This Gator Country podcast focuses on the expectations for the Florida Gators football team as Nick de la Torre and Andrew Spivey breakdown the schedule for the Florida Gators football team.
Andrew and Nick discuss what would be a successful season for the Florida Gators football team and what they need to do on offense to improve on last year’s record.
Gator Country also breaks down which players we see could be breakout players on both the offense and defensive side of the ball.
Nick: What’s going on, Gator Country? Andrew Spivey let me back into the studio after doing his own thing yesterday. If you haven’t listened to it, make sure you do. It is on your iTunes playlist. It’s on GatorCountry.com. Andrew, thank you for allowing me back onto your podcast here.
Andrew: You held a gun to my head, so I didn’t really have a choice. I like Gator Country too much to allow you to do bad things to me.
Nick: I filed a formal complaint to be allowed back in here to get back on the podcasts.
Andrew: We’ll let you back in. We have to continue to have somebody. People get tired of this lovely voice. Twitter, I did say lovely again. Yes, I did. Anyway, Nick, we were talking. It’s football season, man. We’re just talking off the air a little bit. There’s a little Twitter trash talk going on in high school football, and college football trash talks going on. It’s finally football season. I am fired up for football season.
Nick: Friday night probably the best game, high school football game, of the year, Booker T, of course where Antonio Callaway and Treon Harris are from, faced my alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bryan Cox, Marcus Roverson, Cody Riggs, 2017 quarterback Jake Allen, ton of Raiders, ton of Booker T Washington tornadoes on the Florida Gators roster, and definitely a star studded juggernaut matchup Friday night.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s going to take a lot for them to beat that game between IMG and American Heritage that was on Saturday. That was an impressive game. Again, this game will have about as many prospects as that game was on Saturday night when IMG, but the ending to that game was crazy, to say the least. I’m getting into this little St. Thomas, Booker T rivalry. Of course, me being me, I like to retweet stuff on Twitter to cause more problems, so we’ll see.
Nick: Getting away from the high school, you talk enough about recruiting when you kick me out of here. Getting away from high school, I want to talk a little bit about expectations for this year, for the team, for players, for the SEC overall. Andrew, I guess we can just start it off macro version, big picture. What do you think the expectations are versus what they should be, and what are your expectations for Florida this year?
Andrew: You’re not winning a national championship this year?
Nick: I would not put a single dollar bet on Florida to win a national championship this year.
Andrew: We’re not playing for participation ribbons, remember that. No. It’s a deal where I think that expectations for me are for the offense to improve. Can McElwain show that offense is better? I think it will be better. I said this in chat last night, and I said this on the message board a lot. I think recruiting needs to see that Florida has an identity for their football team, for their offense. Are they going to throw the ball for 2,000 yards this year? No. They don’t have the playmakers to do that, but can they show an identity for an offense that is going to be productive for the years to come? I think that is my main overall thing of can this season be well for them.
Nick, you and I have had this conversation before. I think Florida is a 7 or 8 win football team, or a 7 win football team with the opportunity to win 8. Could they win 6 or 5? Sure. I wouldn’t be surprise either way. I think that expectations for me are somewhere between 6 and 8. I think McElwain has to get to a bowl game, or fans may be ready to fire him already, fair or not. You just have to go to bowl games at Florida.
Nick: Yeah. I think if you look at the schedule it’s tough to nail down where Florida is, because of how thin they are at certain spots. If you look at the season, someone reads a crystal ball and tells you, Florida’s not going to have a single injury this year, everybody on the roster is going to be healthy and playing every game, then you can say they’re an 8, maybe even a 9 win team, but if you start losing pieces on the offensive line, at linebacker, even at safety. You saw Keanu Neal had a little injury during the last scrimmage. Duke Dawson’s had a concussion this spring. Florida has a lot of talent, it’s just not deep in a lot of areas. So injuries could turn what could be a 7, 8, 9 win season into one where you’re getting down into that FAU game on November 21hoping to get that 6th win there. There’s just a lot of variables that can play out.
Here we go. If we go through the schedule I think games that I would say confidently are wins. We’ll count them off. New Mexico State, East Carolina, Kentucky. I’m also going to put Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and FAU on that list. That’s six wins, ify on South Carolina. I don’t think South Carolina’s a very good team, but they do play well at home, and after two years ago when Florida traveled there it was a really boring game, but they did stay in it with Skylar Mornhinweg at quarterback. Those are six games I think you could pretty much chalk up as a win, with maybe the South Carolina game being a toss-up. Then that middle of the season is really just a gauntlet.
