Jim McElwain’s Florida Offense ‘A Work In Progress’

Florida hasn’t had a top-40 offense since Urban Meyer led the Gators to a 13-1 (8-0 SEC) season in 2009. In fact, over the last four years – all under former head coach and now Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp – Florida has averaged 21.1 points per game and an 80th-place finish among all FBS units.

That’s a trend that has to be changed if the Gators want to get back on track as one of the SEC East heavyweights, but new coach Jim McElwain isn’t ready to proclaim immediate improvements through his first few weeks of tearing down the walls and implementing a new system.

“Well, it’s a work in progress,” McElwain said following the Orange and Blue spring game, according to CoachingSearch.com. “It took a while [at Colorado State]. Let’s face it, there’s parts, right? We’re identifying the parts, and we’ll put some plans together to help the explosive playmakers make those plays. That’s for us to come up with after we go back through every single cut-up of every practice.

“It’s amazing when you do that, you see how guys get better with details. It’s cool from practice one to the end. And yet, there’s a lot of work left to do.”

The Orange team defeated Blue 31-6 on Saturday, putting an emphasis on the depth issues Florida has along the offensive line; only six scholarship linemen were available this spring, which has affected how much of the playbook McElwain has been able to install.

Still, there were a few signs that marked progress, featuring redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier, who outplayed counterpart Treon Harris by finishing 7-of-9 for 130 yards while adding some flare.

Nonetheless, the offense is still nowhere near McElwain wants it to be – and that’s OK.

“There’s so much work to do, and yet, even when you’re throwing up 450, 500 yards a game, there’s so many lost opportunities,” he said. “Getting your guys to understand the attention to detail, the focus on the communication and the mindset to go win this play. That’s where we’ve got to get.”

It should be assumed that Florida won’t be turned into an offensive juggernaut overnight, but rather an efficient unit that shows glimpses of potential. Colorado State went from scoring 21.2 points per game during McElwain’s first season in 2012 to 35.1 from 2013-14, and the Gators will be using the same blueprint that worked so well for the Rams.

And it’s not like it’s what you see is what you get with Florida – McElwain has 19 recruits from a 2015 class (No. 21 in the nation) enrolling this summer, five of them being offensive linemen. With uncertainty and depth concerns across the board, every single one of them will have an opportunity to compete for a starting role and playing time for the upcoming season.

“It’s like I told them, they’re going to Disneyland right now, and somebody gave them the fast pass to the Matterhorn,” McElwain said. “They ain’t standing in line. They’re coming in and taking valuable reps right off the bat.

“I’ll be interested to see how our older guys embrace them and indoctrinate them into the way we do things. That’s what great teams do,” he continued. “We’re still building the infancy of how you think and the mental aspect of how you go about your business. It’ll be interesting to see how these guys blend with the small group that’s already in there.”

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