Clark helps preview Florida Gators vs. South Carolina: Podcast

Gator Country brings you a new podcast as Chris Clark of Gamecock Central joins us to help us continue to preview the Florida Gators vs. South Carolina game on Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre ask Clark about the feeling around Will Muschamp returning to Florida, plus the key match-ups.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the offense and the ways they can improve, plus what the quarterback situation will look like on Saturday afternoon.

TRANSCRIPT:
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, somber week in Gainesville, my friend.
Nick:Somber week? Is that what you said?
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:I don’t know. I’m holding out hope. I’m going to make a little drive through fraternity row, probably around Thursday, maybe Thursday, Friday. I’m expecting the fraternities to, they always hang those sheets for game day, I’m expecting there to be some good stuff directed toward the opposing head coach this week.
Andrew:Yeah. Well, We’ll see. I’ll say this, Nick, and that is I think there’s just…
Nick:Hey, Tim Tebow’s going to be in town.
Andrew:He is. But he’s been at Florida’s games the last three weeks, so it kind of seems like that’s just another thing. I don’t know. Here’s my thing, Nick, and this is this. There’s so much uncertainty around this team, and just so much there. I really think this. I hate to have to do this stuff, but I think this football team, this coaching staff, they need the Gator Nation behind them right now. This is a turning point for this football team this week. Laugh and say all you want to it’s the South Carolina game, but you can say what you want. This is a turning point. This is a huge recruiting weekend.
It’s a noon game. It sucks to be a noon kickoff, but Florida needs their Gator fans, needs Gator Nation to come out and support the team. It needs to be loud in the Swamp. I’ve had people say, “Well, this team sucks.” Sure it does, but these players still chose to be a Gator. Come support them. It’s Senior Day. Don’t make these seniors go out in a crowd of 60,000 or 70,000. Don’t do that. Come out. Be loud. Get there early. Support your team. Let’s see what happens. That’s basically what I’m saying is, let’s see what happens, but this recruiting weekend is big.
Nick:Don’t be a fair weather fan is what you’re saying.
Andrew:Yeah. I know there’s going to be somebody, and that’s going to be that’s going to come out, and they’re going to say, “Well, he’s just this or that, whatever.” I’m serious, and that is that they really need the fans to be out there supporting them and getting out and just helping the team.
Nick:What, recruiting is the life blood. Recruiting right now is the life blood of any college football team. That is, this is Florida’s biggest, biggest recruiting weekend. Having a 60,000 crowd, dead atmosphere, that would be terrible for recruiting.
Andrew:Terrible.
Nick:Terrible for recruiting, and then that gets into what you’re looking at next year as far as what this coaching staff has to work with next year.
Andrew:Yeah. It’s a situation where is it the coaching staff’s fault? Is it the fan’s fault that this situation was dealt the way it was dealt with the whole two games being cancelled, home games being cancelled, this being the biggest weekend? No. It’s nobody’s fault. Is it the team’s fault they sucked against Arkansas? Yes. It’s the team and coaching staff’s fault. That is. At the end of the day, it’s just a loss, and you still got a chance to get to Atlanta. I continue to hear, and I believe this, and that is that Gator Nation is the best fan base in the country. You go everywhere. Coach Mac says Gators take care of Gators. I, for one, am calling to see that this weekend. Jim McElwain is a fine football coach, a damn good football coach, going through a struggle. This offense needs a spark. It needs a spark big time, and it needs a spark big time, but it needs a fan base to come out and help out its team. It needs it bad. It needs to take back the Swamp this weekend. I’m sitting here, I’m a grown ass man, and I’ll tell you, I’m pleading to see a good crowd.
Nick:It’s tough. Noon games are always tough. Yeah. The damage done by a weak crowd, by a bad environment, doesn’t just affect the team this Saturday. I think, I honestly think as much as it can, one game, if Alex Leatherwood only goes to one Florida game all year, and it’s the shitty one, that’s not a good look. Not a good look for Florida.
Andrew:No. It’s not. It’s really not.
Nick:The coaching staff can’t sell to recruits, “This atmosphere, the Gator Nation, best fans.” “Yeah, Coach, I was there. I saw 55,000 at noon for South Carolina. Stop telling me that.”
Andrew:Exactly. Nick, we’re going to bring on our good friend, Mr. Chris Clark from Gamecock Central. He covers South Carolina like nobody’s business. Those guys do the work we do, and that is dominate the competition. Chris is a very good friend of ours, and has been on this Muschamp thing. Nick, why don’t we go ahead. We’ll talk to Chris. We’ll come back, and we’ll hit on the points that need to be hit on about this team, and then we’ll go ahead and get into the previewing the South Carolina game.
