Jim McElwain fired up to help QB Treon Harris mature, Gators offense improve

By Adam Silverstein
December 23, 2014

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.”

8 Comments

  1. Michael Jones says:

    “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.”

    Brilliant. It’s easy to see how/why this guy is a successful recruiter.

    And I can’t wait to see him work with ALL of the QB’s who are on the roster.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    Maximum Freedom, Maximum Responsibility. He really gets it. You have the freedom to make any choice you want, but you have the responsibility for the consequences of that choice.

    If that is the only thing he passes on to the players they will be more successful and better people in anything they do in life.

  3. ryan v says:

    I like how he’s playing it close to the chest. I would be so frustrated when muschamp would come out in press conferences and say “we’re gonna run zone this week because south carolina blah blah blah”, or “we’re gonna run it a lot this game because”…. Teams knew how to plan for us.

  4. Michael J. says:

    I think he understands that the number one priority is to develop a good quarterback. Who knows who that will be, but Florida has had bad quarterbacks for five years now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out UF needs to get better at the quarterback position. He also needs to get a quarterback recruit that he thinks can play. Driskel is history, and, even if he stayed, McElwain would be crucified if he attempted to trot out him again. That leaves Harris, Grier, and Mornhinweg. Mornhinweg is probably not physically capable. Harris is very small and is good at throwing the long ball, but his accuracy on short and intermediate passes is suspect. Grier? We don’t have a clue since he’s yet to play a down. If you’ve got a good quarterback, you’ve got a chance. Let’s hope McElwain can find someone to give UF a chance.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I think, as usual, you have missed the entire point of what he is doing. Player development is secondary to him it seems to me as it is to help these guys learn and live decent and rewardful lives. What they do there will mold the rest of their lives whether NFL or just going through the experience. From everything he has said, he gets it. I believe at this point he walks the walk he talks, just as WM did, WM just didn’t have the experience that Mac does. These kids will be better people, better citizens, after leaving this program, thanks to WM and Mac, and while it may not be realized by them immediately, they will look back and say thank you for that experience and the life lessons we received.

      • Michael J. says:

        I think you have missed the point. If what you said mattered most, Muschamp would still be the coach. The record, in wins and losses, is what is most important, and every coach knows that unless their record is good they will be out on their ass regardless of anything else they accomplish.

  5. Whatever the comments are, I just love all the positive vibes this guy is about. I would want to play for a coach like this!

  6. jimmy says:

    I am ready for Harris to go. He continues to make bad decisions on and of the field. He starts out by having sex with a very intoxicated female gator athlete. He gets his attorney to throw dirt all over her and make her look like a pile of trash and gets out of that. Now he is caught speeding with no driver’s license with two bags of pot in the car that belong to no one? ?? Please get rid of him. He embarrasses the program and the university. This is what happens when you recruit a thug from Miami. How do you not have a driver’s license anyways? If florida wants to go back to being a bunch of criminals like they were under Urban (look at Harvin, Pouncey twins, Spikes, and Hernandez ) then keep this thug. Otherwise, they need to get rid of Harris while they can.

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