GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Hurricane Irma come and gone, Florida returned to practice Tuesday and coach Jim McElwain met with reporters Wednesday for the first time since last week.
McElwain was asked for an update on the Gators’ nine suspended players, how he and his players weathered the storm over the weekend and how they cram in preparations for Tennessee.
Here were the highlights from his comments (with full video below):
WATCH: Florida coach Jim McElwain speaks to the media Wednesday ahead of the Gators’ SEC opener against Tennessee.
Posted by Florida Gators – SEC Country on Wednesday, September 13, 2017“Obviously our opportunity to play the ballgame this weekend is something our guys are looking forward to and yet it’s one of those things, sometimes you’ve got to sit back and put into perspective. I don’t think you can ever say that we’re going to get back to normal because through this storm that has hit us here the last week there is no normal. I know playing this game, our campus officials, our administration, city administrators, people in the government felt like that this can be a go and we’re going to make it happen. I hope that it gives the people in the state of Florida, this area, a couple hours of something to take their mind off as they recover from what they’ve gone through. “Obviously this last week my concerns have been ultimately with our players’ safety and that they were taken care of, staying in touch with their families. Ultimately over 60 guys were affected through their families in one way or another, and what we can do to help them rebuild and move forward. And then to our coaches’ and staff’s families as they went through it and then ultimately my family.” “I know our guys are excited to play and hopefully play with a little bit of passion and desire for the people of Florida.” “We had practice yesterday for the first time. Guys were pretty focused and zeroed in. A little rusty. We’ve got to have a good practice today and let the guys go play fast.” Injuries: TE DeAndre Goolsby practiced yesterday. “Looked pretty good. I’d say he’ll be ready to go.” … LB Kylan Johnson will be out with the same hamstring injury. … No update on WR James Robinson’s heart condition. … TE Kemore Gamble practiced end of last week and Tuesday and will be back. “We had a good plan and we had good people executing the plan to help our guys, help our families and we were very fortunate. It’s resilience, it’s time to pick back up and get going and that’s what we’re going to do.” On preparing for Tennessee: “Cramming it in is probably a good way to put it. No matter how hard you focused on what was about to come up, as the battery power lasted on our computers or whatever, you’ve got to rely on your offseason breakdowns as well. Our guys are going to go play hard. … Our thoughts in this game go a lot farther than the selfish reasons you play a game and more so the big picture reasons you play a game and hopefully give some relief to people whose lives have been changed forever.” “You teach lessons in life that you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity because you never know when you’ll get one or if you’ll get another one. And I think our guys now losing two games in The Swamp over the last couple years, it’s a special place and we’ve got to treat it that way and understand it’s a special place to a lot of people. I know they’re looking forward to coming out of that tunnel and hearing those Gator fans. That’s going to do a lot.” On OC Doug Nussmeier moving to press box this week: “I think him being able to see it in kind of a sterile environment is something that would help.” On his mood: “Probably the concern for the people, the families of our players that are my responsibility. It is what it is and yet, you can’t just say it didn’t happen.” “We had a really good plan. We had some systems in place that we were able to check periodically with a response to make sure that they were OK. We set that up through our parents and families’ networks. I gave them an up to date location of where their sons were or loved ones were and tried to the best we could.” No update on suspensions. On Tennessee: “They’re a hell of a football team. He’s done a great job. Obviously beat a great Georgia Tech team and showed some toughness in doing it. I’ve got a lot of respect for what they do offensively. I think they’ve picked up from the loss of that quarterback (Josh Dobbs) and haven’t really missed a beat there.” On how important this game is for Florida: “Every game is critical. I know where we’re going, I know the things we’ve built. I’m excited about that, excited about the direction, excited about the young guys were playing.” On level of concern for how long suspensions might drag out: “It’s no concern.”
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