Nick:Let’s do it.
Andrew:Welcome back, guys. We’re joined by a good friend of mine, Mr. Chris Clark, from Gamecock Central. Chris, how are you, man?
Chris:Doing well, guys. Getting ready for an interesting game on Saturday. That’s for sure.
Andrew:What is the feeling with Carolina fans? The feeling down here, Florida fans, is they better not lose to Will Muschamp.
Chris:I understand that. I remember being down in Gainesville a couple years ago for that crazy game down there, and just sort of taking the temperature of the Gator fans. It was bad then, so I certainly understand that notion. Around here, it’s been up and down here so much, it’s been really interesting to watch, because, as you guys can imagine, when Will Muschamp was hired it was a divisive hire, right? I mean, a lot of people recognized that they needed somebody who could recruit, and we all know that Will Muschamp can do that. A lot of people took the stance, which was fair in some ways, that he didn’t get it done at Florida, and why can he get it done at South Carolina? All those types of things.
Then they saw the recruiting job he did, got excited again. Then the season started, and it didn’t start off so hot. There was some sadness there and things like that. Now, some circumstances have changed. The offense has gotten it turned around a little bit. People recognize the state of the roster, and are sort of looking towards the future. Any time a team puts together a three game win streak, the fans are going to be happier. So I think a lot of people are just looking toward the future now, but the mood overall here in Columbia is better than it was say when South Carolina was 2-4, and had lost to Kentucky on the road and things like that.
Andrew:That’s what I was about to say. It kind of seemed like, I’ll be honest with you, Chris, we were talking at the beginning of the year, and we were like, “How does South Carolina win a conference game?” That’s no disrespect to anyone. It just, it seemed like the offense was that bad. I guess, with the quarterback change, does fans sense maybe this is a different Will Muschamp?
Chris:Sure. I mean, offense was the big question. Well, I think there were questions everywhere. Special teams is probably the area that people felt the best about, just because of the kicker and the punter that was coming back, and some of the things they did there last season. Defensively the roster’s not where it’s going to be say in three or four seasons. Offensively they’re just very young, lack of playmakers. Just the cupboard was not very stocked there. Then you’re relying either on a walk on guy in Perry Orth, or one of two freshmen at the quarterback position, which isn’t always a great recipe. That was the concern, and certainly those things played themselves out early in the season. Before the U Mass game, South Carolina was averaging 14 points a game. That’s not going to get it done. I don’t care who you are, what conference you play in, who the opponents are, that just won’t get it done on a consistent basis.
It’s remarkable what the defense has been able to do, given the roster, and given the lack of offensive support that they got in the early part of the season. You’re right. If they had not made a quarterback change, for example, didn’t get Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards back healthy, didn’t have Rico Dowdle emerge from injury late in the season and play well, it would be very difficult for them to be putting up points right now. They probably would not have beaten Tennessee or Missouri. That’s what, they struggled in a lot of facets against Mississippi State. Kentucky they played pretty well defensively and couldn’t move the ball, couldn’t score points. Turnovers hurt, all those sorts of things.
Look, the biggest thing, everybody knew Will Muschamp could recruit. He can coach defense. Those things were obvious. The question was, will he turn around the offense? In order to do that, he had to change some things philosophically, as you guys know, and then he had to get a quarterback. You can have a great offensive system, you’ve got to have a quarterback. So within his first several months of the job he had gotten two former four star quarterbacks on campus, and he has overhauled his offensive philosophy a bit. They’re still not able to do some of the things they want to do offensively, just because of their personnel. They still have to protect the defense some, but he’s been more aggressive in certain situations.
There was a situation in the Missouri game, they drove the ball all the way down the field, didn’t get a 3rd and short, and had a 4th and short, and fans wanted them to go for it, but it doesn’t matter who’s making the call, whether it’s Nick Saban or Will Muschamp or Jim McElwain, whoever it was, you kick the field goal there with a good kicker, senior kicker, and you go up by two scores late in the game. That’s just obvious. Because of his reputation, some people point to that, but I think that he has, if he had gotten to South Carolina and said, “I’m going to do everything offensively the exact same way I did at Florida,” I think there would have been a lot more reason for concern, but he hasn’t. That doesn’t mean they’re world beaters offensively or ever will be, but I do think fans have been encouraged by some of the signs. Another part of that is the young talent in Jake Bentley.
Nick:How much of that is maybe what he learned at Florida? He kind of anchored himself to Jeff Driskel, despite people calling for a different quarterback. He kind of, despite having, when he first got to Florida, having the talent that was recruited and built for a spread offense, tried to run the ball between the tackles, and then after recruiting for three years to run the ball between the tackles, says, “We’re going to try some spread option stuff.” So how much do you think he actually did learn from mistakes at Florida, and is using that in his first year now?
