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    Jon Bullard returns for his senior season and will lead the Florida Gators defense in 2015. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Depth chart breakdown:
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Written by Andrew Spivey, September 1, 2015, 0 Comments,
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Monday was depth chart release day around the country and the Florida Gators football staff followed suit by releasing the first depth chart under head coach Jim McElwain.

On this edition of the Gator Country podcast, Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre discuss what surprised them on the depth chart plus what they thought of the depth chart in general for the Florida Gators football team.

Also in this podcast Nick and Andrew discuss who some guys are that could jump into the two deep going forward plus how many players they expect to play in game one on Saturday afternoon.

Transcript:

Nick:                         Gator fans, the time is almost here. Nick de la Torre, as always joined by Andrew Spivey. Andrew, it is game week. We have made it through the desert that this the off season, and we are a few short days away from football.

Andrew:                 I want to do the Ric Flair “Wooo” but I won’t do it too many times, because it is finally football season. I don’t know about you, but this off season was not boring, by any means. It was not boring. It was fun. Recruiting has been awesome. I said this in my podcast that ran yesterday, I’m just finally excited for football season. You and I talked about it. We kind of had to just go through the motions last year of trying to create excitement around this football team, but I generally feel like we’re going to be able to talk about football and be able to be a little excited about this season. Just four short days away.

Nick:                         Speaking of talking about football, on Monday Jim McElwain released a two deep depth chart, first official depth chart. We’ve all done speculating who we thought should be or would be, but now we have an official depth chart, and that’s why we’re here today. That’s what we’re here today for. We’re going to break down the depth chart, and we’ll start on the offensive side of the ball. The dreaded OR is hitting us again, most notably at quarterback. Will Grier or Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback, and then again the second time, Jordan Scarlett or Jordan Cronkrite will back up Kelvin Taylor at running back. Listen, we knew the quarterback situation going in. We knew both guys were going to play. We’re not getting any definitive answers from this depth chart as to who will be the “starter” in the sense of who takes the first snap. Hopefully we don’t get the Muschamp Brissett Driskel fiasco where they both line up, and then one of them runs out to receiver. Save that. Spare me, please.

Mac really didn’t seem to have a plan in place yet, or at least not on that he was ready to talk about, as far as how the guys will split the reps. In the past he’s done a multitude of things. Guys have taken a quarter. Guys have taken a drive, two, three drives before you get the other guy in. I get the sense from McElwain that he just doesn’t want to name something, because he doesn’t want to have to stick to that. If he says, we’re going to switch every drive, and Grier has a good drive, he doesn’t want to go away from the hot hand. Obviously both guys are going to play, but I don’t think Mac wants to tie himself down into a scenario where I said Will was going to get three drives. We’ve scored on two of the three. He’s got a hot hand, now I have to take him out, because I said I was going to.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I said it before on the message board, I believe, I don’t think we’ve talked about it on the podcast. I think it would be good to do it by quarter. I say that in that if you do it by quarter then you get the, I say the whole first half should be a very competitive half, and that means Will and Treon will both be able to be in some competitive half.

Nick:                         Let’s say the first quarter should be a competitive quarter. New Mexico State is an extremely bad football team. Bill Connelly, one of the national writers over at SB Nation called them the worst team in America over the last half of the season last year.

Andrew:                 That’s bad. I don’t know. I don’t like the every other drive deal, because then I feel like you can’t, for me if you do every other drive what you see on the offense means nothing to me.

Nick:                         It’s hard for the quarterback to get into a rhythm when he’s getting one drive, then coming off and sitting for what could be 2 minutes, could be 5 minutes, could be 10 minutes.

Andrew:                 Right. Not only that, but it affects everybody around them in the continuity of the line. The line has to now deal with a different quarterback. The running back has to deal with a different quarterback in mesh points. The receivers, for me, I like to see it rotated by quarter more so than anything. You can’t do it by half, because that would mean whoever got the first half better have won the job, or something’s wrong, because the second half would be terrible. I don’t if there’s a right way or a best way for Mac to do this to really get a fair shakeup. I feel like one quarterback’s going to get the better end of the bargain than the other quarterback.

Nick:                         To go on what you were talking about, continuity with the offensive line, I asked Trip Thurman, “As far as cadence, what is different with these two guys?” He kind of smiled at me, and said, “Nothing’s different.” I looked at him, and I said, “Trip, you’re not telling me that a kid who grew up in the inner city in Miami sounds the same in the huddle and at the offensive line at the line of scrimmage as a kid from Davidson, North Carolina. That’s just not happening. They sound different.” To be able to get a couple drives in where everything sounds the same, especially when everything you’re doing in offense is so new, to get a couple drives in a row where Treon Harris, you’re hearing him call the plays. You’re hearing him makes check to the line, his set, hut is going to sound different than Will Grier’s for the centers, for the rest of the offensive line. While the Gators are saying the right things as far as how the quarterbacks sound, come on now. Come on, man.

Andrew:                 Come on, man. That would be like you and I sounding the same. That would be like your Miami voice sounding like my beautiful Alabama voice. It just doesn’t make sense. Again, it’s the one message. McElwain had these kids speaking one message. I know a lot of people are gripping, frustrated with it, but it is what it is. It really doesn’t matter to me. I could really care less. With the exception of two or three surprises, it was what we thought it was going to be on the depth chart.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think a cool part of our job is I’m able to say that to Trip, they don’t sound alike, and he just like smiles, shrugs, and gives a little laugh. We both know that they sound alike, but I’m not going to give you what you want. He’s staying on message. It’s fun. That’s a cool little idiosyncrasy of the job. You mentioned surprises. Go ahead and give me your biggest surprise on the depth chart that was released.

Andrew:                 Just my biggest right now.

Nick:                         Just your biggest one.

Andrew:                 You put me on the spot. I thought I was going to get to name a couple.

Nick:                         Name one.

Andrew:                 I know what you’re going with, because you told me. I’m going to go that Mason Halter starts at left tackle. I really truly, if you put a gun to my head I would have said David Sharpe started at left tackle and Martez Ivey started at right tackle. Then when he went out Halter was going to start at right tackle. To me, it says something different to me. To me it’s saying Martez Ivey was the starting left tackle. When he went down, now Mason Halter’s there. To me, that’s what it shows. I am shocked that they didn’t move it, but Mac is really sticking to his guns. He wants to have the guys rotate it and be able to play all positions. This is kind of the first overwhelming glaring hole that it is.

Nick:                         To talk about that, I think that is a great point that you make that not a lot of people that I saw, not even a lot of people in the media, were recognizing that Martez Ivey goes down, Halter goes in at left tackle. I think a lot of people are missing the fact that that, like you said, could show that Ivey was the starting left tackle. You expected Halter to play right guard where Antonio Riles is now slotted in, but Mason Halter takes over left tackle. I think that shows that the permanent spot for David Sharpe is right tackle.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I wonder if it’s because Sharpe has gotten bigger. Maybe he is a guy that they don’t feel comfortable—

Nick:                         He’s about 360 right now.

Andrew:                 If they don’t feel comfortable with it, or is Martez Ivey just that much better than him at left tackle? I guess it’s kind of a glass half full look at it, but I did think all along that no matter whether Sharpe was the starting left tackle this year or not that Martez Ivey was going to be there.

Nick:                         In the future.

Andrew:                 Yeah. To me I guess it’s not that big of a deal. It is surprising to me though, I told you this off the air, that Martez Ivey is questionable. I know McElwain’s saying he’s questionable doesn’t mean jack, but I thought he would officially rule him out today, not that I didn’t think he could play, but simply because I thought they would use this week to get him another week of rest, and then get him ready for game mode for ECU and then Kentucky.

