Malik Zaire passes during practice on August 10, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Jim McElwain has emphasized competition throughout preseason camp, and on Friday he'll get his first chance to see it play out in The Swamp.
He's expecting to run somewhere from 90 to 110 plays with special emphasis on end-of-game, end-of-half and overtime situations. He also said he plans to work on substitution packages.
One thing he’s especially excited about is watching the quarterbacks play in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, even though the seats will be empty. McElwain said the introduction of graduate transfer Malik Zaire has intensified the competition more than he was expecting, and he’s expecting that to continue in the scrimmage.
“There should be some answers, I think,” McElwain said of the scrimmage providing clues as to who will be the team’s starting quarterback. “And yet I don't know that. If I had a crystal ball I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.”
He added one of the main purposes of the scrimmage is to evaluate some of the fringe players — freshmen, walk-ons, etc. He said he looks at the scrimmage like a tryout. He wants his players to find roles, whether at positions or on special teams.
“This is their opportunity to make the team,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to seeing where they and how they compete to go get a job.”
Running back Lamical Perine also said he’s excited to see what some of the fringe players do on the bigger stage.
“Some players, they shine under the lights,” he said. “We'll see who the players are."
After missing time earlier this week with some knee swelling, left tackle Martez Ivey is doing fine and is at nearly full strength, McElwain said Friday.
Tight end C’yontai Lewis, defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe, offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort, defensive back CJ McWilliams, safety Quincy Lenton, linebacker Kylan Johnson and defensive end Jordan Sherit, meanwhile, will all be out of for the scrimmage. McElwain didn’t elaborate on any of their injuries, but it sounded precautionary.
“Don’t read anything into it,” he said.
Will the real Wanny please stand up
Florida features two players with the same name: safety Jeawon Taylor and offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor. Coaches have taken to calling both of them Wanny, which has led to some confusion.
“When they call Wanny,” Jawaan said, “we both look because we don't know which one they're talking about. So they've gotta add either big Wanny or little Wanny just so we can know.”
He added that in addition to their size separation — Jawaan is listed at 6-foot-5 and 334 pounds while Jeawon is 6-feet, 206 pounds — they’re also differentiated by personality. He said he’s more the quiet type while Jeawon is loud and makes people laugh.
“Ever since he started getting called it, he thinks he's the real Wanny and all that,” Jawaan said. “So it's just fun.”
The confusion figures to get worse next season, as Florida currently holds a commitment from linebacker recruit David Reese. If he enrolls, he’ll join current UF linebacker David Reese.
The Wyoming wild man returns
Defensive line coach Chris Rumph dubbed defensive tackle Taven Bryan the “wyoming wild man” over two years ago, but his teammates say the nickname is still appropriate.
Running back Jordan Scarlett said Bryan, a redshirt junior from Casper, Wyoming, squats the second-most weight on the team, and defensive end Keivonnis Davis said he’s just as impressive elsewhere in the gym.
“Squat, bench, curl, whatever it is,” he said. “That man is a beast. I’m telling you that man is a beast, like a real life beast. I tried working out with him over the summer but I was sore the next day. He’s a monster.”
Perine added “he could lift the whole weight room if he wanted to."
Offensive lineman Brett Heggie said that translates well to the field, where Bryan’s strength makes him hard to block.
McElwain singled out Bryan as a player who needs to step up this season, especially with the Gators lacking depth at defensive tackle. He said it was Bryan’s “time.”
Perine doesn't think that'll be a problem.
“I feel like he's going to shock a lot of people this year,” he said. “He's very underrated.”