Chris:I think it was huge. I think it was huge. I think any first time coach is going to go through some growing pains. Every single, just about, successful coach that we’ve seen has had at some point or another some adversity in their careers, whether it didn’t start well, whether they had, for example, look back at Nick Saban. He wasn’t lighting the world on fire in his first couple jobs, but now he’s the best. I mean, bottom line. Urban Meyer started off extremely well, did extremely well, and then he had a rough patch there in the middle, and now he’s doing very well again. So I think there are learning experiences for every coach. That was one of them.
Again, Will Muschamp has been very out front in the fact that he did things wrong offensively at Florida, whether it was the initial hire, they just threw things off for two or three years. When he did change offenses, which was obviously something that was needed to do, you made a good point, Nick. I mean, he didn’t have the personnel as much for it at that point, and it was just too late. So just sort of ran out of time. One thing he said is that if he hired Kurt Roper his first year at Florida he might still be there. Now, we don’t know if that’s true, but I think we can all agree that he’d have a lot better chance of still being there if Kurt Roper was there, as opposed to hiring Charlie Weiss, and then Brent Pease, and then moving on to Roper, because that would have suited their personnel better.
South Carolina, fortunately, had personnel that, while not great, it fit what he wanted to do better, and then the second part of that is recognizing that they never figured out the quarterback situation at Florida, that they had to do that. Again, they’ve got a couple talented young guys on campus, and when it wasn’t working in the early part of the season, he made a move that some fans and media people didn’t agree with, and that was going to Jake Bentley, who was a true freshman. They said, “Why do you burn the redshirt this late in the season?” Well, because you want to win football games. There are a lot of things offensively that you just can’t change. You’re playing your best receivers. You’re playing you best tight ends and offensive linemen, but you can try to make a change at the quarterback position and see if something happens. Combined with getting healthier in Jack Bentley and some of the things that they’ve done, they’ve been able to accomplish getting better offensively.
Andrew:Chris, when you look at this game, you look at Florida, they’re going to struggle. They struggle offensively. They’re going to play Austin Appleby, or maybe turn to a true freshman like South Carolina. I guess, what do you see as the biggest matchup in this game? Maybe one for South Carolina and one for Florida. What do you see?
Chris:I don’t know that we’re going to see a bunch of points in this game. I think it’s…
Nick:Are you sure you want to make that prediction? I mean, these are some prolific offenses here.
Chris:Right. Really going out on a limb, I know, but I’m going to go against the grain and say not a high scoring affair. Not a Big 12 game that we’re going to see on Saturday. I could see it sort of reminding me of that 2014 game, a game that comes down to the 4th quarter, not a whole lot of offense. There’s a couple inexplicable plays that happen in the game, and then it just goes from there. I mean, it’s a couple teams that, while South Carolina has moved the ball and scored more points lately, they’ve looked a lot better than they did early in the season, I think we got to keep in mind that even with the injuries Florida has a lot of speed. They’re still a good football team defensively, and I still think South Carolina could struggle to score points, particularly if they go down to Gainesville and start turning the ball over. That’s something they’ve done quite well. Jake Bentley hasn’t thrown an interception. They haven’t been putting the ball on the ground lately. That’s something they can’t afford to do, and I still think that Florida can give them a lot of problems up front.
For me, I think the game’s going to be won in the trenches. I don’t think South Carolina can go down there and throw the ball all over Florida’s secondary. I don’t think that can happen, and I don’t think Florida’s going to throw all over South Carolina either. So I think the team that runs the ball the most effectively is going to do the best job and score the most points.
When I look back at Florida and Arkansas, Arkansas played very well up front, both sides of the ball. Arkansas’s backs did a great job breaking tackles, showing good vision. Then on defense they played well up front. Their linebackers fed the run real well. Those are some things that South Carolina has had trouble with. Rico Dowdle does a good job breaking tackles, but they’ve showed some vulnerabilities blocking up front, and then defensively they’ve had some issues with run fits and getting bounced out of gaps and things like that at times in the run game, whether it’s more of a Georgia attack or more of a Missouri style attack. Those are things that for South Carolina would be concerning, and they need to get them cleaned up. Florida was not effective, obviously, running it against Arkansas, but I think if South Carolina doesn’t play well, then the Gators could still have a good game there. I think it’s in the trenches for me in terms of the key to the game.
