Watch & Read: ‘I think we have to learn from failure’

Press Conference

by Inside the Gators Staff

Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators


BILLY NAPIER: Obviously a lot of seniors in there. Out of respect for those guys, just want to make sure to spend some significant time with them. Ultimately, I would tell you it’s important that all parts of our organization, in particular the players, and really emphasize that with our other guys that we spent time telling those guys what they’ve done for the program, their example, their approach.

There’s some really special players in that group that have not only been productive on the field. We also had a lot of guys that worked their tail off throughout the week that maybe never get to play. They contribute to our team in a major way. So, yeah, that’s always a tough time.

I do want to compliment the crowd tonight. I thought our fans were fantastic. We continue to sell out these games, and certainly not only that, but their impact. I thought they were a factor tonight, and we’re very thankful for that. No doubt it was special in there tonight, over 90,000. We continue to do that, and I think that speaks to the place. This place is impacting a lot of people, and certainly we’re thankful for them showing up tonight doing their part.

I think that, when we look back at the last couple weeks, we had the lead in the fourth quarter multiple times. I think, when you’re coaching a team that has the makeup of this team this year, there’s got to be — we have to use this experience. There’s a ton of players in that locker room that are going to be back next year.

Look, we haven’t been able to finish. That’s the bottom line. I think we’re learning how to do that. We’ve been in position to do that. But ultimately I think, as we build a team that’s made up of veterans, it’s going to be important that we at some point — you know, the old adage you fall down seven times, eventually the eighth time you get up and finally get it done. I think at some point this group, the experience they got this year will pay off.

They get to go into this off-season with that experience, and that affects their entire attitude and approach to training, to practice. Certainly as you build another team dynamic, I’m hopeful that this group learns how to finish. Once we do that, I think there will be a ton of momentum opportunities that come with that.

I’m thankful for this team. Regardless of what anybody else says, this team was a special team for a lot of reasons. Their ability to continue the resiliency, the toughness — and I’m not just talking about physical toughness. This game requires mental toughness, emotional toughness. It requires work. It requires investment. It requires sacrifice.

I think this group has continued to show up with a really good attitude and do their part to prepare, and then when the ball’s put down, they play with effort, toughness.

We need to play with better detail. We need to execute better, there’s no question about that. But I respect this group, and there’s a lot of individuals in that locker room that are made of the right stuff. I don’t want to lose sight of that just because our record this year.

Ultimately, we’ve got to get up off the ground, and I think we have to learn from failure. Growth comes through struggle. I think this season presents that opportunity.

Look, we have work to do. Ultimately as a staff, we have to evaluate where we’re at from top to bottom, every inch of what we do, and we have to work hard to try to position the players and do better. I think that’s what I’m consumed with. That’s my purpose, and that’s the way I view my platform opportunity.

The coaching profession is about the players and doing the absolute best job we can do for the players to position them for success. Certainly football, that is on the field, but it’s also everything that you do throughout the off-season and certainly how we can impact who they are as people and as students.

We’ll have an opportunity here. Players will be off tomorrow. Then we’ll begin kind of a process Monday to Thursday as we kind of turn the page and move forward here. What questions do we have?

Q. Some conservative decisions in the first half when you had the lead. When you had a little bit of momentum and you had the lead. How much of that was a by-product of Max and the state of the offensive line, or do you wish you could have taken more shots at times?

BILLY NAPIER: There’s no question we’ll be able to look back at this thing and say, hey, maybe we should have taken a different approach, but at that point defensively we were really humming. I think we held them to like 85 yards in the first half. I’m not exactly sure what the numbers were, but they were struggling to move it.

Obviously the environment was a factor. They’ve got a young quarterback out there as well. Look, Max, I think he did his part. There’s a handful of plays he’d like to have back, and I can certainly do more to help the players.

I think, when we look back at it, there’s going to be — whether it’s a sack in the red area or a holding penalty right before the half that contributes to the outcome. So Florida State’s got a really good defensive team, and they made their plays, but we also contributed at times. There are things that we can do better.

Q. The fourth quarter just kind of got away from you guys a little bit with discipline and things like that. What do you kind of point to —

BILLY NAPIER: Discipline? What specifically are we referring to?

