The Florida Gators have found their new head coach for the 2015 season in Jim McElwain. This is an absolute excellent hire for athletic director Jeremy Foley as McElwain is an offensive-minded coach. Coming off his first head coaching stint with the Colorado State Rams, McElwain went 22-16 (14-10 in Mountain West Conference play) in three years with the team.
McElwain helped turn around a Colorado State program that had not made a bowl game since 2008. Against the team's main rivals in Colorado, Air Force, and Wyoming, he went 5-6. He was able to beat each of these team's at least once with most of these losses coming in his first year at CSU.
Speaking of his first year, let me give a quick recap of his three seasons at CSU. In his first year in 2012, the Rams went 4-8 (3-5 in MWC) and finished sixth in their conference. This was his first year, so he gets a pass.
In his second year in 2013, progress was made as the Rams went 8-6 (5-3 in MWC) and finished third in the conference. He led CSU to its first winning season and bowl win since 2008 with a 48-45 victory over the Washington State Cougars in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl.
In his third and final year in 2014, McElwain currently has the Rams at 10-2 (6-2 in MWC) and second in the conference. This turnaround was good enough to win him the 2014 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year Award. As it looks right now, the Rams will most likely win their bowl game.Offensively this year, the Rams are ranked 7th overall in passing yards (326.3 per game), 59th overall in rushing yards (171.6 per game), and 25th overall in points for (35.9 per game).
The stats mentioned above beat out the Gators in every category except rushing yards. This year Florida has been terrible on offense as they are ranked 107th overall in passing yards (180.7 per game), 45th overall in rushing yards (189.5 per game), and 58th overall in points for (30.5 per game).
As McElwain rebuilt Colorado State, what stands out to me is his development of senior quarterback Garret Grayson. Through 12 games Grayson is fifth overall in the nation in passing yards with 3,779 and tied for seventh in touchdown passes with 32. He has thrown just six interceptions! Between Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris, UF has 13 interceptions!
McElwain's ability to develop good quarterbacks stems from his days at Alabama under Nick Saban. He was there from 2008-2011 and held the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. McElwain played an instrumental role in guiding the Crimson Tide to two national championships as he developed both Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron. I have heard reports that he runs his program in a Saben-esque way.
As Jim McElwain becomes the 24th head coach in Florida Gator football history, I am very confident that he can have success here and bring the Gators back to prominence. I give it four years, five tops, before the Gators are back as a national powerhouse in the college football world. For the first year, all I want is a winning record and one other thing... TO BEAT FLORIDA STATE!
Regardless of how the first year of the McElwain era goes, I am behind him 100% and am excited to see how the Gators will look once he installs his offense! I have heard that the Gators plan to keep most of their assistant coaches, but we will see how true that really is once McElwain gets here. It's a great day in the Gator Nation and, Coach Jim McElwain, I cordially welcome you to the University of Florida! Go Gators! In all kinds of weather we all stick together!
*All stats accredited to ESPN.com & Wikipedia.com