GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the first impression the Florida Gators new coaches gave off during their first press conference as Gators.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre talk about why those three coaches gave us positive impressions, plus what we’re hearing on those guys.
Andrew and Nick also preview the opening of baseball season this weekend, plus preview the softball weekend for the Gators.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, finally the diamond sports are here. Baseball has reported for spring training. The Gators get underway. Softball, 6-0. Are you surprised?
Nick: No. Not at all. I said it two years ago. Tim Walton’s a guy that got that machine moving.
Andrew: He just adds oil. Someone told me this the other day, and I thought about it with baseball too. They said, “How come every year we talk about it that the team has four seniors? Four seniors, five seniors.” It’s easy. These two coaches, Walton and Sully, they just reload every year, and they’ve never top heavy. They’re never bottom heavy. They’re just reloading every year.
Nick: Success kind of breeds success. We talk about how recruiting is the lifeblood of football. It’s the lifeblood of every sport. When you put together, talking to Blake Reese, who turned down a scholarship at USF to take less to come to Florida, he’s like, “Sully just put down the numbers in front of me. It’s there in black and white. These are the guys that we put in the draft. This is how many SEC Championships we win. This is what we do. We win here, and we set guys up for their future.” When you look at Tim Walton, “Come here. We’re going to win.” Whether or not you come, we’re going to win. If you come, it’s going to help. That success just breeds into it.
That’s why I say, Tim Walton’s got the machine. It’s almost like Tim Walton doesn’t even need to go out on the road and recruit. He should just send them letters with, here’s our track record. If you want to be a part of it, cool. If not, somebody else as good as you does, and we’re going to keep doing what this paper says.
Andrew: Just send them a bunch of baseball cards of the guys. We’re going to talk football here for a second, but I’m going to nerd myself out a little bit. You know I love my minor league baseball, Nick. Too much at times. I was watching the top 100 Baseball America put out the other day. Harrison Bader, AJ Puk, Logan Shore, Dane Dunning, Buddy Reed was on there, Taylor Gushue was on there. I believe, and don’t quote me on this, because it was last Tuesday, but I believe it was eight players from the last three years were in the top 100 from Florida.
Nick: One of the D1 baseball guys said this year that if Brady Singer, who’s only a sophomore, not draft eligible, if Brady Singer was eligible this year he would be a potential 1-1 guy, potential first pick, first round guy.
Andrew: That’s impressive.
Nick: Brady Singer, I forgot almost, so I’m sure people listen have forgotten. He was drafted in the second round by the Blue Jays. Somebody got fired. Somebody got fired, because you don’t plan on drafting somebody in the second round and not having them in your farm system. Said he’s throwing 98 with sync on Saturday.
Andrew: That was crazy. It’s wild. Let’s talk football first. Thursday was a big day. The Gators introduced Ja’Juan Seider, Brad Davis, and Corey Bell, the three new assistants. They announced them with Coach Mac. Coach Mac didn’t talk very much, just introduced those guys. Mac speaks next Thursday or Wednesday, Nick?
Nick: Mac will speak Thursday. That’ll be the start of spring. Spring’s weird, because I think they get all of their unpadded practices and kind of install, and then they don’t do anything for spring break. The guys will go home for spring break. There will be no practice, and then they’ll be back.
Andrew: They’re not going home. They’re not going home, Nick.
Nick: They should go home.
Andrew: That’s the way it is. It’s something that Saban’s done a lot is he has that first week. It kind of breaks it up a little bit. Florida’s definitely going early. I was talking to someone from Arkansas who said they don’t even start spring ball until the first week of April, and they finish the last week of April. They’re jamming in that month of April. I’m sitting here thinking, “Florida’s going to be done when you guys start.”
Nick: It’s a little early for me, but it’s cool. I feel like it’s a little early, and then it’s just going to make the off season feel longer. Yeah?
Andrew: Yes and no. You think about it. It’s not going to really be over earlier. It’s April 7th is the spring game. I believe it was right around that first week of April last year as well. For me, it’s perfect, because spring ends, and Opening Day is right there.
Nick: I want to get into something that I think you and I will like.