Nick:                         Being in Alabama you are privy to more of the day in and day out of Nick Saban. Once you enter into Alabama territory you feel Nick Saban’s presence, and everything he says or does is media and news there. You mentioned to me that Nick Saban is very NFL like with his injuries, and I can see a lot of things that Mac is taking from Saban. We’re not going to be talking to offensive and defensive coordinators this year. That’s something that Saban did, something that Mac liked, being an offensive coordinator and not having to deal with the media during the year.

It’ll be interesting to see our first time Wednesday, Mac at his press conference on Monday kept saying that Wednesday when we meet with him after practice he will divulge an injury report, and that will be the final injury report. With Muschamp it was the he’s got a lower extremity injury, we’re not sure if he’s going to play. Then a hour before the game, he would put it out there, and he’d say, we didn’t want to give our opponent a competitive advantage. Kevin Westbrook having a toe injury and not playing, I don’t know how that’s giving anyone a competitive advantage. Hopefully Mac will be honest. It helps us out in the media. I think it doesn’t hurt the program as much as some of these coaches think it does. It just gets it out there. So-and-so’s not playing. We’re moving forward. We have still the same goals, with or without them.

In my opinion, knowing that Martez went through surgery, even though it’s a minor surgery, if you can ever say that about a surgery, knowing that he went through a surgery I think he’ll be on that will not play on Wednesday, and Mac was just not ready to rule him out completely. Obviously, if you’re going to put a freshman at left tackle and depend on him for the year, you’d like to be able to get him in against the New Mexico States, against the ECUs. So that the first time he’s playing isn’t on the road, SEC opponent. Kentucky just finished stadium renovations, so they’ll have an attendance record at Kentucky when Florida comes in. You’d rather have Martez Ivey playing when the crowd is quiet, so the offense can talk than going to a mad house that Kentucky will be in three weeks.

Andrew:                 Agreed. I think a lot of us maybe overanalyze how bad the surgery was. It was more of going in there, taking some scar tissue, taking a little bit off. It wasn’t that he had to cut on, but I agree that it is there. You did a make a good point though. I know Nick Saban is talked about a lot for his ways, but he’s pretty accurate about this guy’s not going to play. Here it is. This is what it’s going to be kind of deal. The thing that it does take away is it takes away any speculation. There is no speculation about it. If Mac has that thoughtful I’m going to get one message, and that one message is going to come from me, then release your injuries and be done with it. I think everybody’s okay with it.

The fact of the matter is this. Does New Mexico State gain that big of an advantage preparing for Martez Ivey over Mason Halter? Not really. They’re going to prepare for that backup just as much as they prepare for that starter, whether you tell them they’re injured or not, because New Mexico State’s coach is going to think you’re the biggest liar ever on Earth, whether you’re the most honest guy or not. Opposing coaches don’t believe anything their opponent’s going to say.

Nick:                         Yup. Then I guess we’ll go into my biggest surprise is at safety. Obviously with Marcus May out due to a suspension in that first game Nick Washington has been named the starter. Nick Washington a redshirt sophomore, a guy who’s really taken some time to develop. Came in as a cornerback, was quickly moved back to safety. This is a spot that I thought Duke Dawson would fill, at least for this first game, but you’ve got Keanu Neal and Nick Washington listed as the starters with Dawson backing up Neal, Marcell Harris backing up Nick Washington. This will be a moot point when Marcus May comes back, because he will take over that other starting safety spot, but to me it was surprising that Nick Washington would earn the start for Florida against New Mexico State.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I don’t know what’s going on here. Here’s my way of looking at things. Duke Dawson had a minor concussion. We all know that. That was two weeks ago?

Nick:                         I don’t know if we all know that. I think we’re the only ones.

Andrew:                 Maybe not all of us, but Nick and myself knew about the concussion with Duke Dawson two weeks ago. He’s recovered from that. He’s back on the practice field. He’s either in the dog house, he’s not playing well, or Nick Washington has done something completely crazy in the last couple days that people have not told Gator Country, because the last reports we heard was that Nick Washington was not a starter for the Florida Gators, whether that’s New Mexico or whoever, a high school team. He wasn’t going to start. So to me it’s more concerning to me of what’s going on with Duke Dawson? Why is he not starting? He went from starting last year in Muschamp’s defense, and now he’s riding pine behind Nick Washington, no disrespect to Nick Washington, but Duke Dawson should be better than Nick Washington.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t want to talk bad about Nick. Nick is a great kid, both on and off the field. Personally I did think that Dawson might be a better option, but obviously the coaches see more, and we’ve always said this, the coaches see more than we do. We get 15 minutes of an open portion of practice, and the coaching staff sees more than we do. Nick Washington has obviously done enough in their eyes to earn this distinction. This will be the first start of his career. He’s been at Florida three years, this will be the second year that he’s playing, and the first start for him. I guess, congratulations to Nick Washington, but that was just something that stuck out to me as a little surprising.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Again, I’m just saying what you are. Nick Washington’s a great guy. He has always been a pleasure to talk to. It’s just it caught my eye that a guy that started at the end of the season every game is now the backup there. It caught my eye. I guess it’s more of a bad sign for Duke, and a good sign for Nick Washington. Apparently Nick Washington’s worked hard to do it. As you said, if there’s anybody that deserves to start more it’s Nick Washington.

Nick:                         Yes. Let’s go back. We’ll run through it. I’ll just list the starters in the offense. We’ll do a couple notes, and then we’ll do the same for defense. From left to right your offensive line is going to be Mason Halter, Trip Thurman, Cam Dillard, who won that battle at center over Tyler Jordan, Antonio Riles at right guard, David Sharpe at right tackle. Some interesting pieces behind them would be Martez Ivey as the backup at left tackle, obviously we talked about his health already, a lot depending on that.

Then Fred Johnson, fans might think that Trenton Brown snuck back in to Florida. Fred Johnson wearing Treton’s 74. He is a big kid, 6’6” well over 300 pounds as a freshman. He’s listed at just over 300, like 312, but my boy Fred Johnson looks just like Trenton Brown on the field, a massive offensive lineman. No really surprises there, other than what we talked about with Halter and Ivey flipping. I think when Ivey comes back Halter slides down to right guard, and then that’s your best five starting.

Going at wide receiver, no surprise Demarcus Robinson, no surprise Brandon Powell. Surprise, Ahmad Fulwood starting with CJ Worton backing up Demarcus Robinson. I’m surprised that Worton or Callaway are not listed as a starter and that Fulwood is. How about you, Andrew?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Run through the quarterback and running back real quick like, and then let’s hit on a couple things real quick. Run through that, so we don’t get sidetracked.

Nick:                         Also tight end, obvious starter is Jake McGee. C’yontai Lewis behind him. We’ve been talking about that. Lewis has kind of pulled himself away from DeAndre Goolsby. I still expect Goolsby to play, but C’yontai in my mind has kind of separated himself as the backup there. Will Grier or Treon Harris. Jim McElwain said he’ll learn a lot from the film of this game, this first game. Maybe we’ll have a starter for week 2, maybe we won’t. I do think you have a starter in place by week 3 at Kentucky. Running back, Kelvin Taylor, it’s his job now. Behind him is Jordan Scarlett and then that dreaded or Jordan Cronkrite. I expect Scarlett to really take most of those second reps behind Taylor, and then really start eating in to where it’s almost a 50/50 split. That is your offensive depth chart for week 1 of the 2015 football season.

Andrew:                 You wanted to say that. Let’s go back to the receivers thing here for a second. I think the reason, I was surprised when Ahmad Fulwood was the starter. I was, because of things I had heard about that. Then I started to think about this, for now four or five hours here, of why Ahmad Fulwood’s there. I think that it’s McElwain’s way of saying, here’s your last shot to prove to me. He calls him out in the press conference today saying he’s a 6’ receiver that needs to play like a 6’3” receiver instead of a 5’8” receiver. He said he needs to go out and get the ball. That has been the overwhelming message that I continue to hear is that Fulwood’s not using his athletic ability to his ability. I think this is maybe a motivation of you’re the starter, go make plays.

