Silver Lining: McElwain’s unanswered questions

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.

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Florida Gators press conference: Jim McElwain introduced as head football coach

Final update added at 6 p.m.

Affable and entertaining, Jim McElwain was introduced Saturday as the 24th head football coach in the history of the Florida Gators.

McElwain came right out of the gate and detailed his high level of appreciation for the opportunity to coach Florida, calling the Gators job something special and one of very few at the highest level in college football. He went on to discuss some of his philosophies, his upcoming agenda and how he plans to move forward over the next month, all of which has been captured and broken down here on OnlyGators.com.

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South Carolina fight back in The Swamp, defeats Florida 23-20 in overtime

Two blocked kicks – first on a field goal, then on a punt – kept the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) alive, and a powerful running game allowed the visitors to pull out a 23-20 overtime victory over the Florida Gators (5-4, 4-4 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida spoke all week about its plans to “take back The Swamp,” and the Gators appeared to have the game well in hand until late, when after failing to gain a first down that would have run out the clock, UF had a punt blocked with 39 seconds remaining. USC rumbled into the end zone a couple plays later to force overtime and eventually outscored the home team 6-3 in the extra period to end the contest with a win.

The Gators dropped an overtime game for the first time in five tries and are now 4-3 all-time in such contests including 3-2 in The Swamp and 1-1 this season. UF is also now 22-7 against unranked opponentsa nd 13-5 against unranked Southeastern Conference teams under head coach Will Muschamp.

Muschamp falls to 1-3 against South Carolina and head coach Steve Spurrier, and his ability to keep his job is in serious question after another late meltdown cost UF another win at home.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. South Carolina

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 64°F (feels like 64°F), sunny, winds NE at 9 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Laura Rutledge)

Streaming Video: SEC Network via WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS SO. CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 5-3 (4-3 SEC) Record: 4-5 (2-5 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U 57

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Story: Freshman QB Treon Harris leading turnaround effort
Notebook: Will Muschamp breaks down Florida entering South Carolina game
Notebook: Kurt Roper pleased with Harris, offense’s balance
Story: Max Garcia emerging as one of the game’s best thanks to great coaching
Story: DL Jonathan Bullard’s sacrifices, team-first mindset paying off for Gators
Story: QB Jeff Driskel says benching was “tough,” but he’s happy to contribute
Friday Final: Gators ready to take back The Swamp; Muschamp and Steve Spurrier square off in a potential Florida Field finale

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, October 30, 2014: Gators confident, debunking Foley-Meyer myths

Yes, The Silver Lining is once again out on Thursday. It will return to its regular Wednesday afternoon slot…eventually.

Gators won’t stop believin’

This time last year, Florida was down in the dumps, sporting a 4-3 record after consecutive road losses to LSU (17-6) and Missouri (36-17). The Gators have one fewer win (due to the canceled Idaho game) but those same losses to the two groups of Tigers (30-27 and 42-13, respectively), despite the fact that UF was supposed to be improved in 2014 and played both of those contests at home.

Nevertheless, facing it’s last possible chance to salvage the season and somehow remain in the SEC East race, Florida is putting on a strong, confident face entering its rivalry game against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs.

Numerous Gators expressed pure determination while meeting with the media this week. While they obviously chose not to guarantee a win against a program that has beat them three-straight years and proved to be the better team at the season’s halfway point, there were no heads down or shoulders slouched.

Here’s what a number of players had to say about the team’s current mindset…

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The Silver Lining for Tuesday, October 21, 2014: Will Muschamp, alma mater, Steve Spurrier

The Silver Lining will return to its regular Wednesday afternoon slot next week. With the only Florida Gators football media availability of the week set for Oct. 22, I felt it was best to bump this column up one day.

Will Muschamp’s Failure

I like Will Muschamp. I did not always feel that way, but I have for the last year-and-a-half. He is a disciplined and passionate man, especially when it comes to football. He wants nothing but the best for his players, fellow coaches and the kids he recruits.

