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Bewers joins the podcast to
preview Florida Gators vs. LSU

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  • Bewers joins the podcast to preview Florida Gators vs. LSU
Written by Andrew Spivey, November 16, 2016, 0 Comments,

Gator Country brings you a new podcast as James Bewers of The Advocate joins us to help us continue to preview the Florida Gators vs. LSU game on Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre ask Bewers the tough questions about this game, plus get his thoughts on the atmosphere surrounding this game.

Andrew and Nick also continue to preview the game and update everyone on the latest injuries surrounding this game on Saturday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:What up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here. Nicholas de la Torre, Nicholas, Wednesday of LSU week, and this week is full of smack talk.
Nick:LSU not making, not trying to hide their feelings this week.
Andrew:No. It’s opposite, usually Florida’s the team smack talking everyone. Not this week. It’s the opposite, and that is a lot of talk from over on corndog country.
Nick:Corndog country. Arden Key had some stuff to say. Derrius Guice had some stuff to say. I mean, Arden Key saying, “I know they’re scared to come up here.” Talking about because of the injuries, and that LSU feels comfortable. Derrius Guice said, or it was Jamal Adams or Derrius Guice, said, “They can’t run the ball anymore.” Talking about Florida.
Andrew:Guice.
Nick:Guice said it.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:Lot of smack talk. Bring it on. I like it. Let the boys talk.
Andrew:Arden Key said something along the lines of they think they’re DBU, we think we’re DBU; we’ll see what it is. We’ll see.
Nick:LSU won that battle last year.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, they did, but also they didn’t either. They did let Treon score.
Nick:Yeah, but Florida got torched.
Andrew:Yeah. I don’t know. Give us a quick update real quick from Mac’s press conference on injury front.
Nick:Yeah. Not good. Not good. Florida’s going to be out seven starters. Luke Del Rio still out, shoulder, knee. Marcus Maye, Alex Anzalone, broken arm, out. Cam Dillard, knee, out. Jarrad Davis, I’m not ever going to say Jarrad Davis isn’t playing until I see him in street clothes on the sideline, but Mac said probably still out. Bryan Cox, out, that was an ankle injury after already playing with a broken hand. David Sharpe, he said probably out. Mark Herndon still out. CJ Worton still out. Hope to get Cece Jefferson back, and they’re seeing where Tyler Jordan is.
Andrew:Carl.
Nick:Carl, yeah.
Andrew:Carl. Something Mac said though, and you and I talked about this on Monday night, is Mac challenged some guys and said, “We’ll see who’s tough to go.” I think that challenge was to a few people in general. Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me it was sent to Sharpe, Jordan, and probably Carl. Those are the three guys with the lesser of the injuries. They may just be hurt, instead of injured. So you’re not going to question Jarrad Davis, because if you question him he’s probably going to go out there and prove you wrong, whether it hurts him or not.
Nick:Jarrad Davis will cut that leg off and try to figure out how to play on one. You never question his toughness. That kid’s a warrior.
Andrew:Right. Exactly. I just think that he was challenging a couple guys. I mean, you and I have heard that David Sharpe has a bruise, a contusion, which is a bruise. So you start to wonder why that’s keeping him out of the game. Tyler Jordan came back dressed in the second half, so you wonder if that keeps him out. I’m trying to think. Carl, he had the foot. Now he was in a boot, so I guess his injury’s a little bit more serious there. Here’s the thing for me, and here it is, Nick, and I think that you always worry about the injuries, and that’s not to say Florida’s going to do better without the guys, but I’m saying I think that Reese and Kylan did a good job of stepping in.
They’re never going to fill Anzalone and Davis’ shoes, by any means, but they did a good job there. Martez did a good job at left tackle, earned SEC lineman of the week. I actually feel better about Martez playing left tackle than I do homeboy Sharpe, but the question becomes, do you feel comfortable with Harkless playing guard, and then TJ McCoy playing center over Jordan? I think the answers are no on both of those fronts, so you hope to get Tyler back to play center, and you hope to get Sharpe back just so Martez bumps inside and plays, so Kavaris doesn’t. Once again, I think I like Martez better at left tackle.
Nick:How about Martez? That’s his second time being offensive lineman of the week, once at left guard, and once at left tackle. We’ve talked about that for years now, those are not the same. It is not easy to play guard and tackle, especially in the same game. I know, I think it was the 1st quarter that he made the switch, so it wasn’t like he was doing it for a while, but he’s been doing it all year.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:So he has been doing it for a while. So hats off to him. I don’t know. I think Tyler Jordan’s fine at center, so I don’t know if I’d say TJ McCoy, but you’ve been calling for 78 to grab some pine for a while. I wouldn’t mind sticking with Harkless at guard and leaving Ivey at left tackle. I think I still would probably go with Jordan, or are you saying leave McCoy at center and put Jordan at right guard?
Andrew:No, I’m saying leave Tyler at center. I like, I thought McCoy did well.
Nick:What about leaving McCoy at center? You can get Fred Johnson out of the lineup.
Andrew:Here’s the thing with me, and this is that I think that I just like Tyler better at center. I like him being the guy that makes all the calls this week at center. So I like Tyler staying at center. I like him staying at center this week, and my thing is this, if David Sharpe only had a bruise, a contusion, and he ain’t playing, homeboy needs to check some pine and take it for the rest of the season.
Nick:If that’s the case, then maybe just go on and head out and start training for the NFL, for the Combine.
Andrew:Look, Nick, we’re going to go, we’re going to have a friend of ours, Mr. James Bewers. We’re going to have him come on. He’s from New Orleans, works for The Advocate. He’s a good friend of ours, from Ross Dellenger. This is Ross Dellenger’s intern. We’re going to go with him this week, and why don’t we just go on to him? We’ll talk to him, and then we’ll get into some of this trash talk and some more of this, I guess you could say, rivalry talk.
Nick:Happy to be joined now by James Bewers. Works for The Advocate. Close friends with our friend, Ross Dellenger, who you might remember from our Wednesday podcast of the Hurricane Matthew game. James, how’s it going?
James:Good. Good to hear from you guys. Hope you are doing well over in Gainesville.
Andrew:Absolutely. Is there a chance this game gets a hurricane somewhere?
James:I hope not, man. I really hope not. It’s about time this one got played.
Nick:I’m flying into New Orleans, so I’m bringing a hurricane to Bourbon Street on Thursday night. I’ll figure out a way back up to Baton Rouge by Saturday before kickoff. I wanted to talk about, first kind of bring up Florida has been talking trash all year it seems like to everybody, not so much this week, but that’s not to say that there isn’t trash being talked this week. I feel like LSU was kind of feeling themselves yesterday during media.
James:Yeah. I mean, one thing about this LSU team, and I don’t know if I really noticed it as much in the previous two years that I covered the team for student media at LSU, but this team is very confident in themselves. I guess that kind of is a product of them just being a very veteran laden team and having a lot of guys who this is either their final year, or they’re draft eligible, so they could be considering going to the NFL. So I definitely think that they play and they practice, and they talk with a little swagger, and certainly against some of these rival opponents they’re not afraid to speak their mind.
Keep in mind, I mean, a lot of these, I don’t have a number off the top of my head, but I’d say maybe a quarter of them were recruited by schools like Florida, and they ultimately chose to go to LSU, so I guess there’s maybe in a way they’re pretty motivated to beat Florida. I mean, this game every year always seems to be a big one. So I definitely feel like they’re confident. As Arden Key, I think, is probably one of the most, he’s probably talks as much as anybody on the team. He feels confident just because I guess he sees the injuries on the other side of the field, and he feels like he has a significant advantage against maybe guys who are backups or freshman, whatever the case may be.
I mean, you’ve still got to play the game, and I’m sure Florida is going to be just as motivated and have something to prove. I don’t buy into too much trash talk, as that’s going to motivate either one team or the other, but I think it makes it fun. That’s what I love about college sports. It just makes it fun, especially in a rivalry game like this.
