Graham Mertz and Shemar James shared their thoughts on Florida loss to Kentucky 33-14. Mertz expressed frustration and emphasized the importance of learning from the loss. James discussed defensive struggles and the need for improved physicality.
Graham Mertz, Quarterback
On his reaction to the game … “I think it’s never fun to lose a game. I’m frustrated. I think I could’ve been a lot better for this team today. I don’t think I played close to my best game. Personally, frustrated and it’s more on a front of, I could’ve done my job better for everyone in that locker room. Definitely frustrated but there is only one right way to go after a game like that and it’s how do we move forward. There’s two different ways to go and there’s one you never want to go down. There’s one route I’m going down, I’m going down full force.”
On Kentucky playing the style Florida wants to play… “I think in total, we look at the Utah game and this game and the word has been execution and it always will be. I think we had a great plan on both sides going in and that’s where I am going to put this on: the players. We have to be better. We can’t have penalties, we can’t have pre-snap penalties. We have a great plan. We have to be better for each other and we have to come together every single day and work for that. Because, flat-out, we have seen what it is like to not execute and the outcome that leads to it. And it doesn’t feel good, it shouldn’t feel good for anybody, but like I said earlier, you take that and you move forward with it. We are still only in Week 5. We have a long road to go and got a lot of games left. The emphasis on player-led execution on the plan that we were provided.”
On offensive line play… “That’s where I said it’s on me. I can be better in protection. I can watch more protection cut-ups, get us in the right mic point, the right slide. There are so many different things that go into that. They fight like crazy every single play. I owe it to them to get them in the right call and be their extra eyeballs that’s always checking. I think today, they did some good things up-front and different pressures. So, I think in total, when I go back and watch the film I am going to see that I could’ve done a better job in protection, giving them alert calls and getting them ready for looks that are coming.”
What is your process after a tough loss… “I think you got to you got to go through it, and that’s an experience thing. I was just telling the guys in the locker room that I’ve been on a team that’s been 1-4 to start the season, we ended 9-4. There is always, and I said it earlier, there’s to ways to go with this thing. I’ve been through it, I’ve seen it live go both ways. So, I think I can bank on my experience and make sure it goes the right way. The character of the guys in that locker room, the character of the coaches and support staff we have, there’s only one we are going to go. Right now, yeah there’s frustration, there’s a bunch of we could’ve done better for each other that we are going to have on the whole flight back and then we are going to watch the film and it’s all about our approach next week.”
Shemar James, Linebacker
On Ray Davis’ performance… “It came down to being gap sound. Guys were jumping out of their gaps, not tackling very well. With a back like that, you miss a tackle and it’s ten more yards, 15 more yards, 20 more yards. It just came down to execution. We were just shooting ourselves in the foot, not wrapping up, not tackling, getting him to the ground.”
On stopping the run… “I think the early morning game played a factor in it, to be honest with you guys. We came out very flat defensively. We kind of got to get together in the second half. You have to start fast and finish fast in order to win in the SEC.”
On the defense’s physicality… “To play on defense, you are the aggressor in that situation. It kind of hurts me to my heart and hurts the guys that I play behind and in front of to know that I guess you could say out-physical today by Kentucky in the front seven. We’ll get that right next week.”
On the special teams penalty… “That was just, football is football. Unfortunate things will happen throughout the game, and it was just us as a defense to get back on the field and get another stop, but, unfortunately, we couldn’t do that. I feel like that’s up to me and my other linebacker to just get on defense ready and have them ready at all times.”
Photo credit: Maddie Washburn, UAA Communications
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