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McElwain and Gators Continue to Grind

When asked to compare Florida’s current offensive line to the same unit at the end of last season, Gator coach Jim McElwain says there’s no way to tell until they actually suit up and take the field. Florida’s season opener is 10 days away and McElwain says last year’s sacks allowed (46) was simply unacceptable, although the offensive line wasn’t the sole reason for the staggering statistic.

Unfortunately for Florida, junior offensive guard Antonio Riles recently suffered a season-ending knee injury, but McElwain says he is much more comfortable with Florida’s depth at this position in comparison to last year.

Sacks haven’t been an issue in fall camp, and McElwain says the Gators are better at every offensive line position thanks to experience and hard work–both in the weight room and on the field.

The work is paying off–McElwain says this weekend’s scrimmage provided some “explosive” plays through the air and on the ground, adding that starting quarterback Luke Del Rio played a “big part” in that production.

In the next couple of weeks, McElwain plans to solidify wide out and defensive line rotations in a way that best benefits the team. One defensive standout, defensive lineman Bryan Cox, serves as a leader for younger guys, and McElwain says he will be featured as a fullback and wing in some offensive goal line packages.

McElwain expects big things from his offense, but it also helps to have a safety net in punter Johnny Townsend, who McElwain refers to as a “real weapon.” In 2015, Townsend led the FBS in gross punting yards, while his accuracy helped Florida’s defense, forcing opposing offenses to go the length of the field to try and score points.

McElwain also praised the play of slot receivers Dre Massey and Brandon Powell who could be on the field at the same time in some offensive packages. He believes these two are explosive players who can really give the Gator offense a jolt—and perhaps punt less often than last season.

The team practiced today as preparation for their opener on September 3 and “Game Week” is rapidly approaching.

About Charlie Jordan

I'm a senior studying Political Science at the University of Florida. Multimedia Sports Reporter for ESPN Gainesville 95.3 and WUFT - Passionate about life, sports, and fitness.

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