Jim McElwain Post Game Quotes

January 2, 2017

JIM McELWAIN: Well, guys, that was a heck of a game for us. That's a really good team we played, a very physical team, a team that knows how to play, how to prepare. I think it speaks volumes for our guys and their approach to what they were willing to do to get ready to go win a bowl game in January. Just so proud of them. Well-documented, obviously, how beat up we were, and yet we never once all year used that as an excuse in any way, shape or form. It was next man up.

In this case when you take a look at some unsung guys, our defensive line played their tails off, but Cristian Garcia, Vosean Joseph, D-Mac, Rayshad, I mean, those guys came in and played their tails off, and my hats off to a lot of guys that chose to play in this game the way the Gators play and ended up helping themselves in the long run as they look forward to the NFL Draft, and some guys should be really proud of what they put on film, the energy that they played with, the excitement they played with, and the way that they put in the work to prepare. It was really good to see.

Q. Talk about the 4th and 1 stop by the defense.

JIM McELWAIN: That was huge, coming up big at the goal line again, it was Hippo Diamond Stick again, same call, hadn't changed, and the guys penetrated and were able to get that. That was huge. I think some other big plays, obviously, in the game, the turnovers -- for us to give up two interceptions early in the game like that and hang in there, that says a lot for our resolve, and then to be able to get a couple there late in the game, I think that was really good.

Q. Brantley and Ivey both said they saw (Quarterback C.J.) Beathard and a couple of the offensive linemen quit at the start of the third quarter with that turnover --

JIM McELWAIN: No, I don't think they did. There's no doubt. They were playing their tails off throughout that game. A lot of times that's players just talking to motivate yourself a little bit, to say, you know what, we've got to finish and keep the pedal on the accelerator, and I thought we did that. But in no way, shape or form did they ever quit, and never has a Coach Ferentz team ever quit. They were fighting until the end. You could see how they were puncturing the defense running the football. That's not a sign of quitting.

Q. What this win means for the Florida program

JIM McELWAIN: Well, we've got a lot of really good recruits that are excited to be Gators, and that's a good thing. We had a heck of a year. Two straight SEC East championships, new facilities. We'll look for the commitment that we get from the administration moving forward, see where that's at, and I know this, we've got a lot of good young players that would have played a lot of football for us this year, and they'll teach the guys that are coming in next year the same thing.

You know, this was a -- and still is a heck of a building process. We're headed to building it, but we're building it right.

Q. On seeing flashes from Outback Bowl MVP Chauncey Gardner, Jr. during the season prior to today's performance

JIM McELWAIN: Well, that means he finally paid attention. (Laughter.) No, Chauncey is a heck of a player. If he'd slow down and listen every now and then, he'd make those plays more often, and he knows I'm saying that because I love him. You know, he was part of that recruiting class that jumped in here, came in here early, and you know what, made a huge difference this year for us, especially with all the injuries.

Q. What did you think of Randy Shannon's defensive plan?

JIM McELWAIN: Well, the plan that those guys on defense put together, adding the safeties to the box, actually swapping coverages a little bit and putting linebackers on the edge and putting the corners back to play half field or middle third was something we hadn't done before, but kept them out of the run game a little bit and allowed us to put a little more beef up front. The guys executed it. I can't say enough about the coaching staff, how they prepared on both sides of the ball through this bowl game.

Q. On how much it meant for the defense to get big stops and limit Iowa to three points

JIM McELWAIN: I mean, great defenses help you win, and they really help you win championships, and we'll continue to build that way. But one thing I will tell you, going through this off-season, we'll become a lot more physical up front than we were this year, and I'm looking forward to getting Swamp Life going.

Q. On opening the floodgates on offense

JIM McELWAIN: Well, I don't think the floodgates were ever opened. We had our opportunities to really open up the floodgates. One of the prettiest floodgates there is, Kerr Dam in Polson, Montana, by the way. There's actually more waterfall there than there is in Niagara Falls. A little history for you. So if you ever get a chance, go up to Kerr Dam. It's beautiful.

You know, I don't know what to say. Mark (Thompson) is a good player. We got our skill players out in the open a little bit. I don't think we did enough. We've got good skill players, but we've got to develop a mentality up front that says we're not going to be denied, and that's going to happen over this off-season.

Q. On how bright the future looks on defense

JIM McELWAIN: You know, good players follow good players. The credit should be given to those older guys for what they did to help these guys understand and indoctrinate them into the way that they go about their business. Now, the important thing is they're going to have to pass that torch, and that's going to happen with a whole new group of recruits that are going to all be starting next year. But that's okay, because they're going to be eager, and they're going to be excited to do it right. With these guys' leadership now, I'm looking forward to this off-season.

Q. On Chauncey Gardner being outspoken

JIM McELWAIN: I think he might be the most outspoken guy on our team. I don't think just as a recruit. I think that's just him. So you guys will have that joy here shortly when I get done.

Q. On players that have expressed plans to enter the NFL draft

JIM McELWAIN: You know, we're actually going to meet tomorrow with all those guys. We sit down, we've got all the reports from all the NFL stuff, all the general managers, all their ranks, all the insurance that they can have, all that kind of stuff. We'll meet with them tomorrow and see where we're at.

Q. On the performance of the defense despite missing team captains due to injury

JIM McELWAIN: Yeah, those are two good team captains to have out there without uniforms on. No, it didn't, you're right. And credit the guys that were there. I talked about those guys earlier, that they put the preparation in and they weren't going to be denied. You know what, they didn't take no for an answer. That was good to see.

Q. How important was it to get that first touchdown before the half?

JIM McELWAIN: Well, it was really important. And in a game like that where there wasn't a lot of give and take there, that was big. But like I said, we've got to do a really good job of getting our playmakers and our skill guys in space, and Mark is one of those guys, and credit the guys down the field that they got pieces of guys and he could finish.