Andrew:Bring your Redbull, if you’re coming to the game, because I think we may all fall asleep. To me, I’m with you, Chris. That is I think the game comes about who wins the trenches. I don’t, if Florida goes with Austin Appleby, he’s not beating you guys through the air. If they go with a freshman, then do you really rely on a freshman to do, to go against Will Muschamp? The roster may not be there, but Will Muschamp’s still going to be a genius in the way he comes up with his game plan on defense. I’m with you. I think whoever runs the ball well.
Nick:Really, throw a freshman out there, Will Muschamp has a defensive mind, is a genius. He’s going to show things that he hasn’t, that Florida hasn’t seen on tape yet. They complained, Florida complained about that at Arkansas last week, that they come out with some stuff that I guess they worked on in the bye week that we hadn’t seen. Will Muschamp has been saving disguised coverages since before the ink was dry on this contract for this week. He can say whatever he wants. This game means more to him for what he went through, especially in the last two years he was in Gainesville.
Chris:I don’t think there’s any doubt. He’s not going to say that. He’s going to rightfully keep the focus on trying to prepare his players.
Nick:Now, if South Carolina wins he’ll say it after the game.
Chris:Exactly. It’s just like after the Missouri game. I mean, there was no talk of it before, but Muschamp set mousetraps around the football facility leading up to that Missouri game to sort of remind the players that, yeah, they beat Tennessee, but they haven’t really arrived. They’re a team that got their fourth win, and that was about it. There’s definitely some motivation. I mean, I don’t have any doubt they work equally as hard at every opponent, but this one would be sweet for him. I’m sure it would be.
Again, you guys mentioned Muschamp’s defensive job that he does. That’s been the most surprising thing to me, honestly, was when I looked at South Carolina’s roster I just thought they’d still, even with Muschamp, Travaris Robinson, their staff, that they’d still struggle in certain games, and they have had struggles. They had some inexplicable moments against Georgia and some others, but they have a bunch of guys on the back end, honestly, that just can’t really run, honestly. Muschamp was asked about it, “What are you doing to sort of help your safeties, because you haven’t been happy with the play?” He said, “We’re asking them to run faster.” He was just sort of joking around, but, I mean, they got a bunch of guys that can’t run. They don’t have a lot of depth.
They do have some good players in certain spots. They like some of their corners, linebackers, some of their D linemen, but the roster is not where it’s going to be, and the job that they’ve been able to do piecing it together on defense has been very good. Again, Georgia has not lit people up offensively, and they looked really good at South Carolina at times running the ball, so for the Gamecocks I think that would be the big concern, and I think that’s probably Florida’s game plan is we’ve got to do a really good job running the ball.
Andrew:I agree. This is Florida’s big recruiting weekend. Believe it or not, Florida still has a path to get to Atlanta, and I think that there needs to be a spark on the offense, so we’ll see. Chris, before we get you out of here, I know you don’t want to make a prediction, and we’re cool with that. What do you see this game? Do you see it 20-14? Give us a score, kind of your feeling.
Chris:I think it’ll be a touchdown, a field goal, somewhere around there.
Nick:Any chance it’s a 4-2 game, and there’s no offensive scores, just three safeties?
Chris:No. I would put that on the board in Vegas. It would be there. It might be more of a 25-1, 50-1 type of deal. I do think we will see a touchdown, at least, in the game. We’re going to talk about all this, and then we’re all going to talk on Sunday and say, “How did both those teams score 35 points each?” something like that. That’s probably how it’s going to go.
Andrew:Can we just play seven on seven against there and see what happens?
Chris:Now, if they play seven on seven, I do like South Carolina’s chances in that one. I saw Jake Bentley play seven on seven when he was a freshman at Burns, before he moved to Alabama, and he didn’t miss a pass the whole game. So I will pick South Carolina if it’s just seven on seven.
Andrew:Definitely. Chris, tell everybody where they can find your great work real quick, and we’ll get you out of here.
Chris:We’re on GamecockCentral.com. We’ve been around since 1998, part of the Rivals network. Love to have you come over and look at our stuff. I appreciate you guys having me.
Andrew:You got it, Chris. Take care, and we’ll see you on Saturday.
Chris:Alright, guys. Thanks a lot.
Andrew:It was good stuff from our man, Chris Clark, Nick. He hit on a lot of good points about Muschamp. I’ll say this. If you’d have told me at the beginning of the year Will Muschamp would have went to a freshman quarterback I’d have told you you were crazy, and Will Muschamp ain’t doing that, but he did it. Maybe that gives hope for Florida fans this week.
Nick:Yeah. We’ll get back in. Remember, we said when we taped our Monday podcast that we’ll get back into the percentage we think. We’ll get into that later. It is interesting, and I think, the first thing I think both of us said when he was hired was, “What the hell is South Carolina doing? What are you doing? Did you check out the last four years, the last five years? What are you thinking?” But at least early on through, how many games have they played? Through seven games?