Nick: Today, was it Brad Davis? Let me see.
Andrew: I’m not sure what you’re going to ask.
Nick: Brad Davis today. You and I talk about it on the podcast all the time that offensive line is just a tough position. It’s a lot of projection. He immediately launches into talking about stars. He says, “Bottom line, you have to find a person that embodies a certain skillset. You have to identify what kind of person he is, how tough he is, how intelligent is he, how will he learn? Will this kid be good? Am I going to be a good coach for him? Am I going to be able to get everything out of him?” Then he’s like, “All of that stuff is more important to me than stars.” He said, “We want to get the right ones, the guys that embody those values.”
I think it was Ja’Juan Seider then said, “A lot of these stars come from going to camps.” I think we’ve seen some of that with Florida, especially you go back and look at the recruiting class, not this past cycle, the one before that, where a ton of three stars, and everyone’s making fun of you for being three star U. Then all of a sudden, it’s Jabari Zuniga, Antonio Callaway, and all these three stars that are making impacts.
Andrew: I’ve got to take it a step further with that. I think the one thing that stood out to me from a recruiting standpoint from Seider is he talked about it’s a competition. He said, “Don’t be afraid for a kid to tell you no.” I think, and I don’t want to name names, but I think there’s some coaches that won’t recruit certain guys for fear that they’re going to be told no. You can’t do that. It frustrates me when Will Muschamp told someone, “We’re not going to recruit Alabama, because we’re not going to win those battles.” No, you’re never going to win a battle you don’t go after. I like that a lot.
Then, something else he said, when he said “The Gator logo gets you in the door, but doesn’t win you the battle.” I think that Torrian Gray was one of the biggest persons that thought the Gator logo was going to not only get you in the door, but win you the battle. It’s a difference with, okay, if you’re recruiting that guy that was going to go Virginia Tech with the Gator logo on, yes, you’re going to win, but you’re not recruiting the same guys anymore. It’s like Seider said, “You’re recruiting the national guys up against the Alabamas of the world, up against the Georgias, the Florida States, the Miamis.” It isn’t going to win you the battle, but it’ll definitely get you in the door.
Nick: Can’t take it for granted. That was what Seider said. I got the impression that all three of these guys just love it, love to recruit.
Andrew: Yeah. Absolutely. I think the things that they say came off as that for sure. Then, not only that, but I think you could tell a lot of why these three guys were really good recruiters. Let’s just dive right on into it. What an impressive first interview for Brad Davis. Nick, how many times have we talked about having your offensive line coach be the meanest son of a gun in the building? That’s exactly what it was.
One of the things that kind of stood out to me throughout the whole thing was he said, “You have to get the players to trust you. That way, when you chew them out on the field, they understand why.” I think that’s a big difference. You can holler all you want, but it’s constructive hollering. It’s something you’ve kind of got to do. I think that’s what he got. Really, to me, it was night and day. What I saw from Brad Davis made me excited to see what the offensive line is going to do, because you can tell that he’s going to be that mean son of a gun that probably jerks a kid up every now and then.
Nick: I think it’s genuine. I was there in the room. I think it’s very genuine. He seems like a very honest, genuine person, but this line probably will win any mom, dad, uncle, guardian, aunt, big brother/sister. This will win them over from Brad Davis. The question was, “Hey, you were at North Texas last year. When you were on that other sideline, did you even imagine, while you were getting your tails whooped by Florida, did you even imagine that less than a year later you’d be on the other sideline with a different logo on your chest?”
He said, “No.” He’s never really thought about being a career climber. He’s always focused on where he’s been. He goes, “I believe my job as a football coach, first and foremost, is to be a servant. It’s not about me. It’s not about my ego, not about walking around and saying look at me, I’m an SEC O line coach. It’s never been and never will be about that for me. My job is to be a servant to the players that are here right now. I’m a vehicle to their success. Their job is to utilize me to help me enhance every aspect of their lives.”
If I’m a dad, and my son is a big ugly looking for somewhere to play on the offensive line, I want him to play for that man. That’s the kind of attitude that I want to entrust my son’s future with.
