Florida Gators: 3 things we learned from first full spring scrimmage

The Gators held their first full spring scrimmage Thursday.

Running back Mark Thompson receives a handoff during the Gators' first day of spring football practice Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Sanders Practice Fields in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Allison Deutch

Running back Mark Thompson receives a handoff during the Gators’ first day of spring football practice Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Sanders Practice Fields in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Allison Deutch

For the first time since the scrimmage, Jim McElwain addressed the media Monday. It sounds like McElwain came away from the scrimmage with a smile on his face.

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[Q&A with Florida Gators QB Luke Del Rio]

Florida will hold its second spring scrimmage Friday.

But what did we learn from the Gators’ first scrimmage? Here are three things we took away from McElwain’s Monday press conference.

1. No separation at QB: As expected, Jim McElwain confirmed Monday that it’s too early to provide any clear-cut answers regarding Florida’s quarterback situation. Although many believe redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio is the front-runner to win the starting quarterback job, McElwain dismissed that theory in his first press conference following the Gators’ scrimmage.

“I think both those older guys had their moments,” McElwain said Monday when asked if he saw any separation at quarterback. “I think both of the young guys really threw the ball well. I was impressed with how they handled a lot of situations. But, you know, no clear-cut one way or the other.” By “older guys,” McElwain is referring to Del Rio and Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby. By “young guys,” McElwain is referring to freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. McElwain went on to say there were “explosive passes,” but that the defense forced three turnovers in the scrimmage. We don’t know any specifics, though. One thing that’s probably safe to say at this point — don’t expect Florida’s quarterback battle to end this spring. It should spill over into the fall.

2. Kicking game on rise: New Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro keeps drawing positive reviews. Pineiro, who has never kicked a field goal in a game, worked in in-game situations in Thursday’s scrimmage for the first time this spring and it sounds like he passed the test (except for a kickoff that landed out of bounds). “I thought Eddy kicked really good in the scrimmage,” McElwain said. He tried to overkick one on a kickoff and yanked one out of bounds really fast and really hard, but that’s not how it’s supposed to go. His hang time, when he swings his leg, I think we’ve got a chance to have a pretty good cover team because of him. He hit a couple of field goals, again with not a lot of pressure. It was good to see those kind of go through the uprights.” The next step is hitting field goals with a little more pressure on him. That will come soon. But for now, Pineiro is still the clear favorite to be the Gators’ starting kicker this season.

3. Tight ends impressing early: McElwain didn’t hesitate to compliment tight end DeAndre Goolsby, who is expected to play a big role in Florida’s offense this season. “Goolsby really showed up in the last scrimmage,” McElwain said. “He made some really big plays in the pass game and has gotten a little bit better as things have gone from a blocking standpoint, especially some point of attack stuff. He’s really had a good spring and has developed into a guy that the quarterbacks feel comfortable with too because he’s there every day.” Along with Goolsby, McElwain also praised tight ends C’yontai Lewis, Moral Stephens and Camrin Knight. McElwain said Stephens has separated himself as the physical blocker, while Knight keeps getting better and will “play a lot” for Florida this season.