Q. Over 50 yards of penalties.


Q. What do you kind of point to with that?

BILLY NAPIER: I think it’s a team that has — I think that tonight it was a handful of decisions or a handful of execution opportunities, missed plays. It’s been a little bit different each week. I think a number of things contribute.

But the penalties obviously, those are things that we need to address. There’s no excuse for those. I think some of those were technical and some of those were decision-making. So, yeah, I think a lot of things contribute to the result.

But we’ve been in the fourth quarter with some really good football teams the last couple weeks. We’ve got to learn to finish those games, no question about it. We’ve got to learn to coach better and play better.

Q. When you say evaluating every aspect, that’s a very involved process, but where do you start with something like that more or less?

BILLY NAPIER: We have a pretty exhaustive process that we go through each year, whether we’re undefeated and win championships or we’re sitting here where we’re at as a program. We’re going to go through our process, and there will be some things that come from that.

We do it each year independent of the result or the outcome. We’re obviously trying to improve our systems and do what we think is in the best interest of the players. Ultimately that’s our job, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Q. The record from year two is worse than year one. What do you see from your team or the people in your program that there has been progress made and you’re still heading in the right direction?

BILLY NAPIER: I think the youth in particular — and look, I think it’s important that we all understand that we’ll have a good nucleus of players coming back that have significant experience next year whereas evaluate the roster going into this year. I think that’s important.

Look at the teams across the country that are having success. They have veteran football teams, right? They have a number of players that have been in the program for a number of years. We need to do that. We need to retain players. We need to continue to add quality players. Then we have to get better in house at teaching, developing all parts of what we do. So that’s what we’re going to do.

We already have players in that locker room that are talking about getting to work. So I think that’s an indication of a group that’s much like they’ve competed, to be quite honest. I think they’ll take that attitude and approach into the off-season.

Q. Billy, you said a couple minutes ago that the defense was kind of humming in the first half. What changed in the second half? Anything you guys did differently, they did differently?

BILLY NAPIER: I think they had 200 and — total offense 224 yards, something like that. So I think ultimately they got a touchdown on the first possession in the second half. In the four-minute situation they popped a run and scored the second touchdown. So I think we had opportunities to get off the field on third down. We didn’t. I think in the first half we did get off the field on third down. Made them play a lot of third downs. They converted.

But ultimately, I think we did a lot of good things on defense. When you hold a group to 224, I think there’s a lot of positive.

Q. You talked about how your players are hurting. How about you? How do you handle two seasons like this in which you’ve had so many close calls, et cetera, like that?

BILLY NAPIER: I think I view — ultimately what motivates me is doing the best I can for our people, for the staff and for the players. I would tell you that this was six years at head coach. We’ve had varying levels of success and failure. But ultimately that’s always the motivating factor for me is doing my absolute best for the players and the staff.

Look, I think we anticipated this being a challenge. I think that we felt like it was going to be a challenge going in, and then when we got here, we realized we were in for a battle. I think we’re in the middle of that process.

I have a tremendous amount of confidence ultimately because of the people I’m around every day, that group of players being at the core of that.

I think I maybe would feel different if we didn’t compete, if we weren’t in contention, if we weren’t in the fight. We’re playing into the fourth quarter with some of the better teams in the country here down the stretch with a group that we all understood going into the year didn’t have a ton of experience.

We’re in the process of rebuilding the roster. We’re in the process of learning how to make it work at the University of Florida. We were brought here for a reason. There’s no denying that we have work to do, but I think what gives me confidence is what I see from the players, the growth I see, their words, their actions, the way they work, the selflessness, the sacrifice, their investment.

I think everybody likes to use the word buy-in, but I think for me it’s more about action. I think I’ve seen a ton of action from the players, not just how they compete on game day, but also I’m with them every day. So regardless of what anybody else says, I don’t really care because I know the young men in that locker room and I have — I’ve got confidence and belief in that group.

You fall down. Much like many of you have fallen down in your career at times. Our young people, they came up short. They’ve got to get up off the ground and learn and adapt and evolve and grow, and it’s hard.

But ultimately I think we all can agree that a lot of the growth and improvement that we’ve been through in life came from some of the tougher times. I think it’s important for me to set a good example for them because I think ultimately that’s what our young people need.

Q. Relative to that challenge and the rebuild process, do you feel like you guys are maybe where you wanted to be, where you expected to be through two years? Are you hitting the benchmarks that you wanted to be hitting by this point?

