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  1. Sports

Jim McElwain blasts Gators' penalties

Jim McElwain said the Gators' 12 penalties for 105 yards in Saturday night's 31-24 win over East Carolina were unacceptable, and they cannot continue. [Getty Images]

GAINESVILLE — If Florida coach Jim McElwain didn't get his message through when he exploded at running back Kelvin Taylor on the sideline, he made his point again in a postgame news conference tirade.

McElwain said the Gators' 12 penalties for 105 yards in Saturday's 31-24 win over East Carolina were unacceptable, and they cannot continue. He called the performance "embarrassing" five different times, saying it was shameful to the university, administration and even reporters who had to write about the game.

"It's not the brand or style of ball we're going to play," McElwain said.

But it's the style the Gators have been playing for years.

In former coach Will Muschamp's four seasons, UF ranked sixth-worst nationally in penalties per game (7.5) and 12th-worst in penalty yards. McElwain addressed penalties in his first remarks to his new team and benched players during fall camp for committing personal fouls.

The discipline seemed to work in the opener, when Florida committed one penalty, but Saturday was a throwback to the Muschamp era. Defensive lineman Alex McCalister, returning from a one-game suspension, kept one drive alive by running into the punter. Tight end Jake McGee was flagged for offensive pass interference away from the ball, wiping off a would-be Gator touchdown.

But the mistake that drew McElwain's strongest reaction came after Taylor made a throat-slitting motion to celebrate his touchdown run that gave UF a 31-17 lead with 6:57 left. Those extra 15 yards helped fuel East Carolina's 66-yard touchdown drive and caused McElwain's obscenity-filled eruption at one of his team's top offensive talents.

"That's pretty much the first time I really ever saw him get upset like that," linebacker Jarrad Davis said.

If the penalties continue Saturday in the Gators' SEC opener at Kentucky, it might not be the last time.

McElwain said UF got off to a bad start last week when more than 30 players showed up for Monday's first team meeting without their ankles taped, a sign they weren't prepared for work.

"The way you prepare is how you're going to play," McElwain said. "It's inexcusable. If we do that, shoot. It's not the way you play. It's not the way you prepare. It's not the way you give up yourself for the benefit of others. It's a bunch of entitlement. Entitled for what?"

INJURY UPDATES: McElwain did not share more information about defensive back Vernon Hargreaves out of Wharton High, who missed the game with a leg injury, or linebacker Alex Anzalone, who left the game with a shoulder injury.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com.

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