Andrew: Right. You and I have went through this umpteen times around the last few months, and, again, I say New Mexico, East Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Florida Atlantic should be wins. Should be wins. Then I will be honest. I think Tennessee and LSU are toss-up games that I think Florid has a chance. I know Florida’s going to Death Valley, but LSU’s offense is awful. Does Florida have an offense that can score 10 points, and they win 10-9? Maybe.
Nick: Here’s the thing with that. LSU, I was talking to an LSU beat writer, and he had a statement to me. It was, “We’re kind of in the same boat as you guys this year.” I was like, “What do you mean?” He was like, “The quarterback issue. I don’t remember the last time LSU went into a season where you didn’t even have an inkling of who’s going to be the quarterback.” It looks like it’s going to be Brandon Harris, but that battle’s not over, and then what are you really getting from Brandon Harris? You and I, great kid, by the way, we met him at the Under Armor game, talked to him for about 20-30 minutes. Great kid, very nice person. Young, really inexperienced, so they’re kind of in the same boat in that way.
But Leonard Fournette is not a college football player. Leonard Fournette is a grown man that for some reason is being allowed to play college football, and I think he is an equalizer. Florida’s defense is great. It doesn’t matter how great you are, at some point of the game you’re going to think twice when Leonard Fournette is running at you, and he’s also quick enough to have that one second of doubt. Do I want to get hit by this guy again? It’s been really terrible tackling him all game long. Do I really want to do this again? He can make you miss. I think Leonard Fournette is going to get a lot of touches, a lot of carries, and LSU’s offense is really going to go where Fournette can carry them.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, the offensive line at LSU is maybe not as good as in past years as well. It’s a good offensive line, but isn’t as good as in past years. If a guy like Taven Bryan, Brantley, Ivey, those guys up the middle, are doing well, and I do think Antonio Morrison is back by that game. If he and Anzalone are playing it should be interesting. Like I said, would it surprise me for it to be a 10-9 football game in Death Valley? No. That’s why I say that that game, and then the Tennessee game, is a toss-up.
Nick, I know you’re very high on Tennessee. You’re not selling me that. You’re not blowing smoke up my rear end that Tennessee is going to win the national championship. They’re not that good. I don’t care what you say. Sorry, buddy. Love you, but you’re not sending that up my butt that they’re that good. They’re a good football team, do not get me wrong. They are a good football team. I just do not see the overwhelming, Josh Dobbs has done nothing to show me he’s an elite quarterback. Jalen Hurd is a good running back. He has shown nothing to me to tell me he’s a Heisman Trophy winner. The receivers are good. They have done nothing to show me they’re going to beat Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Tabor, or Quincy Wilson. Then defense is good, but once again Florida’s offense is not going to be any better, and Florida’s offense still scored 10 points last year.
Nick: Let’s not say Florida’s offense scored 10 points like that’s a big accomplishment, but you are forgetting about Alvin Kamara. Alvin Kamara is a stud running back a lot of people forget. Kid out of Georgia. Went to Alabama, transferred, and that is a really nice 1-2 punch. Kamara and Hurd really complement each other with Hurd being the more physical bruising kind of back. Kamara’s your kind of scat back, the guy that’s going to make people miss. Tennessee did lose a wide receiver, but I still think they have a very talented wide receiver group. I don’t think anyone, I don’t anyone, but I’m not saying Josh Dobbs is a Heisman contender, but if you look around the SEC Josh Dobbs might be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Andrew: That’s not saying anything though, Nick. That’s not saying anything. That’s my question to you.
Nick: But when you argue and say, Josh Dobbs isn’t good, then what does Florida have? If Josh Dobbs isn’t good, what does Florida have at quarterback?
Andrew: You took my statement, and you twisted it. I did not say he wasn’t good. I said he’s done nothing to show me he’s elite. That’s a different story than what we’re talking about. He has done nothing to show me that he is an elite quarterback at all. Again, Tennessee went last year and did nothing. Butch Jones is 1-17 against ranked football teams, Nick. That is Will Muschamp bad. Worse than Will Muschamp bad, and you’re going to tell me they’re going to come to the Swamp and beat Florida. Would it surprise me if they did? No. Is it a given? No. That’s why I say it’s a toss-up game for me. I just can’t say that Tennessee is going to single-handedly come in and beat Florida. I just can’t do that.