Nick:Arden Key certainly backs it up, leads the team with 10.5 tackles, but I agree with you, especially this game. Jim McElwain hasn’t really called it a rivalry. He kind of sticks to Florida’s traditional, Tennessee, Georgia, and FSU, but I love this game. I love that, I know Joe Alleva might not, but I love just the Florida/LSU rivalry. I think you’re right. I know Jamal Adams was very close with Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor through that whole recruiting process, and there’s a lot of these guys that know each other from high school that end up going to these other teams. I think that adds to it. I love this rivalry.
James:Yeah. I was talking to Ethan Pocic, who is the senior starting center, and he’s actually from Illinois, but he remembers watching the LSU/Florida game. I forget which year, but it was one of the years Tebow came to Tiger Stadium, and he flashed the cell phone signal from fans calling his phone or whatever, and that was the moment he realized that this game meant a little bit more to both teams. I just think, you think about all the years Les Miles was here, and the fake field goals and the fake punts and all that kind of stuff. It just kind of creates an interesting matchup that I think even people who have no dog in the fight would be interested in watching.
Andrew:Arden King kind of has a little bit of a different state in this whole thing. He actually committed to Florida, and the news got out before he wanted it to get out, and he made a sudden change to go to LSU. So he’s one of those guys that’s like, maybe yeah.
James:Yeah. Arden, he’s, honestly, there’s been a lot of guys who stood out in the defense this year under Dave Aranda. I mean, they’ve been really terrific. I think even if you watch the Alabama game, it’s pretty evident that they were, they’re one of the top defenses in the country, and he, Arden’s been as big a part of it as anybody, just getting pressure off the edge. I mean, we were talking to him yesterday, and he was saying that Arkansas probably held him the most that he’s been held the entire year, because he was just getting consistent pressure, and they couldn’t really, they couldn’t contain him. So they had to hold him, and they didn’t call many flags, but, yeah.
I mean, he’s, I think he’s as motivated as anybody just because, like you said, he was recruited by Florida, committed there. I think, I really think that creates some sort of motivation for guys just to prove that the decision they made in high school was the correct one, that they went to the school that was best for them. I think that makes a game like this fun, as I said.
Andrew:There was no holding calls in Arkansas. Arkansas does not allow holding calls up there. Just to kind of start getting into this matchup a little bit more, I guess what is the feeling around there? Is it that they’re confident? What is the main feeling around campus right now?
James:I certainly think it’s confidence. I mean, I don’t know how much that would have, the game getting postponed would have changed the, we’re talking about confidence, I don’t know if that would have confidence level that much, but really for LSU the main thing, the big picture thing, is that LSU has a shot at the Sugar Bowl. That’s a big deal for not only fans, because, I mean, the fans love the Sugar Bowl. It gives them an opportunity to see a bowl game without having to go very far, but also for the players, because, like I said, this is such a veteran team, and there’s a lot of Louisiana guys on this team. They’d love to end their career in front of their home fans.
I think it’s big in that part, and that’s the motivation in itself, even more than probably the rivalry or keeping Ed, helping Ed Orgeron keep the job or whatever the case may be. I mean, I think it is confidence right now, but like I said, you have to play the game. A lot of things can happen over the course of the game, and certainly Florida’s going to, they’re playing for a shot at the SEC East Championship, so it’s big for both teams.
Nick:Looking at the rivalry, I know, obviously, so many kids on LSU’s team from the state, and being able to stay home and play in the Sugar Bowl is a big deal, but how much does just the opportunity to ruin your rival’s season? If Florida wins this game, they get to go to the SEC Championship. You have a chance to stop them from doing that, on top of being able to go to the Sugar Bowl. Does that play a factor into a rivalry game as well?
James:Yeah. I think it does. I think it’s always a cherry on top of it when you can kind of spoil a rival’s season or their hopes to do it, especially in a situation where Florida controls its own destiny. It’d be one thing if like Florida needed to win and get held, but all they need to do is win. So if you take that from them, then it’s kind of it’s like you accomplished another task, I guess, along with winning the game and proving your season as a whole. I think that’s just as much of a motivation as anything, but like I said, I think the main big picture thing is just so LSU can improve their bowl placement, if anything. Like I said, if they win out, and especially, they have to beat Texas A&M, and then if Alabama beats Auburn, then it looks like they’re going to go to the Sugar Bowl, which is a big deal.
Andrew:What is, in your opinion, what is the key matchup to watch? If Florida is to win this game, what do you think it will be because, and then vice versa, if LSU wins the game it’ll be because?
James:Me, just from looking at it, I think the biggest matchup is the two freshmen linebackers starting for Florida, versus the LSU running backs, Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. I just think that, as well as those two freshmen played against South Carolina, it’s a different deal facing Fournette and Guice. I mean, they, I think Guice and Fournette have proven that they’re perhaps the best duo at running back in the country, and Fournette has said it several times that if Guice were at any other school in the country he would be the starter. I’m really intrigued by that, to see how those freshmen can handle guys like Guice and Fournette coming at you on a consistent basis.
You know LSU’s going to run the ball. I mean, that’s their bread and butter. That’s what they do well, and the offensive line played much better against Arkansas than it did against Alabama. It was almost a complete role reversal from the Alabama game, so I’m really interested to see how they handle Fournette and Guice, and if they’re able to consistently make tackles and not let those two get free, because from what I’ve seen they break tackles as well as anybody.
Nick:I think, I forget what his name was. Andrew, who is the SEC ESPN analyst that was talking about Fournette and Guice?
Andrew:Peter Burns.
Nick:He tweeted. Peter Burns tweeted, “Being able to put Derrius Guice into the game when Leonard Fournette’s recharging or getting his wind on the sidelines is like the guy who is driving a Lamborghini because the Ferrari’s in the shop.”
James:Right.
Nick:There’s really no drop off from that. Guice actually leads LSU in touchdowns, leads LSU and leads the SEC in yards per carry. So that’s a true two headed monster there. Florida’s been trying to figure out their three and four headed monster, which really needs to be cut down to two, at running back. Last question, what do you think the crowd is going to be like? I know there was a situation last year, it’s kind of different, where South Carolina moved a home game, and it’s kind of a light crowd. What’s the mood in Baton Rouge among fans, and what do you expect the crowd to be like for a noon kickoff?
James:I think that Tiger Stadium will be pretty charged up. It’s interesting, apparently some of the visiting fans from Florida will be sitting right next to the LSU student section, so that could create some kind of, some chaos maybe. I mean, ya’ll know LSU fans can get pretty rowdy. So I think it’s going to be, if this game was at night, I mean maybe it would be even more charged up, but I still think that people are going to come out.
You know, I mean, there was a lot of mudslinging on both sides for when this game got postponed, and all the stuff that kind of followed that. I think maybe that kind of carried over to the fans and how they feel about what should have happened or what shouldn’t have happened. I think it should be a really good crowd, and I’m really looking forward to it, man. I mean, aside from the Alabama game, this was the one home game I was kind of looking forward to the most, well, new home game I should say. Yeah, I think it should be a great crowd.
Nick:Alright. LSU opened up at a 14.5 point favorite. I think that line has dropped to around 11.5, 12. We always ask, if you want to, to give a prediction. Who do you think will win, and how do you think the game will kind of go?
James:I’m not going to give a prediction. I’m not good at them, and I think it’d be better if I didn’t, but I will say this, 14 points seems like a lot. For a game like this, where it means so much to both teams, I could see it being a little closer than Vegas expects, but we’ll see. It should be a fun one, and I’m really intrigued by what Florida brings out, with what they’re dealing with with injuries and whatnot. So it should be fun. I’ll say closer than Vegas expects.
Andrew:There you go. We appreciate it so much, James. Tell everyone where they can find you and follow your work, and we’ll get you out of here.
James:I’m on Twitter, @JamesBewers. Of course, you can read our work at TheAdvocate.com. We have all LSU coverage there, and we update it pretty frequently. So please check us out, and we’ll have stuff today and through the rest of the week on this game.
Andrew:Awesome, James. We appreciate it, and we will see you on Saturday.
James:Absolutely. Ya’ll have a good one, guys.
Nick:Thanks so much, James.
Andrew:Alright, Nick. That was good stuff from James. He has got confidence too over there. Maybe this is the Tennessee game backwards for Florida. That’s what Florida fans are hoping.
