that is growing up and yet each one of us goes through life making choices and decisions. It’s really how we approach those … choices we make,” McElwain said on Orlando, Florida’s 740 The Game on Tuesday.
“I really look forward to getting into his life and being a big part of his life, as I am all the players. We’re all in a fishbowl, and no matter what, we got to understand that everything we do has consequences. We’ve all got freedom of choice and yet we don’t have freedom of consequences. It’s like when I get that speeding ticket; I always just smile and say, ‘Give me the ticket,’ because I made the choice [to speed], right?
“Yet at the same time, we got to understand that there’s certain things that – especially at the quarterback position – we need to do to affect people in a positive way. I’m really looking forward to getting to work with those guys.”
McElwain has paid extra attention to Harris as he has observed the Gators during practice as they prepare for the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 4. He likes what he has seen from the young signal caller to this point.
“Treon has been a guy that’s awful fun to watch,” he said late Monday night during an interview on the SEC Network. “He can spin it, he’s competitive, you can see when he’s sure, he knows what to do, the ball gets out quick. Really looking forward to working with him as I am all the players.”
McElwain also called Florida’s players “highly-motivated” during his SEC Network spot, noting that the Gators’ offense transitioning through three coordinators in the last four years has put the players at a disadvantage.
He expanded on those comments during his Orlando radio hit.
“There’s new systems coming in all the time. [We’re going to be] bringing in consistency, number one, and really recruiting to the specific position groups on that side of the ball, making sure that we hit the marks for the direction we’re headed. It’s going to take some time,” McElwain began.
“I’ve had the opportunity to go out and watch practice and they’re practicing their tails off, the coaches are doing a really good job getting them prepared. Really, it was an opportunity for me to see how guys work and get an opportunity to see how guys practice and see how they interact with each other. It’s really been good sitting on the sideline and observing.
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to answer. We need to get some parts on that offensive side of the ball – obviously, first and foremost, we got to get rolling on the offensive line in that our numbers are just not anywhere where we need to be to be successful – and then create and get some explosive playmakers at all positions. You know, it’s interesting, you talk about explosive playmakers but that can come at the left tackle spot. …
“[We’re going to be] developing around the guys that we have right now, so it’s not a drastic change and yet kind of an evolution into what we need to do to be successful and put points on the board against some of the best defenses in the country, obviously, in this league.”
While he has been open about some of Florida’s roster issues, McElwain has continued to avoid providing specifics about his offensive philosophy and how he plans to maximize the Gators’ ability to score. He told Tampa Bay’s WDAE 620 AM on Monday that he only cares about one thing in regards to how UF moves the football.
“Figure out how to win,” he said with a hearty laugh.
“It’s interesting. I always get a kick out of guys that have theses systems and all that kind of stuff. Well, the system I have is it fits to the players you have. One of the things we will do is we’ll change up a lot of tempos. …
“You watch what guys do at the next level, and it’s our responsibility to put these guys in offensive and defensive philosophical parts of either side of the ball that are going to help them when they have an opportunity to play at the next level. That’s something we’ve done successfully everywhere we’ve been, and we’ll continue to do that.”