Nick: I don’t think Dobbs needs to be elite. I think there’s a lot of pieces around him. I’m really high on Tennessee. I was very high on their three wide receivers. You lose one. I’m really high on their running backs. I love their defensive line, but I agree with you that Florida’s secondary matches up really well with, not only Tennessee’s wide receivers, but any wide receivers that they face this year. I don’t think Dobbs needs to be a Heisman contender for Tennessee to be an 8 or 9 win football team. I’ll probably pick Tennessee in that game. I don’t have to make that pick for about a month, but I think it is a toss-up.
They’re both young. Tennessee is a little bit more experienced than Florida, but two young teams, I really think that game could send one team spiraling downward and really be a catalyst for the other team to kind of gain some confidence going into the rest of the season. Butch Jones at SEC Media Days said that Florida game last year, that loss, the way we lost that game, that kind of set the tone for the rest of season. With Florida being, hopefully at that point in the Tennessee game, 3-0 you hope that they can get a win there, get 4-0. Nobody in Florida’s locker room wants to be the first team in more than a decade to lose to Tennessee.
Andrew: Agreed. I’ve pulled up Josh Dobb’s stats from last year. 112 of 177 for 1,206 yards; 9 touchdowns and 6 picks. He was sacked 12 times. Twelve times, Nick. Again, I am not going to argue with you that Dobbs is not a good quarterback. I give Dobbs that he is a quarterback that is going to do well, but is he elite? I just can’t say that that he is elite. Against the top two defenses he played against last year, Alabama and Missouri, he failed to throw for 200 yards. That’s Florida bad. That’s Jeff Driskel bad.
I see your point, and I agree with your point. If Florida beats Tennessee, Florida’s season could go really well. If Florida loses, it could go really bad. If Tennessee wins that game, it could go really good. It could go really bad for them if they lose. I agree with you the season is going to be, for both teams, going to be determined by that game in the Swamp. I just say, Tennessee coming to the Swamp, McElwain fired up, having his team 3-0, the team having confidence, with the best defense in the SEC, in my opinion, in Florida, going against an inexperienced quarterback, at the Swamp, in Josh Dobbs. I can’t sit here today in August and say that one team’s going to win over the other.
Nick: Right. Then how about these. We have a couple other games coming up here. I think Ole Miss is a really tough test for Florida. I’m very high on Chad Kelly, if he can keep his head on straight. I’ve seen him play in person. That kid can spin it. Very good quarterback. Then at Missouri too. Honestly, right now, this might make our listeners mad. I don’t think Florida had a chance against Missouri. They’ve played Missouri three times. First year they needed an interception from Josh Evans in the end zone to win the game, and they’ve been absolutely spanked the past two years.
Andrew: I’m with you on Missouri. I think Missouri’s probably a better football team than Florida right now. Ole Miss, in my opinion, Ole Miss is a matchup nightmare for Florida in a situation that they have multiple receivers that are damn good. It’s not going to be, Vernon, you go match up with Laquon Treadwell. Jalen and Quincy, you have a guy that shouldn’t be playing football. No. You’re going up against probably the second or the third best receiver in the SEC, opposite of Laquon Treadwell. For me, Ole Miss is the game that if you told me right now Ole Miss was going to beat Florida I would agree with you more so than I would on the Tennessee football game. Plus, Ole Miss’s defense is downright nasty.
Nick: Yeah. You look at Ole Miss’s defense, staring with Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert Nkemdiche. There’s a lot of players that are going to be making some good money playing there. Like you mentioned, the wide receivers. Laquon Treadwell’s probably the best wide receiver in the entire country. Coming off of a pretty bad knee injury, but it looks like he will be ready to play. There’s a kid that Florida fans might recognize, Van Jefferson. Florida was on him last year. I remember you talking about him a lot.