Then I think it may be that Callaway, he wants to just see Callaway get in the game and not thrust him into the role as a starter that soon, or CJ Worton, a guy that has had to come back from an injury who hasn’t been there all fall practice. You kind of want to reward the guys that’s been there. McElwain said on Monday he wants to play nine receivers. He’s going to get that opportunity. I would say that outside of the offensive line board and the guys suspended the receiver depth chart at the Z position is probably the position that is likely to change the most at week 2, if Fulwood doesn’t progress. I think you’ll see Worton. I think you’ll see Callaway produce and be good players, and then if Fulwood doesn’t produce I think you’re looking at a new starter week 2.

Nick:                         I think that’s an interesting way to take it. Kind of like, you’re the older guy. You’ve been battling with a freshman and a sophomore all camp. Here you go, a little seniority. Show me what you can do. I’ve been very upfront publically and privately with you about what I want to see. Show me. Do it and earn that spot.

Andrew:                 Right. I think we’ve all seen glimpses. You and I have talked about it. I think I’m probably been one of the biggest fans of Ahmad Fulwood, because he has the ability to make plays. My thing for him is let’s just don’t see glimpses anymore. Let me see you do it all at a time, and this is an offense that Ahmad Fulwood should be really good in. You look at guys like DJ Hall, Julio, the guys that are the big guys that have been in McElwain’s offense. He likes to throw that fade, that jump ball in the red zone, and guess what? Ahmad Fulwood’s bigger than everybody, so he should be that guy.

Nick:                         Yeah. We’ll move on to defense. Huge surprise at cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves is starting.

Andrew:                 Oh brother.

Nick:                         Just get that out of the way. Deiondre Porter backing him up. Other side of the ball, Jalen Tabor or Quincy Wilson. I put zero stock into who is starting at cornerback. Florida’s base defense will be nickel. They will have more plays run this year with five and six defensive backs on the field than they will with three linebackers and four defensive linemen. Florida will be in the nickel none stop this year. Interesting to me, Brian Poole has worked outside so much, and this has been a recurring theme with Brian Poole where he works outside in the spring, he works outside in the fall, and people are like maybe Brian Poole’s going to start across from Vernon Hargreaves. Brian Poole listed as the starter at nickel with Quincy Wilson behind him. That’s where Brian Poole should stay.

Defensive line, no surprises. Starting Jon Bullard, Joey Ivie, Caleb Brantley, and in the rust position Bryan Cox earns the start with Alex McCallister being out due to a suspension. Behind them, again left to right, Cece Jefferson backing up Jon Bullard, Khairi Clark backing up Joey Ivie at nose tackle, Taven Bryan backing up Brantley at defensive tackle, and Jordan Sherit backing up Cox at the rush position. Linebackers, Alex Anzalone playing strong side. Antonio Morrison in the middle. Weak side Jarrad Davis with pal Anzalone as the backup middle linebacker as well as the starter, and Daniel McMillian backing up Davis. Safeties we kind of went through that when we talked about Nick Washington being the surprise.

Andrew, anything here stick out to you?

Andrew:                 Yeah, I mean no and yeah. That doesn’t make too much sense. I guess the thing that kind of sticks out to me a little bit is I didn’t see Deiondre Porter really being the #2 guy there. That’s one thing I am very glad.

Nick:                         Who would be the #2 there?

Andrew:                 I thought Chris Williamson would be a surprise guy and end up being the #2 guy. Maybe I’m just completely off base there.

Nick:                         Chris Williamson I will say is bigger than I thought he would. Some of the recruiting pictures, I never got the chance to see him in person, but some of the recruiting pictures made him look like a string bean. He’s definitely filled out a lot, but he is a guy that I thought could maybe benefit from a redshirt year, kind of like Porter did last year.

Andrew:                 Then besides that, the defense tackle position I think it’s a position that you see Ivie and Brantley starting at, but you could have put Bryan’s name there, and nobody would have been surprised. I think that’s kind of like Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson kind of deal right there in that. The other surprise for me is Sherit over Zuniga. I think that might have just been a…

Nick:                         It’s Jabari Zuniga.

Andrew:                 That’s how I pronounce it and probably will continue to pronounce it. Jabari, love you, man. Remember the props I gave you in recruiting, so don’t hold that against me. I thought he would be above Sherit. I think Sherit probably got the job as the #2 guy because he was a sophomore, a little older. That’s a position that I don’t think it even matters, because once McCallister gets back there is no #2, because Cox is #2. Anyway, I guess that’s kind of the biggest things that stood out to me there. Of course, the Sam linebacker that Alex Anzalone is playing at is probably nonexistent in most games.

Someone did ask us on the message board if it was concerning that he was the starting Sam, Anzalone, and then was also the backup at middle linebacker. My response to that is Alex Anzalone is probably your second to third best linebacker, so if Antonio Morrison’s not at Mike linebacker Alex Anzalone’s going to be, and you want that to be. You can put a guy like Jeremy Powell, even a guy like Daniel McMillian, as your Sam linebacker. It’s kind of like offensive line. You’ve got to get your best linebackers on the field, and when Morrison’s not on the field Anzalone has to be on the field.

Nick:                         Absolutely. I would venture to say, everyone’s very high on Jarrad Davis, I really don’t think Davis had a good season last year as a sophomore. From what I’ve seen right now I would say Antonio Morrison is your best linebacker. He still really struggles covering routes, covering tight ends, covering running backs, but get into the run, stout. Alex Anzalone I think is your second best linebacker on the team, and like you said, if Antonio Morrison starts at middle linebacker, whenever he comes out to get some Gatorade, to catch his breath, Alex Anzalone will be on the field. There will not be a time in a meaningful game, in a meaningful snap, where Anzalone and Morrison are not on the field at the same time.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I do think that you may see some times where Morrison and Anzalone are on the field together, because Alex is your better cover, your best cover linebacker. Remember, Alex did play running back in high school, and you and I, Nick, were watching some film of him in the bowl game where he chased down the option, and he’s just a flat out athlete. Morrison was embarrassed several times last year in coverage. I do think that you can’t pull Morrison off the field every third down, but I do think you will see Alex and Morrison both on the field, so that Alex can cover up that tight end or that slot receiver/running back that would be your fifth or fourth receiver that he is responsible for.

Nick:                         Now, what you all have undoubtedly been waiting for, the special teams two deep.

Andrew:                 I’m shocked at this one. I’m not going to lie to you.

Nick:                         Austin Hardin is backed up by Jorge Powell. Hardin is the starting kicker. Johnny Townsend will be handling punts with Austin Hardin as the backup punter. Hopefully Townsend stays healthy. I have never seen Austin Hardin punt a football. Brandon Powell is your kickoff returner. Vernon Hargreaves is listed here. Still kind of questionable. Mac has talked about Hargreaves returning punts and kicks. I want to see it play out. I think Demarcus Robinson is another guy that will get into the mix there.

Punt return, Vernon Hargreaves and Brandon Powell again, flip flopped. I think Hargreaves will handle the punts where the returner is inside the Gator’s own 20. Kind of like you saw last year where the coaching staff trusted Hargreaves to make the right decision between catch it, let it drop, fair catch, run it. Versus Andre Debois where if the football was in the air I was going to try to catch it, like a baseball player with my hands up in front of my face, and I was going to run with it, no matter what. It didn’t matter if the ball bounced three times, if there were eight people around me. I’m going to try to return this. Hargreaves is a smart player that can handle that.