Andrew: I think it’s what we just said. He wants his players to understand that, “Hey, I’m about to chew your ass out.” I don’t have this line. I’m paraphrasing what he said, but he basically said there’s consequences for not doing things right. I think that that was something that really stuck out to me is he’s going to challenge his guys. One of the things he was asked was, “What do you think of Coach Mac saying he wants this team to be more physical?” He said, “I think it’s pretty cut and dry.” He wants this team to be more physical.
Nick: He kind of just laughed, and was like, “Ya’ll heard it.”
Andrew: You heard it. What else was there to say. I want those guys to do it. He said it, and, Nick, I know you had to think about this, because we talked about this on the podcast, and it’s one of the lines I use all the time when I talk about offensive line. Coach Davis said it today, on Thursday. He said, “Offensive line, winning and being physical on offensive line is a mentality.” That’s exactly the word I always say. I was told this by one of my mentors that I coached under. He said, “Playing offensive line is about how bad do you want to win? It’s about lining up and wanting to beat the man in front of you.” That’s a mentality. I think that that’s something Davis is going to be.
I just can’t say it enough. I hate to pick on Mike Summers, but when you look at this guy and Mike Summers it’s totally different. This is what you want your offensive line coach to be, someone that is going to get you fired up. When it comes to the LSU game, and it’s 4th and 1, and you’ve got to have a yard, I want Brad Davis telling my guys, “Go kick the guy in front of you’s ass and get that one yard.”
Nick: The other thing he said, “Day 1 spring ball, they’re going to learn the standard, and if they don’t meet that standard, they’re going to learn the consequences, and every day after that Day 2, Day 3, all the way through spring. It’s not going to change in the fall.” He’s not just going to be a hard ass in the spring. Brad Davis is going to show you want he expects Day 1, and if you’re not doing that, I get the feeling if you’re not doing that on a rep, you’ll have some consequence.
Andrew: All I can say is, there’s a couple of guys that have left the last few years that are probably glad they’re not still on the team.
Nick: Some guys might want to take a couple reps off.
Andrew: Exactly. To go on to recruiting with him, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him.
Nick: We talked about that, and I think everything we heard today, it was just kind of like, “Oh, that makes sense.” What we heard from all the recruits that met him and talked to him, I see it. Got it.
Andrew: Exactly. It’ll be interesting to see how quick they adjust to that. He praised Martez Ivey a lot in that, singling him out. You can tell that that’s one of his projects is to work on Martez, get him there.
To go to Seider, Ja’Juan Seider, one of the things that he talked about, I think one of the things that maybe stood out to me with him was just really how detailed to technique he is. He even said it. He said, “There is going to be some things that Tim Skipper and I differ on a little bit.” That’s a good thing. I think that one of the things Seider’s going to bring to the table is he’s been able to work with a different style of offense with that zone read more, and it’s like he said, zone read is zone read. Zone is zone. I think it’s going to be different to see really what he implements with what he’s learned at West Virginia with Scarlett, Perine, and those guys. It will help them a lot.
I think that’s something that even Brad Davis talked about is that offensive line being in connection with the running back, taking the same footwork. It seems like these two guys are talking the same language, and that’s something I haven’t seen lately.
Nick: Yeah. It’s about getting on the same page. Listen, an inside zone is an inside zone, but then he’s talking about, “We have to be a cohesive unit. That’s me, that’s the tight ends coach, that’s the offensive line coach, because our running backs footwork need to mirror what the offensive line is doing, and if they’re not on the same page, then you’re not going to be successful.” I’m very impressed with everything I saw from the guys today, all three of them, I think.
Andrew: Absolutely. One thing with Seider too that I thought was pretty interesting. He goes, “I don’t want to coach you hard for four yards. I want the whole 80.”
Nick: The other thing I like is, he kind of said it, he’s so confident as a recruiter, so when he’s saying stuff like, “I shouldn’t have to teach you speed. I shouldn’t have to teach you this, and I shouldn’t have to teach you stuff like this.” To me, that’s him saying, “I’m never going to have to teach a kid that I recruit that, because a kid that I’m recruiting is going to have that already.”
