McElwain excited young QBs 'aren't afraid to put the ball down the field'

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Jim McElwain had one of the best defenses in the nation last season, but he's hoping in 2017 the offense catches up.

The Florida head coach is excited about a young group of quarterbacks after the first day of spring practice.

"Those guys aren't afraid to put the ball down the field,'' McElwain told Scott Carter of FloridaGators.com. "There's no doubt about it. We've got a couple of guys that can chase it down. I think we've got a chance to really push the ball down the field."

Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio is out for the spring with a shoulder injury, giving young signal callers Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, and Kadarius Toney an opportunity to shine.

"All three quarterbacks took a bunch of reps. Threw it to our guys most of the time. Occasionally threw it to the other guys,'' McElwain said. "Overall, those guys handled what we had in. We were actually able to be a little ahead in install, so that was a good thing. We were able to show a bunch of different formational things and yet run the base attack. That shows me they've had a really good offseason and really an understanding coming from last fall into spring."

Florida will need to improve its 79th-ranked passing attack to be considered a true national title contender.

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