Gators feeling good vibes during open week

Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) shakes hands with teammates as they walk onto Steve Spurrier-Florida Field for warmups Saturday before the game against Missouri. (Matt Stamey/Gainesville Sun correspondent)

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 3:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 3:50 p.m.

Being back alone on top of the SEC East standings apparently agrees with the Florida Gators.

“The energy yesterday was great,” UF coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “The guys were excited about getting back, feeling where we’re at. We’re obviously not where we want to be (offensively), but at the same time, based on that half that we played in that one game, we’re in a great spot and our guys are excited about it.

“Their energy has been awesome. Just around the building, it’s been good.”

Only a few weeks after their championship hopes took a significant hit in the loss at Tennessee, the Gators are back in first in the East and in control of their destiny in the division race.

UF climbed to the top of the standings with a win over Missouri last Saturday, coupled with UT’s loss to Alabama, the Vols’ second consecutive conference defeat.

“They’re very average,” McElwain said when asked to assess the Florida offense. “But, you know what, we’re 5-1. Last time I checked, that’s leading the East. And our guys are excited about it. We’ve been given a breath of life through some things that have transpired through it without our control. And now go take advantage of it, right? And here’s what’s fun, these young guys don’t know. They’re getting a lot of playing time and they’re going. I’m looking forward to practice.”

With three of their last four SEC games away from home (Georgia, LSU and Arkansas), it’s a tough road to Atlanta for the Gators, but at least they’re on one.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” McElwain said. “When you go through life and start whining about stuff, that drives me crazy. It is what it is. It’s going to happen. Let’s go and just prepare this week and get ready for going to Jacksonville in a great event. Whatever happens after that, that’s the way it is. I just know we’re in a pretty good place. That’s a good thing.”

Del Rio in rebound mode

Quarterback Luke Del Rio was down on himself after making some poor decisions and throwing three interceptions Saturday against Missouri. But he’ll recover and learn from it, McElwain said.

“I'd say the biggest thing that was hurt is just competitive nature and how he played the game,” McElwain said. “He didn't do bad, but he didn't do as well as he wanted to either. And that's a good thing. He had a really good day yesterday and you could see him working on those things, not trying to do too much but doing what's asked of him. So I thought that was good."

McElwain said there were times in the 40-14 win over Missouri that Del Rio drifted from the game plan and tried to do too much.

Del Rio said after the game that his mistakes are correctable.

"Oh absolutely, 100 percent,” McElwain said. “I think the biggest thing is don't try to do too much. He took the plan, he knew the plan and yet he got himself into trouble. I don't know, I like to refer to it sometimes when you're playing that position as seeing ghosts rather than just taking what's real and doing it. And I think he saw that when he watched the video.

“He was down on himself, and yet he shouldn't be that down. He still played pretty darn good in some areas, and yet he knows he can play a little bit better.”

HBC gets their attention

Late last week, McElwain had former coach and Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier speak to the team leading up to the Missouri game.

“It was pretty cool, man. He came in for about seven or eight minutes, told some stories,” McElwain said. “The guys, they’ve got a lot of respect for this guy. They drive by his statue, we play on his field. Obviously, his success. He was able to relay real-life situations that he went through with his teams. Man, it was awesome.

“Our guys understand. We’ve got a great group of guys that respect and understand the traditions of the University of Florida and he’s a huge piece of that. To have him do that and visit with them was great.”

Lost game refunds

UF has announced that season ticket holders have the option of applying a credit toward 2017 season tickets or requesting a refund for the cost of their tickets to the two home games that have been lost this season to LSU and Presbyterian. Tickets holders can go to for complete information.

The school also announced that the UAA is covering half the cost of each ticket to the Nov. 19 LSU game in Baton Rouge, allowing season ticket holders to purchase $100 for $50. Tickets can be purchased online at

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top