That comes off to me as, “I’m so confident as a recruiter,” which you have to be. I’ll talk about another thing that made me think that as well, but “A kid that I bring on, a kid that I’m recruiting, I’m not going to have to teach him vision, because he’s going to have that naturally.” That’s like a natural innate thing that running backs have, vision, lateral quickness, footwork. Footwork you can work on. Patience, patience is tough to teach.
Nick: You kind of have that or you don’t. Vision, vision you can work on, but those guys that have it you can tell the difference.
The other thing he said is, I think you touched on it a little bit earlier, “What’s the worst thing that happen? They say, no.” He’s like, “There’s only two things that can happen in recruiting, they say yes, or they say no. I’m not afraid to get a no.” If the #1 running back in the country lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I’ll be in that living room. Worst thing that happens is he says no, and he goes to Nick Saban. Whatever. You miss 100% of the pitches you don’t swing at, Andrew.
Andrew: Two of his main targets right now are Florida State commit James Cook, and then Asa Martin from up in Huntsville. Cook’s a Nole legacy, and Martin’s right in Auburn and Alabama territory. He’s not afraid. I’ll say this, and this is the best I can describe it. Seider is Tim Skipper 2.0. They’re two guys that when they walk into a living room they’re going to give you their best sales pitch. You’re either going to say yes, or you’re going to say no, and it ain’t going to be because of lack of hard work. It’s going to be because they had some tie somewhere else, or something. It’s not going to be because of lack of work with those guys.
I say Skipper because of where he’s went. He’s went to New Orleans. He’s went to California. He’s went to Alabama to land these kids. It’s not afraid of failure with those guys. It’s like you said, you’re going to miss every time you don’t try.
Nick: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Andrew: Got to shoot your shot.
Nick: Shooters shoot.
Andrew: I wanted to bring up Corey Bell a little bit. Nick, I’m going to be honest with you, I made the post on Gator Country on Thursday just of my thoughts. Corey Bell’s a little more guarded, so this wasn’t a good setting to really get a feel for Corey Bell. He’s a little bit more a quiet guy, so you didn’t get a ton of a feel of really how he is. You can definitely tell he’s confident in his ability. He said, “DBU is a tradition they want to uphold.” He talked about Chauncey Gardner and those guys, talked about always wanting to be a Gator from when he committed to Charlie Strong, but ended up going to South Carolina because of a coaching change. It’s like I said, you don’t get a ton of a feel of what kind of person Corey Bell is, what kind of demeanor he is, because he’s a little more guarded and quiet. You can definitely tell he was confident, and kids like him.
Nick: Being great in a press conference doesn’t necessarily mean you are great as a recruiter or as a coach. Two completely different things. You can be both. You can be one. You can be one or the other. I wouldn’t say, “I don’t think he had a lot of energy in the press conference, so he’s not going to be a very good recruiter.”
Andrew: I didn’t mean that at all when I say that.
Nick: I think some people might watch it, especially Davis. Davis was impressive. He made me want to get up and be like, “Let’s fit me for some pads, and let’s try this thing out.” To me, especially going up against two guys, and Seider was a little bit quieter, but still spoke forcefully, had some great things to say. I just think Bell’s a little different personality.
Andrew: Like I say, the thing that I say about a lot of that is it’s a situation where you can see the confidence in those guys. The reason I just talked so much about Brad Davis is you should be able to feel that energy from an offensive line coach. You just should. Nick, I say this to you because you’re around it in the press conference more than I am, but you feel the presence of Chris Rumph when he talks. He’s a defensive line coach. Those guys are that, I don’t want to say have to motivate more, but it’s a mentality. Defensive lineman is the same mentality as an offensive line. How bad do you want to beat the guy in front of you? If you want to beat the guy in front of you, you’re going to beat the guy in front of you. It’s just a matter of willpower.
The energy on those two guys should come off. It shouldn’t be, “We’re going to try to beat the guy in front of us.” That doesn’t fire anybody up. It’s a lot different with a quarterback. You want a quarterback to be, I don’t want to say less fired up, but you don’t want them to be so hyped on that.
