McElwain: pleased with Gators, gave players assignments, confident in hiring receivers coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain sat down with the media on Wednesday for the first time since his introductory press conference nearly a month ago.

The 40-minute back-and-forth saw McElwain touched on a number of topics that will be broken down here on over the next couple of days.

Though McElwain was surprisingly close to the vest on a number of issues, which are outlined below, he also discussed at length his initial thoughts on the Gators football team and plan for hiring a wide receivers coach, the last open position on his coaching staff.


McElwain plans to make a number of organizational changes over the next 18 months but some of the first evaluations he was able to make were on the team. As a bystander during practices leading up to the 2015 Birmingham Bowl – and during the game itself, of course – McElwain was pleased to see a group of young men giving top-notch effort despite all of the circumstances surrounding the situation.

“Man, I just love the way our team played in that bowl game,” he said to open his press conference. “[I appreciated] the guys that held that thing together. The character in which they played with, the energy they played with, they made plays when they needed against a very, very good football team. …

“Just to see the competitive nature was great. Having an opportunity to get out in the parking lot before the game, I didn’t know it was like that. there’s some good people out there, man, that was awesome. I really enjoyed that. I was really proud of our guys.”

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Florida Gators part ways with DE Gerald Willis III

Coming off a rocky first season with the program, freshman defensive end Gerald Willis III has been dismissed by the Florida Gators, which announced Tuesday that he will transfer from the program.

Willis, who got into an embarrassing public altercation with a teammates in Oct. 6, was in Florida’s doghouse for most of the season, missing two games at the start of the 2014 campaign for undisclosed reasons.

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Florida Gators hold on to top East Carolina 28-20 in 2015 Birmingham Bowl

As it often has for the program over the last four seasons, it took a defensive play to send the Florida Gators to victory in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Florida (7-5) triumphed 28-20 over the East Carolina Pirates (8-5) despite being outscored in the second half and outgained 536-339 on the afternoon.

Gators sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III intercepted Pirates signal caller Shane Carden in the end zone with 1:20 remaining, ending ECU’s bid at a comeback victory while sending UF to its first bowl win since the 2011 season.

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!


Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).


Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.


It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.


Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

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11/29: Florida-FSU post-game report – it’s over; bowl game up next for Gators

The Florida Gators (6-5) failed to get it done on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida, falling 24-19 to the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (12-0) despite being given plenty of opportunities to win throughout the contest.

Florida’s loss also marked the last game of head coach Will Muschamp‘s tenure with the program. The Gators will now wait at least a month until they play in a yet-to-be determined bowl game, the team’s first since 2012.


“We had our opportunities, certainly early in the game, especially. The start of the game, [we played] extremely well defensively. [We] had a hard time generating much run game, especially early in the game. In those situations when you get the turnovers early in the game, you got to capitalize on them. You can’t kick field goals. We had to kick field goals in those situations. [We] had a hard time getting the ball down the field in some situations. But extremely proud of how we played defensively. …

“You give up 17 points to an offense like that – give Jimbo [Fisher] and those guys credit, they do a great job – you deserve to be in a situation to win the game. I was proud of how we played on third down. The turnovers were outstanding. Offensively, we hit some explosives. We hit [Demarcus Robinson] down the sideline, we hit Brandon Powell early in the game on the stutter in the slot. Silly penalty there with Latroy [Pittman], knocked us out of field goal range. …

“Our guys, that was a good football team, fought hard, we had our opportunities, and we didn’t get it done. You credit that other football team. They did the things they needed to do to win the game and that’s why they’re sitting where they are.”

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Miscues doom Florida as No. 3 FSU prevails 24-19

Miscues, penalties and questionable coaching decisions doomed the Florida Gators, which failed to take advantage of a career-high four interceptions and career-low 125 yards thrown by No. 3 Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston and ultimately fell 24-19 on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.

Florida State (12-0) won its 28th consecutive game, going undefeated in back-to-back regular seasons for the first time in school history; the Seminoles will next play in the ACC Championship Game and then possibly the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Florida (6-5), which is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012, will play in its postseason game without head coach Will Muschamp, who was dismissed two weeks ago and coached his last game with the Gators on Saturday.

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Florida airs it out, tops EKU 52-3 on Senior Day; Gators become bowl-eligible

The Florida Gators (6-4) rolled to a 52-3 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, subsequently becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.

Florida quarterbacks freshman Treon Harris and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel combined for six total touchdowns, as wide receivers sophomore Demarcus Robinson and redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar each eclipsed 100 yards and hauled in two scores.

Harris completed just 4-of-12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while Driskel was 9-for-11 for 164 yards with three passing touchdowns as well as a rushing score.

For Dunbar, who was playing his last game in The Swamp, the performance was the best of his Gators career. He registered a career-high 107 yards, caught his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2012, and scored twice for the first time in his career.

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11/10: Muschamp wants to take back The Swamp

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team looks to continue its hot streak when it hosts the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-5, 2-5 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Florida.


Florida will play its second-straight game at noon in the friendly confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium when it takes on Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 22. The contest will air live on the SEC Network, which will make it Gators football’s seventh – and most likely last – game played on the new channel this season.

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