Nick:Yeah. You and I were talking about this a little bit off, just over the phone, not on the podcast, but I’m kind of sitting here and thinking, I don’t, I’ve been down on Florida in the past. We’ve been doing the podcast for three years. I was down on Florida some in Will Muschamp’s last year, obviously, not picking them to win many games.
Andrew:Wait, are you breaking news here?
Nick:Someone brought it up the other day and reminded me that I picked Georgia Southern to win over Florida, so I’ve never been accused of being a homer. I still feel like Florida can hang in there. Given what they’re doing on offense, and given the defense, despite the injuries, I still feel like Florida can hang in there, and I kind of think to myself, “You thought that about Arkansas, and you thought no way was Arkansas going win, and look what happened.” I just feel like the, I feel like Florida’s built to win those close games, and they have the personnel, even with the injuries, to play into that. I think that’s why.
Andrew:Eddy Pineiro.
Nick:That’s a completely different, that’s a huge difference maker, but I think that’s why I’m kind of going into every week and thinking, “Florida has a shot.” 14 points? Sign me up for that. I don’t see that.
Andrew:I don’t know. I mean, I have no problem admitting it, I’m usually the guy that tells you Florida’s going to win every game, and I don’t know. I don’t know. Right today, Wednesday, or we’re taping this Tuesday at 1:20 Eastern time, and I don’t know who I’m picking Saturday. I don’t. I don’t know who I’m picking for Saturday. I go back and forth. Will not lie to people, we have now, it is Tuesday, and I have had dreams of the game both ways, happening both ways. I had a dream Florida won with a Quincy Wilson pick six, and then I had a dream that Florida got spanked, because Leonard Fournette ran for 350. So we’ll see.
Nick:Are you Mr. Cleo?
Andrew:What’s that mean?
Nick:Ms. Cleo, the famous, I think she passed away, but the famous mind reader, psychic, had like late infomercials.
Andrew:No, I’m not.
Nick:Predict the future.
Andrew:I wish. I mean, I wish. Life would be pretty easy for us, Nicholas, if we could. We wouldn’t have to, I would never lose on the predictions here.
Nick:I wouldn’t be working for Gator Country. If I could predict the future I would just live in Vegas, and I’d bet every game right. I’d be a millionaire.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, so it’s one of those, it just it is. I will say this. I have a, I don’t know what the best way to say this is, but I have a small bit of confidence for this game, because Florida’s not the one talking. It is a lot on the line, and who doesn’t want to go to Atlanta? Who doesn’t want to go to Atlanta? Had Arkansas been played at home, Florida wins the game, and I feel that way, and I feel pretty good about that. Had this game been at home for Florida, I would feel much better about Florida’s chances. I just don’t know how that crowd’s going to be, and, quite frankly, nobody does, because they don’t have noon kickoffs in Baton Rouge. So nobody can really tell you what to expect as far as kickoff goes. I mean, I think it will be a good crowd, but who knows?
Nick:I would expect it to be a good crowd. I’m also envisioning some kind of like Anchorman, all out brawl, like putting Florida fans right next to the LSU student section. LSU, different than Florida, does first come, first serve student section seating. So like a noon game, they’ll open the gates at like 9:00, three hours before, and students are sprinting into the stands. They are there from the time the teams come in, throughout warmups, letting the teams hear it. It is a loud and rowdy student section.
Andrew:Yes.
Nick:I know you wouldn’t want to sit next to them.
Andrew:No.
Nick:You’ll take your seat in the press box.
Andrew:I will take my seat in the press box this week. I was joking with some parents about this, and there was a couple of parents who haven’t been to Baton Rouge, and they were like, “Is it going to be wild in the students section?” I’m like, “Here’s a way you can look at it, you’re either going to get a headache from being up in the nosebleeds, because that’s where you’re going to be, or you’re going to get a headache from listening to crazy students talk smack the whole game.” Either way you go, you’re going to get a headache, but maybe you want the at least I can see the game from the student section headache.
Nick:Yeah. It’s a great environment for a game. If you haven’t gotten a chance to go out there to see Florida play there, I would highly recommend it. Love that stadium. Still can’t get a damn night game though.
Andrew:That’s a good thing.
Nick:For my own selfish reasons I would like to see Saturday night in Death Valley.
Andrew:I’m a Louisiana man!
Nick:No. It’s, I’m from Louisiana.
Andrew:I’m from Louisiana. No, I’m not actually. I’m not a corndog.
Nick:There you go.
Andrew:Not a corndog. Wrong podcast if you’re looking for the corndog. Here’s my thing, back to what we were talking about with the injuries and that. I think that the offense, and we both had someone tell us, they got to do what Appleby can do. That is, he’s not going to stand in the pocket and this, that, and the other. He’s going to try to get rid of the ball, that kind of stuff. Florida found a way last year against LSU with dumpy old Treon playing quarterback, found a way to score some points. I feel like the offense did get better. If they can block up front, I think they can take advantage and score some points. My thing is this, I don’t know if, I don’t see LSU just running all over Florida. I think David Reese and Kylan Johnson are two good players, and I think the defensive line being healthy again is going to help that. Then, one thing I’ll say about Marcell and Nick, and that is, you can pick on them in pass coverage, but they’re pretty damn solid in run coverage.
Nick:Very, both of them.
Andrew:So those two guys don’t scare me so much in the run. Now, they’re probably going to hit a big play defensively on a pass, or offensively on a pass against those two, because those two guys minds wander, but it is what it is with those two guys. As far as running against those two guys, Marcell will knock the hell out of you.
Nick:Yeah. He certainly will. I think an underestimated thing that those guys did was help out Kylan Johnson and David Reese. After the game, talked to Kylan, and he said, “Jarrad Davis was basically, and Alex Anzalone, basically every time we came to the sideline they were talking to us, telling us, hey, this is what they’re doing. Hey, you need to fit this better. I noticed this, stuff like that.” Also, they both said, not Reese, but we can’t talk to him, McElwain and Kylan Johnson both said the conversation on the field, the communication on the field, that’s a linebacker’s job, but Washington and Harris both stepped up to make sure that the freshmen didn’t get overwhelmed, that things didn’t get too quick for them, kind of like their safety net. Almost like having a cheat sheet for the test.
Andrew:Yeah. You made a good point to me when we were just talking. That is that there it won’t be loud while they’re on offense. It’s going to be quiet for those guys to be able to communicate.
Nick:I think that’s another big thing. When you’re on defense at home, it’s loud. They’re trying to disrupt whatever the other offense is doing, so it gets loud. Complete opposite on the road. That communication, when you’re at home defense, a lot of the communication’s nonverbal. You’re not yelling anything. It’s hand signals. So to be able to communicate just verbally, I think makes it easier, especially when you’re talking about freshmen coming in. I expect it to be a rowdy crowd, but there is something different, and you know it’s different. If you’ve been to a game at Florida, a noon game versus a 7:00 game, it’s just a different environment.
Andrew:The sun’s out. It’s hot.
Nick:I think it’s not the sun. I think it’s the less amount of time that you’ve had to…
Andrew:Listen to what I’m saying. It’s the whole deal of the sun’s in your eyes. Somebody’s in the shade. Somebody’s in the heat. You didn’t get to party all day long. That’s the biggest thing, and most people don’t want to wake up early. I mean, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to wake up early for that noon kick. You talk about the student section, they got to probably be at the stadium at 8:00 to get in line.
Nick:If not earlier.
Andrew:Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.
Nick:That’s an early morning. I’m saying you’re right. It’s an early morning.
Andrew:I don’t know. It’s going to be a game, and I think it’s one of those situations where this is a monster game for Jim McElwain. It’s a monster game for this team. Nick, it’s kind of like we said to each other yesterday, on Monday, and that is the Gators have two ways of looking at the rest of the season. Find a way to beat LSU, go into Florida State with a ton of momentum. Find a way to knock off your instate rival. Knock off, take care of two losing streaks there. Go to Atlanta with some momentum. Or you lose the next two games, and you go to a bowl game with absolutely no momentum, half your team checking out, because they’re ready to go to the League. There’s two ways to look at the season, and it all gets answered Saturday at noon.
Nick:What about this? Let me throw a scenario at you.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Florida beats LSU. Beats FSU. Shocks the world and beats Alabama.
