GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In eight days, the Florida Gators kick off the 2016 against Massachusetts, and the Gators began game preparation Thursday.
“We’re moving in the direction of getting in game week,” coach Jim McElwain said at his recent media availability. “(Thursday) is our first introduction of what we’re going to do moving forward next week.”
The Gators have a practice schedule they stick to each season. That includes "Special Treat Wednesday," when the coaches' wives bake homemade treats for the players; "Perfect Thursday," where the team executes their game plan in shoulder pads and helmets; and a walk-through on Friday.
With numerous newcomers who are going to be key members of the 2016 team, coaches wanted to get into the routine a week early.
"There’s a lot of things that we will do from a routine standpoint," McElwain said when talking about preparing for the opener. "We’ll work situations with crowd noise to get our guys used to that."
But as the Gators began their game prep, the availability of two wide receivers for the first game remains uncertain.
McElwain reiterated that there was no update on Antonio Callaway, leaving his opening-week status up in the air. In addition, C.J. Worton, who was pushing to be in the starting lineup, still is bothered by an ankle injury.
"I’ve been a little nervous because he’s been out for such a long time," McElwain said. "The ol' dreaded high-ankle sprain. ... It surely seems to take some time to get back. ... We never push anyone to get back before they’re ready, but we miss him."
While the Gators don't need to be at full strength against the lowly Minutemen -- who are 8-40 since joining the FBS ranks in 2012 -- this season’s schedule differs from those of the recent. Florida will welcome in SEC East foe Kentucky in week two, as opposed to another non-conference opponent. Thus, missing week one could have an adverse impact on the timing between new starting quarterback Luke Del Rio and two important receivers.
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