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Outback Bowl MVP Chauncey Gardner

January 2, 2017

Q. In your wildest dreams, could you imagine being Outback Bowl MVP?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: First I want to thank my teammates, coaches, family, but without the MVP -- it goes to the guys up front, D-line, Joey Ivey, Cece Jefferson, Keivonnis Davis, the linebackers, and the coaching staff because they put me in good position to make plays, so it's a credit them for the MVP. It's really on them. I feel like it should be a team MVP, but I mean, I thank those guys because without them none of this was possible.

Q. Talk about the coverage out there today.

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: It was really what we game planned because we knew they was going to go two by two and three by one. Quarterback, he's a good quarterback. He's pretty accurate. Older guys back there were talking around, like hey, he's coming this way, he's coming this way, he's coming to the left. He's a one-look guy, and we jumped on him early. First pick six, really just is a credit to the D-line again because they put up phenomenal pressure, and the linebackers. And the second interception, it was just keep your eyes on your reads because you never know if the pocket breaks down, and again, the D-line got more pressure, caused an error throw, and we picked it off and just got another one.

Q. Everyone keeps talking about how much this defense will lose. What about what this defense is bringing back?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: We all showed it. Anybody can play in our defense if you just listen to the older guys. They pass the torch, like Coach Mac said. All week we prepped our eight guys, listen we may be young, some of you guys probably stepping up in roles you never had to play before, just go out there and have fun. Basically our motto was to go out there and have fun. Older guys like J.D., even though he wasn't playing, as long as he was saying, keep your head up, keep your head up, because you're going to make mistakes, and things are going to happen. So it's just the game of football, and we just went out there and had fun and played our game.

Q. After the FSU and Alabama games, how important was it to win this game?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: I don't feel like it was very important, it just felt like we just got to get our swagger back and our confidence because every game you may never know what happens. So we were just going to go out there and compete at the highest level, and everything is going to fall in if you just do your job, and that's what Coach Shannon, Coach Gray, Coach D-Bass has preached all week, just do your job, do your job, do your job, and everything will fall into place.

Q. What role do you envision for yourself next year?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: Just more being there for a teammate because if things break down we want to be the guy that says hey, we've got to pick it up. They went down, they got two interceptions, all the guys on the sideline, hey, pick it up, let's go, we've got to put the ball on them, we've got to make a play, we've got to get the ball back for our offense. That's what I've got to do next year, just feel like it's a bigger role. It's just another step of getting better and improving as a player.

Q. On the first interception, were you looking to go left and get the touchdown?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: I was really looking for my D-linemen because I needed some blockers. Without our D-lineman blocking, that wouldn't have been a pick six. They got the pressure. They caused the play, so that pick six is on them. That's their pick six, it's not mine, and I want to thank them guys again.

Q. On why he was sold on Florida and Coach McElwain

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: Just feel like this is the place to be great. He wouldn't tell us anything false, just told us if you come in you've got to do this, you've got to do that. It's not going to be easy, it's a journey, it's a long season, you're going to have some nicks, you've just got to come in, put your mind to it and keep pushing, and that's all we did. Not just for me, just for everybody in the recruiting class like Khai, Rayshad, David Reese, Josh Hammond, and Felipe, we've just got to go out there and compete at the highest level no matter what the circumstances, just go out there and have fun.

Q. How did your first season go?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: I loved my first season. I love being part of the Gator program. I learned a lot from the older guys, Tabor, Marcus Maye, Joey Ivey. I learned from the D-linemen because you've got to think about it, without the D-linemen, anything could happen. You've got to have a rush. Without the linebackers, without any gaps being filled, it's going to be kind of hectic out there. Without the DB's, everybody -- it's a bond, so we all come together. We're a family, we're brothers, and go out there to have fun.

Q. On Randy Shannon as defensive coordinator and whether he changed anything

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: Yeah, we really didn't change anything. Like I said, just go out there and have fun. Coach Mac and Coach Shannon preach the same thing, go out there, do your thing, be you. Don't go out there and try to be the next guy because if you try to be the next guy something bad might happen, so go out there, do your assignment, have fun and play ball. Nothing really changed. I want to thank Coach Shannon again because he preached in our ear from the jump, from game one -- well, really from fall camp all the way to this last game, just go out there, get set, keep your eyes up and read your keys and go out there and have fun.

Q. On the future of the Florida program

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: Great future. A lot of young guys. But we're not worried. We'll go out there and compete and get at it in the off-season, just go out there and have fun like we're doing now and just enjoy this one while we can, because you've got to think about it, Tuesday, Wednesday starts and we're right back at it.

Q. How did you see the momentum shift after stopping Iowa on the 4th and 1?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: It's just a lot because it gave the offense confidence. They already had confidence but it just gave us more momentum because every time we tell the offense, well, we've got you, we've got you, just let us do our job and we've got you guys. You go out there and do your job, and we feed off each other. If the offense makes a big play, they tell us, we've got you. If the defense makes a big play, we tell them, we've got you. Like I said, it's a brotherhood out there and we just make sure we trust each other.

Q. How much does this win motivate you for next season?

CHAUNCEY GARDNER: I want to get out there right now. I feel good, but I think -- it's a long journey, long off-season, got to get our bodies back right and focus for next year and got to prepare.