Ryan Farr or Jonathan Haney will be your long snapper. I know we have not really covered the long snapper battle. We apologize for that. We’ll have to fix that for you guys. Then the holder, interesting note, Johnny Townsend is the holder. Case Harrison is the backup holder. I can already smell a little Mike McNeely 2.0 coming, which would be kind of a mirrored storyline. McNeely was awarded a scholarship, hadn’t really ever done anything. Gets in, scores a huge touchdown on a fake against Georgia. Case Harrison, just awarded a scholarship before this season. Hasn’t really done anything outside of special teams. Maybe Jim McElwain has something brewing, a little trickery coming up for an opponent this year.

Andrew:                 Maybe. I am about to go on the rant of the year.

Nick:                         I’m taking my headset off. I apologize to all the listeners. I will be back later when this is over.

Andrew:                 If Vernon Hargreaves is the kick returner, I don’t know. Vernon Hargreaves should not be your kick returner. You cannot lose Vernon Hargreaves, and also I just don’t see Vernon Hargreaves being that electric playmaker as a kick returner. I just don’t see that. I just see somewhere or another there has to be a more elite playmaker that is faster, more of a speedster than Hargreaves, as a kick returner. I just don’t see that. I don’t like risking it. I’m against Demarcus Robinson doing it as well, but I don’t see it. I want to see Powell back there. I’d like to see Jordan Cronkrite back there. I would like to see Chris Williamson even back there, maybe even a Deiondre Porter back there or a Tabor back there. Anybody but Vernon. I just don’t like your best player being back there. Also I don’t think he has the electric ability from a speed standpoint to be that guy that you fear is going to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.

Nick:                         What if we put Jordan Scarlett back there?

Andrew:                 Hey, Leonard Fournette’s back there.

Nick:                         What about a 5’11”, 225 pound running back getting a full head of steam 20, 30 yards before anyone even gets close to him? I would not try to tackle Jordan Scarlett in the field on pickups.

Andrew:                 Can he run with his helmet with one of those little beep-beep things on the back?

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t know about putting Vernon. I don’t really have strong feelings either way. I think some of the thoughts of if you’re going to be returning punts or returning kicks you’re going to get hurt, I think some of that is overblown. Yes, any time you have grown men, and they might be 18-20 years old, but these are grown men physically. Any time you have grown men running a distance of 50 yards and colliding head on the risk for injury is great, but it’s football. It’s like I said, the two deep is listed this way. I want to see how it plays out. I want to see how many of those situations that Florida puts Vernon Hargreaves in.

I haven’t seen many people talk about it, but I’ve seen Vernon Hargreaves getting some practice time on offense this spring. Maybe Jim McElwain and the Florida staff is trying to find a way to get Vernon Hargreaves the Heisman, and they’re trying to figure out how many ways. It’s really hard for a defensive player to win the Heisman. How many ways can we get Vernon out there, so that he can win this award?

Andrew:                 I don’t know about the Heisman.

Nick:                         Maybe a Heisman award, put a statue of Vernon Hargreaves next to the three quarterbacks out there in front of the stadium?

Andrew:                 I don’t know about all that. Would you agree that there is more electric, more…

Nick:                         I would say yes. Yes, there are definitely more, taking nothing away from Vernon Hargreaves, there are other people on the team that when the ball is in their hands, and they have some space, you think, buckle up something could happen here. When Vernon has the ball, and he’s running his space, I don’t get that feeling. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed or the moves. He’s not an offensive player. He doesn’t handle the ball a lot, so he’s not used to making people miss, stuff like that. Did he play offense in high school? Yeah. It’s been years, three years now since he’s done that. I think a Demarcus Robinson, a Brandon Powell, somebody like that. You mentioned Jordan Cronkrite. I would like to see that. Chris Williamson maybe. Maybe see what Kylan Johnson can do, a guy who’s not listed on the two deep at safety, but he is a big guy as well, has some speed to him. Maybe give him a run.

Andrew:                 Chris Thompson maybe, or an Alvin Bailey, those guys both returned it in high school as well as Chris Williamson and Deiondre Porter, the same way. That’s the thing.

Nick:                         I would say Chris Thompson maybe more so than Alvin Bailey.

Andrew:                 I’m just saying those guys have all done it in the past. They’re more equipped than Vernon. I think that the thing with Vernon being back there maybe is more of a safety valve. That’s your smart guy. That’s going to be your guy that’s back there. You also want whoever your second return guy is to be the guy that’s going to lead the pack blocking wise, and you definitely do not want guys diving at Hargreaves’ knees three to four times a game on a kickoff, and then he goes down. Now you’re looking at really instead of having three really good corners to having two, and your best player going down.

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s definitely some risk/reward, and I think that we’ll see the true intentions of Jim McElwain once the game starts, because it is a real possibility that you could get hurt, and by putting him on special teams you’re definitely putting him more situations than necessary to get hurt. Football’s a physical game, a tough game. Injuries are part of it. Why would you need to throw Vernon Hargreaves, your best player, into more situations where he could get hurt than he needs to be?

Andrew:                 One final note real quick on the special teams. I think you’re going to see more of the Saban approach of you’re going to kick the ball as far as you can in the end zone, and try to play field position. I don’t think you’re going to see any more of that dinking and dunking of let’s try to…

Nick:                         Thank God. If you’ve got a kicker who struggles to get the ball into the end zone, then, sure, work on it. Austin Hardin can kick the ball into the stands on a kickoff. Let him do that. Just start on the 25. Don’t make the kid think about, I need to land this on the 15. It can’t have this kind of spin, because then it will go out of bounds. Now you’re not letting him just kick, just go out there and kick. You’re putting so much into a kid’s head where everything about kicking is mental, so just say, we need you focusing on making field goals. To help do that, we’re taking every question out of the kickoff off of your plate. Just kick the ball as far as you can. Don’t let them return it.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s kind of what I was seeing as well. I think that’s best. Don’t take away the best ability of your kicker, and that’s definitely not the mental standpoint. That’s more of the lecturing, like you say. Hardin can probably kick it out of the Swamp if they allowed him to, or if he wanted to. I like that approach, and that is definitely something that I’ve heard will be done this year. I’m like you, I’m all for it.

Nick:                         Yeah. We have reached the end of our podcast. A couple programming notes, we’ll be doing several of these, probably up to three podcasts a week during football season. If you have made it this far into the podcast, thank you, first of all. Thank you very much. Second of all, please feel free, go on iTunes, check us out. Leave a rating and a comment. Let us know how we’re doing, what we can do better, or that we are perfect and there is nothing to change. That’s always fine too. As always, you can follow Andrew at @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. I am @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. Andrew, any final words?

Andrew:                 No. Couple days and we’ll be actually getting to talk ball instead of predicting stuff. Yeah. We’ll have some good stuff, excited to see the offense going, excited to see how the quarterback situation plays out, and just kind of how the offense goes. It’ll be some big visitors on campus as well. This is the first step in the right direction of building the program back to where it should be.

Nick:                         Yeah. Also, music. I have a band that I like, Time Flies. They have a bunch of uncopyrighted music. If you guys have any original music that you want us to feature, shoot it over to me. You can email it to me at Nick@GatorCountry.com, and we’ll start seeing if we can switch up our intro music.

Andrew:                 Speaking of music, I just received an email that they’re going to be doing some Super Bowl like half time shows during SEC games now. The first one is going to be at the LSU Florida game when One Republic does half time.

Nick:                         Good. I have no interest in watching One Republic, so I’ll have longer to eat lunch.

Andrew:                 I don’t even know who that is. That tells you if I like them or not.

Nick:                         That’s all we got for you today. Stay tuned. We will have a ton of coverage the rest of the week, as well as Saturday. Andrew, say goodbye to everyone.

