5 Questions With … Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Florida junior defensive back:

Q: What role has defensive coordinator Todd Grantham played in your success?

A: He watched me before the season even started. In the spring, he told me I was going to play nickel. I was up to it, but I really wasn’t expecting to have a good season at it because I didn’t really know the position. It’s hard in the slot, so I made adjustments. It made everything easier for me because I’m closer to the ball. I did what I had to do, studied more and made plays. That’s what it came down to. I’m one of the best nickels in the country. It’s just something that I dwell on, thankful that he put me there and I’m ready to continue to keep striving.

Q: How tough was it having to sit out the bowl season a year ago after going 4-7?

A: We won four games, so we deserved to be at home. Anybody who wins four games deserves to be at home. We made a comeback. We had one bad year. It’s going to be on the up-and-up, so you know how that go.

Q: Did it make you appreciate the experience?

A: We’re back where we belong. We didn’t really lose a step, things were just different last year. We weren’t really used to it. Our first year we won nine games, the guys that were in my class. We then come back to win four games. The guys in my class were used to winning, so it was a reality check. We’re here now. We’ve been here before. We’ve been to SEC championships, so we know what the big lights are. We’ve been in big games. We’ve played this team multiple times, but people in my class and guys out there played them before so we know what to expect. We played them last year on a big stage, obviously we didn’t come out on top. This year we’ve played on multiple big stages, we’ve been doubted, so we’re not worried about it. That’s all.

Q: What did Dan Mullen do to help you guys overcome adversity throughout the season?

A: We’re used to adversity. The year before with suspensions. We used that and just channeled. He came in and just laid the foundation, just like go as hard as you can, fight for your brothers. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. Some games didn’t go the way that we wanted. We lost three. But those three games we lost really showed us who we are and what we can do. That’s why we’re here. We stuck together, nobody on the team fell apart. We got to do what we got to do and win our 10th game.

Q: How impactful was the early loss to Kentucky?

A: We wanted that game, but we weren’t ready. We was still young and went against an experienced Kentucky team. I’m going say good job to them, they beat us fair and square. We talked crazy, but they did what they had to do and came in and beat us. But, we’re still on top of them. We’re in a New Year’s Six bowl, they ain’t. So we did something better than they did, so we’re not really much worried about it.