Andrew:We’re not talking about that.
Nick:Playoff team?
Andrew:We’re not talking about that.
Nick:Playoffs.
Andrew:Playoffs.
Nick:Playoffs.
Andrew:We’re not going to talk about that.
Nick:What about this scenario? Florida loses to LSU, loses to FSU. Vanderbilt upsets Tennessee. Florida loses to Bama, and loses a bowl game. Now you’re 7-6. So there you go. There’s the far right and the far left of the spectrum. You can’t get any more opposite than those two scenarios right there. I just went from Florida being in the playoffs to 7-6 in no span.
Andrew:7-6? Ugh. Man, that’s bad. Let’s start to look at this a little bit more though. Etling is going to be a guy that you’re going to challenge to beat you. You’re going to shut the running game down, or potentially try to shut the running game down, and make him beat you through the air. Not confident he can beat you there. I am confident that he will probably take a shot at Maye and Harris, or, excuse me, Harris and Washington, in the game. Then, defensively, I think it’s all about blocking up front. If you, Arden Key’s a monster, and if David Sharpe’s on with a bruise, bruised emotions and all up in his feelings, Arden Key’s going to have a field day against him.
Nick:Yeah. I mean, listen, Arden Key can talk what he wants to talk. It’s kind of like what we said about Jalen Tabor. You let him talk, because he’s cashing those checks, man. Whatever his mouth writes, he’s cashing that check. So you let him kind of just go ahead and do some talking. He’s a fast player. I think that’s really kind of where David has struggled in the past as well is with those guys who can use their speed as an advantage. Arden Key’s a guy that can also shove you in the chest and push you backwards, and that’s where Sharpe really is struggling. He is, if there’s a guy that he only has to worry about the speed rush, he’s quick enough to deal with that, but if he has a guy that can kind of do both, get you a man that can do both, that’s when he struggles, and then he starts guessing.
Andrew:Yeah. Good point. Got to go back to the get the playmakers the ball. Antonio Callaway’s tweeting on Tuesday about how he hopes he gets man coverage. Yeah, me too, because that’s when you take the shots. You go in there with that Tennessee game plan, and you execute it for four quarters, instead of a half, you see where you’re at at the end of the game. Here’s my question, Nick. Does this game come down to Eddy Pineiro?
Nick:It could.
Andrew:I feel sorry for the poor kid if it does.
Nick:Oh man.
Andrew:I feel sorry for the poor kid if it does, because that is not an emotion I even, for my heart I hope it doesn’t, for my heart I hope it doesn’t.
Nick:I will not be giving you CPR, so you’re on your own.
Andrew:Yeah. For my heart I hope it doesn’t.
Nick:Eddy’s made 13 field goals this year, which is almost double what Florida made last year in the same amount of attempts. Last year Florida was 7 for 17. This year Eddy is 13 of 17. I was joking with Eddy after the game. We talked to him, and I said, “What happened on that first one?” He said, “It just came off low. The first point after.” I said, “You made sure as shit that that second one wasn’t going to get blocked.” I said, “You put that one up into the middle deck, put that into the club seats.” He started laughing and said, “Yeah.” Four missed field goals, that’s not a big deal. He’s kicking at 76%. I think you feel confident in Eddy.
That is a whole different ballgame. If you’re talking about a 14-14 game, 30 seconds left, call time out. “Alright, Eddy, get out there.” That’s a different ballgame. That’s a whole different set of emotions. That’s talking about sending your team to Atlanta. To me, have you been able to manufacture enough of those pressure situations that that doesn’t get to him? Maybe.
Andrew:Eddy goes from getting his name chanted Eddy, Eddy, to just being a Rockstar if he was to put Atlanta, the SEC Championship game.
Nick:If Eddy kicks Florida into the SEC Championship game, you might see like an Eddy statue pop up near the Heisman. A fan might just whittle an Eddy out of wood, might chop down a tree, whittle a little Eddy Pineiro, and put him right next to the Tim Tebow and Steve Spurrier by the Heismans. Eddy mania will reach its peak if Eddy makes a game winning kick against LSU.
Andrew:Eddy mania. I like that.
Nick:Do we feel more confident in Antonio Callaway as a punt returner coming off of last week?
Andrew:I’ve started to see glimpses of the punt return game getting better. I think it’s this, and I’m not saying this at you, Nick, but I’m saying this at other people. They blame it all on Antonio. It’s not all on Antonio. The return coverage has been shitty for the most part. Now, Antonio had a bad week, a bad return, last week on one. He ended up getting 20 yards, but had he cut it to the right, the wall was there, and he walks into the end zone. Made a bad read on that one. Then he ended up getting the return back, but I will say this. It seems like that the, that magic that was there last year where every time it was a punt you held your breath thinking, Eddy may take this back, that was back last week.
Nick:Yeah, and we talked about that last year. It’s kind of brought that, Brandon James, brought that Brandon James feeling back to last year. LSU’s punter, Josh Growden, only a freshman. Punted 44 times this year. Only averaging 42.8 per punt, which puts him right in there in seventh, but LSU very good on kick coverage. They’re the third best team. They’ve only allowed nine returns this year, so that means 44 punts, only nine returns. Nine returns is the third fewest in the league, so you’re looking at a team that’s getting down there. The punter’s obviously getting some hang time, and you’re just not even allowing returns. Only allowing 4.67 yards per return on those nine. Might have your work cut out for you.
I do think this is going to be a game with a lot of punting, from both sides. Field position, trying to almost feel, like when you get like two great boxers, and they go in, and the first three rounds they’re just feeling each other out, throwing some jabs, seeing what the other guy’s got, not trying to be the first team to make a mistake. I think that’s kind of what you’re going to get in this game. I think it’s going to kind of be feel them out, feel them out, okay, maybe we think we can take a shot here, and we’ll try that. I think it’s going to be a very tight game, tightly called game, from both sides.
Andrew:Yeah. I do too. The thing for me is that I think that everyone looks at the Alabama game and says, Florida has no chance, because they held Alabama to 10 points. That’s a different game, and it’s all. You can throw that game stats, you can throw that game away. That is a game like the Florida/Georgia game where you can throw everything out. Don’t try to predict it, because it just isn’t. Alabama’s winning the game, no doubt about it, but it’s just will it be 10-0, 3-0, 45-0? You just never know how that game’s going to be. I see everyone saying, “They shut down Alabama. Their defense is great.” Sure it is, but let’s throw that game out.
Nick:Yeah. You get up for that game. You get up for Florida, but that Alabama game is different. That’s a western opponent. You’re still thinking, “We win this game, and Alabama trips up one more time, we have a chance to go to Atlanta.” It’s just a different game. I don’t like the whole transitive property in college football. It’s, so-and-so beat them, and we beat this team, so then we’re better than that team. That’s not how it works.
Andrew:Right. I mean, last year Florida beat Ole Miss. Ole Miss beat Alabama, but Alabama beat Florida.
Nick:There you go. Transitive property, not working.
Andrew:It’s what team shows up on every given Saturday. You can’t make me believe that Arkansas is a 20 point better team than Florida. You just can’t. You can’t.
Nick:No. I don’t, I think that’s just a combination of things, and you look and LSU handled, Florida loses what? 31-10? LSU beat them. LSU beat Arkansas 38-10. I don’t take anything from that either.
Andrew:Exactly. Nick, we got some recruiting coverage the rest of the week. Basketball coverage the rest of the week. Plenty of Florida/LSU talk. Tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Friday.
Nick:As always, you know, www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript and audio form. If you are on iTunes, go to the podcast store. Search Gator Country. Subscribe there. Drop a like. Drop a rating. Leave us a comment. Let us know how we’re doing. Subscribe, never miss a podcast. Do the social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC. Follow me on Instagram too. I’ll be eating and drinking around New Orleans on Thursday. If you’ve got any suggestions for me of eating in New Orleans on Thursday, or any suggestions for Baton Rouge on Friday night and Saturday, hit me up.