Andrew:Eight. Right?
Nick:No. They’re nine.
Andrew:Yeah, they’re nine, because they’ve got one more than Florida. Yes.
Nick:Through nine games it would appear that maybe he has. They’ve played, so Florida has played three, or South Carolina has played three different quarterbacks this year. Brandon McElwain’s played seven games. Jake Bentley, as another freshman, has come on in the last three, and then, obviously, started the year with Perry Orth, the senior. It seems like they’ve kind of found something. Bentley is taking care of the football, and that’s really the first thing you’re going to ask of a freshman. Listen, don’t turn the ball over. He’s completing 73% of his passes.
Andrew:And he’s not even normal freshman quarterback.
Nick:No.
Andrew:This guy should be still in high school.
Nick:Yeah. Normally you hear that during spring camp, this guy should be at Prom. You normally don’t hear that in November.
Andrew:Yeah. Some weird stuff.
Nick:So I want to caution this. Everyone, when we say, “Hey, a freshman’s not ready to play,” everyone says, “Look at this guy.” Jake Bentley’s probably the exception to the rule.
Andrew:There’s always the few.
Nick:There’s always a few. It doesn’t mean, just because Hurts is doing it at Alabama, Bentley’s doing it in South Carolina, that doesn’t mean everyone can.
Andrew:Right. That’s the thing. There’s always a few. I mean, I’ve heard people tell me that Tim Tebow wasn’t ready to play fully as a freshman, and I think we can all agree, he’ll probably go down, I mean he goes down as one of the greatest to ever play the position. That’s just the truth. He does. I think it’s just that. To look at Florida’s situation, we talked about this on Monday on the website. We’re taping this Tuesday at 12:30, so we haven’t been able to see Tuesday’s practice yet, but on Monday it was Austin Appleby was the one, and at the two was Feliepe Franks. From everything I know and have heard, it’s going to be Appleby at first, and they’re going to try to play one of the freshmen.
At the end of the day, it’s kind of complicated, because at some point or another you have to get in some kind of rhythm. You can’t be changing quarterbacks all the time. Maybe after the 1st quarter if Appleby’s not doing anything you bring in one of those freshmen and see. I don’t know. Nick, I’m saying this, and I think I’ve said this till I’m blown in the face. I don’t know if it’s Austin Appleby. I don’t know if it’s Kyle Trask. I don’t know if it’s Feliepe Franks. I don’t know if it’s Jordan Scarlett being the wildcat quarterback the rest of the year.
Whoever it is, they’ve got to find a spark on offense, and it’s a spark they’ve got to find. It wasn’t with Del Rio. It’s a spark they’ve got to find, and it’s not just at the quarterback position. It’s at all 11 positions. It’s got to be a spark of, we’re going to succeed, whether it means we’re going to have to jump out of this world to catch a ball from Austin Appleby, we’re going to succeed. Until that mindset comes from this offense, I’m just not sure that it’s going to be there. There’s no spark. There’s no energy. There’s nothing on this offense right now, and that has to change, and it has to change now, or the season’s gone.
Nick:It’s the 3 and outs, and I really think that’s what it is. It’s just the 3 and out, and you’re just letting that affect you.
Andrew:Here’s my thing. Nick, I hate to interrupt you here, but this is something I’m pretty passionate about. That is, I hate to see guys just walk. I’m the biggest person in baseball, and I’m a huge baseball fan, but the #1 thing that will piss me off the most is a guy that just trots down the first base line thinking it’s going to happen, that they’re going to get out. I hate to see guys just walk out onto the field, or, okay, after 3rd down, well we just suck; we got to punt the ball. So I’m going to walk off the field and go get me some Gatorade. The hell with that. Run off the field. Get some emotion in you. Get in somebody’s face. Piss someone off. Who cares?
Let’s go with an offense that has some fire. It just seems like it’s a bunch of, and I hate to use this word, because it’s so stupid, but it does seem like a bunch of dead fish. It seems like a bunch of dead people just walking around. There’s no fire. There’s no energy. I understand the quarterback position sucks, but the other 10 positions are sucking just like the quarterback position, and guess what that means? That means instead of one sucking it’s 11 sucking, and that’s retarded. It’s stupid, and I don’t understand it. The one thing I will say, and I will never ever say this again, is that at least at times last year and under Will Muschamp it looked like the team cared. Right now I’m questioning the offense whether they care or not.
Nick:I think that’s a short memory.
Andrew:What do you mean by that?