There’s just a lot of talent offensively, and it is kind of what we talked about. If an opponent for Florida, if their strength is wide receivers that should match up well for Florida, because of the depth you have at cornerback, but this is going to be a good test. This is something that fans of football, whether you’re a Gator fan, an Ole Miss fan, fans of football, in match ups this is a game that you’re circling. Vernon Hargreaves, Laquon Treadwell, they’re friends. There’ll be some friendly trash talk between the two of them heading up to this game. I think it’s a tough game. Very happy that it is at home. You have to be happy. I’m not happy, because I would love to go see Ole Miss, would love to see The Grove. This stretch. Let me just see what you think about this stretch.
Andrew: Before you get with that, though. I want to say one thing about that Ole Miss game. I think this is a game where a guy like Jalen Tabor or a guy like Quincy Wilson can really boost their stock even more so.
Nick: I think it’s a game that you need one of those guys to live up to their potential, if you know what I’m saying. Right now you think that based on their freshman seasons that Quincy Wilson or Jalen Tabor has that All American potential, that they can fill the shoes of Vernon Hargreaves when they get into next year. I think this is the kind of game to win this game you’re going to need somebody like that to have the kind of game where you say a month down the road, or even after the season, that Ole Miss game is when Jalen Tabor introduced himself and showed you his full potential.
Nick: You’re going to need to able to point to one to two players and say that game is when they turned the corner. That’s when they realized everything and everything clicked for them. You’re going to need a special performance from a couple guys.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. I think that these guys have that opportunity to really come out of the shadow of Vernon Hargreaves. I don’t say that in any disrespect to Tabor and Quincy, both of them are heck of football players, but they are overshadowed because of Vernon Hargreaves. If those guys can show out the nation’s going to recognize Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson are here to stay, and they’re here to ball.
Nick: Yeah. So we’re going to give Florida three wins to start the year, New Mexico State, East Carolina, Kentucky. Then starting the last week of September through October, Tennessee, Ole Miss, at Missouri, at LSU, world’s largest outdoor cocktail party. What is your best case and worst case for that five game stretch?
Andrew: Worst case I think would be, I guess you could very well go 0-5. I won’t say 0-5. There’s no way Jim McElwain loses five games in a row. 1-5 maybe.
Nick: Why do you say there’s no way he loses? That’s a very definitive statement.
Andrew: It is a very opinionated statement. The defense is too good to lose five games in a row. I just don’t see them going in a nutshell and losing five football games in a row.
Nick: Defense was really good in 2013, and they lost seven games in a row.
Andrew: They also had a bad football coach who did not know how to get his team prepared. Yes, five games in a row is possible they lose, sure. Five games in a row it’s possible they lose. I should not have said it’s not possible. I don’t think they lose five games. I will say the worst case is 1-4, and the best case is 3-2. Again, I’m going to, if you were putting a gun to my head and said, pick your three wins I think I’d give you Tennessee, LSU, Georgia. That’s the three that I would probably say that Florida has the best chance to win. I’m with you in that I don’t think they beat Ole Miss, and I don’t think they beat Missouri.
Georgia, we’ve all seen Georgia-Florida. You can throw records. You can throw whatever out the door. That means jack crap. That’s a rivalry game. Then the LSU game, like you say, poor offense versus poor offense. Who’s going to be able to do it? Probably advantage to LSU because they’re at home, but it’s a toss-up game for me. I’m going to say best case 3-2, worst case 1-4. I don’t see Florida losing five football games in a row. I should not have said they can’t. Obviously they can. They’ve proved they can. I just don’t think they do.
Nick: They did prove they could lose five games in a row, unfortunately.
Andrew: Everything is possible. We’ve seen it all, people.
Nick: I’m with you, but I will go and say I can see an 0-5 happening, and that starts with that Tennessee game. What we talked about with losing confidence, being the first team in more than a decade. These freshmen, they were 8 years old, 7 years old some of them, the last time Tennessee beat Florida. They don’t know about Tennessee beating Florida. If you’re part of that, that can really mess with your head, and that’s where I can see a spiral. Then you’re feeling good about yourself. Offense is probably going to look great against New Mexico State. Offense will probably look really good against East Carolina, who’s losing a bunch of players on defense. Offense will probably look great against Kentucky. You start feeling good about yourself.