Andrew:Definitely. Do that for sure. We’ll see everyone there. If you’re around LSU, holler at us. We definitely like to say hello to everyone. So, as always, guys, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark, Butch, get them Ls this week.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/University-of-Florida-head-coach-Jim-McElwain-reacts-to-a-play-during-the-Florida-Gators-24-10-win-over-the-Georgia-Bulldogs-Florida-Gators-football-1280x852--150x150.jpg Andrew Spivey FeatureFootballPodcasts ,,,,,,,,,,,

Gator Country brings you a new podcast as James Bewers of The Advocate joins us to help us continue to preview the Florida Gators vs. LSU game on Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre ask Bewers the tough questions about this game, plus get his thoughts on the atmosphere surrounding this game.

Andrew and Nick also continue to preview the game and update everyone on the latest injuries surrounding this game on Saturday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:What up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here. Nicholas de la Torre, Nicholas, Wednesday of LSU week, and this week is full of smack talk.
Nick:LSU not making, not trying to hide their feelings this week.
Andrew:No. It’s opposite, usually Florida’s the team smack talking everyone. Not this week. It’s the opposite, and that is a lot of talk from over on corndog country.
Nick:Corndog country. Arden Key had some stuff to say. Derrius Guice had some stuff to say. I mean, Arden Key saying, “I know they’re scared to come up here.” Talking about because of the injuries, and that LSU feels comfortable. Derrius Guice said, or it was Jamal Adams or Derrius Guice, said, “They can’t run the ball anymore.” Talking about Florida.
Andrew:Guice.
Nick:Guice said it.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:Lot of smack talk. Bring it on. I like it. Let the boys talk.
Andrew:Arden Key said something along the lines of they think they’re DBU, we think we’re DBU; we’ll see what it is. We’ll see.
Nick:LSU won that battle last year.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, they did, but also they didn’t either. They did let Treon score.
Nick:Yeah, but Florida got torched.
Andrew:Yeah. I don’t know. Give us a quick update real quick from Mac’s press conference on injury front.
Nick:Yeah. Not good. Not good. Florida’s going to be out seven starters. Luke Del Rio still out, shoulder, knee. Marcus Maye, Alex Anzalone, broken arm, out. Cam Dillard, knee, out. Jarrad Davis, I’m not ever going to say Jarrad Davis isn’t playing until I see him in street clothes on the sideline, but Mac said probably still out. Bryan Cox, out, that was an ankle injury after already playing with a broken hand. David Sharpe, he said probably out. Mark Herndon still out. CJ Worton still out. Hope to get Cece Jefferson back, and they’re seeing where Tyler Jordan is.
Andrew:Carl.
Nick:Carl, yeah.
Andrew:Carl. Something Mac said though, and you and I talked about this on Monday night, is Mac challenged some guys and said, “We’ll see who’s tough to go.” I think that challenge was to a few people in general. Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me it was sent to Sharpe, Jordan, and probably Carl. Those are the three guys with the lesser of the injuries. They may just be hurt, instead of injured. So you’re not going to question Jarrad Davis, because if you question him he’s probably going to go out there and prove you wrong, whether it hurts him or not.
Nick:Jarrad Davis will cut that leg off and try to figure out how to play on one. You never question his toughness. That kid’s a warrior.
Andrew:Right. Exactly. I just think that he was challenging a couple guys. I mean, you and I have heard that David Sharpe has a bruise, a contusion, which is a bruise. So you start to wonder why that’s keeping him out of the game. Tyler Jordan came back dressed in the second half, so you wonder if that keeps him out. I’m trying to think. Carl, he had the foot. Now he was in a boot, so I guess his injury’s a little bit more serious there. Here’s the thing for me, and here it is, Nick, and I think that you always worry about the injuries, and that’s not to say Florida’s going to do better without the guys, but I’m saying I think that Reese and Kylan did a good job of stepping in.
They’re never going to fill Anzalone and Davis’ shoes, by any means, but they did a good job there. Martez did a good job at left tackle, earned SEC lineman of the week. I actually feel better about Martez playing left tackle than I do homeboy Sharpe, but the question becomes, do you feel comfortable with Harkless playing guard, and then TJ McCoy playing center over Jordan? I think the answers are no on both of those fronts, so you hope to get Tyler back to play center, and you hope to get Sharpe back just so Martez bumps inside and plays, so Kavaris doesn’t. Once again, I think I like Martez better at left tackle.
Nick:How about Martez? That’s his second time being offensive lineman of the week, once at left guard, and once at left tackle. We’ve talked about that for years now, those are not the same. It is not easy to play guard and tackle, especially in the same game. I know, I think it was the 1st quarter that he made the switch, so it wasn’t like he was doing it for a while, but he’s been doing it all year.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:So he has been doing it for a while. So hats off to him. I don’t know. I think Tyler Jordan’s fine at center, so I don’t know if I’d say TJ McCoy, but you’ve been calling for 78 to grab some pine for a while. I wouldn’t mind sticking with Harkless at guard and leaving Ivey at left tackle. I think I still would probably go with Jordan, or are you saying leave McCoy at center and put Jordan at right guard?
Andrew:No, I’m saying leave Tyler at center. I like, I thought McCoy did well.
Nick:What about leaving McCoy at center? You can get Fred Johnson out of the lineup.
Andrew:Here’s the thing with me, and this is that I think that I just like Tyler better at center. I like him being the guy that makes all the calls this week at center. So I like Tyler staying at center. I like him staying at center this week, and my thing is this, if David Sharpe only had a bruise, a contusion, and he ain’t playing, homeboy needs to check some pine and take it for the rest of the season.
Nick:If that’s the case, then maybe just go on and head out and start training for the NFL, for the Combine.
Andrew:Look, Nick, we’re going to go, we’re going to have a friend of ours, Mr. James Bewers. We’re going to have him come on. He’s from New Orleans, works for The Advocate. He’s a good friend of ours, from Ross Dellenger. This is Ross Dellenger’s intern. We’re going to go with him this week, and why don’t we just go on to him? We’ll talk to him, and then we’ll get into some of this trash talk and some more of this, I guess you could say, rivalry talk.
Nick:Happy to be joined now by James Bewers. Works for The Advocate. Close friends with our friend, Ross Dellenger, who you might remember from our Wednesday podcast of the Hurricane Matthew game. James, how’s it going?
James:Good. Good to hear from you guys. Hope you are doing well over in Gainesville.
Andrew:Absolutely. Is there a chance this game gets a hurricane somewhere?
James:I hope not, man. I really hope not. It’s about time this one got played.
Nick:I’m flying into New Orleans, so I’m bringing a hurricane to Bourbon Street on Thursday night. I’ll figure out a way back up to Baton Rouge by Saturday before kickoff. I wanted to talk about, first kind of bring up Florida has been talking trash all year it seems like to everybody, not so much this week, but that’s not to say that there isn’t trash being talked this week. I feel like LSU was kind of feeling themselves yesterday during media.
James:Yeah. I mean, one thing about this LSU team, and I don’t know if I really noticed it as much in the previous two years that I covered the team for student media at LSU, but this team is very confident in themselves. I guess that kind of is a product of them just being a very veteran laden team and having a lot of guys who this is either their final year, or they’re draft eligible, so they could be considering going to the NFL. So I definitely think that they play and they practice, and they talk with a little swagger, and certainly against some of these rival opponents they’re not afraid to speak their mind.
Keep in mind, I mean, a lot of these, I don’t have a number off the top of my head, but I’d say maybe a quarter of them were recruited by schools like Florida, and they ultimately chose to go to LSU, so I guess there’s maybe in a way they’re pretty motivated to beat Florida. I mean, this game every year always seems to be a big one. So I definitely feel like they’re confident. As Arden Key, I think, is probably one of the most, he’s probably talks as much as anybody on the team. He feels confident just because I guess he sees the injuries on the other side of the field, and he feels like he has a significant advantage against maybe guys who are backups or freshman, whatever the case may be.
I mean, you’ve still got to play the game, and I’m sure Florida is going to be just as motivated and have something to prove. I don’t buy into too much trash talk, as that’s going to motivate either one team or the other, but I think it makes it fun. That’s what I love about college sports. It just makes it fun, especially in a rivalry game like this.
