McElwain concluded his postgame press conference answering a question about his team’s cockiness and trash talking before the contest. McElwain has always allowed his players a bit of leeway when it comes to their social presence, but he was certainly quite clear about making sure they are going not write a check that they couldn’t cash.
“In life, being humbled, there are a lot of good things in that,” McElwain said of the last question of the night. “As I said (this week), ‘back it up’. They didn’t back it up, did they? There might be a lesson.”
Now McElwain says he will find out who on this team has that mental edge to push through the crazy loss and who will start to make excuses not to push.
“I think what it does is test who you are as a person,” he said. “In loss and failures, some of the greatest lessons you can ever learn and what you are all about are tough. This was a good football team we played and they beat us today. That’s the way it is. We can’t change it.
“To not make it two, you go back to work and take care of the now. There’s really no secret.”
It was a team loss. Both the offense and defense were rolling and feeding off of each other in the first half. The offense kept the defense off the field by scoring on long drives or at least netting a few first downs, the defense in turn bailed out some miscues on offense.
“That was one of the things we were doing, a pretty good job of helping our defense by staying on the field the previous couple of games,” McElwain said. “They wore down pretty good and obviously. For me it isn’t what it does to our offense it’s what it does to our team.
We did a pretty good job of some of that stuff in the first half and created some extra (time) for ourselves and yet had no explosive plays in the second half.”
The Gators hit on four different explosive plays in the first half that led to the three touchdowns they scored. Three of those were long passes to sophomore receiver Antonio Callaway while freshman Tyrie Cleveland hauled one in for 36 yards that led to a touchdown as well.
After halftime, there was none of that. Part of the problem was field position where the Gators continuously started deep in their own territory. But, the Vols also found a second gear on defense and made things tough up front for Florida to do much of anything.
“It’s one of those deals when we’re backed down in and the way they flipped the field on us, we were a little nervous with the protection,” McElwain said. “I’ll be honest, they have a couple of guys off the edges that were pretty good. We had some chip plans for them.”
“I think the series that was kind of really telling was getting that pick down there. We never did flip the field in the second half.”
McElwain gave credit to Tennessee’s offensive game plan for what they did to the nation’s top defense coming in.
“I think they did a good job,” he said of the Tennessee offense. “They had a good plan. There wasn’t a bunch of stuff we didn’t see before. There were some formational things and motion things that were different than what they had been doing, but that’s what they do in every game. That’s where your rules and discipline in how you do your job coming in.”
McElwain offered up the injuries in the game, but was quite stern in talking about the gut check that this game will bring for some guys. It doesn’t appear that the injuries are too bad after the contest.
“Chris Thompson (was hurt),” he said. “Antonio (Callaway) is going to be okay, he had a couple of ankles. Chauncey (Gardner) had a shoulder. He’ll be fine.”
“This will be interesting. We’ll see how these guys and who’s really hurt. That will tell you a lot. Sometimes guys get feeling sorry for themselves and that little injury that is no big deal… this ain’t my first rodeo, I’ve seen this stuff. This is going to test a lot of guys in that locker room to see who we are and what we’re made of.
Something to build on…
The fact is Florida came out smoking on offense. They had a couple of drops in a couple of early series, but posted 21 points pretty quickly against the best defense they faced this year. Florida’s plan was a nice mix of run and pass, and they weren’t shy about throwing the deep ball. All of this with a new starting quarterback.
“Thought it was pretty good,” Mac said about the opening plan. “We had a couple of drops that were huge on third down early. It could have (kept some drives going) or at least allowed us to get the ball out and gain the advantage of them going the longer field.”
I thought Austin played pretty damned good and did what we asked him to do.
That plan went the wrong way in the second half as Tennessee made adjustments and the Gators didn’t.
“We tried some screens in the second half and they didn’t work,” he said. “We got flushed from the pocket on a couple of deep ones, because they did a good job of taking that away.
Give Dobbs his due…
Josh Dobbs has had career games against Florida and sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the competition. Anyone watching the game could see the Gators constantly on him from early on in the game and Dobbs scrapped, clawed and scratches his way out of several should-be tackles to make plays. Honestly, had his receivers not dropped the ball a few times early on, maybe the whole game would have had a different complexion.
“He’s great,” McElwain said of Dobbs. “He’s a guy that is ultra-competitive. I think when you go back and look at the film, they had some drops early in the game and they connected with them in the second half. Give him credit. He was not to be denied tonight. I’m glad he’s gone.”
Mental lapses costly…
The Gators had their fair share of mental lapses. Not only were their costly drops that would have amounted to first downs, but special teams issues arose when Callaway fielded punts inside the five yard line twice, including a fumble, and freshman Lamical Perine decided to run a kickoff out of the end zone that was ill advised.
“Twice, not very smart,” McElwain shook his head in disgust on Callaway’s punt return tries. “He caught the one right there at the eight that we wanted him to. The heels on the eight… don’t go backwards. The same thing with Lamical on the last kickoff return that made us go the long field. You have guys that want to go and make plays and they have to understand that you don’t do it by yourself, you do your job. Once you get a lot of guys that are out there trying to do their own thing, that’s when it fails, especially in a team game.
Brandon Powell ejection…
McElwain said he didn’t see the altercation that Brandon Powell had with a Tennessee player that led to his ejection. An above the field view camera captured the incident and it shows that Powell didn’t make contact with the Volunteer player and that the Tennessee defender faked being hit.
The SEC reviews any ejection and will render the final say on whether Powell should miss the contest for the incident. It is unlikely that he will miss any of the game against Vanderbilt because of it.