Florida football coach Jim McElwain sports a goatee in a news conference Tuesday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators returned to spring practice after enjoying last week off for spring break. [Robbie Andreu/Staff]
UF football: Players spring into action during time away
It apparently was not a typical spring break for the Florida football team last week. The Gators turned their week off into more of a work vacation than a celebration of sun, surf and sand.
Heading into the break, the coaches gave the players some workouts to follow on their own during their time off, and most of them apparently put in the work, based on Twitter and Jim McElwain’s reaction Tuesday.
“Here's what I really was excited about, watching our guys running around yesterday coming off of spring break,” McElwain said. “Obviously you're a little nervous about guys, wondering how much did they do? But it was great to see what shape they came back in. Just seeing what they did kind of working out yesterday and that kind of stuff.”
Many of the players took to Twitter last week to post photos of themselves working out, some on their own, some with a few of their teammates and some with former high school teammates.
McElwain was impressed.
“I was really proud of them,” he said. “We asked them to take some workouts with them and make sure they come back (in shape) and they took it to heart. A lot of them got together in certain areas that they were at. Some guys worked out at their high schools. I could see that a lot of guys got a lot done over the break.
“That speaks a little bit about why I'm so excited about this team. They really have focused on what they need to do to get better, and part of that is accepting the responsibility to keep pushing yourself. That's what we've seen."
While many of their classmates were at the beach and partying last week, the players were spending a significant part of their break straining and sweating and preparing for their return to spring practice, which resumed Tuesday.
“What I would have done as a college guy (is go to the beach),” McElwain said. “But these guys are all from around the beach anyway so that's nothing new, right? But at the same time, it just shows their kind of commitment, their want, their willingness to accept responsibility to go get yourself better. That's something that we as a program have stressed, and these guys are really getting after it. It's great to see."
McElwain said the positive spring break came after a positive first week of practice two weeks ago that featured a lot of energy — and a lot of something else, he said.
“I tell you what, we're fast,” McElwain said. “We've got guys that can really run.
“And what’s really has stood out is the way that they've approached the practices. It's something that gets you kind of really excited as a coach. But it's fun to see guys competing, flying around, playing their tails off. That's been really good.”
The Gators will advance to the next big phase of the spring when they practice in full pads for the first time later this week.
"I’m excited to get those pads on toward the end of the week and really see how the guys on the offensive line (do),” McElwain said. “It’s been fun to watch the new coaches work and just kind of the energy that they’re working with at all those spots. It’s been fun to see.
“The huge thing is are we going to play with pad level and are we going to allow ourselves to finish and not kind of get there and stop? Are we going to climb to the second level when we need to on the defensive front? Are we going to get that second step in the ground and control blockers and get our hands where we need to. I'm excited to see how our guys finish."
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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