Nick:Arden Key certainly backs it up, leads the team with 10.5 tackles, but I agree with you, especially this game. Jim McElwain hasn’t really called it a rivalry. He kind of sticks to Florida’s traditional, Tennessee, Georgia, and FSU, but I love this game. I love that, I know Joe Alleva might not, but I love just the Florida/LSU rivalry. I think you’re right. I know Jamal Adams was very close with Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor through that whole recruiting process, and there’s a lot of these guys that know each other from high school that end up going to these other teams. I think that adds to it. I love this rivalry.
James:Yeah. I was talking to Ethan Pocic, who is the senior starting center, and he’s actually from Illinois, but he remembers watching the LSU/Florida game. I forget which year, but it was one of the years Tebow came to Tiger Stadium, and he flashed the cell phone signal from fans calling his phone or whatever, and that was the moment he realized that this game meant a little bit more to both teams. I just think, you think about all the years Les Miles was here, and the fake field goals and the fake punts and all that kind of stuff. It just kind of creates an interesting matchup that I think even people who have no dog in the fight would be interested in watching.
Andrew:Arden King kind of has a little bit of a different state in this whole thing. He actually committed to Florida, and the news got out before he wanted it to get out, and he made a sudden change to go to LSU. So he’s one of those guys that’s like, maybe yeah.
James:Yeah. Arden, he’s, honestly, there’s been a lot of guys who stood out in the defense this year under Dave Aranda. I mean, they’ve been really terrific. I think even if you watch the Alabama game, it’s pretty evident that they were, they’re one of the top defenses in the country, and he, Arden’s been as big a part of it as anybody, just getting pressure off the edge. I mean, we were talking to him yesterday, and he was saying that Arkansas probably held him the most that he’s been held the entire year, because he was just getting consistent pressure, and they couldn’t really, they couldn’t contain him. So they had to hold him, and they didn’t call many flags, but, yeah.
I mean, he’s, I think he’s as motivated as anybody just because, like you said, he was recruited by Florida, committed there. I think, I really think that creates some sort of motivation for guys just to prove that the decision they made in high school was the correct one, that they went to the school that was best for them. I think that makes a game like this fun, as I said.
Andrew:There was no holding calls in Arkansas. Arkansas does not allow holding calls up there. Just to kind of start getting into this matchup a little bit more, I guess what is the feeling around there? Is it that they’re confident? What is the main feeling around campus right now?
James:I certainly think it’s confidence. I mean, I don’t know how much that would have, the game getting postponed would have changed the, we’re talking about confidence, I don’t know if that would have confidence level that much, but really for LSU the main thing, the big picture thing, is that LSU has a shot at the Sugar Bowl. That’s a big deal for not only fans, because, I mean, the fans love the Sugar Bowl. It gives them an opportunity to see a bowl game without having to go very far, but also for the players, because, like I said, this is such a veteran team, and there’s a lot of Louisiana guys on this team. They’d love to end their career in front of their home fans.
I think it’s big in that part, and that’s the motivation in itself, even more than probably the rivalry or keeping Ed, helping Ed Orgeron keep the job or whatever the case may be. I mean, I think it is confidence right now, but like I said, you have to play the game. A lot of things can happen over the course of the game, and certainly Florida’s going to, they’re playing for a shot at the SEC East Championship, so it’s big for both teams.
Nick:Looking at the rivalry, I know, obviously, so many kids on LSU’s team from the state, and being able to stay home and play in the Sugar Bowl is a big deal, but how much does just the opportunity to ruin your rival’s season? If Florida wins this game, they get to go to the SEC Championship. You have a chance to stop them from doing that, on top of being able to go to the Sugar Bowl. Does that play a factor into a rivalry game as well?
James:Yeah. I think it does. I think it’s always a cherry on top of it when you can kind of spoil a rival’s season or their hopes to do it, especially in a situation where Florida controls its own destiny. It’d be one thing if like Florida needed to win and get held, but all they need to do is win. So if you take that from them, then it’s kind of it’s like you accomplished another task, I guess, along with winning the game and proving your season as a whole. I think that’s just as much of a motivation as anything, but like I said, I think the main big picture thing is just so LSU can improve their bowl placement, if anything. Like I said, if they win out, and especially, they have to beat Texas A&M, and then if Alabama beats Auburn, then it looks like they’re going to go to the Sugar Bowl, which is a big deal.
Andrew:What is, in your opinion, what is the key matchup to watch? If Florida is to win this game, what do you think it will be because, and then vice versa, if LSU wins the game it’ll be because?
James:Me, just from looking at it, I think the biggest matchup is the two freshmen linebackers starting for Florida, versus the LSU running backs, Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. I just think that, as well as those two freshmen played against South Carolina, it’s a different deal facing Fournette and Guice. I mean, they, I think Guice and Fournette have proven that they’re perhaps the best duo at running back in the country, and Fournette has said it several times that if Guice were at any other school in the country he would be the starter. I’m really intrigued by that, to see how those freshmen can handle guys like Guice and Fournette coming at you on a consistent basis.
You know LSU’s going to run the ball. I mean, that’s their bread and butter. That’s what they do well, and the offensive line played much better against Arkansas than it did against Alabama. It was almost a complete role reversal from the Alabama game, so I’m really interested to see how they handle Fournette and Guice, and if they’re able to consistently make tackles and not let those two get free, because from what I’ve seen they break tackles as well as anybody.
Nick:I think, I forget what his name was. Andrew, who is the SEC ESPN analyst that was talking about Fournette and Guice?
Andrew:Peter Burns.
Nick:He tweeted. Peter Burns tweeted, “Being able to put Derrius Guice into the game when Leonard Fournette’s recharging or getting his wind on the sidelines is like the guy who is driving a Lamborghini because the Ferrari’s in the shop.”
James:Right.
Nick:There’s really no drop off from that. Guice actually leads LSU in touchdowns, leads LSU and leads the SEC in yards per carry. So that’s a true two headed monster there. Florida’s been trying to figure out their three and four headed monster, which really needs to be cut down to two, at running back. Last question, what do you think the crowd is going to be like? I know there was a situation last year, it’s kind of different, where South Carolina moved a home game, and it’s kind of a light crowd. What’s the mood in Baton Rouge among fans, and what do you expect the crowd to be like for a noon kickoff?
James:I think that Tiger Stadium will be pretty charged up. It’s interesting, apparently some of the visiting fans from Florida will be sitting right next to the LSU student section, so that could create some kind of, some chaos maybe. I mean, ya’ll know LSU fans can get pretty rowdy. So I think it’s going to be, if this game was at night, I mean maybe it would be even more charged up, but I still think that people are going to come out.
You know, I mean, there was a lot of mudslinging on both sides for when this game got postponed, and all the stuff that kind of followed that. I think maybe that kind of carried over to the fans and how they feel about what should have happened or what shouldn’t have happened. I think it should be a really good crowd, and I’m really looking forward to it, man. I mean, aside from the Alabama game, this was the one home game I was kind of looking forward to the most, well, new home game I should say. Yeah, I think it should be a great crowd.
Nick:Alright. LSU opened up at a 14.5 point favorite. I think that line has dropped to around 11.5, 12. We always ask, if you want to, to give a prediction. Who do you think will win, and how do you think the game will kind of go?
James:I’m not going to give a prediction. I’m not good at them, and I think it’d be better if I didn’t, but I will say this, 14 points seems like a lot. For a game like this, where it means so much to both teams, I could see it being a little closer than Vegas expects, but we’ll see. It should be a fun one, and I’m really intrigued by what Florida brings out, with what they’re dealing with with injuries and whatnot. So it should be fun. I’ll say closer than Vegas expects.
Andrew:There you go. We appreciate it so much, James. Tell everyone where they can find you and follow your work, and we’ll get you out of here.
James:I’m on Twitter, @JamesBewers. Of course, you can read our work at TheAdvocate.com. We have all LSU coverage there, and we update it pretty frequently. So please check us out, and we’ll have stuff today and through the rest of the week on this game.
Andrew:Awesome, James. We appreciate it, and we will see you on Saturday.
James:Absolutely. Ya’ll have a good one, guys.
Nick:Thanks so much, James.
Andrew:Alright, Nick. That was good stuff from James. He has got confidence too over there. Maybe this is the Tennessee game backwards for Florida. That’s what Florida fans are hoping.
