Florida Gators football prediction podcast joined by Max Starks

GatorCountry’s Friday prediction podcast is back as the gang predicts the Florida Gators football game against South Carolina this weekend in Columbia, South Carolina at noon.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are also joined by former Florida Gators offensive lineman Max Starks as Starks breaks down the offensive line play, plus what the Gators have to be focused on doing the rest of the season.

Andrew and Nick also give you their three players to watch in the Florida Gators football game, plus they predict the score of the Gators game.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, bringing my boy, Nicholas de la Torre along for the ride. Columbia, South Carolina he goes, but before he leaves we got to tape a prediction podcast. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Nothing much. I think the flu bug might be hitting both of us. Both of us feeling a little under the weather. I will absolutely get sick this weekend in Columbia. My allergies will kick in whenever the weather changes, and it is supposed to be chilly up there.

Andrew:                 That may be a good thing for the Gators that they’re noon kickoff. We’ll see. Good thing, the Gators did have a Wednesday practice this week. That was at noon, due to Veterans Day. Happy Veterans Day to all veterans out there. It’s a little late, but happy to you guys. Thank you for all you do. They had a noon practice for that. Coach Mac spoke. Everything’s good with that as they go to Columbia. Big weekend.

Nick:                         Pretty cool. With no class on Wednesday it allowed the coaching staff to kind of simulate what game day will be. The team woke up early. Obviously they did that last week, but the team was able to wake up early, get together for a meeting and a meal, and then go out and start practice at 12:00, which is when they will kick off this weekend. Nice little holiday to kind of get Florida ready for that. They played a noon game last week, but this will be their first noon game on the road. That’s always different, not staying at the normal hotel, being on the road, a new environment, stuff like that. It’s just those little things that this coaching staff thinks of ahead of time to make sure. It’s like Jim McElwains says, “We try to give them the answers to the test they’ll have on Saturday throughout the week, so that by the time Saturday comes they’ve got that cheat sheet ready.”

Andrew:                 I think it’s actually easier to go on the road and play at noon than it is playing at home and playing at noon. On the road it’s get up, get out of the hotel, let’s go. More so than being at home, which is a hotel again, but being at home it’s not a sense of getting back. You go on the road, you play at noon. Guys are ready to go. You’re ready to go out on the road, get the business taken care of, and be back to Gainesville. I actually like it being there. We’re going to do things a little different on this Friday podcast. Having a former Gator, former Pittsburgh Steeler offensive lineman, Max Starks, on the podcast with us. Nick, you and I can ask him a couple things about how it was to be SEC champion in 2000, and then I know you have a couple things for him about the offensive line.

Nick:                         Yeah. Max played with the Zucker, blocked for Rex Grossman, blocked for Chris Leak.

Andrew:                 Sexy Rexy.

Nick:                         Yeah. Max had a great career in the NFL, currently a free agent right now. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll ask him if he’s still trying to get back in the league, but played for a long time with the Steelers and was certainly a great player in Gainesville for a while. Still keeps up with the team. He’s been watching every week. We’ll thank him after we talk to him.

Andrew:                 My Atlanta Falcons couldn’t eat him in the ATL. We need blocking at a big time priority. I’m not sure who’s offensive line is worse, the Gators or the Falcons.

Nick:                         Florida’s offensive line has definitely been struggling, but the Falcons had a big loss last week. I’m surprised you pulled yourself out of bed on Monday after being so devastated.

Andrew:                 You know me. I’m a Falcons fan. I root for the Falcons, but I can’t, the NFL games just doesn’t bother me as much as college football. I don’t know. It’s something different about the NFL. It’s South Carolina week. We talked a little bit on Wednesday with Chris Clark. He brought up a lot of good points. On Wednesday afternoon Coach Mac said that Keanu Neal was going to be good to go. Sharpe was going to be good to go. Bullard was questionable, and Joey Ivie’s out. Having Neal back, to me, is huge. Having Sharpe back, to me, is huge. If Bullard can play, to me that’s big. They need Bullard to play. Having Joey Ivie out for a while is kind of big, in my opinion.