Andrew:                 Stay classy, Gator fans.

Nick:                         How dare 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.

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Monday was depth chart release day around the country and the Florida Gators football staff followed suit by releasing the first depth chart under head coach Jim McElwain.

On this edition of the Gator Country podcast, Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre discuss what surprised them on the depth chart plus what they thought of the depth chart in general for the Florida Gators football team.

Also in this podcast Nick and Andrew discuss who some guys are that could jump into the two deep going forward plus how many players they expect to play in game one on Saturday afternoon.

Transcript:

Nick:                         Gator fans, the time is almost here. Nick de la Torre, as always joined by Andrew Spivey. Andrew, it is game week. We have made it through the desert that this the off season, and we are a few short days away from football.

Andrew:                 I want to do the Ric Flair “Wooo” but I won’t do it too many times, because it is finally football season. I don’t know about you, but this off season was not boring, by any means. It was not boring. It was fun. Recruiting has been awesome. I said this in my podcast that ran yesterday, I’m just finally excited for football season. You and I talked about it. We kind of had to just go through the motions last year of trying to create excitement around this football team, but I generally feel like we’re going to be able to talk about football and be able to be a little excited about this season. Just four short days away.

Nick:                         Speaking of talking about football, on Monday Jim McElwain released a two deep depth chart, first official depth chart. We’ve all done speculating who we thought should be or would be, but now we have an official depth chart, and that’s why we’re here today. That’s what we’re here today for. We’re going to break down the depth chart, and we’ll start on the offensive side of the ball. The dreaded OR is hitting us again, most notably at quarterback. Will Grier or Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback, and then again the second time, Jordan Scarlett or Jordan Cronkrite will back up Kelvin Taylor at running back. Listen, we knew the quarterback situation going in. We knew both guys were going to play. We’re not getting any definitive answers from this depth chart as to who will be the “starter” in the sense of who takes the first snap. Hopefully we don’t get the Muschamp Brissett Driskel fiasco where they both line up, and then one of them runs out to receiver. Save that. Spare me, please.

Mac really didn’t seem to have a plan in place yet, or at least not on that he was ready to talk about, as far as how the guys will split the reps. In the past he’s done a multitude of things. Guys have taken a quarter. Guys have taken a drive, two, three drives before you get the other guy in. I get the sense from McElwain that he just doesn’t want to name something, because he doesn’t want to have to stick to that. If he says, we’re going to switch every drive, and Grier has a good drive, he doesn’t want to go away from the hot hand. Obviously both guys are going to play, but I don’t think Mac wants to tie himself down into a scenario where I said Will was going to get three drives. We’ve scored on two of the three. He’s got a hot hand, now I have to take him out, because I said I was going to.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I said it before on the message board, I believe, I don’t think we’ve talked about it on the podcast. I think it would be good to do it by quarter. I say that in that if you do it by quarter then you get the, I say the whole first half should be a very competitive half, and that means Will and Treon will both be able to be in some competitive half.

Nick:                         Let’s say the first quarter should be a competitive quarter. New Mexico State is an extremely bad football team. Bill Connelly, one of the national writers over at SB Nation called them the worst team in America over the last half of the season last year.

Andrew:                 That’s bad. I don’t know. I don’t like the every other drive deal, because then I feel like you can’t, for me if you do every other drive what you see on the offense means nothing to me.

Nick:                         It’s hard for the quarterback to get into a rhythm when he’s getting one drive, then coming off and sitting for what could be 2 minutes, could be 5 minutes, could be 10 minutes.

Andrew:                 Right. Not only that, but it affects everybody around them in the continuity of the line. The line has to now deal with a different quarterback. The running back has to deal with a different quarterback in mesh points. The receivers, for me, I like to see it rotated by quarter more so than anything. You can’t do it by half, because that would mean whoever got the first half better have won the job, or something’s wrong, because the second half would be terrible. I don’t if there’s a right way or a best way for Mac to do this to really get a fair shakeup. I feel like one quarterback’s going to get the better end of the bargain than the other quarterback.

Nick:                         To go on what you were talking about, continuity with the offensive line, I asked Trip Thurman, “As far as cadence, what is different with these two guys?” He kind of smiled at me, and said, “Nothing’s different.” I looked at him, and I said, “Trip, you’re not telling me that a kid who grew up in the inner city in Miami sounds the same in the huddle and at the offensive line at the line of scrimmage as a kid from Davidson, North Carolina. That’s just not happening. They sound different.” To be able to get a couple drives in where everything sounds the same, especially when everything you’re doing in offense is so new, to get a couple drives in a row where Treon Harris, you’re hearing him call the plays. You’re hearing him makes check to the line, his set, hut is going to sound different than Will Grier’s for the centers, for the rest of the offensive line. While the Gators are saying the right things as far as how the quarterbacks sound, come on now. Come on, man.

Andrew:                 Come on, man. That would be like you and I sounding the same. That would be like your Miami voice sounding like my beautiful Alabama voice. It just doesn’t make sense. Again, it’s the one message. McElwain had these kids speaking one message. I know a lot of people are gripping, frustrated with it, but it is what it is. It really doesn’t matter to me. I could really care less. With the exception of two or three surprises, it was what we thought it was going to be on the depth chart.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think a cool part of our job is I’m able to say that to Trip, they don’t sound alike, and he just like smiles, shrugs, and gives a little laugh. We both know that they sound alike, but I’m not going to give you what you want. He’s staying on message. It’s fun. That’s a cool little idiosyncrasy of the job. You mentioned surprises. Go ahead and give me your biggest surprise on the depth chart that was released.

Andrew:                 Just my biggest right now.

Nick:                         Just your biggest one.

Andrew:                 You put me on the spot. I thought I was going to get to name a couple.

Nick:                         Name one.

Andrew:                 I know what you’re going with, because you told me. I’m going to go that Mason Halter starts at left tackle. I really truly, if you put a gun to my head I would have said David Sharpe started at left tackle and Martez Ivey started at right tackle. Then when he went out Halter was going to start at right tackle. To me, it says something different to me. To me it’s saying Martez Ivey was the starting left tackle. When he went down, now Mason Halter’s there. To me, that’s what it shows. I am shocked that they didn’t move it, but Mac is really sticking to his guns. He wants to have the guys rotate it and be able to play all positions. This is kind of the first overwhelming glaring hole that it is.

Nick:                         To talk about that, I think that is a great point that you make that not a lot of people that I saw, not even a lot of people in the media, were recognizing that Martez Ivey goes down, Halter goes in at left tackle. I think a lot of people are missing the fact that that, like you said, could show that Ivey was the starting left tackle. You expected Halter to play right guard where Antonio Riles is now slotted in, but Mason Halter takes over left tackle. I think that shows that the permanent spot for David Sharpe is right tackle.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I wonder if it’s because Sharpe has gotten bigger. Maybe he is a guy that they don’t feel comfortable—

Nick:                         He’s about 360 right now.

Andrew:                 If they don’t feel comfortable with it, or is Martez Ivey just that much better than him at left tackle? I guess it’s kind of a glass half full look at it, but I did think all along that no matter whether Sharpe was the starting left tackle this year or not that Martez Ivey was going to be there.

Nick:                         In the future.

Andrew:                 Yeah. To me I guess it’s not that big of a deal. It is surprising to me though, I told you this off the air, that Martez Ivey is questionable. I know McElwain’s saying he’s questionable doesn’t mean jack, but I thought he would officially rule him out today, not that I didn’t think he could play, but simply because I thought they would use this week to get him another week of rest, and then get him ready for game mode for ECU and then Kentucky.