Nick:Yeah. You and I were talking about this a little bit off, just over the phone, not on the podcast, but I’m kind of sitting here and thinking, I don’t, I’ve been down on Florida in the past. We’ve been doing the podcast for three years. I was down on Florida some in Will Muschamp’s last year, obviously, not picking them to win many games.
Andrew:Wait, are you breaking news here?
Nick:Someone brought it up the other day and reminded me that I picked Georgia Southern to win over Florida, so I’ve never been accused of being a homer. I still feel like Florida can hang in there. Given what they’re doing on offense, and given the defense, despite the injuries, I still feel like Florida can hang in there, and I kind of think to myself, “You thought that about Arkansas, and you thought no way was Arkansas going win, and look what happened.” I just feel like the, I feel like Florida’s built to win those close games, and they have the personnel, even with the injuries, to play into that. I think that’s why.
Andrew:Eddy Pineiro.
Nick:That’s a completely different, that’s a huge difference maker, but I think that’s why I’m kind of going into every week and thinking, “Florida has a shot.” 14 points? Sign me up for that. I don’t see that.
Andrew:I don’t know. I mean, I have no problem admitting it, I’m usually the guy that tells you Florida’s going to win every game, and I don’t know. I don’t know. Right today, Wednesday, or we’re taping this Tuesday at 1:20 Eastern time, and I don’t know who I’m picking Saturday. I don’t. I don’t know who I’m picking for Saturday. I go back and forth. Will not lie to people, we have now, it is Tuesday, and I have had dreams of the game both ways, happening both ways. I had a dream Florida won with a Quincy Wilson pick six, and then I had a dream that Florida got spanked, because Leonard Fournette ran for 350. So we’ll see.
Nick:Are you Mr. Cleo?
Andrew:What’s that mean?
Nick:Ms. Cleo, the famous, I think she passed away, but the famous mind reader, psychic, had like late infomercials.
Andrew:No, I’m not.
Nick:Predict the future.
Andrew:I wish. I mean, I wish. Life would be pretty easy for us, Nicholas, if we could. We wouldn’t have to, I would never lose on the predictions here.
Nick:I wouldn’t be working for Gator Country. If I could predict the future I would just live in Vegas, and I’d bet every game right. I’d be a millionaire.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, so it’s one of those, it just it is. I will say this. I have a, I don’t know what the best way to say this is, but I have a small bit of confidence for this game, because Florida’s not the one talking. It is a lot on the line, and who doesn’t want to go to Atlanta? Who doesn’t want to go to Atlanta? Had Arkansas been played at home, Florida wins the game, and I feel that way, and I feel pretty good about that. Had this game been at home for Florida, I would feel much better about Florida’s chances. I just don’t know how that crowd’s going to be, and, quite frankly, nobody does, because they don’t have noon kickoffs in Baton Rouge. So nobody can really tell you what to expect as far as kickoff goes. I mean, I think it will be a good crowd, but who knows?
Nick:I would expect it to be a good crowd. I’m also envisioning some kind of like Anchorman, all out brawl, like putting Florida fans right next to the LSU student section. LSU, different than Florida, does first come, first serve student section seating. So like a noon game, they’ll open the gates at like 9:00, three hours before, and students are sprinting into the stands. They are there from the time the teams come in, throughout warmups, letting the teams hear it. It is a loud and rowdy student section.
Andrew:Yes.
Nick:I know you wouldn’t want to sit next to them.
Andrew:No.
Nick:You’ll take your seat in the press box.
Andrew:I will take my seat in the press box this week. I was joking with some parents about this, and there was a couple of parents who haven’t been to Baton Rouge, and they were like, “Is it going to be wild in the students section?” I’m like, “Here’s a way you can look at it, you’re either going to get a headache from being up in the nosebleeds, because that’s where you’re going to be, or you’re going to get a headache from listening to crazy students talk smack the whole game.” Either way you go, you’re going to get a headache, but maybe you want the at least I can see the game from the student section headache.
Nick:Yeah. It’s a great environment for a game. If you haven’t gotten a chance to go out there to see Florida play there, I would highly recommend it. Love that stadium. Still can’t get a damn night game though.
Andrew:That’s a good thing.
Nick:For my own selfish reasons I would like to see Saturday night in Death Valley.
Andrew:I’m a Louisiana man!
Nick:No. It’s, I’m from Louisiana.
Andrew:I’m from Louisiana. No, I’m not actually. I’m not a corndog.
Nick:There you go.
Andrew:Not a corndog. Wrong podcast if you’re looking for the corndog. Here’s my thing, back to what we were talking about with the injuries and that. I think that the offense, and we both had someone tell us, they got to do what Appleby can do. That is, he’s not going to stand in the pocket and this, that, and the other. He’s going to try to get rid of the ball, that kind of stuff. Florida found a way last year against LSU with dumpy old Treon playing quarterback, found a way to score some points. I feel like the offense did get better. If they can block up front, I think they can take advantage and score some points. My thing is this, I don’t know if, I don’t see LSU just running all over Florida. I think David Reese and Kylan Johnson are two good players, and I think the defensive line being healthy again is going to help that. Then, one thing I’ll say about Marcell and Nick, and that is, you can pick on them in pass coverage, but they’re pretty damn solid in run coverage.
Nick:Very, both of them.
Andrew:So those two guys don’t scare me so much in the run. Now, they’re probably going to hit a big play defensively on a pass, or offensively on a pass against those two, because those two guys minds wander, but it is what it is with those two guys. As far as running against those two guys, Marcell will knock the hell out of you.
Nick:Yeah. He certainly will. I think an underestimated thing that those guys did was help out Kylan Johnson and David Reese. After the game, talked to Kylan, and he said, “Jarrad Davis was basically, and Alex Anzalone, basically every time we came to the sideline they were talking to us, telling us, hey, this is what they’re doing. Hey, you need to fit this better. I noticed this, stuff like that.” Also, they both said, not Reese, but we can’t talk to him, McElwain and Kylan Johnson both said the conversation on the field, the communication on the field, that’s a linebacker’s job, but Washington and Harris both stepped up to make sure that the freshmen didn’t get overwhelmed, that things didn’t get too quick for them, kind of like their safety net. Almost like having a cheat sheet for the test.
Andrew:Yeah. You made a good point to me when we were just talking. That is that there it won’t be loud while they’re on offense. It’s going to be quiet for those guys to be able to communicate.
Nick:I think that’s another big thing. When you’re on defense at home, it’s loud. They’re trying to disrupt whatever the other offense is doing, so it gets loud. Complete opposite on the road. That communication, when you’re at home defense, a lot of the communication’s nonverbal. You’re not yelling anything. It’s hand signals. So to be able to communicate just verbally, I think makes it easier, especially when you’re talking about freshmen coming in. I expect it to be a rowdy crowd, but there is something different, and you know it’s different. If you’ve been to a game at Florida, a noon game versus a 7:00 game, it’s just a different environment.
Andrew:The sun’s out. It’s hot.
Nick:I think it’s not the sun. I think it’s the less amount of time that you’ve had to…
Andrew:Listen to what I’m saying. It’s the whole deal of the sun’s in your eyes. Somebody’s in the shade. Somebody’s in the heat. You didn’t get to party all day long. That’s the biggest thing, and most people don’t want to wake up early. I mean, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to wake up early for that noon kick. You talk about the student section, they got to probably be at the stadium at 8:00 to get in line.
Nick:If not earlier.
Andrew:Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.
Nick:That’s an early morning. I’m saying you’re right. It’s an early morning.
Andrew:I don’t know. It’s going to be a game, and I think it’s one of those situations where this is a monster game for Jim McElwain. It’s a monster game for this team. Nick, it’s kind of like we said to each other yesterday, on Monday, and that is the Gators have two ways of looking at the rest of the season. Find a way to beat LSU, go into Florida State with a ton of momentum. Find a way to knock off your instate rival. Knock off, take care of two losing streaks there. Go to Atlanta with some momentum. Or you lose the next two games, and you go to a bowl game with absolutely no momentum, half your team checking out, because they’re ready to go to the League. There’s two ways to look at the season, and it all gets answered Saturday at noon.
Nick:What about this? Let me throw a scenario at you.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Florida beats LSU. Beats FSU. Shocks the world and beats Alabama.