Nick:                         Mac always says, I’m never going to put a guy out there unless they’re ready, and I’ve never really questioned that until last week when Sharpe doesn’t look really healthy, doesn’t look like he’s full go.

Andrew:                 Let me remind you of what Sharpe’s father said in that David can play. It was so much about just giving him the week off to rest. Was it a case that Mac put him out there before he was ready, or would it have been better to give him a week off? I’m not sure if we know the whole circumstances there.

Nick:                         No. Listen, if David Sharpe hadn’t have been cleared to play, then he wouldn’t have been dressed out. Because he was cleared he obviously was healthy enough to go. I just don’t know. I think maybe you get a little desperate going into half time and thinking, what is going on? Let’s get David back in there, when it might have been better for him to sit out.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I absolutely think they were desperate. I think it got to the point where Mac’s like, holy shit, we may lose this ballgame here. Can we find a way to get 10 yards at times? Florida started their own 50 and inside Vandy territory. There was times when I was thinking myself, it may be good to get Sharpe in. Sharpe did play well, he looked very slow on that ankle. Hopefully that ankle is better come this week, and he’s able to go. Be interesting to see. I definitely don’t think that Mac put him in there with a risk of it being worse. I don’t think that was the case at all.

Nick:                         I don’t think that. I just think the plan was not to play him.

Andrew:                 Absolutely.

Nick:                         If Florida’s up 10-0 at half time I don’t think he plays in the 2nd half.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I agree. Sometimes desperate measures calls for desperate things to happen. It is good that he plays this weekend. Getting this week, and then maybe getting a little time in the FAU game, and then sit him down and let him have a break in the 2nd half of the FAU game, hopefully. Then have him ready for the stretch run of FSU and the SEC championship game. Then after that he gets a couple weeks of rest and can stay off that ankle as well.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’d be nice. We’ll see how he looks this week. He’s been out there, back participating. To me really what we need to talk about is Jon Bullard. Is he going to be healthy enough to play? He did some things on Wednesday after not really doing much on Monday or Tuesday. To me, Florida’s defense has been playing phenomenally. That all starts up front, and right now a lot of people are making a big deal about how deep Alabama’s defensive line has been, and they’re rotating about 14 guys. Florida’s rotating about 11 guys on their defensive line. You’re not going to have Jordan Sherit for the 1st half. You’re not going to have Joey Ivie. Now if you take Jon Bullard out of that you’ve gone from 11 to 8, at least for a half.

How do guys like Khairi Clark, who’s maybe been playing 14, 15, 16, 17 snaps a game, how does he react to playing 30? How does a guy like Taven Bryan, who’s in that same snap count, react to playing 30? How does Cece Jefferson react to moving inside and playing more tackle? Can Bryan Cox move inside and play more tackle? It starts up front, and the reason that Antonio Morrison, Jarrad Davis are having great seasons is because they’re not getting hit 5 yards off the line of scrimmage by a center who’s gone untouched. The secondary is helped, because they don’t have to cover guys for 7, 8, 9 seconds, because the pass rush is there. Everything starts up front to me, and if Jon Bullard’s out, and now you’re only rotating 8 instead of 11, and then 9 in the second half instead of 11, to me that can be a big deal, especially against a South Carolina team that has a big 6’ 220 pound running back in Brandon Wilds.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It is a cause for concern. You definitely don’t want to sit there and say that it’s good, by any means. Having guys rotate in is good for a reason, and that is that they’re able to stay fresh. I think Bullard plays. This is the closest game Bullard plays to home. He’ll have family there. Good luck trying to stop him from playing. That’s the way I look at things. Maybe he doesn’t play. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but if I was a betting man, and I was gambling whether he plays or not, I think he plays, unless he is just seriously banged up. To my knowledge I still cannot recall where he was injured or how he was injured. I’m going to say he finds a way to play and does well.

