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Thursday, May 23, 2024
<p>Jim McElwain looks on during Florida's 29-15 loss to Alabama in the 2015 SEC Championship Game.</p>

Jim McElwain looks on during Florida's 29-15 loss to Alabama in the 2015 SEC Championship Game.

Jim McElwain is tired of waiting.

Frankly, so is everyone else.

UF’s second-year head coach was brought in to overhaul Florida’s offense and make the Gators a threat on both sides of the ball.

It still hasn’t happened.

The offense is in the middle of a game of hide and seek. And it seems like people have stopped looking for it.

They already know what they have, and it’s not good.

Look no further than Saturday’s win against Vanderbilt. In four quarters against a Commodores team with nine wins since Derek Mason took over the program in 2014, the Gators mustered a season-low 236 yards on offense.

That’s the second-lowest offensive output from the Gators in 19 games under McElwain. The only game that was worse? Florida’s SEC Championship game loss to Alabama last season (180 yards).

Seven of Florida’s 12 drives against the Commodores on Saturday ended in punts.

An eighth ended with a fumble on the 1-yard line. UF only made it into Vanderbilt territory five times.

Saturday was a chance to prove the second half against Tennessee was a fluke and that the Gators’ first three-and-a-half games weren’t just a fluke.

It was another chance wasted.

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“We’ve got all the talent in the world in our offensive room,” said quarterback Austin Appleby, who has started the last two games while Luke Del Rio nursed a sprained MCL. “We’ve just got to make it simple and go out there and do what we do and bring that energy, play to our standard.”

Five games into the season, Florida is ranked 77th nationally in total offense (407.2 yards per game).

Eight Southeastern Conference schools rank higher than Florida. The Gators are middle of the road, which is sadly slightly above the standard that was in place for the last five years.

During the four years under Will Muschamp, Florida’s offense finished the season no higher than 96th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

McElwain and the Gators finished 112th last year.

The explosive plays are still few and far between.

In five games, the Gators have just five runs longer than 20 yards and six receptions longer than 30 yards.

“Don’t wait,” McElwain said. “Go do it yourself. Take the initiative. Jump out there. Be somebody. It’s not that hard.”

If it’s not that hard to step up, then what’s been the problem with the offense?

Was it the change in quarterback after a cheap shot put Del Rio out of commission for the last two weeks?

“We’ve got pretty decent play out of the quarterback,” McElwain said.

Well, after Appleby’s stellar first half against Tennessee (10-for-16, 213 yards, two touchdowns), the graduate transfer from Purdue has thrown for just 227 on a 32-for-51 passing clip with a touchdown, an interception and the fourth-quarter goal-line fumble.

How about the inexperienced offensive line?

“I’m not one of these coaches who’s going to sit up here and pull the youth card,” he said. “They’ve played enough.”

Yet over the last two games, Florida’s running backs are averaging 3.7 yards per carry and offensive players were tackled for loss 13 times.

Is it a lack of effort?

“Our effort is 100 percent better,” McElwain said.

Then what’s the answer, coach? Is there an answer?

“Guys, we’re running out of opportunities,” McElwain said after Saturday’s game.

“We only have so many opportunities.”

There’s seven left this year — eight if they reach a bowl game.

“We’ll flash like we do time and time again of being prolific, being unstoppable, because we’re capable of it,” Appleby said.

“We know we are.”

Then show it.

Jordan McPherson is a sports writer. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @J_McPherson1126.

Jim McElwain looks on during Florida's 29-15 loss to Alabama in the 2015 SEC Championship Game.

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