Florida Gators 2015 spring practice: McElwain on snapping, TE development, Powell, secondary

Head coach Jim McElwain took the field with the Florida Gators for the second time on Wednesday as the 2015 spring practice session rolled along. Afterwards, McElwain met with the media in a short session to discuss some of the early goings on with the team.

Opening statement

“Second practice – obviously some new things going in, thought it was a little sloppy actually today. We got a lot of details that we need to take care of, and yet, that’s expected when you get new install like this. Friday as we get going we may have to actually take possibly a little bit of a step back, and yet, the key right now is to kind of keep loading the wagon and keep loading the wagon and come back, reteach it again.

“They’ll be able to go through it this summer and we’ll get ready for the fall. Overall, still like the tempo still like the way the guys are competing against each other and helping each other get better. That’s kind of one of the things we’re striving for.”

Snap to it

With Florida’s offense going back to having multiple packages with the quarterback under center – and with the Gators rolling out two second-year quarterbacks as well as a thin, inexperienced offensive line – the team is far from comfortable with the ball exchange.

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Jim McElwain talks injuries, depth problems, other issues ahead of Florida Gators spring practice

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain met with the media on Tuesday for just the third time. The 30-minute back-and-forth saw McElwain touched on a number of topics regarding spring practice and the upcoming 2015 Orange & Blue Debut spring football game. McElwain was once again extremely close-to-the-vest on most topics, often times failing to answer even direct questions.

INJURY “UPDATES”

With a handful of important Gators – at least as far as 2015 is concerned – injured with spring practice on the horizon, McElwain was asked to provide some updates on their statuses at the start of practice. He relented, sort of, despite not providing any specifics regarding the injuries or timetables for return.

Senior linebacker Antonio Morrison announced he would return to Florida days after being injured in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl. Morrison’s injury, a torn ACL, has yet to be mentioned by the school at the request of his family. “Morrison will be out. Things are going well with him. He’s really attacking his rehab and been with us,” McElwain said. “I’ve got to tell you what now, here’s a team guy. He doesn’t miss a team meeting. He’s out there at every practice doing what he can do. That’s really good to see.”

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Readers’ Choice: Lacking production at tight end remains an issue for Florida Gators

For five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the fifth of five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

Portions of this post originally appeared on OnlyGators.com on June 4, 2014.

For a team that relied heavily on production from its tight ends over an seven-year stretch from 2006-12, the Gators’ offensive woes in 2013, which lasted into 2014, were only made more apparent by the fact that it did not have a single player who could effectively make plays, gain chunk yardage or score touchdowns out of that position.

In fact, 2013 marked the least productive season in school history for tight ends dating back to the first year the position appeared on Florida’s roster in 1966. Gators tight ends combined for four receptions (fewest ever, six in 1986 and 2010), 42 yards (fewest ever, 45 in 1986) and no touchdowns (sixth time).

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Florida Gators TE Jake McGee receives NCAA approval for sixth year of eligibility

Florida Gators tight end Jake McGee announced Tuesday on Twitter that he has received approval from the NCAA to play a sixth season of college football. The program confirmed Tuesday evening that he will remain with the team for the 2015 season.

McGee, a graduate transfer from Virginia who joined Florida for the 2014 season but only played a handful of snaps in its opener against Eastern Michigan before breaking his tibia and fibula, applied for additional eligibility but was patiently waiting for the NCAA’s response to his waiver.

“Lets try this college thing one more time! thanks @ncaa see you in the fall!” he excitedly wrote Tuesday on the social media service.

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Durkin: Cox out for bowl, McGee hopes to stay at Florida, Gators prepare for Birmingham

Florida Gators interim head coach and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Thursday to discuss the early portion pf practice ahead of the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, injuries, roster developments and the team’s preparation for the East Carolina Pirates. Florida and ECU will square off on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

UP-AND-COMER SIDELINED FOR BOWL

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. began to show some flashes as the 2014 season came to a close, but he will be unable to take advantage of the 20 bowl practices to take his game to the next level ahead of spring practice.

Cox, who announced on social media that he underwent surgery, has officially been ruled out for the bowl game after having a procedure on his hip.

“Bryan Cox had surgery and he will be out for the bowl game,” Durkin said. “It was a hip injury, something that was deteriorating over time that he needed to have done.”

In his second year of on-field action, Cox finished with 29 tackles (six for lost yardage) and four sacks. He will likely step into a starting role with the Gators in 2015.

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Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, September 10: Gators lose J.C. Jackson for season

Gators lose two for season

It may be two weeks into the season, but Florida has already lost two starters – one for the season – as well as a potential future starter after just one game.

Head coach Will Muschamp announced Tuesday that freshman cornerback J.C. Jackson will miss the remainder of the 2014 campaign after re-aggravating a shoulder injury he brought with him to UF from high school.

“J.C. Jackson will have surgery on his shoulder next week, a labrum issue that had in high school that was repaired and continues to slip out,” Muschamp explained.

“He possibly could continue to push through the season, but we felt like at his young age, [it makes sense to] just try to get it fixed and move forward. A guy who was certainly was going to help on special teams and at corner [and] is going to be outstanding player. Disappointed for him, but we’ve got to move forward.”

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Driskel avoiding miscues, praising Harris; Fowler leading troops without fear

Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. met with the media on Monday to wrap-up their 65-0 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles and preview Florida’s next game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Driskel discussed the Gators’ comfort level in their new offense while Fowler displayed many characteristics of an emerging leader for Florida’s defense. Both players also praised some of their freshmen teammates.

SUCCEEDING AND STAYING HUMBLE

Driskel earned plenty of praise from his teammates and coaches alike in the offseason, and it was even pointed out separately by both groups that he never once turned the ball over in 11-on-11 competition. He was error-free in that regard Saturday, too, though head coach Will Muschamp was not completely thrilled with that being pointed out on Monday.

“Are you trying to jinx us, or what? I mean, what the heck’s going on?” Muschamp jokingly asked the questioning reporter. “Jeff’s been really smart with the football and that’s a day-to-day process you’ve got to go through. But I think, again, people saw the command that we’ve seen in camp and the comfort level he has in what we’re trying to do.”

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