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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: FLORIDA VS ALABAMA

December 5, 2015

Jim McElwain

Atlanta, Georgia

Alabama - 29, Florida - 15

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Florida head coach Jim McElwain. We'll ask Coach McElwain to make an opening comment and then take your questions.

COACH McELWAIN: First and foremost, I can't tell you how proud I am of our football team, our seniors, how hard they fought today. Obviously, my hat's off to an outstanding Alabama Crimson Tide team that took our offense out of it. I thought our defense battled their tails off.

You know what, there's a lot of disappointed guys in that locker room, and it was good to see. Because, as you go through life, you got ups, you got downs. Sometimes you know when you've invested as much as our guys have and a commitment to each other -- I don't think there were a lot of people around the country that thought we would be playing in this football game. And they never backed down.

We're a program on the rise. We're a program on the build. These seniors and guys that are going to come out early built a great foundation for the future, and I'm proud of them.

Q. Jim, obviously, a really good effort from your defense for the most part of the game. It was kind of seen this movie before, where they kind of just wear down with the offense not being able to move the ball. How disappointing is that for you as a coach to kind of see that effort go to waste again?
COACH McELWAIN: It's not disappointing. Look, you got to play a whole game -- offense, defense, special teams. Our defense carried a lot of burden, and yet, you know what, there's no quit in them, and there's a lot that can be learned from that.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed. Probably could have taken a few more shots, tried to stretch the field a little bit more. Protection was an issue against this front, which we kind of knew going in, but they worked their tails off. We'll have a good football team here in a lot of them in the future.

Q. After the FSU game, you said Kelvin was a bright spot in the offense. It sounded like he was a guy you hoped you could lean on.
COACH McELWAIN: Shoot, guys, they won the line of scrimmage. That's what big, strong, highly recruited guys do. That's why we're getting on the road as soon as we leave right now.

Q. You've been here before in a game where you come to Atlanta and lose and be able to come back.
COACH McELWAIN: I think, as I said, part of it is the discovery of this football team. What have we discovered? The taste of being here, you can't put a price tag on that because the thirst to get back becomes, oh, so great. And yet there's a lot of things in life that are very similar. It's what you learn from it.

Moving forward, we're going to find out where we're going to go, who we're going to play. We're going to go get some ball practices in, take some finals, and make whatever Bowl chooses to bring the Gators proud.

Q. When you look back on it, how hard was it to just sort of keep this together given the limitations and the circumstances you dealt with? I mean, to actually get here and ten wins and all that stuff. You're not as good as you're going to be.
COACH McELWAIN: No. Dan, I'm not going to tell you -- it was hard. But you know what made it easy is the look in these guys' eyes, the want, the commitment to each other. Yeah, you knew there was going to be some deficiencies here and there, but that's what makes it so special, man, are these kids.

You know what, they didn't take no for an answer when we came in here, and they found a way to win some ball games. I don't know how many teams in the country are winning ten games now, nor do I know in this SEC how many teams have won ten games. But I just can't tell you how proud I am of these players and the commitment they've made to each other and to this university. It's a great building block for the future.

Q. Coach, you had a few plays in the first quarter, had the nice drive. What happened in the second and third quarters? Was it just them winning the line of scrimmage? Did they adjust?
COACH McELWAIN: Yeah, they took it to us a little bit. We got behind the sticks. First and ten, like I said going in, that was that going to be a key.

I've gone against that defense and those guys before and battled for four years of spring ball and two-a-days, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, two-minute. It's a good football team, and you know what, so are the Florida Gators.

Q. How do you think Treon played overall?
COACH McELWAIN: I'm sure he missed some throws and missed some plays, but he competed his tail off. He was in it. He didn't look rattled. He's our quarterback, and I'm proud of him.

Q. Special teams kind of continued to be kind of a Jekyll and Hyde. Just how frustrating were the highs and the lows there?
COACH McELWAIN: Threw a no-hitter on the first overloaded punt block that we practiced like 10,000 times, it seems like, in practice. I think the shock and awe of the size and speed might have got them a little bit, but we settled down, and it didn't kill us.

We'll get worked on this kicking thing, and somebody will get it up over the line far enough that maybe somebody doesn't block it with their armpit.

Q. Antonio Callaway, a couple of big plays.
COACH McELWAIN: He's a great player. I'll tell you what, I'm so happy that he's here. He's a guy, Edgar, I'm going to just tell you, from just personally, a guy that truly lights up a room with his smile, the warmth of his heart. He's a guy I love to be around. He's one that affects the people around him, including the coaches, in a positive way. This guy's got a couple of really good years left for the Gators.

Q. Jarrod Davis was putting on a remarkable performance, but the roughing the passer call, how critical was that in breaking up that drive?
COACH McELWAIN: Well, obviously at that point. But it was not blatant. It wasn't malicious. Guys, sometimes in the game of football, those things happen. You certainly didn't want it, but I know this, it wasn't a cheap shot. That guy was playing as hard as he could, and that's the way he plays.

That guy is really a good football player now, and he's another guy that elevates the people around him, and he is a true key for this football team.

Q. You talked about this being a building block for the program. What's kind of your message going forward into the Bowl and into the off-season?
COACH McELWAIN: Well, you know what, it's an opportunity, again, to get ourselves a little bit better and get a lot of guys some work. As we move into spring ball and then forward into the summers and then on to, next, two-a-days.

The future's bright. Got a lot of good recruiting to do, a lot of good players are coming and going to want to come. I'm excited about it. And as we get out tomorrow, there's a lot to celebrate. There's a lot of momentum. And as I go back, what these players have done to band together and do what they did for the Gators, it's pretty darn cool now.

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