Meyer & Tebow SEC Postgame

The Florida Gators fell one short of their goal set at the beginning of the season falling to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. Gator head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Tim Tebow talked about what went wrong on Saturday, how they can regroup for the bowl and their perspective on the season.

THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with Florida. We'll ask Coach Meyer for some general thoughts on the game, then we'll take your questions for Coach and Tim. Coach.

COACH MEYER: I'd like to congratulate Alabama on a; well-played game. They came out and played real hard. I'd also like to thank our seniors. They came out and played their tails off. We didn't execute very good. But you've got to take your good with the bad. So we've got to go find a way to go regroup and win a Bowl game.

Q. Urban, I know you're fond of talking about Coach Holtz and how he says the last five minutes of the first half, first five minutes of the second half. Obviously you didn't get the touchdown at the end of the first half and three and out at the start of the second. Can you talk about not capturing that momentum like you could have?

COACH MEYER: I think the score was 12-10, went down to score and there was four minutes left. That big screen pass was a huge momentum shift. But still you come back and it's 19 -- what was it 19-10 at halftime, I'm not sure. But you felt like you could still come back. If we would have got something going right away in the third quarter, and we obviously didn't, so that was a huge momentum shift, especially after the touchdown to David Nelson to get it to 12-10.

Q. Could you talk about what surprised you the most tonight? You guys seemed to get handled on the offensive line. They seemed to have the right calls on them at the right times, especially that screen pass, was there one thing that really surprised you?

COACH MEYER: Well, we've played great defense here at Florida. I think it came down to missed tackles. Two huge plays in the first half and one was basically a hitch where a guy came out of it and then a screen play. And those are very uncharacteristic of good defenses to give up good plays.

Q. Tim, could you tell me a little bit about what you said, what Coach Saban said to you after you met with him after the game?

TIM TEBOW: I can't remember everything. But he just said keep your head up. You're a great player. You've had a great career, and just keep your head up and don't change who you are. And that's pretty much what I got from it.

Q. Urban, so many goals fall by the wayside now. How do you regroup for any Bowl game after what you guys were shooting for through this game?

COACH MEYER: Well, I think we're probably going to get a great Bowl game. I know everybody can -- it's not official until it's official. If I have a bunch of bad guys in that locker room, that would be an issue. I don't think it is. We're kind of in a territory we haven't been in a while. And we've got to regroup from a loss.

You're not going to win every game you play. So we'll find a way. We have a lot of confidence in these players.

Q. Tim, I know you tried to rally the team there late, and I know you felt you could get things going. Tell me what you sensed in that huddle at the time you had some resolve, went out there, just couldn't get it done. What was that like for you, the experience?

TIM TEBOW: Well, it was frustrating, obviously. This is not how we wanted to finish our season in the SEC, and, you know, there were a lot of goals and a lot of goals we won't be able to accomplish.

But it was frustrating. To say it wasn't, it would be a lie.

We've still got to regroup and go have a good Bowl game, and that's what our focus will be.

Q. Tim, I know it's a very emotional game for you. And what do you think you'll take from this defeat, what lessons will you learn? And I'd like to add one other comment, if I may, aside from playing football. I live in Alabama. All the women in Alabama, grandmas to the kids, love you. So they weren't rooting against you; I guess they was rooting against Coach Urban. Thank you.

TIM TEBOW: I want to thank you for the nice comments. Taking a lot of this game, anytime good or bad, there's still a lot you can get out of it. This is also a feeling we don't like. So we don't want to repeat too many times, and that's something you'll get out of us is just the drive to prepare and work harder and get everybody prepared a little bit better. Because I just think that coming in we felt like we were prepared. But obviously we could have done a lot better job. That's my responsibility as a quarterback to get that done, and we didn't do it. So I think that will be a big focus in the future, is just preparing harder for a game.

Q. Tim, can you maybe take us through the context of the game itself and when you kind of felt that it was maybe getting away from you? I know you had a lot of enthusiasm the first half there with the two long runs and then the touchdown. You obviously were pumped up. Kind of what was going through your mind in the second half in particular?

TIM TEBOW: Well, we had the two long runs, I think we were pretty -- you know, it's not that we weren't amped up, but I just was trying to get everybody into it, get the fans into it, all the sideline into it. That's why I tried to do that. And then really when I felt it slipping away was when they scored their third touchdown, took up a lot of time, and you knew it was in the fourth quarter, but no one panicked or did anything like that.

We regrouped, drove the ball down the field and do an interception in the red zone. So could we have come back, I don't know, but we sure were trying. No one gave up or batted an eye or started arguing. It was a team effort and it was a team effort that we lost in. But still everybody stuck together the whole game.