Nick:                         Being in Alabama you are privy to more of the day in and day out of Nick Saban. Once you enter into Alabama territory you feel Nick Saban’s presence, and everything he says or does is media and news there. You mentioned to me that Nick Saban is very NFL like with his injuries, and I can see a lot of things that Mac is taking from Saban. We’re not going to be talking to offensive and defensive coordinators this year. That’s something that Saban did, something that Mac liked, being an offensive coordinator and not having to deal with the media during the year.

It’ll be interesting to see our first time Wednesday, Mac at his press conference on Monday kept saying that Wednesday when we meet with him after practice he will divulge an injury report, and that will be the final injury report. With Muschamp it was the he’s got a lower extremity injury, we’re not sure if he’s going to play. Then a hour before the game, he would put it out there, and he’d say, we didn’t want to give our opponent a competitive advantage. Kevin Westbrook having a toe injury and not playing, I don’t know how that’s giving anyone a competitive advantage. Hopefully Mac will be honest. It helps us out in the media. I think it doesn’t hurt the program as much as some of these coaches think it does. It just gets it out there. So-and-so’s not playing. We’re moving forward. We have still the same goals, with or without them.

In my opinion, knowing that Martez went through surgery, even though it’s a minor surgery, if you can ever say that about a surgery, knowing that he went through a surgery I think he’ll be on that will not play on Wednesday, and Mac was just not ready to rule him out completely. Obviously, if you’re going to put a freshman at left tackle and depend on him for the year, you’d like to be able to get him in against the New Mexico States, against the ECUs. So that the first time he’s playing isn’t on the road, SEC opponent. Kentucky just finished stadium renovations, so they’ll have an attendance record at Kentucky when Florida comes in. You’d rather have Martez Ivey playing when the crowd is quiet, so the offense can talk than going to a mad house that Kentucky will be in three weeks.

Andrew:                 Agreed. I think a lot of us maybe overanalyze how bad the surgery was. It was more of going in there, taking some scar tissue, taking a little bit off. It wasn’t that he had to cut on, but I agree that it is there. You did a make a good point though. I know Nick Saban is talked about a lot for his ways, but he’s pretty accurate about this guy’s not going to play. Here it is. This is what it’s going to be kind of deal. The thing that it does take away is it takes away any speculation. There is no speculation about it. If Mac has that thoughtful I’m going to get one message, and that one message is going to come from me, then release your injuries and be done with it. I think everybody’s okay with it.

The fact of the matter is this. Does New Mexico State gain that big of an advantage preparing for Martez Ivey over Mason Halter? Not really. They’re going to prepare for that backup just as much as they prepare for that starter, whether you tell them they’re injured or not, because New Mexico State’s coach is going to think you’re the biggest liar ever on Earth, whether you’re the most honest guy or not. Opposing coaches don’t believe anything their opponent’s going to say.

Nick:                         Yup. Then I guess we’ll go into my biggest surprise is at safety. Obviously with Marcus May out due to a suspension in that first game Nick Washington has been named the starter. Nick Washington a redshirt sophomore, a guy who’s really taken some time to develop. Came in as a cornerback, was quickly moved back to safety. This is a spot that I thought Duke Dawson would fill, at least for this first game, but you’ve got Keanu Neal and Nick Washington listed as the starters with Dawson backing up Neal, Marcell Harris backing up Nick Washington. This will be a moot point when Marcus May comes back, because he will take over that other starting safety spot, but to me it was surprising that Nick Washington would earn the start for Florida against New Mexico State.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I don’t know what’s going on here. Here’s my way of looking at things. Duke Dawson had a minor concussion. We all know that. That was two weeks ago?

Nick:                         I don’t know if we all know that. I think we’re the only ones.

Andrew:                 Maybe not all of us, but Nick and myself knew about the concussion with Duke Dawson two weeks ago. He’s recovered from that. He’s back on the practice field. He’s either in the dog house, he’s not playing well, or Nick Washington has done something completely crazy in the last couple days that people have not told Gator Country, because the last reports we heard was that Nick Washington was not a starter for the Florida Gators, whether that’s New Mexico or whoever, a high school team. He wasn’t going to start. So to me it’s more concerning to me of what’s going on with Duke Dawson? Why is he not starting? He went from starting last year in Muschamp’s defense, and now he’s riding pine behind Nick Washington, no disrespect to Nick Washington, but Duke Dawson should be better than Nick Washington.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t want to talk bad about Nick. Nick is a great kid, both on and off the field. Personally I did think that Dawson might be a better option, but obviously the coaches see more, and we’ve always said this, the coaches see more than we do. We get 15 minutes of an open portion of practice, and the coaching staff sees more than we do. Nick Washington has obviously done enough in their eyes to earn this distinction. This will be the first start of his career. He’s been at Florida three years, this will be the second year that he’s playing, and the first start for him. I guess, congratulations to Nick Washington, but that was just something that stuck out to me as a little surprising.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Again, I’m just saying what you are. Nick Washington’s a great guy. He has always been a pleasure to talk to. It’s just it caught my eye that a guy that started at the end of the season every game is now the backup there. It caught my eye. I guess it’s more of a bad sign for Duke, and a good sign for Nick Washington. Apparently Nick Washington’s worked hard to do it. As you said, if there’s anybody that deserves to start more it’s Nick Washington.

Nick:                         Yes. Let’s go back. We’ll run through it. I’ll just list the starters in the offense. We’ll do a couple notes, and then we’ll do the same for defense. From left to right your offensive line is going to be Mason Halter, Trip Thurman, Cam Dillard, who won that battle at center over Tyler Jordan, Antonio Riles at right guard, David Sharpe at right tackle. Some interesting pieces behind them would be Martez Ivey as the backup at left tackle, obviously we talked about his health already, a lot depending on that.

Then Fred Johnson, fans might think that Trenton Brown snuck back in to Florida. Fred Johnson wearing Treton’s 74. He is a big kid, 6’6” well over 300 pounds as a freshman. He’s listed at just over 300, like 312, but my boy Fred Johnson looks just like Trenton Brown on the field, a massive offensive lineman. No really surprises there, other than what we talked about with Halter and Ivey flipping. I think when Ivey comes back Halter slides down to right guard, and then that’s your best five starting.

Going at wide receiver, no surprise Demarcus Robinson, no surprise Brandon Powell. Surprise, Ahmad Fulwood starting with CJ Worton backing up Demarcus Robinson. I’m surprised that Worton or Callaway are not listed as a starter and that Fulwood is. How about you, Andrew?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Run through the quarterback and running back real quick like, and then let’s hit on a couple things real quick. Run through that, so we don’t get sidetracked.

Nick:                         Also tight end, obvious starter is Jake McGee. C’yontai Lewis behind him. We’ve been talking about that. Lewis has kind of pulled himself away from DeAndre Goolsby. I still expect Goolsby to play, but C’yontai in my mind has kind of separated himself as the backup there. Will Grier or Treon Harris. Jim McElwain said he’ll learn a lot from the film of this game, this first game. Maybe we’ll have a starter for week 2, maybe we won’t. I do think you have a starter in place by week 3 at Kentucky. Running back, Kelvin Taylor, it’s his job now. Behind him is Jordan Scarlett and then that dreaded or Jordan Cronkrite. I expect Scarlett to really take most of those second reps behind Taylor, and then really start eating in to where it’s almost a 50/50 split. That is your offensive depth chart for week 1 of the 2015 football season.

Andrew:                 You wanted to say that. Let’s go back to the receivers thing here for a second. I think the reason, I was surprised when Ahmad Fulwood was the starter. I was, because of things I had heard about that. Then I started to think about this, for now four or five hours here, of why Ahmad Fulwood’s there. I think that it’s McElwain’s way of saying, here’s your last shot to prove to me. He calls him out in the press conference today saying he’s a 6’ receiver that needs to play like a 6’3” receiver instead of a 5’8” receiver. He said he needs to go out and get the ball. That has been the overwhelming message that I continue to hear is that Fulwood’s not using his athletic ability to his ability. I think this is maybe a motivation of you’re the starter, go make plays.