A loss to Tennessee, we both think the Ole Miss game is a loss. Now that’s two in a row. Go to Missouri, and that’s a tough flight. You’ve got to fly into St. Louis, and then bus over to Columbia. Now you’ve lost three in a row with at LSU coming up. That’s how I can see the snowball kind of rolling from a loss at Tennessee, and that’s how I think you can get to an 0-5 where things just start piling up. Players start doubting themselves, start doubting the process, start doubting them game plan. That’s where I can see an 0-5 happening, and I agree with you that I think the best case out of that five games stretch is 3-2.
Andrew: If Florida’s after eight football games, and they’re 6-2, you should be damn happy.
Andrew: That’s what I say. I get it out with you. I should not have said 0-5 is impossible. That was me speaking being myself, but 0-5 is possible. I just don’t see 0-5.
Nick: If you look at it just looking at a schedule, and you’re just looking at words on a piece of paper, it’s hard to say loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, five in a row. Then when you start to think about it, how things can pile up in the minds of these kids. Again, we’re dealing with kids that are 18, 19, 20 years old. Very emotional time in your life where you swing from extreme highs to extreme lows. If a girl looks at you wrong you can go from an extreme high to an extreme low. Then we’re talking about losing football games, something these guys have been working their butts off for a new coaching staff, and have really bought in. To start to see it work in these first three games and then I can just see it being easy to kind of lose track and lose focus in that middle portion of the schedule.
Andrew: Let me ask you this, though, and this is my question, and this is the reason it is. Before Will Muschamp destroyed several different records that I thought were unbelievably unbroken, did you really think a team could lose seven football games in a row at the University of Florida?
Nick: No. Absolutely not.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. The University of Florida, and I’m saying this and Tennessee fans don’t come at me calling me a homer. I don’t care to hear that. University of Florida, University of Tennessee, University of any SEC football team not named Kentucky or Vanderbilt should not lose five football games in a row. They should not lose five football games in a row. To me Jim McElwain’s approach, knowing Jim McElwain’s past, I don’t see them losing five football games in a row. I think they’ll figure out a way to get one if it is 0-4 going into Georgia game, then you have that bye week there. Again, I should not have said that, but I have a hard time believing they’re going to lose five games in a row. Is it possible? Anything’s possible, Will Muschamp showed us that. I don’t think they do.
Nick: Here’s another little note for you. In the Florida and Tennessee series 10 games in the longest winning streak in the series. Tennessee won the first 10 meetings. Florida has won the last 10. There’s some games in there in the middle. If Florida won this year it would be the longest winning streak by either team in the series.
Andrew: Again, I think any time you start to get that double winning streak, it’s kind of like in baseball, it’s in basketball, it’s in anything, any time you get a little bit of a winning streak that sneaky suspicion pops in players heads of we can’t lose to these guys, or they play not to lose. Is it pressure? Sure. Is it unlikely that, I mean Tennessee’s going to beat Florida soon. Will it be this year? Who knows? Will it be next year? Who knows? I just say that for me right now I just can’t chalk it up to be a win or a loss for Florida, because I don’t believe in the team fully from Tennessee, from a perspective of Butch Jones. You and I had a Tennessee media member, we won’t name his name, tell us that he questioned Butch Jones’ decision making when it was a big play.
That goes into that 1-17 against ranked teams, and now you’re coming to the Swamp with, like you said, Florida fired up winning 10 games in a row. Florida fans hate Tennessee, so it’s going to be a rocky environment for that game, and McElwain’s going to want to show Florida fans that he can continue beating Tennessee, who Will Muschamp beat four years. He’s not going to want to start off his Florida career losing his first rivalry game. That’s why I say that there’s a lot of things that go into this game for us to make a decision in August they’re going to win or lose this game. For me, I can’t do it.
Nick: Maybe I’ll as Mac about that tonight. He hasn’t really talked about rivalries. I know when Urban Meyer came in he made it a point to say, if we lose every game we’re not going to lose these games, these rivalry games. Will Muschamp verbally made it a point, and the proceeded to lose to all of his rivals, except Tennessee.
Andrew: And one game against Georgia. Give the man a little bit of props. Let’s finish off this season here real quick. Vanderbilt at home for Homecoming. South Carolina on the road. Florida Atlantic, and then Senior Day at Florida State. That’s four games after a brutal football stretch of games. Vanderbilt at home a Homecoming game. Florida should win that football game.
Nick: Florida has lost back to back Homecoming games.
