KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After watching Tennessee score 38 straight points to transform a game that Florida had once led by three touchdowns, Gators coach Jim McElwain was relatively calm while meeting with reporters.
The No. 14-ranked Vols (4-0) snapped their 11-game losing streak in the series with Florida while handing the No. 19 Gators (3-1) their first loss.
Here were the highlights from McElwain’s postgame comments:
- “Obviously very disappointing. My hat’s off to them in how they came out at halftime. They really took it to us, obviously, with explosive plays. You know, they controlled it and we never did flip the field offensively in that third quarter at all. We didn’t have very many plays or many yards. … That’s not good football. But to their credit, you know, they came in and took it to us. You know, it’s disappointing. I think we’ve got a bunch of guys hurting in the locker room and yet, I kind of said, ‘Why? These are life lessons, man. Not every day does everything go just like you want it. I think the key is what you learn from it and how you’re going to respond.”
- On QB Austin Appleby making his first start for Florida: “Austin played plenty good enough for us to have a chance. It just comes out — we had a good plan coming after half. They just out-executed us. Momentum, they had a great crowd here. We gave them a lot to cheer about. I thought we took them out of the game in the first half but allowed them back in, obviously, in the second.”
- On lack of big plays in the second half and what seemed like conservative play-calling: “Yeah. It’s one of those deals where when we were backed down the way they flipped the field on us a little bit. You know, we were a little nervous with protection, I’ll be honest. You know, they’ve got a couple guys off the edges that are pretty good. We had some chip plans for them. You know, like say, you know, that first one, the one that to me, the series that was kind of really telling was getting a pick down there and then not doing anything. We never did flip the field at all in the second half.”
- More: “There again, we tried some screens in the second half. They didn’t work. We got flushed from the pocket on a couple of deep ones, but it’s because they did a good job of taking it away.”
- On Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs in the second half: “He’s a great player. I mean, he’s fun to watch. He’s guy that’s ultra competitive. I think when you go back and look at the film, they had some drops on some of those over routes early in the game, right? And they connected on them in the second half. Give him the credit. He was not to be denied tonight, and I’m glad he’s gone.”
- On not letting the loss linger: “You know, I think what it does is really test who you are as a person, really test who you are as a man. In loss, in failure, some of the greatest lessons you can ever learn about who you are and what you’re all about are taught. And look, this was a good football team we played and they beat us today. So, that’s the way it is You can’t change it. So, how do you not make it two? You go back to work and you take care of the now. There’s really no secret formula, but when you go ahead and start feeling sorry for yourself … someday when you have kids, man, you’ll know what I’m talking about.”
- On injuries: “Chris Thompson, he could only run down, I think, on one or two. He popped that string again. Antonio’s going to be OK. I think we had a couple ankles. Chauncey had a shoulder. You know, we’re fine. Here’s what will be interesting and you can go ahead and write this: We’ll see how these guys respond as to who’s really hurt. That will tell you a lot, you know what I mean? Sometimes guys get feeling sorry for themselves and all of a sudden that little injury that is no big deal all of a sudden becomes … look, this ain’t my first rodeo, I’ve seen this stuff, OK? So this is going to test a lot of guys in that locker room to see who we are and see what we’re made of, and I’ll be interested to see.”
- On Antonio Callaway’s miscues fielding punts inside the 5: “Yeah, twice. Not very smart. You know, he caught the one right there at the 8 that we wanted him to, heels are on the 8 don’t go backwards. Same thing with Lamical on the last kickoff return that made us go long field. He was five to six in, so they were going to hold it in. But you got guys that want to go make plays. They have to understand that you don’t do it by yourself. You do your job. Really and the interesting thing, once you get a bunch of guys that are out there trying to do their own thing, that’s when it fails, especially in a team game. Now, if you want to go play tennis and be singles, go do that. But this ain’t tennis.”
- On busted coverage leading to big plays for Vols: “I think they did a good job. They had a good plan. It wasn’t a bunch that we didn’t see before. But there were some formational things and some motion things that were different than what they had done. But that’s what you do in every game. That’s where your rules and your discipline and how you play your position and how you do your job come in. We’ll see on film.”
- On Brandon Powell’s ejection for throwing a punch, as it was announced: “I didn’t see anything. I’ll find out. I’ll see it on film.”
- On lessons to be taken after all the trash talk leading up to Tennessee game: “I hope they take a big lesson. In life, being humble, there’s a lot of good things in that. As I said, back it up. They didn’t back it up, did they? There might be the lesson.”