Nick: I agree with that. You can’t fake it though, right?
Andrew: No. There is no faking it. There is zero faking it. You either got it, or you don’t got it. It’s like you say with vision, you’re either born with that intensity, or you’re not. Me, I’m loud. That’s my personality.
Andrew: Can’t do anything about that. I would say you’re a little bit quieter than I am. You’re definitely less opinionated that me, but we’re born like that. You can tell that’s how Brad Davis was, and Brad Davis also seemed like a guy that had that chip on his shoulder. He even talked about it. He was like, “Look at me. I’m a little guy. I’m short. I’m not your prototypical lineman.” When he said he was little, I’m sitting here thinking, “Coach, you look like you’re about 275, 300. You’re not a little guy, Coach.” You can still beat me up.
Nick: He’s little for an Oklahoma lineman.
Andrew: Definitely. Give me final impressions, Nick, real quick, on just everything. Was there anything that maybe surprised you that we haven’t talked about?
Nick: No. I think Seider spoke very passionately or spoke very from the heart. When we were talking about his son, his son had cancer, which is kind of the reason, he was comfortable with the doctors there in West Virginia, comfortable with everything, didn’t want to uproot his son while he was going through that. He was really impressed with the way that Jim McElwain respected that, because Jim McElwain tried to get him on his first staff, badly.
He appreciated that Jim McElwain respected that, and I think he then respected that Jim, any time after his first year, he called back, “Can we?” “No, sorry. Still can’t. Situation really hasn’t changed.” Then calls again this year, situation’s changed. Son’s doing well. I think he spoke of the family environment that McElwain really understood that, and I think he buys into that here.
Andrew: I would agree with that. The one thing I can tell with all those guys, and they even made mention of it, is going to Florida is a privilege. We can say what we want. Florida hasn’t won a championship since ’08, but it’s an SEC school, one of your biggest schools in America. It’s an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get, and I want to say, Nick, and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, that Seider said he was going to always remind his players that it’s a privilege to play at Florida. It’s not something you should take for granted. It’s a privilege. I think that was very passionate of a guy that just got here that he’ll be able to say that as well.
Nick: Yeah. I agree. Baseball time?
Andrew: Baseball time. You want to go baseball first or softball?
Nick: We only got like 20 minutes. I got a lot of baseball to talk about. We can talk softball first.
Andrew: We actually got 25, so we’re halfway through. Let’s not be cutting the people short. They only get to hear this beautiful voice two times a week.
Nick: Softball plays three games this week. They’ll probably win all three. Back to baseball.
Andrew: They play five this weekend in the Aquafina Tournament. I’ll give us a quick rundown so we can go to baseball.
Nick: I’m just giving you a hard time.
Andrew: I know. They had to change it up a little bit because of some potential weather on Sunday. Florida is going to actually play two games on Friday, and then they’re going to play two games on Saturday, and then just one on Sunday. It was supposed to be one, two, two. The schedule will look like this. I’m pulling it up right now, the new one. On Friday they will play FAMU at 3:45. They will play Northwestern State on Friday at 6:00. Follow that up on Saturday by playing Maryland at 11:15, Northwestern State at 1:30, and then they’ll finish the weekend against FIU at 11:15 on Sunday. Five games. The teams they play are just okay teams. Maryland’s still looking for its first win this year.
Nick: Competition’s a little bit less than it was opening weekend.
Andrew: Yes. FAMU and Maryland are both looking for their first win on the year. It’ll be interesting to see how the weekend goes. Does Walton get to play a lot of his younger girls rotated in? I think that’s what he’ll do. Get to see that freshman pitcher probably a little bit more this weekend, make some more adjustments. It should be a good weekend.
Like you say, Florida shouldn’t have any problems this weekend. You don’t want to have a letdown, so it’d be interesting for me to see how he mixes in his younger girls, how he continues to play with his lineup. Like I said, Wheaton in the five hole was struggling a little bit, so does he move that around? How does he do that? How does the weekend rotation go? Just really how the team responds playing lesser competition.