His goal in returning to his hometown and taking the Florida job was to heal a fractured program and return it to glory, an admirable mission and one that, if we are being honest, he half-accomplished.

There is no discounting the change of culture in the Gators’ locker room. As much as Urban Meyer preached and delivered a family atmosphere, Muschamp had to instill a tough-love approach that has kept his players out of trouble and in good academic standing with the school as soon as he took over in 2011.

Three seasons later, after an injury-plagued 4-8 campaign that broke the team down the line of scrimmage, Muschamp had to find a way to bring the program together. The result? Florida’s players are adamant this season that they are closer than ever before, a testament to the effort made by Muschamp and the rest of his coaching staff.

Unfortunately for Muschamp, as uplifting as it is to know that the Gators’ are staying out of trouble, getting good grades and truly coming together as a single unit inside the locker room, what makes or breaks a football coach – especially at a program like Florida – are the results between the sidelines on the field.

And when you take into account the on-field results during the same aforementioned time period, the only determination that can be made is that Muschamp is simply not the right man to be head football coach at the University of Florida.

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4 BITS: Horschel, U.S. Open, Spikes, Grossman

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel (-11) is in contention at the Deutsche Bank Championship, one stroke back of leader Russell Henley (-12) with the event’s final round set to begin Monday afternoon. Horschel and Henley will tee off at 1:55 p.m. as the final pairing but will also face stiff competition from Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Chris Kirk, all of whom are just two shots back at -10. Horschel’s best finish this season has been sixth (twice, most recently at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June). He’s looking for his first tournament victory since 2013 when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel has already earned $1.3 million this season. Former Gators golfers Camilo Villegas and Matt Every also made the initial cut at the Deutsche Bank, but Villegas is at the back of the pack and Every got cut after shooting an 86 in the third round.

2 » Florida freshman tennis player Brooke Austin is competing in the junior’s bracket of 2014 U.S. Open, facing Evgeniya Levashova in opening-round action. The match is suspended, as of press time, with Austin up 4-1 in the second set after falling 6-0 to Levashova in the first. Former Gators star Lisa Raymond, also participated this year, teaming with fellow American Vania King in the women’s doubles draw. Pushing past opponents in the first two rounds, Raymond/King fell 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-2 to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia on Monday. The oldest woman to ever win a Grand Slam doubles title (back in 2011 at age 38 with partner Liezel Huber), Raymond has won nearly $10 million in her career with 15 Grand Slam doubles titles and a bronze medal in mixed doubles from the 2012 London Olympics.

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Spikes, Garcia, Easley

1 » Though playing in the NFL again remains his top priority, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is doing whatever he can to be the best television analyst possible in his new role with the SEC Network. According to SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Tebow is heavily involved in his new position and going so far as to pester SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore with questions both in and out of work. “I know when Tim states a goal he stays the course, so I understand why he firmly expresses fulfilling his NFL dreams,” Tessitore told Deitsch. “It’s who Tim is. I also know that he loves this SEC Nation job with us. I know he considers us his team. I know that he has told our producers that he wants constant feedback, he wants to be coached, and he wants to be great at TV. He calls and texts me non-stop to discuss every detail of everything we’re doing. Just last week I fielded one of his pressing concerns about a potential 90 second telestration piece he was going to voice over and explain for a broadcast — a broadcast that is still 10 days away. That’s commitment to preparation.” The first SEC Nation show will air on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. on SEC Network ahead of the channel’s first-ever live college football game – Texas A&M at South Carolina.

2 » CBSSports.com senior editor Tony Moss ranked all 128 FBS head coaches by how successful they were as football players. As it turns out, two coaches tied to Florida were placed in the top 20 of the rankings. Checking in at No. 20 is current Gators head football coach Will Muschamp, a walk-on strong safety at Georgia who became a team captain as a senior. No. 1 overall, of course, was former Florida Heisman Trophy-winning QB Steve Spurrier.

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