Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Press Conference: Coach Jim McElwain Addresses Starting QB

Luke Del Rio Named Starting Quarterback

Florida Gators football head coach Jim McElwain announced that quarterback Luke Del Rio will now be the starting quarterback for this week’s game against Vanderbilt. McElwain believes the team looks more organized with Del Rio as the quarterback and believes Del Rio’s preparation and returning to full health is a key factor in becoming the starter.

When Del Rio went into the Kentucky game, he gave the team the boost they needed. With this switch in starting quarterback, McElwain said this does not mean Feleipe Franks won’t start again. McElwain believes Franks had a good body of work and will continue to improve. While Franks was disappointed that he was taken out of the game against Kentucky, McElwain said he was also one of the most excited about their win.

Key Takeaways From Kentucky

Two of the biggest issues about the Gators performance against Kentucky Coach McElwain harped on during his press conference Monday were: tackling and special teams.

McElwain says tackling is a continuing issue during games that the team will continue to work on. Against Kentucky, the Gators missed several open field tackles again. In the open field, players want to go take the big hit instead of breaking down and wrapping up the small ones. In order to improve this, McElwain has been running the team through rugby drills.

McElwain was also disappointed in the performance of the special teams over the weekend. He thought special teams was going to a be”a plus” heading into the game against Kentucky.

The coverage unit of special teams has not been spreading the field the way they should. McElwain says the team needs to understand punter Johnny Townsend is going to kick it a long way. McElwain says they are going to have punt drills today and more exciting ones tomorrow during practice. On Wednesday, they are going to have a “competition” because it is something special teams need to get better at. McElwain also believes Townsend needs more hang time on top of special teams needing more coverage.

Heading into Vanderbilt

Up next, the Florida Gators will be hosting the Vanderbilt Commodores this Saturday, September 30th, in the Swamp. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. A noon kickoff is something the football team has been working on throughout the spring and the fall semester. Knowing noon was going to be a time slot, McElwain has been setting scrimmages at this time to prepare the team.

Last time the Gators played in the Swamp against Tennessee, the fans were a huge help for their victory. Coach McElwain hopes fans will still show up at 12 p.m. with the same excitement to hype the team up for their game against Vanderbilt. McElwain hopes the team will enjoy Saturday and make up for lost time in the Swamp.

Today, felony charges were recommended against nine Gator Football players who were suspended for off-the-field issues before the season began. During the press conference, McElwain says he knew nothing about these felony charges. However, McElwain said they are going to sit down as a staff and administration to discuss this and says the university comes first. He also said he will do everything he can to help these guys, to help the team move on and to deal with it.

About Sydney Jones

Sydney is a senior studying telecommunications with a specialization in sports media at the University of Florida. She is a multimedia sports reporter for ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF and WUFT-TV.

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