Nick: It’s tough. When you’re inner squads against your pitcher, and Barnhill’s throwing 70, and then you go and you play a FAMU, or play a Maryland, and all of a sudden you’ve got maybe just a drop ball pitcher. Baseball team kind of struggles with that.
Andrew: I think that’s the biggest thing is to see really how they go up against those. On Wednesday they go up against Jacksonville. They only scored six runs in the game. The struggled a little bit, because it was a freshman pitching, and she more of off speed pitcher. It’ll be interested to really see how they do. For me, Nick, when I say this it’s a little tongue in cheek, because you can be too aggressive and then not aggressive enough. Last weekend I thought Florida wasn’t aggressive enough. When I say that, I say they fell in 2-2 counts too much. It’d be 2-0, they’d watch two go by, instead of 2-0, I got a green light. If it’s something I like, I’m going to swing. I want to see that this weekend against lesser competition to kind of see that confidence, that aggressiveness really come about.
Nick: That would be your biggest key? Biggest area that you look to see improved?
Andrew: That and I would like to see a little bit more situations where it’s either a little hit and run maybe, a little bit more base running, a little bit more stealing with the base running. I’d like to see a little bit more bunting, just work on the little things, stuff that you didn’t get to see a lot of last week that you want to see. Then, I would want to continue to see the younger girls play. You have McLean playing center. They’ve been rotating different people at center. Let’s see what some of those young girls can do. You got a couple catchers that Walton’s going to continue to rotate, see those as well. Just continue to see the younger girls that didn’t get to play a ton last weekend continue to rotate in.
As you said, depth’s key, in softball especially, baseball, too, especially when you have a class that continuing to graduate. You’re going to have girls graduate this year. You’re going to have to fill a role next year.
Andrew: We’ll see. Baseball, Nick. Let’s go. Here’s your time. You’ve got like 20 minutes here, so I let you a lot of time to talk about your team. William & Mary coming in this weekend, Nick. At the Mac, three game set. Give it to me.
Nick: William & Mary, listen to this. This would never happen at Florida. William & Mary returns seven of their nine fielders, and all three starters, weekend starters, two of which are seniors.
Nick: Florida has two seniors, total, on the entire team. William & Mary returned two starting pitchers who are seniors. You really just would never get that at a school like Florida.
Andrew: No. They’re going to the Draft.
Nick: Yeah, with the Draft. Florida starts the year as the #2 ranked team by USA Today. They’re in the top five in literally everything. They return 16 players. The big issue, or not even an issue really, you lost six pitchers from last year. Three were first round picks. You lose your career wins leader. You lose AJ Puk, the sixth overall pick. You lose Shawn Anderson, who set the saves record for a single season. You lose Dane Dunning. Lost Pete Alonso. This team is very close, very confident, and I’m expecting a one, two, three weekend from them.
A little issue, Saturday it’s supposed to rain all day, starting at 1:00, for the 4:00PM first pitch. Sunday, there is that 4:00 travel window for the nonconference games. It’s supposed to rain on Sunday, too. It actually already happened at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt moved their Sunday game up to Friday. They’re going to play a double-header Friday, and then play Saturday, because they’re supposed to get some nasty weather in Nashville on Sunday. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens there.
This team is loaded, man. Loaded again. I think even though you lose Buddy Reed, Buddy Reed didn’t have a great year last year, but still a great player. Second round draft pick. You lose Buddy Reed, and you lose Pete Alonso, but I think this team still can hit for power. Blake Reese, in inner squads, Blake Reese, who is someone who only really pinch ran last year, he had seven at bats last year, he’ll get more at bats this weekend as a starting centerfielder than he did all last season. He’s hitting the balls with power. This is a kid that’s only 5’10”, and he’s putting balls, for anyone that’s been to McKethan, putting balls into the bullpen and out of the bullpen. Switch hitter. He can hit from the right side too. Hitting balls into the left field bleachers.