Then I think it may be that Callaway, he wants to just see Callaway get in the game and not thrust him into the role as a starter that soon, or CJ Worton, a guy that has had to come back from an injury who hasn’t been there all fall practice. You kind of want to reward the guys that’s been there. McElwain said on Monday he wants to play nine receivers. He’s going to get that opportunity. I would say that outside of the offensive line board and the guys suspended the receiver depth chart at the Z position is probably the position that is likely to change the most at week 2, if Fulwood doesn’t progress. I think you’ll see Worton. I think you’ll see Callaway produce and be good players, and then if Fulwood doesn’t produce I think you’re looking at a new starter week 2.

Nick:                         I think that’s an interesting way to take it. Kind of like, you’re the older guy. You’ve been battling with a freshman and a sophomore all camp. Here you go, a little seniority. Show me what you can do. I’ve been very upfront publically and privately with you about what I want to see. Show me. Do it and earn that spot.

Andrew:                 Right. I think we’ve all seen glimpses. You and I have talked about it. I think I’m probably been one of the biggest fans of Ahmad Fulwood, because he has the ability to make plays. My thing for him is let’s just don’t see glimpses anymore. Let me see you do it all at a time, and this is an offense that Ahmad Fulwood should be really good in. You look at guys like DJ Hall, Julio, the guys that are the big guys that have been in McElwain’s offense. He likes to throw that fade, that jump ball in the red zone, and guess what? Ahmad Fulwood’s bigger than everybody, so he should be that guy.

Nick:                         Yeah. We’ll move on to defense. Huge surprise at cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves is starting.

Andrew:                 Oh brother.

Nick:                         Just get that out of the way. Deiondre Porter backing him up. Other side of the ball, Jalen Tabor or Quincy Wilson. I put zero stock into who is starting at cornerback. Florida’s base defense will be nickel. They will have more plays run this year with five and six defensive backs on the field than they will with three linebackers and four defensive linemen. Florida will be in the nickel none stop this year. Interesting to me, Brian Poole has worked outside so much, and this has been a recurring theme with Brian Poole where he works outside in the spring, he works outside in the fall, and people are like maybe Brian Poole’s going to start across from Vernon Hargreaves. Brian Poole listed as the starter at nickel with Quincy Wilson behind him. That’s where Brian Poole should stay.

Defensive line, no surprises. Starting Jon Bullard, Joey Ivie, Caleb Brantley, and in the rust position Bryan Cox earns the start with Alex McCallister being out due to a suspension. Behind them, again left to right, Cece Jefferson backing up Jon Bullard, Khairi Clark backing up Joey Ivie at nose tackle, Taven Bryan backing up Brantley at defensive tackle, and Jordan Sherit backing up Cox at the rush position. Linebackers, Alex Anzalone playing strong side. Antonio Morrison in the middle. Weak side Jarrad Davis with pal Anzalone as the backup middle linebacker as well as the starter, and Daniel McMillian backing up Davis. Safeties we kind of went through that when we talked about Nick Washington being the surprise.

Andrew, anything here stick out to you?

Andrew:                 Yeah, I mean no and yeah. That doesn’t make too much sense. I guess the thing that kind of sticks out to me a little bit is I didn’t see Deiondre Porter really being the #2 guy there. That’s one thing I am very glad.

Nick:                         Who would be the #2 there?

Andrew:                 I thought Chris Williamson would be a surprise guy and end up being the #2 guy. Maybe I’m just completely off base there.

Nick:                         Chris Williamson I will say is bigger than I thought he would. Some of the recruiting pictures, I never got the chance to see him in person, but some of the recruiting pictures made him look like a string bean. He’s definitely filled out a lot, but he is a guy that I thought could maybe benefit from a redshirt year, kind of like Porter did last year.

Andrew:                 Then besides that, the defense tackle position I think it’s a position that you see Ivie and Brantley starting at, but you could have put Bryan’s name there, and nobody would have been surprised. I think that’s kind of like Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson kind of deal right there in that. The other surprise for me is Sherit over Zuniga. I think that might have just been a…

Nick:                         It’s Jabari Zuniga.

Andrew:                 That’s how I pronounce it and probably will continue to pronounce it. Jabari, love you, man. Remember the props I gave you in recruiting, so don’t hold that against me. I thought he would be above Sherit. I think Sherit probably got the job as the #2 guy because he was a sophomore, a little older. That’s a position that I don’t think it even matters, because once McCallister gets back there is no #2, because Cox is #2. Anyway, I guess that’s kind of the biggest things that stood out to me there. Of course, the Sam linebacker that Alex Anzalone is playing at is probably nonexistent in most games.

Someone did ask us on the message board if it was concerning that he was the starting Sam, Anzalone, and then was also the backup at middle linebacker. My response to that is Alex Anzalone is probably your second to third best linebacker, so if Antonio Morrison’s not at Mike linebacker Alex Anzalone’s going to be, and you want that to be. You can put a guy like Jeremy Powell, even a guy like Daniel McMillian, as your Sam linebacker. It’s kind of like offensive line. You’ve got to get your best linebackers on the field, and when Morrison’s not on the field Anzalone has to be on the field.

Nick:                         Absolutely. I would venture to say, everyone’s very high on Jarrad Davis, I really don’t think Davis had a good season last year as a sophomore. From what I’ve seen right now I would say Antonio Morrison is your best linebacker. He still really struggles covering routes, covering tight ends, covering running backs, but get into the run, stout. Alex Anzalone I think is your second best linebacker on the team, and like you said, if Antonio Morrison starts at middle linebacker, whenever he comes out to get some Gatorade, to catch his breath, Alex Anzalone will be on the field. There will not be a time in a meaningful game, in a meaningful snap, where Anzalone and Morrison are not on the field at the same time.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I do think that you may see some times where Morrison and Anzalone are on the field together, because Alex is your better cover, your best cover linebacker. Remember, Alex did play running back in high school, and you and I, Nick, were watching some film of him in the bowl game where he chased down the option, and he’s just a flat out athlete. Morrison was embarrassed several times last year in coverage. I do think that you can’t pull Morrison off the field every third down, but I do think you will see Alex and Morrison both on the field, so that Alex can cover up that tight end or that slot receiver/running back that would be your fifth or fourth receiver that he is responsible for.

Nick:                         Now, what you all have undoubtedly been waiting for, the special teams two deep.

Andrew:                 I’m shocked at this one. I’m not going to lie to you.

Nick:                         Austin Hardin is backed up by Jorge Powell. Hardin is the starting kicker. Johnny Townsend will be handling punts with Austin Hardin as the backup punter. Hopefully Townsend stays healthy. I have never seen Austin Hardin punt a football. Brandon Powell is your kickoff returner. Vernon Hargreaves is listed here. Still kind of questionable. Mac has talked about Hargreaves returning punts and kicks. I want to see it play out. I think Demarcus Robinson is another guy that will get into the mix there.

Punt return, Vernon Hargreaves and Brandon Powell again, flip flopped. I think Hargreaves will handle the punts where the returner is inside the Gator’s own 20. Kind of like you saw last year where the coaching staff trusted Hargreaves to make the right decision between catch it, let it drop, fair catch, run it. Versus Andre Debois where if the football was in the air I was going to try to catch it, like a baseball player with my hands up in front of my face, and I was going to run with it, no matter what. It didn’t matter if the ball bounced three times, if there were eight people around me. I’m going to try to return this. Hargreaves is a smart player that can handle that.

