Gainesville, Fla. — The ultra-competitor has come out in Gators head coach Jim McElwain this week.
Leading up to the match up with Kentucky on Saturday night, McElwain can’t stop talking about how excited he is to hit the road. It will definitely be a hostile environment for the Gators. The Wildcats are undefeated so far this season, beating South Carolina last weekend 23-13.
The Wildcats are looking to beat the streak too – 30 consecutive years the Gators have come out victorious, and they don’t want this Saturday to be 31.
“His [Mark Stoops] years that he’s been there, they’ve built it to this and I’ll say it even back to when we played against them when I was at another school in this league. By far, the best overall Kentucky team that they’ve had there in a long time.”
McElwain isn’t dismayed about the in-conference road game. In fact, he’s looking forward to it.
“I think it’s using the energy of the opposition that hates you for those three hours with that uniform on. The hostility…I don’t know how you can’t love it and not play better on the road. And yet, it affects people differently.”
How it affects this young Gator team will be one of the things to watch, too. The team has a number of starters on both sides of the ball that are freshman.
“I think this game will be a real test and challenge to see what kind of leadership we have and how our locker room handles it.”
Aside from losing a solid group of guys to the NFL, injuries could thrust young players onto the field this weekend.
The cornerback suffered a concussion in the Tennessee game and McElwain declared him “highly questionable” for this Saturday. However, he did say that he’s been in practice with his helmet on.
McElwain seemed like the linebacker wouldn’t be making the road trip this weekend. “You are short with the 70 man roster. If they can’t go and play you cant use that seat on the bus,” McElwain said.
The tight end has yet to catch a pass yet this season due to injury but will be back “100 percent” for UK.
The Gators final play against Tennessee was something of magic, but the four quarters leading up to it were anything but pretty. The Florida Gators are still trying to hit their stride in Week 3, starting with quarterback Feleipe Franks.
As a whole, McElwain said that, mentally, the team is getting stronger.
“I think the first start was the mental attitudes towards if something didn’t just work immediately then they didn’t just fall apart. I think that energy was there pretty good.”
When and Where to Watch
Tune in at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network to see how the Gators rise to the challenge or if Kentucky gets the thirty year monkey off their back.