BILLY NAPIER: I think ultimately the record is what it is. Listen, there are things that without question I think that we can do better. I think we made some adjustments year one to year two. We need to continue to make adjustments.

I don’t know that there’s an answer to that question, if that makes sense. I think we’re fighting every single day. We’re trying to get a little bit better each day. Look, I think this is a very fluid dynamic relative to what we’re trying to create and build here. I’ve got belief in the players, that’s what I would say. I’ve got belief in what I’ve observed from that group.

Ultimately we have a veteran team that takes complete ownership. That’s ultimately when we’ll have the best opportunity to field a contender and eventually a champion.

Q. When you spend the next few weeks evaluating your program and your staff and any changes you want to make, how do you have to weigh the youth that you have on the roster and maybe some areas that aren’t where you want it to be, injuries and stuff like that, when you’re evaluating things with your staff?

BILLY NAPIER: I think you’ve got to remain as objective as possible. I think ultimately — because, look, I think we work together as a team each day, and I think we do have good morale, chemistry, camaraderie, whatever you want to say. It’s one of the reasons why our team plays the way it does.

Bottom line, we have to produce. We have to develop. We have to improve. And we all have responsibilities. There’s all parts of the organization where you’re in a leadership position, people have been entrusted to you, roles have been entrusted to you, and this is a production business.

I think you try to remain objective in terms of how you evaluate that. Certainly youth does contribute to that, but ultimately there’s a lot that goes into each and every decision you make. We challenge our leadership, and there will be some of that. There’s going to be some of that.

I go back to the game’s about the players, and we owe it to do the absolute best for the players, what’s in the best interest of the players. The young people you’ve been entrusted with, that’s the ultimate responsibility. So creating an environment where they can grow and develop as people, students, and players, and a lot of people contribute to that. So that’s what we’re going to do.


Q. Max, obviously not the result you would want in your first career start. Could you take us through the emotions of the night, not only with the result, but just to get a first career start out of the way.

MAX BROWN: Yeah, it was a crazy environment in there. I just want to give credit to my team right there. My defense and the offense, they battled the whole night. They battled. We didn’t end how we wanted to, but I really want to give credit to those group of guys that really battled and competed.

Yeah, man, I think it just comes down to being able to put points on the board in the red zone in our territory, man. Make it easier on our defense. They played lights out. But I think ultimately putting points on the board will make it easier for our defense for sure.

Q. How much did, if at all, the few — the little bit of playing time you got last week in Missouri, how much did that help you heading into this game?

MAX BROWN: I think any time you get any experience in any type of college, SEC game, it will ultimately help you out. It got me somewhat prepared for this game, but yeah.

Q. In that first quarter, you guys go on that first drive and get a field goal attempt, second drive you get a touchdown. How much did that help your confidence a little bit to start fast a little bit in the first quarter?

MAX BROWN: Yeah, we were driving. We were doing what we needed to do offensively and defensively. But I think just going out and getting six, seven points instead of three ultimately changes the outcome of the game.

Q. You understandably seem very dejected. Just how tough is it for the season to end like this tonight?

MAX BROWN: It’s tough, man. Any time you see a group of guys, a group of seniors that have put their heart out the whole year, balled out. I can’t give credit enough to the group of senior leadership that we’ve had.

So I think having those group of guys, being able to watch them and watch how they acted, how they played, it’s tough, man. It’s tough going out on that note. Definitely something our team will learn from in the future, but it’s hard losing on that note and seeing those group of guys and going out on that note.

Q. You’re kind of chasing points there and they’re able to pin theirs a little bit. Just how tough was that down the stretch with kind of keeping them at bay? You were getting knocked around a good bit late in the game.

MAX BROWN: I think we tried to go down there and put the ball down there in the end zone and score points towards the end, and it didn’t work out how we wanted to.

Q. The trick play attempt in the second quarter seemed like it was a little slow developing. How much did that and some other negative plays kind of impact the offense? It seemed like there were a few. Obviously the holding penalty late in the first half. How tough was that for you guys ultimately to overcome during the course of the game?

MAX BROWN: I think there’s a few plays in that first half especially and in the second half that ultimately me, in particular, have to be able to clean up. I think going and watching the film and learning from it is huge. Being able to see the mistakes you made and for future terms not make the same mistakes.