Jonathan India has taken a step forward. Deacon Liput shortened his stance up, and this will make sense to you. He’s 5’10”, 5’11”, and he had almost like a Jeff Bagwell as far as wide stance. I think that caused him to start chasing a little bit. Start chasing up, start chasing down. He struck out way too much last year, but I think he’s going to be the second hitter behind Guthrie. It’s just such a solid lineup. Last year it took a while, but I told you at some point, I was like, “Well, Florida’s got 1-6, and after that you’ve got this black pit at 7, 8, 9. That’s just a rally killer, or if whoever’s hitting six gets out, next thing is 1,2,3, because that 7,8,9 are not going to get it.” I don’t see that hole in the lineup this year.
Nick: Except Christian Hicks, who’s going to start. We’ll see how he does. He’s a nice kid. He’s a junior. Sully said today that he’s earned it. You’re not taking JJ Schwarz out of the lineup, so Christian Hicks can play either corner spot in the outfield, or either corner spot in the infield, and he’s a left handed bat. I think they might put him at first and JJ DHing tomorrow, or JJ at first, and Hicks DHing. Hicks will start tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. I think you kind of stick him out there, see what he does, and give him enough rope to hang himself. If he doesn’t, if he hits the ball well, sorry, Keenan Bell, we’ll try to get you your reps. I think Keenan Ball, freshman from Jacksonville, is just too good to really keep out of the lineup.
Andrew: That’s the biggest thing when you start looking at this weekend. The Miami series is a big series.
Nick: It’s kind of tricky, because it’s a huge series, huge rivalry. It’s kind of like the barometer. Where are we, because we’re playing a great team. You’re still second week of the season. They’re going to play Miami with five games under their belt. You’re a much different team. That’s what people said when they faced Miami in the College World Series, and fans were so confident about it. I’m like, “You swept Miami, but both teams were very different then they are now.”
Andrew: Florida’s softball team went and played Michigan in Game 3 of the season. I don’t feel sorry for you, Nick.
Andrew: Give me a rundown real quick. Are we expecting to see Faedo, Singer? How are we looking at rotation?
Nick: We got Faedo Fridays. I actually asked him about that today. Talking to Alex, and he’s pitched on Sunday. Pitched on Sunday as a freshman, kind of took over that spot later in the season. Pitched on Sunday last year and moved into the Saturday role when Puk was hurt. Pretty much has always been Sundays. I asked him, I thought it was an interesting thing. I was like, “Hey, are you more nervous this Thursday knowing that you’re pitching tomorrow than you were last Opening Day when you knew you weren’t going to pitch until Sunday?”
He goes, “Honestly, I think it’s better for me, because I would just sit there helpless for two games and just get in my head. It would make me nervous, and it would make me more antsy.” I’m like, “Nervous? You led the SEC in wins last year. Maybe you should be nervous before every game. Maybe you should be antsy before every game.” He made it seem like it was a good thing, that he was ready to go out there. I’m sure he’ll feel nerves tomorrow. It’s Opening Day. Everyone feel nerves. If you don’t, check your pulse.
Andrew: Exactly. It’s a big series. Like you said, it’s a good barometer to kind of see who is going to be there. You’ll get to rotate more guys probably. You’ll probably get to see some other guys pinch hit, that kind of stuff. You get to see your arms and all that good stuff. What’s the time schedule for this weekend?
Nick: Very tentative, as we talked about, the weather.
Andrew: Give it to me as of right now on Thursday night.
Nick: As of right now on Thursday night nothing has been changed. Every game is broadcast on SEC Network Plus. I’ll tweet out a link, and the link will be there. I’ll have my game thread going. The gifs will be back up. 6:30PM Friday at McKethan. 4:00PM on Saturday, and 1:00PM on Sunday. Let me pull up these in case you wanted to go. Every home game there’s promotions. Let me pull these up real quick.
Andrew: When’s the Andrew Spivey bobblehead day?
Nick: I don’t think they’re ever going to do that.
Andrew: They should. While you’re finding that, I wanted to mention something real quick. While we’re talking baseball, AJ Pierzynski, former MLB just retired this past season, played with the White Sox, Rangers, Braves. Big Gator fan from down in Orlando. He donated a good amount of money, and now has a plaque at the indoor facility. While you were talking about baseball, that made me think about it. Didn’t sign with the Gators, went to the MLB, but is a huge Gator fan. Probably remember him doing the Gator chomp at a couple guys in the MLB.