Andrew:We’re not talking about that.
Nick:Playoff team?
Andrew:We’re not talking about that.
Nick:Playoffs.
Andrew:Playoffs.
Nick:Playoffs.
Andrew:We’re not going to talk about that.
Nick:What about this scenario? Florida loses to LSU, loses to FSU. Vanderbilt upsets Tennessee. Florida loses to Bama, and loses a bowl game. Now you’re 7-6. So there you go. There’s the far right and the far left of the spectrum. You can’t get any more opposite than those two scenarios right there. I just went from Florida being in the playoffs to 7-6 in no span.
Andrew:7-6? Ugh. Man, that’s bad. Let’s start to look at this a little bit more though. Etling is going to be a guy that you’re going to challenge to beat you. You’re going to shut the running game down, or potentially try to shut the running game down, and make him beat you through the air. Not confident he can beat you there. I am confident that he will probably take a shot at Maye and Harris, or, excuse me, Harris and Washington, in the game. Then, defensively, I think it’s all about blocking up front. If you, Arden Key’s a monster, and if David Sharpe’s on with a bruise, bruised emotions and all up in his feelings, Arden Key’s going to have a field day against him.
Nick:Yeah. I mean, listen, Arden Key can talk what he wants to talk. It’s kind of like what we said about Jalen Tabor. You let him talk, because he’s cashing those checks, man. Whatever his mouth writes, he’s cashing that check. So you let him kind of just go ahead and do some talking. He’s a fast player. I think that’s really kind of where David has struggled in the past as well is with those guys who can use their speed as an advantage. Arden Key’s a guy that can also shove you in the chest and push you backwards, and that’s where Sharpe really is struggling. He is, if there’s a guy that he only has to worry about the speed rush, he’s quick enough to deal with that, but if he has a guy that can kind of do both, get you a man that can do both, that’s when he struggles, and then he starts guessing.
Andrew:Yeah. Good point. Got to go back to the get the playmakers the ball. Antonio Callaway’s tweeting on Tuesday about how he hopes he gets man coverage. Yeah, me too, because that’s when you take the shots. You go in there with that Tennessee game plan, and you execute it for four quarters, instead of a half, you see where you’re at at the end of the game. Here’s my question, Nick. Does this game come down to Eddy Pineiro?
Nick:It could.
Andrew:I feel sorry for the poor kid if it does.
Nick:Oh man.
Andrew:I feel sorry for the poor kid if it does, because that is not an emotion I even, for my heart I hope it doesn’t, for my heart I hope it doesn’t.
Nick:I will not be giving you CPR, so you’re on your own.
Andrew:Yeah. For my heart I hope it doesn’t.
Nick:Eddy’s made 13 field goals this year, which is almost double what Florida made last year in the same amount of attempts. Last year Florida was 7 for 17. This year Eddy is 13 of 17. I was joking with Eddy after the game. We talked to him, and I said, “What happened on that first one?” He said, “It just came off low. The first point after.” I said, “You made sure as shit that that second one wasn’t going to get blocked.” I said, “You put that one up into the middle deck, put that into the club seats.” He started laughing and said, “Yeah.” Four missed field goals, that’s not a big deal. He’s kicking at 76%. I think you feel confident in Eddy.
That is a whole different ballgame. If you’re talking about a 14-14 game, 30 seconds left, call time out. “Alright, Eddy, get out there.” That’s a different ballgame. That’s a whole different set of emotions. That’s talking about sending your team to Atlanta. To me, have you been able to manufacture enough of those pressure situations that that doesn’t get to him? Maybe.
Andrew:Eddy goes from getting his name chanted Eddy, Eddy, to just being a Rockstar if he was to put Atlanta, the SEC Championship game.
Nick:If Eddy kicks Florida into the SEC Championship game, you might see like an Eddy statue pop up near the Heisman. A fan might just whittle an Eddy out of wood, might chop down a tree, whittle a little Eddy Pineiro, and put him right next to the Tim Tebow and Steve Spurrier by the Heismans. Eddy mania will reach its peak if Eddy makes a game winning kick against LSU.
Andrew:Eddy mania. I like that.
Nick:Do we feel more confident in Antonio Callaway as a punt returner coming off of last week?
Andrew:I’ve started to see glimpses of the punt return game getting better. I think it’s this, and I’m not saying this at you, Nick, but I’m saying this at other people. They blame it all on Antonio. It’s not all on Antonio. The return coverage has been shitty for the most part. Now, Antonio had a bad week, a bad return, last week on one. He ended up getting 20 yards, but had he cut it to the right, the wall was there, and he walks into the end zone. Made a bad read on that one. Then he ended up getting the return back, but I will say this. It seems like that the, that magic that was there last year where every time it was a punt you held your breath thinking, Eddy may take this back, that was back last week.
Nick:Yeah, and we talked about that last year. It’s kind of brought that, Brandon James, brought that Brandon James feeling back to last year. LSU’s punter, Josh Growden, only a freshman. Punted 44 times this year. Only averaging 42.8 per punt, which puts him right in there in seventh, but LSU very good on kick coverage. They’re the third best team. They’ve only allowed nine returns this year, so that means 44 punts, only nine returns. Nine returns is the third fewest in the league, so you’re looking at a team that’s getting down there. The punter’s obviously getting some hang time, and you’re just not even allowing returns. Only allowing 4.67 yards per return on those nine. Might have your work cut out for you.
I do think this is going to be a game with a lot of punting, from both sides. Field position, trying to almost feel, like when you get like two great boxers, and they go in, and the first three rounds they’re just feeling each other out, throwing some jabs, seeing what the other guy’s got, not trying to be the first team to make a mistake. I think that’s kind of what you’re going to get in this game. I think it’s going to kind of be feel them out, feel them out, okay, maybe we think we can take a shot here, and we’ll try that. I think it’s going to be a very tight game, tightly called game, from both sides.
Andrew:Yeah. I do too. The thing for me is that I think that everyone looks at the Alabama game and says, Florida has no chance, because they held Alabama to 10 points. That’s a different game, and it’s all. You can throw that game stats, you can throw that game away. That is a game like the Florida/Georgia game where you can throw everything out. Don’t try to predict it, because it just isn’t. Alabama’s winning the game, no doubt about it, but it’s just will it be 10-0, 3-0, 45-0? You just never know how that game’s going to be. I see everyone saying, “They shut down Alabama. Their defense is great.” Sure it is, but let’s throw that game out.
Nick:Yeah. You get up for that game. You get up for Florida, but that Alabama game is different. That’s a western opponent. You’re still thinking, “We win this game, and Alabama trips up one more time, we have a chance to go to Atlanta.” It’s just a different game. I don’t like the whole transitive property in college football. It’s, so-and-so beat them, and we beat this team, so then we’re better than that team. That’s not how it works.
Andrew:Right. I mean, last year Florida beat Ole Miss. Ole Miss beat Alabama, but Alabama beat Florida.
Nick:There you go. Transitive property, not working.
Andrew:It’s what team shows up on every given Saturday. You can’t make me believe that Arkansas is a 20 point better team than Florida. You just can’t. You can’t.
Nick:No. I don’t, I think that’s just a combination of things, and you look and LSU handled, Florida loses what? 31-10? LSU beat them. LSU beat Arkansas 38-10. I don’t take anything from that either.
Andrew:Exactly. Nick, we got some recruiting coverage the rest of the week. Basketball coverage the rest of the week. Plenty of Florida/LSU talk. Tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Friday.
Nick:As always, you know, www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript and audio form. If you are on iTunes, go to the podcast store. Search Gator Country. Subscribe there. Drop a like. Drop a rating. Leave us a comment. Let us know how we’re doing. Subscribe, never miss a podcast. Do the social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC. Follow me on Instagram too. I’ll be eating and drinking around New Orleans on Thursday. If you’ve got any suggestions for me of eating in New Orleans on Thursday, or any suggestions for Baton Rouge on Friday night and Saturday, hit me up.
Andrew:Definitely. Do that for sure. We’ll see everyone there. If you’re around LSU, holler at us. We definitely like to say hello to everyone. So, as always, guys, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark, Butch, get them Ls this week.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.

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