Q. Max, obviously tough first outing. You were sacked six times, a lot of QB hurries as well. You were facing a really tough Florida State defensive front. So I just want to get your take. How are you trying to counter the pass rush? Do you think it started to get to you as the game went on, just them barrelling at you? Do you think that was just a tough mental block to overcome?

MAX BROWN: Yeah, I think I need to do a better job ultimately with protections and putting my center and my O-line in a better situation to make plays.

I think ultimately that comes down to me and my decision-making, seeing defenses, seeing the defensive shell and the pressures. I think that that’s something that I can definitely improve on.

But being able to see that and I think putting my guys in a better situation, I think that’s definitely something there.

Q. Do you feel the sense of urgency to start work for next year almost immediately? Like maybe take a day or two off and then get going.

MAX BROWN: Yeah, I think any time that you have the outcome that you don’t want, or even that you do want, as a competitor, how do you want to respond? How do you want to take on the next day? How do you want to take on the next week, month, year of your life?

I think that ultimately decides how much of a competitor you are. I think that’s what makes this game so interesting and makes this whole process, it’s a part of the story.

Q. Do you feel this team is close?

MAX BROWN: Yes, absolutely. The guys that we have in this locker room, I think — I can’t give credit enough to how far we’ve come as a team. I think what matters most is the group of guys in our locker room, and we’ve really harnessed in on how important that is for us.

So I think going forward that’s definitely going to be a big take going into this off-season.

Q. Fans or us on the outside will just see the record from year one to year two, but inside the program, you were one of the first commits and one of the first in the class to sign. What do you see that shows you there has been progress and that the program is heading in the right direction?

MAX BROWN: I see competitiveness. I see a group of guys that come to battle every day no matter the circumstance. So I think that’s been a big tale of our season, how tough you are. I know sometimes you don’t get the outcome you want. Sometimes seeing it from the outside-in, it’s not always what you want to see.

Especially as a fan base, I know it’s tough. They pour their heart into this program, and I really want to give credit to them too. They were crazy tonight. They played their role, and they played a big part in the game.

I think just being able to go into this off-season and know that it’s the group of guys in this program. It’s us. You know what I’m saying?


Q. What’s kind of the mood around the team considering everything you guys went through this season and where you’re at as a group?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Obviously we’re disappointed. We didn’t have the season we wanted to have. We put in a lot of work at times, and when it was needed, we didn’t execute. That’s one thing I can say about this team. We didn’t sugarcoat anything this season. We took it for what it was, and we didn’t execute in the moments we needed to.

But looking at the positive side, guys understand we have to restore order. Florida is a prestigious program, and we understand that we have to put a better product on the field. That was my message to the younger guys right after the game, that this next off-season, we’ve got to get things going and restore order.

I would say the overall mood of the team is we’re disappointed right now but we’re excited for the future.

Q. The defense obviously played at a very high level until late in the first half. You held them scoreless. What changed in the second half? What adjustments did FSU make, or what was different about the second half defensively for you guys, do you think?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I think second half they started to establish the run and kind of get their offense going a little bit. I think they had a little over 100 yards. I’m not sure. We just didn’t execute in those moments when we needed to. We didn’t fit our gaps right in that time and things of that nature. That’s what led to the loss.

Q. Teradja, you’ve got a unique perspective. You come from a program that had a lot of winning and kind of a one-year thing here. You got to observe a young team go through some struggles. From that perspective, where do you see the building blocks? Where do you see the positive signs for the future that maybe the record wouldn’t indicate?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Like I said, I have a unique perspective. I’ve seen both ends of the stick now, and I would say this program is not too far off.

Coming from Ohio State, the things that Coach Napier implemented for this program, the way the practices are, the workouts are, this program is inevitable. I think it’s just a matter of when, when this program is going to get back to where it has been.

Like I said, I’m excited for the future, and I think the guys are buying into what Coach Napier is putting forth. It’s obviously a rebuilding process, and it’s going to to take time, but also the guys understand there’s a sense of urgency.

Q. Teradja, what’s next for you?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I haven’t really thought much about it, but the goal is to obviously start training and try out for an NFL team and see what’s next. Just take it one day at a time. I haven’t made any real decisions, but that’s my plan.