Nick: Another Gator fan is your boy, Chipper. Got a book coming out. I saw that.
Andrew: I’ve already preordered it.
Nick: Of course.
Andrew: The Goat. He is the greatest of all time, the legend. #10. Chipper.
Nick: Tomorrow, the first 500 fans into the Mac get a t-shirt, an opening night commemorative t-shirt. Every Friday is family night. If you purchase four tickets, you can get four tickets, four hotdogs, four sodas, $20. Pretty good deal there. You can get two for one reserved bleacher seating for booster nights on Friday. Saturday is Senior Night, ages 65 and older get two for one tickets. Military and first responders also two for one tickets. Sunday, Sunday is my favorite day. That’s when they get the kids on the field, and we always try to figure out who’s the most popular player. It was always Buddy Reed last year.
Andrew: Of course it was Buddy.
Nick: Whenever Ryan Larson would start in right field, the kids run in from left, so not only is Ryan Larson the farthest away, but then they’re actively passing up Buddy to get to Ryan. You’d see like 15, 20 kids around Buddy, and look at Ryan and he’d either be alone or there’d be like one kid.
Andrew: They had to pay that kid to go over there.
Nick: Also, food trucks on Fridays. My boy, Rex, he’ll be bringing Herrings Catch up to one of the games. I’m not sure if he’s bringing it up this Friday.
Andrew: He posted on Twitter he’ll be there.
Nick: That’s good food. Check out my man’s food. Check out Herring’s Catch. He’ll treat you right. Rex, I expect a free plate tomorrow for setting that up.
Andrew: Maybe he will be able to bring some good luck. Talked about that a lot. Just don’t take him to Top Golf. Not a very good golfer is my man, Rex.
Nick: I was horrendous that day.
Andrew: You were awful too.
Nick: I won the last one though, when we were doing closest to the pin, the chipping.
Andrew: That’s whatever. It is what it is.
Nick: Had to walk it off.
Andrew: By the way, I expect one of those baseball shirts to come my way. I’ll see you in a couple weeks, for just hold one for your boy.
Nick: Probably not going to happen. Sorry.
Andrew: Had to ask. Before we get out of here, Nick, everybody wants to cover baseball and softball. It’s tough to cover. Come to Gator Country. When someone says they’re going to fool you with a slider, don’t let them fool you with their coverage. Come join us. We’ll have that. We’ll have recruiting. We’ll have basketball, football coming up, all that good stuff. In case you haven’t heard, we’ve got a good, great deal going on right now for both annual and monthly, if you want to come on over. Some websites may be going out. We’re not. We’ve been around the longest, and we’ll still be here. Hit Nick or I up, and we’ll get you that deal. You can come on and join the best site around. Nick, now you get to tell them where they can find us at.
Nick: www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. Podcast is on iTunes. Search @GatorCountry. Subscribe. It’ll hit you up every Tuesday and Friday. It’ll send the podcast right to your phone. Don’t even have to think about it. If you don’t have it, we still got to figure that out. We got to ask some tech guys how to get us up on whatever it is to get people who are on Android to be able to listen to it. If you’re on Android, you can go to the website. It’s there in transcript and audio form. Find me and him @AndrewSpiveyGC, @NickdelaTorreGC. Looking for Gator Country, you got @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, and @TheGatorCountry on Instagram.
Andrew: There you go. Hit us up. We’ll be having tons of stuff going. Nick and I will both be running game threads for the baseball and softball. Baileigh will have basketball. You name it, there’s only one place that you can go, besides Gator Zone, and get all of it, and they can’t cover recruiting. Only leaves one place, Nick.
Nick: One place.
Andrew: Make the decision. As they say, make America great. Let’s make Gator Country greater than it already is. Guys, we appreciate it. Come check us out. We’ll be here. We’ll see everyone on Tuesday, hopefully after a great weekend on the diamond and on the court. Prayers out to John Egbunu for his knee. Bounce back soon, big guy. Nick, as always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark, Butch, still suck.
Nick: You stay classy Gator Country.