Florida’s first-year head coach Jim McElwain has never coached or played at Florida or Georgia before this year, so he’s never had the pleasure of participating in the event known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” But he has seen and heard enough about it to know what he’s in for when the teams renew their old rivalry on Halloween this year.
“This is what college football is all about,” said McElwain, who came to Florida from Colorado State last December. “I just think these traditions and the fact it’s played (in Jacksonville) is great. I think it’s a lot of fun for a lot of people and everybody involved. Other than knowing that you could set your television by it for a lot of years, I think this is the reason you get in this business, to play in these types of games and be a part of them.”
McElwain said he has never been to EverBank Field but has driven by it while on recruiting trips.
“The thing looks pretty neat, so I’m excited about it,” he quipped.
As for Georgia, McElwain claims the Gators have not yet given the Bulldogs their full attention. He said they have been taking advantage of the bye week by returning to the basics
“We’ve obviously done our studies from the offseason; I can’t sit here and tell you and that we haven’t looked ahead at it a little bit,” he said of the Bulldogs. “But at the same time I kind of believe in using this week for fundamentals and getting better against each other. We’ll start normal game plan as we would any opponent from there.”
McElwain has a good bit of familiarity with Georgia’s staff. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama (2008-11) while UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, offensive line coach Rob Sale and outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer worked for the Crimson Tide in various capacities.
“Obviously I know Jeremy real well,” McElwain said. “We’ve worked together and I just know what a great coach he is on the defensive side of the ball. And knowing what they’ve done historically on offense, obviously, it was a horrible loss they had with the running back (Nick Chubb). I feel horrible about that because you hate to see that no matter who it is, because he’s sure fun to watch.
“Yet they’ve got really good players. They’ve recruited the top players I the country every year. We’ll kind of go with it from there and try to work on ourselves a little bit this week.”