Q. Back to that note when you were answering Zach’s question, is there anything that you can point to specifically maybe that Florida does or has or anything culture-wise that you think is similar or shows you that, hey, this team is close, like you said, to what Ohio State is?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Regardless of what the outside people think, Florida practices are like big boy practices. We practice physical. We’re hitting. We’re hitting, and we’re going after it.

Like I said, just the mentality that Coach Napier is trying to implement in the program, like being tough, playing tough. When teams play us, they’re going to play a tough team. A team that we aren’t going to quit. We’re going to keep going forward. I see that.

As the guys keep buying into it, it’s going to eventually show on the field for them.

Q. There was quite a handful of penalties that started to rack up in the second half. Do you think there was an increased amount of frustration from the team as FSU started to get a rhythm going? How were you guys trying to counter that?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I think that’s a great question. I think it all comes down to, like I said, execution. We have to execute. We have to be disciplined. At times we failed to be disciplined. We failed to execute.

That goes back to what I was saying. We have to continue to buy into what the coaches implement in practice, and we have to execute in those moments.

Q. You kind of addressed it a little bit, but after the safety, though, what was kind of the vibe going? When did you feel it start slipping away?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Right after that safety, we understood. We’ve been in those games before where we were up and playing well, and then we dropped in that performance. After that safety, the message for the team was let’s keep going. Let’s try to get this win. Obviously we didn’t come out with that, and that’s frustrating for us as players.

That shows the resilience of this team. Even after we take these losses, the team is still in a positive mindset, understand that — see the bigger picture of everything. Even obviously we didn’t do well this season, but the guys are still ready and eager for next year.

Q. When you see some of the young guys contributing on defense, what’s your vision for things this year and beyond?

TERADJA MITCHELL: It’s exciting to see those guys. They’re getting those reps. They’re scarring now. They’re taking those losses as young players. Eventually as they grow into the program, they’re not going to want to feel that feeling anymore. They’re going to work a little bit harder, watch a little bit more film.

Like I said, I’m excited to see these younger guys as they grow into their college football careers.

Q. Obviously for FSU with Travis being out and Rodemaker getting his first start of the season, is the defense — what did you guys kind of expect that they were going to show offensively? Did it kind of play out that way during the game?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Like I said, we lost our quarterback too. We knew that, for us, we have to rally around Max and make sure the supporting pieces stepped up and executed to help Max out.

We thought the same thing for Florida State, that they were going to utilize their other key players, their receivers, their tight ends, their running backs, and try to work the game around the quarterback to help him. So we knew we were going to get like quick, easy throws, and they were going to try to get their quarterback in rhythm.

Q. Obviously Benson, their running back, got some good runs in the second half. How tough — especially in the first half you guys had the ball a lot of the half, second half they got the ball a little bit more. How tough was that to handle defensively as he got going?

TERADJA MITCHELL: It was definitely tough for us, especially since our coaches put together adjustments for us to make at halftime, and like I said, we didn’t execute those adjustments. Like I said, that’s where the frustration comes in. But we understand as a defense we’ve got to do better. Simple as that, we’ve got to do better.

Q. 17-15, fourth quarter. There you got them, I think it was a third and 15 situation, quarterback takes off. Now it’s a race between the quarterback and the two guys that are trying to keep him from getting a first down. Of course they call the targeting call on that one. I don’t know what your opinion on that particular play was, but you see these guys working so hard, and then of course it all evaporates with one play because you lose a guy. How different did that become at that particular moment?

TERADJA MITCHELL: It was definitely a tough moment. I think it was a tough call. As a defensive player, you’re fighting and you’re scratching to make sure the offensive player doesn’t get the first down. It’s unfortunate that was the call. Obviously that’s momentum that takes away from us as a defense, but it was a tough call. Tough call.

Q. Do you have to play with a swivel because one false move and the next thing you know the officials are going to check to see if you were targeting somebody?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Yeah, at the end of the day, football is a game of inches. Small errors that we make sometimes, and it’s unfortunate. But that’s the way the game is, and I understand they’re trying to keep players safe. But in those moments, it’s a game of inches.

Obviously you don’t want the offensive player to get the first down, but targeting is targeting.

Video courtesy GatorVision | Transcripts courtesy ASAP

Go to discussion...

Related Articles


Leave a comment

Please log in to your forum account to comment

Community platform by XenForo® © 2010-2022 XenForo Ltd. Style and add-ons by ThemeHouse