Coach Meyer: “Obviously to come into an environment like that and play in an environment like that is great for college football. I told the other coaches before the game, ‘The SEC is amazing.’ That’s coming from someone who’s coached in a lot of different parts of the country.”
FLORIDA LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Urban Meyer:
“I wouldn’t say great yet, but those were two very good college football teams going at one another. That’s the way it should end, in a very close ballgame. For our team, I thought that was one of the finest offense, defense and special teams games we’ve had. That was one of the best team-efforts I’ve ever seen.
“When we get down 17-7 in that kind of environment to that kind of team with that kind of talent and nobody really panicked, that was a heck of a job. I think having a senior quarterback and a couple senior wideouts really helped. The tailback, DeShawn Wynn, running for 100 yards, that doesn’t happen very often against that defense. It’s time he became a tailback, and he did. He’s a tailback at the University of Florida. I’ll let you know right now, he’s starting against Kentucky next week.
“I’m not sure you can call (the team) not-tough more than we have. We challenged them, and they answered it. From last year until this game, we challenged them, we criticized them, we put them in situations where only tough people can really survive, and (Saturday) I’d have to say that we’re a fairly tough football team.”
Chris Leak, QB: “This win shows our toughness, composure and our senior leadership. You have to have mental toughness to come back. It’s a great feeling to get a win away from home. I’ve seen DeShawn Wynn make those great runs. He’ll get you the yardage you need.
“My brother went here. I’ve been to a lot of games here. It’s great to be able to play with a hostile environment. I was pumped up for our offensive line to take control of the game.”
Tim Tebow, QB: “I just went in there and tried to give it everything I had. We practiced all week, and I just wanted to do what coach wanted me to do.
“I was excited to get in there (on fourth down). I was counting on the rest of my team, and our team is really close. The offensive line played great. I think they won the game for us.”
Andre Caldwell, WR: “I’m thinking that we’re going to make a play [in the huddle on fourth down]. We’ve got great receivers, great tailback, great offensive line, somebody’s going to make a play. We’re going to get it.”
TENNESSEE LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Phillip Fulmer: “Obviously this is a very disappointing loss for our football team. I’m proud of the effort our guys gave. There were a lot of plays that could have and should have been made. We struggled. Florida is a fine defensive football team. This is something we can build on.
“(In the locker room) I thanked Justin Harrell for his commitment to our team. The team gave him a standing ovation, and it was a very emotional moment for him and our football team.
“We’ll learn from this and get ready for the next game. You’re going to have a hard time winning in this league if you can’t rush the ball. I thought Montario (Hardesty) did a nice job. We just didn’t give him any room to run up front. Florida did some different things in their schemes that worked nicely and managed to stop the run.
“We said coming out of halftime that we needed to find some balance to take some of the pressure of the passing game and get the down and distance back to normal again. I don’t think we took our foot off the gas pedal. Florida just rose to the occasion.
“I thought Justin (Harrell) did fine. There were two or three times that we thought he was done. (Florida) ran the ball better in the second half than I thought they could against our defense – that counter play. Justin Harrell is a great young man and a quality person. He’ll have his degree shortly. He’s represented Reggie White’s number very well for the last time it will be worn. He’s a very unselfish youngster.”
Erik Ainge, QB: “I thought the defense played well tonight. The offense had its moments, the special teams had its moments, but we didn’t put a whole game together. I put us in a bad situation at the end with the intentional grounding, and we struggled with some things all night. I thought we did a lot of good things as well, and we’ll learn from those.
On the failed fourth-down attempt: “Anytime you’re (fourth-and-16), against a group of athletes like Florida has, it’s tough. We sent four verticals, and they had guys over the top, so I tried to sneak one into (Robert Meachem), and we weren’t on the same page.
On the Vols’ running game against Florida: “It is tough. If you run the ball well, then it makes throwing the ball easier. That’s 15 of the last 17 games (in this series) that the team that rushes the ball (better) wins, and that’s not a statement that should be taken lightly.
Turk McBride, DT: On J.T. Mapu’s roughing the passer penalty: “It kind of killed us, but we had strong momentum. That play kind of killed us. But it’s the game of football, and things are going to get called that you probably don’t agree with. You just have to (forget) about them and play.