When Florida coach Jim McElwain guided his team into practice on Wednesday, he had a game plan ready, everything scripted from start to finish.
But as the Gators were set to begin, the coach ripped it the game plan to shreds, threw it away never to be seen again.
Time for chaos.
McElwain’s message with the move was simple, and it’s one he’s harped to his team all season: There are no guarantees in life.
He’s hoping that message rings true on Saturday, when his No. 23 Gators play host to North Texas in The Swamp at 7:30 p.m. to close out Florida’s season-opening three-game homestand.
“The opponent should be faceless,” McElwain said, “because it's an opportunity for you to go out and prove who you are.”
That includes North Texas.
A Conference-USA team coming off a 1-11 season, the Mean Green are in a rebuilding phase under first-year head coach Seth Littrell, a former offensive coordinator at North Carolina, Indiana and Arizona.
Florida is a more than five touchdown favorite over North Texas (1-1), a team fresh off a 41-21 win over Bethune-Cookman last weekend and coming off a season where it finished 118th in total offense and 120th in total defense.
And that, McElwain said, could be Florida’s demise if his team isn’t fully invested.
He watched his team barely get off and running two weeks ago against Massachusetts in the season opener, a game in which the Gators (2-0) clung to a three-point lead over the Minutemen before a fourth-quarter offensive outburst pushed Florida to a 24-7 win.
"Kind of the MO of this program has been, you know, you play high and you play low, and not consistently," McElwain said.
In 2015 -- McElwain’s first season at UF -- Florida needed overtime to defeat Florida Atlantic and gave up almost 350 passing yards in a back-and-forth game against East Carolina.
In the four years before that, the Gators lost 26-20 to then-Football Championship Subdivision team Georgia Southern (2013), needed to return a blocked punt for a touchdown to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette (2012) of the Sun Belt, and fell behind by 22-7 against Furman -- another FCS school -- before rallying in the fourth quarter for the 54-32 win (2011).
“The biggest thing is that it's our goal every week -- and it doesn't change -- is to go 1-0,” said UF quarterback Luke Del Rio, who is coming off a 320-yard, four-touchdown performance against Kentucky. “That's the goal. … If you're worried about how you're playing and not about your own job, then you're not going to play well. So we need to worry about ourselves and execute the game plans that we come up with this week."
When the game kicks off, McElwain is anticipating the chaos. He does every week, regardless o the opponent.
He hopes his team is ready for it.
“To me, I don't know how you can ever do anything and not go out and do your best,” McElwain said. “And yet that doesn't mean you're ever going to be perfect. No one's ever perfect. But the energy and the way you prepare to go out against anybody, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter if it's football or if it's Tiddlywinks or if it's going to the ice cream truck really fast; you want to go do it the best way you can.”
Saturday: North Texas @ No. 23 Florida
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field, Gainesville.
Favorite: Florida by 36
Records: Florida 2-0 (1-0 SEC); North Texas 1-1 (0-0 CUSA).
Series: North Texas leads 1-0.
Florida injuries: Questionable — DB Joseph Putu (ankle); WR Chris Thompson (leg); WR Kalif Jackson (foot). Doubtful — WR Antonio Callaway (quad). Out — LB Jeremiah Moon (thumb); OL Tyler Jordan (eye); WR Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring); WR Dre Massey (knee); DB C.J. Williams (ACL); OL Antonio Riles (knee).
North Texas injuries: None reported.