Nick:                         I think it was a shoulder, and it was something on the last drive with a tackle. To me, it’s kind of like you, it’s a chance to be close to home. Your senior year. A lot of family there. There’s a lot of incentive to play for him.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s big. It’s big if he doesn’t play. Enough about us. Let’s just go ahead and bring on former Gator offensive lineman Max Starks, and get his take on things, and then you and I can break down our three players of the week. It’s time for me to get back on the winning streak this week. Can’t let you have any bragging rights.

Nick:                         I’m going to continue my winning streak.

Andrew:                 Let’s go to Max and let him brag a little bit.

Nick:                         We’re joined now by Max Starks, who, I’m sure he will tell you, had the pleasure of blocking for Sexy Rexy, Rex Grossman and Chris Leak during his time in Gainesville. Max, how are you doing today?

Max:                         I am doing awesome guys. Cannot complain. How are ya’ll?

Andrew:                 We’re doing great. First off, tell us what it was like to block for those two guys that were pretty big name guys.

Max:                         They were no slouches, I guess. It was awesome. Looking at, especially both different styles of quarterback. You had Rex who was groomed under the Spurrier system, and Leak who was groomed under the Ed Zaunbrecher, Ron Zook system. There was transition there, but Rex was awesome. Rex obviously came in ’99, right before I got there, was redshirted, so we essentially were freshmen together on the football team. Rex had his own personality. He was one of the guys he loved hanging out and really stuck close to his offensive line. His roommates were all linemen, and he had that kind of personality. He wanted to hang with the guys.

Chris was young. I was a senior Chris’ freshman year, and Chris just still was kind of very quiet, just kind of went about his business, not a lot of hoorah in his game. He threw, I would say still to this day, the prettiest deep ball of all time. No ball looked better when it launched in the air than Chris Leak’s ball, and he practiced his behind off to be that good, even from a young guy coming in as a freshman. Just the time he spent in high school preparing for this day, and then came in and assumed the starting role right from day one, after Rex left. Both of them just true tremendous quarterbacks. I really wish Chris would have had an opportunity in the league, because I think he could have been a fantastic quarterback. Looking at some of the shorter quarterbacks who are out there, despite what everybody thought, he was a pocket passer, but he could roll out. He was a very Russell Wilson esque with his athleticism. Yeah. I loved both those guys. They were two great quarterbacks I got to block for.

Then I did have a brief moment with Jesse Palmer. You guys didn’t include the Bachelor in the list. I did block for Jesse, and I played with his younger brother, Billy, in high school.

Nick:                         Did Jesse ever give you a rose?

Max:                         No. Jesse never gave me a rose, but he did buy me a calzone. I don’t know if that counts.

Nick:                         That’s better.

Max:                         That is. I mean, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Something you can use.

Andrew:                 You probably didn’t give Jesse a smooch on the side of the face or anything like those Bachelor women did. That might be why you didn’t get a rose, Max.

Max:                         You’re right.

Nick:                         The relationship between an offensive lineman and his quarterback, I don’t know if it goes to that level. It is a close relationship.

Max:                         It only goes so far.

Andrew:                 Max, you had a good career at Florida, but you had the opportunity to go to the SEC championship in 2000. Florida just clinched with the game still to go in the SEC East. Coach Mac continues to say that they’re in uncharted water, because they’re in the SEC championship game with nothing to play for. What was that moment like for you? Is there any advice that you could give this team for this game Saturday?

Max:                         I would say for the team coming up there’s always something to play for. Even though you’ve locked up the East that’s all you’ve done is lock up the Eastern Division. You have to go out there and prove why you deserve to be the Eastern representative, because you’re playing South Carolina on Saturday, who is in your division. Secondly, you’re playing for a college football playoff spot as well. There’s more on the line. For us, when we clinched, and we were fighting, we were fighting to go the national championship game. We ended up losing to FSU that year. You’re playing for the ultimate goal. The SEC East is the first stop. The second stop is securing your conference championship, and the third stop is the post January games, not just the game in January, but multiple games to win the ultimate prize, which is the college football playoff championship trophy.