Andrew: That’s another message McElwain needs to be known about. Does McElwain know that?
Nick: One of them was Vanderbilt two years ago. Obviously that was a much different team. Florida at that point was riddled with injuries. Vanderbilt still had James Franklin, but Florida has lost back to back Homecomings.
Andrew: Not good. Then South Carolina on the road. I think you and I are in agreement that Florida should win that football game. South Carolina’s not a very good football team. Then Florida Atlantic, as long as they don’t dress like Georgia Southern they should be all right. Then Florida State for Senior Day. Right now I think Florida State’s a better football team, but it will be interesting to see how Florida State does this season, and I think that that’s a game that could be closer than we think at the end of the year.
Nick: This might surprise you. I am not even anywhere close to saying that Florida State will win that game, at this point. I think that that game is so far away, and you look at a game like Georgia last year. I don’t think anybody outside of Florida’s locker room picked Florida to win that game, and the Gators handled Georgia. That was unbelievable. I remember sitting in the press box wondering, what team and I watching? How is this working? They’re just going to run the ball 75 times, and Georgia has no answer. Florida’s not even pretending to throw the football, and Georgia has no answer for it. Look at what happened last year. Florida goes to Tallahassee and picks off Jameis Winston. If you have some type of competent offense, and you’re not turning interceptions into 3 points, you’re turning them into 7 points. Then if there isn’t a terrible interception, pick 6, following getting great field position, Florida might upset Florida State.
There’s a long way to go. I’m not sold on anyone really that Florida State’s going to use at quarterback. I don’t think Everett Golson’s a very good quarterback. I don’t think much of Sean Maguire either. Long way to go. Of course, we might get to November 25th, a couple days before that game, and I might say Florida State’s going to win by 20, but I’m not ready to pick it right now. I still need to see how Florida State bounces back after losing a Heisman winner in Jameis Winston. What does their defense look like? Florida State’s been hit hard by the NFL these past two years with guys leaving and getting drafted. Not ready to throw that one to the wayside yet, but like you said, Florida Atlantic that should be an easy win. Vanderbilt should be an easy win. South Carolina I would assume right now that that’s a win.
I really don’t like that South Carolina team, but I would recommend to any Gator fan if you’re going to make a trip this year to a game I would put LSU at #1, and then South Carolina’s a sneaky good game to visit. The tailgating scene around the stadium was very nice. Those fans are very friendly to Gator fans. I saw a lot of mixed tailgates there when I was there two years ago. South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina was a nice little area to visit. I would say if you are going to make it to an away game this year it would definitely not be at Lexington. I would either see Death Valley in person, not as friendly there, or at South Carolina. That was a great trip.
Andrew: What is the song at South Carolina?
Nick: Enter Sandman.
Andrew: Sandman. That’s pretty awesome. I like that. I would not advise the LSU game. That’s a scary scene. I’m not going to lie to you. That is a scary scene for opponents to go. Nick, you and I will be there. It will be fun. Again, to kind of finish off our segment here, I think Florida is a 7 or 8 win football team. I think 6 is probably the low number. I do think Florida makes a bowl game this year. Then if they get just tremendously good luck, 9 is possible for them, but I think for me the expectation, wins and losses aside, if Florida can show that Will Grier or Treon Harris is a good quarterback that can move the football up and down the field some. I know they’re not going to be as good as they are in two years on offense, because McElwain will have better players, but if they can move the ball some on offense, show just an identity that they’re good on offense, then for me it’s a successful year, and the program will be going in the right direction, because recruiting will be really good for 2016 to 2017.
Nick: Right. My expectation for the offense is it’s going to be a baby. There is going to be times where…
Andrew: You say, what the hell?
Nick: There’s going to be times where you look at this offense, and you see glimmers of this thing is going in the right direction, and there’s going to be times, because of how bad the receivers are, because of how thin in experience the offensive line is, these players are going to make mistakes, and fans are going to say, the same crap over and over again. I just went through four years of this kind of offense. I think it’s going to be a really mixed bag. You’ll get stretches that are really frustrating. Maybe some fans will even question, I thought McElwain was an offensive guy. Why does the offense look like this? These things take time. I really think that there’s going to be glimpses of, this offense could be special mixed in with this is the same headache that I’ve watched. I do agree with you that the offense of 2016 will be much better than the offense we’ll see this year in 2015 and so on and so on. I really do think that Jim McElwain will turn it around, but I think there is going to be frustrating moments offensively this year, just due to the lack of experience, lack of talent in some areas, really the inexperience on the offensive line in particular for me.