Q. Coach, normally if your defense misses a lot of tackles, they attribute it to a lack of focus. I imagine that wasn't the case today. Were they just flat-out beaten or what's your assessment?

COACH MEYER: That's a good way to analyze it. I don't know if it's lack of focus, lack of preparation or the fact you're facing some pretty good backs and you didn't make the tackle. We've been a very good tackling team. Our record we have in our defensive staff room our record is I want to say 45-2 when we have single-digit missed tackles. I know we had more than single digit. So that's a fundamental on defense, and I'm sure every school has it. Don't take away the credit from the players you play against either. Those are good backs, but we got to tackle better.

Q. Can you talk about the poise and polish that McElroy showed? He really didn't make any mistakes, but he was more than a caretaker, he led them today. The second question would be, do you think Dunlap would have made a difference?

COACH MEYER: First question, he was 12-of-18 for 239 yards. That means he hit a bunch of big plays. We kept Julio only 2-for-28 catches, but the tight end hurt us and their play action passing hurt us, and then that screen pass. I imagine it was 70-some yards, I'm not even sure. But he did show a lot of poise for a first-year quarterback. You saw it coming. You saw it last week against Auburn. And those things usually accelerate a quarterback's progress.

Q. Two plays in particular in the first half. The pass to Hernandez near the goal line that fell incomplete, and then the pass to Demps the first of the game that he dropped. Could you address the difference of those plays and how the game may have changed if you had come out with those two catches?

COACH MEYER: Very simple, Tim scrambled and made a great throw, and Aaron usually makes that catch. I go back to the National Championship game against Oklahoma, Murphy did and he scores and the momentum is on your side. And then I thought that big one early in the game was -- and Demps usually catches it. But that keeps our offense on the field and one more set of plays and keeps our defense on, gave us even better field position. So those are two critical plays in the first half.

Q. Address Dunlap, and would he have made a difference?

COACH MEYER: Anytime you have an excellent player that's not in your lineup, he would made a difference. How much, that's all speculative.

Q. How much of it do you think Alabama is just more physical on both sides of the ball?

COACH MEYER: More physical, I don't know. But tonight they were very physical. And it was noticeable. Obviously our rushing, we didn't get the backs -- Tim ran the ball for some yards, but we didn't get our backs going. But seemed like we were behind and we were trying to play catch up the entire night and we didn't do that.

So I felt their offensive line was very physical. How physical, I haven't watched the tape. I saw what you saw, though, and I have to watch the tape before I make any more comments about that.

Q. You mentioned the red zone interception. Could you talk about that play, what you saw? Hernandez, did you see the DB there?

TIM TEBOW: They did a good job, they were running a play, they were going to bring a no deep look, and so I wanted to bring zone in, and then they checked out of it. I thought I could fit it in there and I should have threw it, tried to get it over his head. He did a good job playing up and bailing. It was a good play by him and a bad decision by me.

Q. Tim, among others, you have Taylor Haugen's bracelet on. Is it times like these when those relationships, those messages really affect you a lot?

TIM TEBOW: Absolutely. It puts things into perspective. Obviously, I'm emotional, as you can see, after games, and it means a lot to me. But at the end of the day it's not really what matters. Stories like that and people like that, that's what matters. That's why you can walk away holding your head high because of things like that. And we're playing a game -- although it is extremely important and it's fun, and we put hours and days and weeks into it, you know, it's still just a game. And that's why it's not life or death and it's not the biggest thing in the world. Although we do care about it a lot, there are a lot of things more important.

Q. Coach, what did you tell them at halftime? What did you think you needed to to get this thing going in the second half?

COACH MEYER: I'm checking here, because I do remember we hit the field goal at the end to make it 19-13. And we actually had a little bit of confidence going into that locker room because we thought our defense would play, tackle a little better in the second half. And then we had some confidence because we did move the ball against a good defensive football team. So there was some energy, some juice, some confidence in that locker room. Because we did have a good second quarter. First quarter was not very good, but the second quarter, the momentum kind of bounced back in our lap, other than a screen pass.

We kind of expected -- I kind of expected us to come out and play very well in the third quarter, and we didn't do that.

Q. Obviously a stinging loss tonight, but how would you characterize this season as a whole to this point?

COACH MEYER: What's the record? 12-1? We're 12-1. I'm just disappointed for -- I love these seniors. They're going down in the history of the SEC, and this era of the SEC I can't imagine there's been stronger. But the key is how this team is going to respond. I'll let you know. This team responds like I'm expecting they will, then I'm very proud of them.


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