Nick:                         Right. I think that’s really the message that Jim McElwain’s trying to send to the team. After the game on Saturday he said, let’s call it like it is. We’re on a championship run. Really if Florida wins out, regardless of where they are right now, if Florida wins out they’re probably going to be one of those top four teams, so that’s kind of what you have to have as far as a mindset. Yes, we’ve won one half. We’ve won our division. There’s still more to play for. We can still play for that golden trophy that they started handing out last year.

Andrew:                 Max, real quick also, it’s been a little bit of time, but do you remember Coach Spurrier addressing that? Like, we’re not done yet. Is that something you remember him addressing?

Max:                         No. Here’s the funny thing. He didn’t even acknowledge when we secured the East. He did it in passing in a conversation, because he’s like, “Okay. We still ain’t got the trophy yet, boys. Still got a lot of ball left to play.” That was it. It was like, move on to the next game. He didn’t even care about getting the East. He’s like, what’s the East? You don’t get anything for that. You just get your name written under a line that says SEC Eastern Division Champs. Nothing comes with that, but what comes with the championship is a trophy, rings, and a shot at the ultimate trophy, which at the time for us we called it the crystal ball. At the time it was the Sears Trophy. How time’s passed. It was the Sears Trophy. That’s what you were playing for. That’s the reason why you walked into the facility in the south end zone. Those were the things that were in the glass cases. It was championship trophies and Heisman trophies. Other than that, the other ones went on the wall, and they just changed it out or get some little sticky letters and put it up there. That’s what you played for. You played for the ultimate prize, not just a prize.

Nick:                         To me, that’s very Spurrier. By the way, your Spurrier voice right up there with Batesy.

Max:                         I trained under Batesy. He was my Jedi master. He helped me in the ways of the Spurrier. I credit James a lot for that. In between his hilarious TV shows he was shooting back when we were in college of just pranks. He’s the one that kind of led. Him, Chris Doering, got to give props to Chris Doering as well. Doering was another one of the mentors that taught me the voice of Spurrier.

Andrew:                 We’re going to have to go off on a show, Nick, and ask all these people for their best Spurrier impressions. Max, have you spoken to Coach Spurrier recently, since his resignation? Have you spoken to him lately?

Max:                         I haven’t spoken to Coach Spurrier in probably about a year, maybe year and a half. Funny enough, he was actually at a Nebraska game last weekend with my best friend, up in the suite. I was supposed to be in town, but I had to cancel. It’s funny that I was that close to going and seeing him, post his South Carolina job. It’s been about a year and a half since I last talked to Coach Spurrier. When I talked to him he seemed to be upbeat and happy. Hearing that news that he was stepping down caught me off guard, but at the same time it didn’t surprise me. I wish him well. I’m sure I’ll cross paths with him soon enough.

Andrew:                 As Coach Mac says, he’s definitely a true Gator.

Max:                         Yes. If there’s a man who embodies orange and blue it is Steve Spurrier. Not just from the records and the accolades, but from the personality and mentality perspective. He’s a true Gator. He bleeds orange and blue, even though he came from orange and white territory.

Andrew:                 Let’s not talk about that. As people know, Max, I’m sure you’ve listened to the podcast. I don’t like Tennessee. Let’s not go down that uncharted territory.

Max:                         We could, because we’re currently sitting at an 11 year win streak. There’s nothing. I had to play next to a Volunteer. Can you imagine my ire? I had to look over at this guy. The guy I’m supposed to trust with my inside half is a guy that I wouldn’t trust on the street, but we had to forge a bond together. Ramon Foster’s who I’m talking about. He’s a proud whatever, that other school in Tennessee. It’s not Martin or Vanderbilt. It’s that other one. There’s a dog, and there’s like a bear sound. Something about volunteering.

Andrew:                 See, Nick, I knew I liked Max for a reason. Butch, and Max I’m sure you’ll agree with me, what do we even call Butch Jones? We don’t call him a head coach. Head coach has to win ballgames. What do we call him?

Max:                         He’s a manager right now.

Andrew:                 A manager.

Max:                         He manages a group of people and gets them organized to go somewhere. He’s a manager.

Andrew:                 Nick, I love this man right here.