Andrew: Martez Ivey is going to make mistakes. He’s going to.
Nick: That’s the thing. If Martez Ivey looks great for 90% of a game, that’s awesome. There are going to be that 10% aren’t going to be little mistakes. That’s going to be a freshman turning around and yelling, “Look out” on a 3rd down play.
Andrew: Tyler Jordan or Cameron Dillard, whoever’s started at center, is going to make a mistake. There is going to be bad snaps. Going to be. Period. End of discussion. It’s going to be, and there is going to be some interceptions thrown. There’s going to be that for me. I just think that it needs to show, like you said, 90%, 80% of the time that it’s a good football team. Real quick before we finish this off, I have two questions for you. I’ll answer them after you do, if you want me to. Give me a breakout player on offense, and give me a breakout player on defense.
Nick: Okay. I’m going to go with on offense I’m going to give you two. I want to give you two, because I think one is obvious, someone that we’ve talked about a lot. That’s Brandon Powell. I really think that coaching staff is kind of trying to key in on who they think are playmakers, and I think Brandon Powell was keyed in on early. I think that because they found him in the spring and he impressed them early on in the spring, before he got hurt, I think they’ve been able to game plan things for him and start putting packages around him that will make him successful.
Another one that I think that we’ve kind of started to talk about recently, but haven’t been talking about him for a long time, is C’yontai Lewis. I really think because of how bad the wide receivers are you’re really going to have to rely on the running backs making plays in the passing game and rely on the tight ends to make plays in the passing game. That means Jake McGee and C’yontai Lewis will be on the field at the same time. C’yontai’s skill set will let Jim McElwain play him anywhere from hand in the ground to in the slot, maybe even push him out wide in certain personnel packages, a guy who can go up, jump, tall guy at 6’3”, 6’4”. I think C’yontai Lewis is ready to have a breakout year, especially when teams start focusing in on Demarcus Robinson, on Jake McGee, on Brandon Powell. Try to figure out how to stop a Jordan Scarlett, how to stop Kelvin Taylor. It kind of leaves C’yontai Lewis as a guy with a lot of talent that teams aren’t going to be expecting to be featured, at least until he starts making teams pay, and then you have to start looking at him more.
Andrew: What about on defense?
Nick: Defensively as far as breakout, you got to really go for a name that’s not expected. Obviously when you look at a guy like Keanu Neal you expect him to be a great player. Vernon Hargreaves you expect them to be a great player. Everyone in the secondary you kind of expect people and expect them to be great players. My breakout player is someone who had a lot of expectations coming out of high school, and people have kind of forgotten about him, because he hasn’t done anything. That’s Caleb Brantley. I really see a change in Caleb’s mental approach to the game. There’s not the same a coach gets on him for doing something wrong and he takes the next four plays off because he’s moping at the back of the line that coach just yelled at me. I really expected Taven Bryan and Joey Ivie to start in the middle, and I think Caleb Brantley has really accelerated and pushed himself into a spot where you’re going to have a hard time not starting him. So he’s going to push out an Ivie or push out a Bryan. I think Caleb Brantley is a guy that you’re going to say at the end of this year, that’s the five star that Florida recruited a couple years back.
Andrew: That makes sense. I like that. I think we’ve kind of overstayed our welcome on iTunes for today, Nicholas. Any final thoughts?
Nick: No. We will have another podcast. We’re taping this on a Tuesday. So I will speak with Jim McElwain tonight. We will also speak with him again Thursday. I will be in Hernando Beach speaking to the Gator Club on Wednesday. So if you are listening to this on Wednesday, and you are in Hernando Beach, I will see you tonight. So we’ll probably do another podcast with Andrew and I after Thursday’s availability heading into the weekend. Soon. After this last weekend, this coming Saturday is the last Saturday without Gator football for a while.
Andrew: Thursday would be a week until we get to see Enter the Sandman with South Carolina. That’s all for today, Gator Country. Nick, say your thing. We’ll get out of here.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.
Andrew: Keep staying with us, Gator Country.