Nick:There was a ton of apathy when Will Muschamp was here, a ton of apathy from the kids, and that’s kind of the stuff we said. There was no energy. It looks like the guys have quit on the coaching staff, and it looks like they’ve quit on each other. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that it looks any different than what Muschamp had, or looks worse than what Muschamp had.
Andrew:No. I don’t say that at all. I meant to say at times you could see it last year, and at times with Muschamp you could see that. It’s just something that, and I say this, one person can control only so much, but they can control the attitude they have, the want to they have, and the mindset that they approach the game with. We heard last week was a bad practice. In my opinion there is no damn excuse for a bad week of practice when you’re going to Arkansas with the chance to basically clinch the East. How do you lay an egg in practice and have a bad week of practice? There’s nothing Jim McElwain can do about that. There’s nothing Doug Nussmeier can do about it. You can blame Mike Summers all you want to, there’s nothing he can do. If a bunch of grown men, 19, 20, 21, 22 year old men, can’t get pumped to go play an SEC football game on national TV at 2:30 Arkansas time, to win the East basically, if you can’t get jacked for that, I don’t know what to say to you.
Nick:Yeah. I kind of don’t know who to put the blame on. I’ve said multiple times, especially in defending the coaching staff, at some point you got to put it on the kids, at some point. A coach can only do so much. He’s not out there playing. You can’t want it for somebody, not at this level. You can’t make somebody want it. People who don’t agree with that will say, “Then you’re not recruiting the right kids, and you’re a shitty recruiter.” That’s not the case. That’s not it. You’re making projections in recruiting. A coaching staff cannot make a player want it, cannot make it mean something to a player. That has to come from them. So I don’t know if I blame the coaching staff for not preparing them, or for the guys maybe it doesn’t mean enough. I don’t know.
Andrew:Here’s what I’m going to say. Here’s the deal, and I promise I am not picking on David Sharpe. I promise. I like David Sharpe, but I am so sick and tired of watching him just mope. He is a third year starter, a third year starter, who says he’s going to go to the NFL and has NFL aspirations, and I am so sick and tired of watching him pout, a grown man, a 350 pound man just moping. I am tired of it. I’m sick of seeing it. It’s exhausting to see. It really is. It’s exhausting to see that. It is. They’re at a crossroads, and I don’t know. I really don’t know. We heard that they’re focused this week. What does that mean? Are they focused? Can they play? Can they get some energy?
Nick:Are they focused like they should be, or just more focused than last week?
Andrew:Last week they wasn’t focused at all.
Nick:Yeah.
Andrew:I don’t know. We got to talk a little bit about this South Carolina game.
Nick:First I want to do something. For all of the Jim McElwain needs to be fired crew.
Andrew:That’s ridiculous.
Nick:Hold on. 6-5-1. 6-6. 7-5. 6-6. That was Nick Saban’s first four years at Michigan State. 8-4. 10-3. 8-5. First three years for Nick Saban at LSU. Then they went 13-1, 9-3, then left and ruined the Miami Dolphins. At Alabama, I mean the record was 7-6. They lost a bunch of games, because the NCAA’s the worst, but 7-6, then 12-2, 14-0 at Alabama. His first year at Alabama is 7-6. There was a 10-3 year at Alabama. People calling for Jim McElwain to be fired, because they’re not happy with the product they’re seeing on Saturday, dude’s been here 22 games. You need to chill out. You need to get some patience. You can’t expect a coach to come into a situation where the recruiting has been fantastic on one side of the ball, terrible on the other, and have a great team.
It may be almost Florida getting to the SEC Championship last year, I said the worst thing that happened to Will Muschamp was him going 11-2 in his second year, because that was not an 11-2 football team. That created unreal expectations, and maybe going to the SEC Championship is his first season, sure it’s great, and it sounds great, and it gets fans excited the first year, I don’t think that football team was good enough to go to the SEC Championship. They were, because they did, and because the East is so bad, but what you did, then when you get to the SEC Championship you see how big that gap is. You see Alabama’s what we’re aspiring to, and this is how far away we are. If Florida goes to the SEC Championship and plays Alabama this year, you’re going to see that that gap hasn’t changed at all.
Andrew:I’m with you. The thing for me is this, and that is I agree. There needs to be some changes on staff. I am in agreement with that. I will not call names. We’re in the middle of the season. That’s not fair to people. I’m not doing that. That’s not cool. I will say this though, and that is that something has to change. I continue to hear offense this, the offense is bad right now, and it’s a quarterback game. It’s a quarterback game, and the quarterback position has to get better. That’s it. That is that they’ve got to find a quarterback, and they believe it’s one of those freshmen. Let’s see it.