Ryan Farr or Jonathan Haney will be your long snapper. I know we have not really covered the long snapper battle. We apologize for that. We’ll have to fix that for you guys. Then the holder, interesting note, Johnny Townsend is the holder. Case Harrison is the backup holder. I can already smell a little Mike McNeely 2.0 coming, which would be kind of a mirrored storyline. McNeely was awarded a scholarship, hadn’t really ever done anything. Gets in, scores a huge touchdown on a fake against Georgia. Case Harrison, just awarded a scholarship before this season. Hasn’t really done anything outside of special teams. Maybe Jim McElwain has something brewing, a little trickery coming up for an opponent this year.

Andrew:                 Maybe. I am about to go on the rant of the year.

Nick:                         I’m taking my headset off. I apologize to all the listeners. I will be back later when this is over.

Andrew:                 If Vernon Hargreaves is the kick returner, I don’t know. Vernon Hargreaves should not be your kick returner. You cannot lose Vernon Hargreaves, and also I just don’t see Vernon Hargreaves being that electric playmaker as a kick returner. I just don’t see that. I just see somewhere or another there has to be a more elite playmaker that is faster, more of a speedster than Hargreaves, as a kick returner. I just don’t see that. I don’t like risking it. I’m against Demarcus Robinson doing it as well, but I don’t see it. I want to see Powell back there. I’d like to see Jordan Cronkrite back there. I would like to see Chris Williamson even back there, maybe even a Deiondre Porter back there or a Tabor back there. Anybody but Vernon. I just don’t like your best player being back there. Also I don’t think he has the electric ability from a speed standpoint to be that guy that you fear is going to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.

Nick:                         What if we put Jordan Scarlett back there?

Andrew:                 Hey, Leonard Fournette’s back there.

Nick:                         What about a 5’11”, 225 pound running back getting a full head of steam 20, 30 yards before anyone even gets close to him? I would not try to tackle Jordan Scarlett in the field on pickups.

Andrew:                 Can he run with his helmet with one of those little beep-beep things on the back?

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t know about putting Vernon. I don’t really have strong feelings either way. I think some of the thoughts of if you’re going to be returning punts or returning kicks you’re going to get hurt, I think some of that is overblown. Yes, any time you have grown men, and they might be 18-20 years old, but these are grown men physically. Any time you have grown men running a distance of 50 yards and colliding head on the risk for injury is great, but it’s football. It’s like I said, the two deep is listed this way. I want to see how it plays out. I want to see how many of those situations that Florida puts Vernon Hargreaves in.

I haven’t seen many people talk about it, but I’ve seen Vernon Hargreaves getting some practice time on offense this spring. Maybe Jim McElwain and the Florida staff is trying to find a way to get Vernon Hargreaves the Heisman, and they’re trying to figure out how many ways. It’s really hard for a defensive player to win the Heisman. How many ways can we get Vernon out there, so that he can win this award?

Andrew:                 I don’t know about the Heisman.

Nick:                         Maybe a Heisman award, put a statue of Vernon Hargreaves next to the three quarterbacks out there in front of the stadium?

Andrew:                 I don’t know about all that. Would you agree that there is more electric, more…

Nick:                         I would say yes. Yes, there are definitely more, taking nothing away from Vernon Hargreaves, there are other people on the team that when the ball is in their hands, and they have some space, you think, buckle up something could happen here. When Vernon has the ball, and he’s running his space, I don’t get that feeling. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed or the moves. He’s not an offensive player. He doesn’t handle the ball a lot, so he’s not used to making people miss, stuff like that. Did he play offense in high school? Yeah. It’s been years, three years now since he’s done that. I think a Demarcus Robinson, a Brandon Powell, somebody like that. You mentioned Jordan Cronkrite. I would like to see that. Chris Williamson maybe. Maybe see what Kylan Johnson can do, a guy who’s not listed on the two deep at safety, but he is a big guy as well, has some speed to him. Maybe give him a run.

Andrew:                 Chris Thompson maybe, or an Alvin Bailey, those guys both returned it in high school as well as Chris Williamson and Deiondre Porter, the same way. That’s the thing.

Nick:                         I would say Chris Thompson maybe more so than Alvin Bailey.

Andrew:                 I’m just saying those guys have all done it in the past. They’re more equipped than Vernon. I think that the thing with Vernon being back there maybe is more of a safety valve. That’s your smart guy. That’s going to be your guy that’s back there. You also want whoever your second return guy is to be the guy that’s going to lead the pack blocking wise, and you definitely do not want guys diving at Hargreaves’ knees three to four times a game on a kickoff, and then he goes down. Now you’re looking at really instead of having three really good corners to having two, and your best player going down.

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s definitely some risk/reward, and I think that we’ll see the true intentions of Jim McElwain once the game starts, because it is a real possibility that you could get hurt, and by putting him on special teams you’re definitely putting him more situations than necessary to get hurt. Football’s a physical game, a tough game. Injuries are part of it. Why would you need to throw Vernon Hargreaves, your best player, into more situations where he could get hurt than he needs to be?

Andrew:                 One final note real quick on the special teams. I think you’re going to see more of the Saban approach of you’re going to kick the ball as far as you can in the end zone, and try to play field position. I don’t think you’re going to see any more of that dinking and dunking of let’s try to…

Nick:                         Thank God. If you’ve got a kicker who struggles to get the ball into the end zone, then, sure, work on it. Austin Hardin can kick the ball into the stands on a kickoff. Let him do that. Just start on the 25. Don’t make the kid think about, I need to land this on the 15. It can’t have this kind of spin, because then it will go out of bounds. Now you’re not letting him just kick, just go out there and kick. You’re putting so much into a kid’s head where everything about kicking is mental, so just say, we need you focusing on making field goals. To help do that, we’re taking every question out of the kickoff off of your plate. Just kick the ball as far as you can. Don’t let them return it.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s kind of what I was seeing as well. I think that’s best. Don’t take away the best ability of your kicker, and that’s definitely not the mental standpoint. That’s more of the lecturing, like you say. Hardin can probably kick it out of the Swamp if they allowed him to, or if he wanted to. I like that approach, and that is definitely something that I’ve heard will be done this year. I’m like you, I’m all for it.

Nick:                         Yeah. We have reached the end of our podcast. A couple programming notes, we’ll be doing several of these, probably up to three podcasts a week during football season. If you have made it this far into the podcast, thank you, first of all. Thank you very much. Second of all, please feel free, go on iTunes, check us out. Leave a rating and a comment. Let us know how we’re doing, what we can do better, or that we are perfect and there is nothing to change. That’s always fine too. As always, you can follow Andrew at @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. I am @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. Andrew, any final words?

Andrew:                 No. Couple days and we’ll be actually getting to talk ball instead of predicting stuff. Yeah. We’ll have some good stuff, excited to see the offense going, excited to see how the quarterback situation plays out, and just kind of how the offense goes. It’ll be some big visitors on campus as well. This is the first step in the right direction of building the program back to where it should be.

Nick:                         Yeah. Also, music. I have a band that I like, Time Flies. They have a bunch of uncopyrighted music. If you guys have any original music that you want us to feature, shoot it over to me. You can email it to me at Nick@GatorCountry.com, and we’ll start seeing if we can switch up our intro music.

Andrew:                 Speaking of music, I just received an email that they’re going to be doing some Super Bowl like half time shows during SEC games now. The first one is going to be at the LSU Florida game when One Republic does half time.

Nick:                         Good. I have no interest in watching One Republic, so I’ll have longer to eat lunch.

Andrew:                 I don’t even know who that is. That tells you if I like them or not.

Nick:                         That’s all we got for you today. Stay tuned. We will have a ton of coverage the rest of the week, as well as Saturday. Andrew, say goodbye to everyone.

Andrew:                 Stay classy, Gator fans.

Nick:                         How dare you? Stay classy, Gator Country.

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