Antonio Morrison, Martez Ivey, facility changes impressing Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain

Evaluating a head coach before his first season is a difficult and wholly unfair ask. And yet, Jim McElwain – folksy and quiet in public but seemingly ambitious and demanding in private – has left himself open for equal parts praise and criticism, depending whose opinion you seek.

So when the Florida Gators’ new coach took center stage at the 2015 SEC Media Days last Monday, no one expected much to be revealed … and those expectations were met. However, when McElwain went through the ringer known as the ESPN car wash on Tuesday, there was hope that a bit more would be uncovered, especially considering how much news his fellow coaches made one day earlier.

Four live television interviews resulted in four unanswered questions about the Florida quarterback situation, more than four Nick Saban inquiries and plenty of banter that led to little no additional knowledge gained about the Gators. Off camera, though, McElwain cracked open just a tad to Ivan Maisel on his Championship Drive podcast, as Maisel actually asked some relevant, football-related questions with just over a month to go until the 2015 season begins.

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Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain takes first trip through ESPN’s car wash on Tuesday

Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, Connecticut, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain went through ESPN’s “car wash” for the first time, appearing on a number of the networks’ media platforms while making four live television appearances over the course of the day.

OnlyGators.com is following McElwain’s appearances on Thursday and is updating this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his stops. Due to most of McElwain’s spots not airing live, this post will be updated into the night.

CAR WASH (LIVE) SCHEDULE
11:20 a.m. – First Take (ESPN2)
12:00 p.m. – The Herd (ESPNU, ESPN Radio)
1:20 p.m. – SportsCenter (ESPN)
2:00 p.m. – College Football Live w/ Steve Spurrier (ESPN)

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Media: Florida Gators to finish fifth in SEC East; three named 2015 Preseason All-SEC


The Southeastern Conference released its annual media poll on Thursday at the 2015 SEC Media Days, and the masses predicted that the Florida Gators will finish fifth in their division next season.

Florida, which actually received one vote as the 2015 SEC champion, finished behind Georgia (166), Tennessee (36), Missouri (20) and South Carolina (1), only ahead of Kentucky (1) and Vanderbilt in the SEC East.

On Friday, the Gators had three players named to the media’s 2015 Preseason All-SEC team. Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (the No. 2 vote-getter behind Georgia running back Nick Chubb) earned first team honors, while senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard was placed on the second team and senior linebacker Antonio Morrison on the third team.

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Vernon Hargreaves III primed to lead Florida Gators: ‘I’m the best corner in college football’

Vernon Hargreaves III may be the Florida Gators‘ best player. He may be the best player in the Southeastern Conference, too.

He knows he’s the best player at his position.

“I’m the best corner in college football – without a doubt,” he told Paul Finebaum on Monday evening.

What is often overlooked about Hargreaves is not his ability on the field but rather the maturity and leadership of the All-American cornerback, who has played and acted like a veteran since the day he stepped foot on campus two seasons ago.

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain was effusive in his praise of Hargreaves during the 2015 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Monday for those reasons and more.

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Florida Gators featured at 2015 SEC Media Days on Monday: What to know, how to watch

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain – and a trio of players – will take center stage in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday at the 2015 SEC Media Days.

Florida will be one of the first three teams featured in the event, joining Auburn and Vanderbilt on Monday’s schedule. Live coverage will be offered from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on SEC Network both on television and online (all times Eastern).

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Florida Gators 2015 Orange & Blue Debut Preview: start time, TV schedule, live stream, who to watch

OnlyGators.com will offer a complete recap of the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut later Saturday evening following its tape-delayed replay on the SEC Network. More information below.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: Cloudy, 82 degrees, winds west/south-west at 7-8 mph
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Live online/mobile (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network +
Live TV (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network alternate (“whip-around” coverage)
TV (9:00 p.m. tape delay): SEC Network
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

EXPANDED VIEWING INFORMATION

Television:
Florida’s 2015 spring game will not air live in its entirety on television but rather on tape delay at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Live “whip-around” coverage will be available on the SEC Network‘s alternate channel (where available) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Online:
While the game is not being offered live on television, you can stream it live online (and via your mobile device) via SEC Network +. The game may be immediately available for replay via SEC Network + at the conclusion of the spring game.

EVENT FORMAT

» Florida will field an orange team and a blue team, which will square off over four 12-minute quarters and an un-timed overtime.

» Between each half, the Gators will hold a 12-minute halftime.

» There will also be a running clock for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, likely with some additional kicking and special teams work.

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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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Gameday: 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – Florida Gators vs. East Carolina Pirates

Location: Legion Field – Birmingham, Alabama [Capacity: 70,459]
Weather: 63°F, scattered thunderstorms (45% chance of rain), winds SSE at 13 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Laura Rutledge)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
(Interim) Head Coach: D.J. Durkin Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
Record: 6-5 Record: 8-4
Conference: Southeastern Conference: American

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U 56

STATS / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida, which is bowl eligible or the first time since 2012, is 20-20 all-time in bowl games. The Gators had won four-straight before falling to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, the last of their 22-straight bowl game appearances. UF is also making its 20th appearance in a January bowl game in the last 22 seasons (since 1993), most in the nation.
» Durkin is serving as a head coach for the first time. He is Florida’s fourth interim coach all time, following Galen Hall (1984), Gary Darnell (1989) and Charlie Strong (2004).
» The Gators have not played at Legion Field since 1993. Florida is 4-2 all-time in the city of Birmingham, last playing a bowl game in town in 1988.
» UF is also 1-0 all-time against ECU with a 24-17 victory in Gainesville in 1983.
» The Gators and Pirates will play twice in a three-game span with UF hosting ECU on Sept. 12, the second week of the 2015 regular season.
» Florida is 23-7 against unranked opponents since Will Muschamp took over in 2011.
» Five of UF’s 11 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer (2-3).
» The Gators will not be ranked at any point in a full season for the first time since 1979.
» Despite its struggles, Florida’s offense has been an efficient scorer in the red zone, converting 38-of-42 opportunities (.905). That’s good for third in the SEC and 12th nationally. The Gators, however, have only converted 24 red zone touchdowns on those 42 trips (.571).
» Nearly 43 percent of opponent drives against Florida have ended in a three-and-out (66 of 155).
» Since Muschamp took over in 2011, the Gators are 23-5 when holding an opponent to 21 or fewer points, 20-3 when rushing for 150+ yards, 26-6 when outrushing an opponent, 17-7 when scoring first and 23-4 when leading at the half. Conversely, Florida is 1-8 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, 2-15 when being out-rushed by an opponent and 5-17 when tied or trailing at the half.

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