To look at this South Carolina game real quick, Nick, and that is that it’s simple. You better control the ball. You better control the line of scrimmage, and you better be able to run the ball. Will Muschamp is a lot of things in this world, but he’s a really good defensive coach, and that as far as putting a scheme together, and that’s what he’s going to do. They’re going to be aggressive. They’re going to sack the quarterback. You can go ahead and mark it down. They’re going to have sacks in this game. Florida’s defense has got to play Florida defense, or you could be in trouble, because I do think this offense is going to struggle out of the gate.
Nick:You think Florida’s offense will struggle out of the gate?
Andrew:Yes. I do.
Nick:No matter who the quarterback is?
Andrew:If it’s Austin Appleby, yes. If they were to turn to a freshman, yeah, I still think so. I think that they are going to try some new things.
Nick:See, I think if you start Austin Appleby, no, it won’t struggle early. If you start a freshman, it will. This is my reasoning. I feel like the coaching staff has gone conservative when they have a lead, and I feel like they will go conservative if they have a freshman playing, because they’re not sure how he’s going to handle that. You’ve already seen Austin Appleby play twice, and, listen, Vanderbilt’s made a lot of quarterbacks look bad. Everything kind of spiraled out of control, and momentum’s a real thing, especially in college football. Tennessee, from right before halftime until the first drive after halftime, just started rolling momentum, and things started going downhill. I don’t blame Austin Appleby for the second half against Tennessee. I think Florida’s coaching staff will be more confident and call plays more confidently, looking at Doug Nussmeier, with Austin Appleby in there versus a freshman.
Andrew:Okay. I’m not going to say that you’re wrong. I don’t know.
Nick:At least early. I think you try to get a freshman into a rhythm. Listen, man, South Carolina is giving up 197 yards on the ground per game.
Andrew:Stop. Stop. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that.
Nick:Run the damn ball.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:Where’s our Sandra Bullock Blind Side quote, “Run the damn ball!”
Andrew:You can stop. You can throw that away. Look at last week at the Arkansas game. Throw that away. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear the stats anymore, Nick. That’s not directed at you. That’s directed at everybody. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear it, because, quite frankly, it doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t mean shit. I’m fired up now. It doesn’t mean shit anymore. It doesn’t mean shit if you can’t come to the game, and you can’t beat the man in front of you. The stats don’t mean nothing. Arkansas is a very bad football team, a bad football team, an atrocious defense, and you get 12 yards rushing? Inexcusable, Nick. Inexcusable.
Tell me that’s going to happen against South Carolina. I don’t believe it. I need to see it, because, quite frankly, I don’t believe it can happen. It doesn’t surprise me if they get 12 yards rushing again. Doesn’t surprise me.
Nick:That’s what I was going to ask. I wasn’t sure what you were saying. I think there’s no way. I think there’s no way. I think you’ve got to, if they do, then there’s some serious problems, and you just got to go ahead and make wholesale changes, because if you don’t take, as an offensive lineman, as a running back, as an offense, if you don’t take 12 rushing yards personally and do everything in the week following, including on Saturday, to fix that and to avenge that, then I don’t know why you’re playing football. You have to take 12 rushing yards personally, especially if you’re an offensive lineman.
Andrew:Once again though, Nick, and I hate to say this, I don’t know. I don’t know if they take it personal, Nick. I don’t know. Here’s my thing, and I can’t preach this enough, you were down 14-7. You were getting your ass whooped offensively, and you didn’t take it personal enough, but you came back out and started the same shit again offensively in the second half. There was nothing that coaching staff could have called that would have succeeded, because the guys had checked out. Their heads were back in Gainesville, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why, Nick. It is there. I just don’t know if they care, and that is so bad to say, and I hate to question people’s want to, but right now I am. I don’t know if they care.
Nick:Man, that’s tough. That’s tough. I don’t think I’ve gone that far yet. I think they still care. I think maybe it’s a bad game.
Andrew:How many times can we blame it on a bad game, Nick? I know this, and I know I’m going off the deep end a little bit with it, but how many times can you blame it on a bad game? You looked at the Arkansas, I mean the Tennessee game. We blamed it on a bad second half. We looked at the Vanderbilt game. We blamed it on that. Looked at the Missouri game, we blamed it on that. How many times?
Nick:I said early on, I had bad timing. I said the week before Kentucky that, “Listen, Florida’s an average offense, that’s just what they are. They’re not going to be very good on offense, and that’s that.” I said, “One week they’ll put it all together, and it’ll look great, and you’ll all call me an idiot,” just happened to be the week that I said it, but they’ve regressed back to what I thought all along, what they truly are. As an average offense, you’re going to have weeks where you look terrible. You’re going to have weeks where you look slightly above average. Florida’s had both of those. Recently it’s been trending to the other way, and I don’t know.
