McElwain was quick to give credit to Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and the program he has built with a lot of talent, while also making sure everyone knew that he loved the effort of his guys on the night.
“Guys that was a disappointing ballgame for us,” he started in his post-game presser. “Our guys were ready, they came out and played their tails off. We didn’t take advantage of some things we needed to. No explosive plays and obviously third downs (the Gators were 0-12 on third downs) you’re not going to be successful.
“Give them all the credit in the world. He’s put a hell of a program together. He’s got really good players and they play the game the way it should be. My hats off to what they’ve done here and what he’s built.
The star of the game for Florida State was junior running back Dalvin Cook. Cook amassed 160 yards on 26 carries and scored twice on runs. He also added 26 yards receiving.
“That running back is pretty darn good now, about as good as I’ve seen in a lot of ways,” McElwain said.
“I’m disappointed, but you know what? That’s why you go play the game. You put yourself out there and give yourself an opportunity and we didn’t take advantage of it.
“I tip my hats to them and the way they played.
McElwain wasn’t ready to put any of the onus on his defense for giving up the big yardage and the points in the game. The Florida offense fumbled the ball twice in or near the red zone giving the Seminoles two easy scoring opportunities that they took advantage of.
“The offense gave it to them,” McElwain said in frustration when asked about the defense giving up 387 yards and 31 points. “The defense did enough for us to win the game. That was a good player (Cook). You watched the game didn’t you? That guys pretty good and our guys did a pretty good job on him.”
McElwain and the offense approached the game aggressively. With a fourth and goal at the two yard line on the game’s opening possession, McElwain elected to try and score a touchdown instead of taking what should have been an easy three points. The Gators didn’t convert and turned the ball over on downs.
He said that didn’t lead to the offense not getting back on track.
“We had a pretty good plan on that first eight and we became stagnant (after that), McElwain said. “Give their defense credit, we couldn’t block them up front, we couldn’t protect, turnovers.
Florida quarterback Austin Appleby was sacked six times in the game. The Seminoles were blitzing and bringing guys from everywhere it seemed and the front wasn’t prepared to handle it.
An injury to guard Martez Ivey this week kept him out of practice for most of the week. He played in the game, but couldn’t finish. McElwain said Ivey went as hard as he could go, but it wasn’t an excuse for the offensive line’s performance.
“I’ll tell you what, he toughed it out and tried and obviously wasn’t able to go,” he said of Ivey. “You have to block them first, that helps.”
“We can’t use (injuries) as an excuse, we have to get them ready to play.”
The Gators have to brush it off and get ready to play the number one team in the country. Florida travels to Atlanta next week to play in the SE Championship Game against Alabama and things aren’t going to be any easier.
McElwain first said he didn’t know how his team would react to the loss, then he got a little testy when he thought someone was questioning whether they were going to get it back in gear.
“I don’t know, we’ll get home about three in the morning probably… I don’t know if they will come back or not. It’ll be a heck of a test.”
Then he was asked if he was concerned about it.
“Don’t you think it would?” he asked back rhetorically. “I would say it would. Yeah I’m concerned. These guys have been through a ton you know? They played their tails off today, and it hurts. You know as a competitor you tear off the rear view mirror and go forward.
“Our team will be ready! I have no idea what kind of question that was, but to question that locker room and those players...”