Maybe the guys are feeling bad for themselves. You can’t though. You can’t, because when you start feeling bad for yourself, when you start moping, that’s when one play bleeds into two, and that’s when one bad drive turns into three 3rd and outs in the 3rd quarter. Florida’s been terrible in the 3rd quarter, and, to me, that’s coaching. To me, that’s the coaching aspect of it, but honestly they’re an average offense, and they’re going up against a pretty good defense this week. So a spark, yeah. I think you just need to have guys look in the mirror. It’s gut check time. Do you want to be here? What are you doing here? Do you like playing football? Do you love playing football, or do you just like being a football player and what that brings you outside of the game? Whether it be girls or attention or popularity on social media. What are you here for? Are you going through the motions so you can live life like a student athlete, like a football player at the University of Florida, or do you care what happens on Saturday?
Andrew:Can’t answer that.
Nick:Do you care what you’re putting on tape?
Andrew:Can’t answer that question, Nick. I can’t. Not for the offense. For the defense I can.
Nick:For the defense, Jarrad Davis, Quincy Wilson, Jalen Tabor. The defense is full of warriors, and right now I don’t know what the offense is full of.
Andrew:I mean, the defense had a bad game, but, hell, there’s nothing you can do. Here’s the thing. We got to get out of here, but here’s the thing I want to say to you real quick, Nick, and that is this. I think you might be a little tough on the coaches on 3rd quarter, because I think it goes back to one thing. You see a lot of teams come out at the half with a ton of energy, and the energy just to want to kick that opponent’s ass, and you’re still not seeing that energy, Nick. You see Arkansas, we saw Georgia. Georgia’s getting their tail whooped in Jacksonville, and they come out fired up. It didn’t work, but they came out fired up. Florida came out of the second half in the Jacksonville game, and they’re just walking across the field.
Nick:Yeah.
Andrew:I mean, Nick, you played baseball like I did. You played sports just like I did, like a lot of people did. What is the #1 thing you always were told? You never walk between those lines, whether it’s baseball, basketball, whatever. When you get between those lines, it’s full speed. You don’t walk off the field. You don’t walk onto the field. You run both ways. That’s in pro sports. That’s in minor league. That’s in college. That’s in high school. That’s in little league. You’re taught that from the day you walk on the field, whether you’re three years old, four years old, or 15 years old. You never walk. I want to see these guys not walk anymore.
Nick:I used to walk all the time, but that’s probably why I’m sitting here 27 years old talking about sports and not still playing them.
Andrew:Did you get your ass chewed out for walking?
Nick:I did.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Let’s just say I was not the coach’s favorite.
Andrew:Right. Exactly. You know what I’m saying. You don’t. You just don’t see people walk. Stop walking. Act like you care. When you put the jersey on on Saturday with the orange and blue on, with the Gators across your chest, and the name across your back, play with respect. Rep the name on the back. Rep the name on the front. Play hard. See what happens. If you get beat by you giving 100%, then at the end of the day I’ll say, “You know what? They just aren’t great enough players.” Quite frankly, I’m not ready to say that. Antonio Callaway, Jordan Scarlett, the rest of those guys on offense are pretty damn good football players. I want to see what happens when they all give 100%, and they help the guy around at quarterback. The quarterback’s not very good. Help the quarterback. Let’s see what happens on Saturday, and I guarantee you one damn thing, if they play with 100% effort, they’ll win the game on Saturday.
Nick:I’m interested to see who you’re going to pick on Friday.
Andrew:I don’t know. I ain’t decided yet, Nick, because, quite frankly, at this time I’m going all defense.
Nick:I think I’m done.
Andrew:Tell the people where they’ll find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday. Sorry for the negativity, guys, but some stuff has to be said, and there’s one thing you’re going to get with this podcast, and that’s going to be two guys that are going to be real with you, not sugarcoat things. I pull for the Gators all the time. Not negative at all. Hate to say it. It has to be said.
Nick:www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript form. It is also there in audio form. If you’re on iTunes, so are we. Search @GatorCountry in the podcast shop. It’ll pop up there. Subscribe, never miss an episode. On social media, @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find Andrew and myself, @AndrewSpiveyGC, @NickdelaTorreGC. Like, share, subscribe. Follow along on all the social medias. That’s it.
Andrew:That’s it. Guys, we appreciate you guys. Again, we’ll be back on Friday. Hit us some buy or sells for the weekend, and we’ll have some good stuff coming. Senior week stuff the rest of the week. Big recruiting weekend as well. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Butch and Mark, you still suck.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.

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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.

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