Nick:                         They need to find a field general then if all Butch is doing is managing.

Max:                         That’s it. He’s not game day operations at that. He’s just a manager. It’s very vague and gray.

Nick:                         Maybe he’s in construction with all the brick talk that they’ve been doing up there.

Andrew:                 Brick by brick. He’s a masonry.

Max:                         Exactly. Now he’s a contractor.

Andrew:                 Maybe they should pay him like that. Nick, I know you had a big question for Max, being an offensive line guy. Let’s face it. The Gators aren’t doing very well.

Nick:                         It’s kind of a hot topic issue right now, the play of the offensive line. Florida’s rushing offense is twelfth right now in the SEC, only managing 137 yards per game. They’re thirteenth with 25 sacks allowed. That’s with two quarterbacks while sort of unexperienced both of those guys can move around a little bit. You’d think that number would be a little bit lower. Where do you see, other than trying to have to move pieces around and try different combinations of five, where do you see that Florida’s offensive line has really been struggling this year?

Max:                         I think it’s just inexperienced. It’s young. They don’t have that time together. I think that’s what the biggest thing. Look at your right side, and you moved it around to put your most experienced guys on the right side, but then you leave your left side, which is your blind side, which is your most athletic side, and you leave it up to freshmen and sophomores. It’s kind of, I feel, a role reversal, because you want your experience on the left side to protect that quarterback and get him to kind of stay in the pocket a little bit longer. I think because you have such young guys you see Treon rolling out to the right, which he does 99 out of 99 times. It’s putting a strain on them, and then you’re also asking for that side to be the key backside cutoff block side.

I get you want push on that right side. It’s your more run blocking dominated side. You can hide some athletic ineptness by putting them on the right side, but at the same time you need to have a balance. You need to be able to combine the experience with the athleticism. I do like the move of putting Martez Ivey in at left guard. I think because he’s such a gifted athletic offensive lineman that if you are going to go with counter game that’s a guy you want pulling in the counter game. The problem is he doesn’t know how to pull counter, because he’s been a tackle for his young adult life.

Nick:                         A lot of people don’t realize how different that is. Not even just tackle to guard, but left tackle, right tackle. It’s not as interchangeable as everybody kind of assumes.

Max:                         No. It takes a lot of work. For him, especially being so young, because my career at Florida I started at four different positions while I was there. I started all four, except for center, because I was left-handed, and rotated throughout the line in a game as a starter. It’s very difficult to do. Mentally you have to be able to change those gears with experience and everything else. Over time that’s how you get more comfortable with it.

I remember my senior year I went in, and Coach Joe Wickline was like, “Max, we need you to play right guard.” I’m like, I’m a left tackle. I was like, I haven’t been on the right side for two years, let alone never played guard. He said, “You just got to work at it. We don’t have a right guard. We have all these tackles. We don’t got anybody that’ll step up and play guard. We need you to play guard. Then for the big games we’ll move you back out to left tackle when there is a premier defensive end, but for these first couple games we need you to play guard.” I did it. I felt the same way as Martez did. When you’re pulling on a counter, and you’re having to read either off of a double team and move up field, or seal the edge and widen the hole for the a running back, it takes some awareness, and that takes reps. It’s very tough, but he is athletic enough to get by with it.

At the same time, you do fault, because they’re giving up pass protection issues by having that. You’ve got two tackles on the left side that both want to set on a wide 45 degree angle, and you’re not helping your center out. That’s where you see a lot of that pressure up the middle, because Treon’s 5’11”, so they’re going to blitz the middle, because they want to stop him from throwing anything over the middle. You eliminate all those crossing routes, seam routes, deep posts. He can’t see them if he’s got bodies in his face, and that’s what forces him to roll out. You need to have that left guard, right guard stick in a little bit longer with that center. Understand if you are going to run slide pro that you need to keep inside hand leverage for that center if you’re sliding away from him. That’s where those little mechanical things, and just practice rep things, are really limiting them and what they can do.

I would really love if they could do this, hopefully start establishing this. I think they have a great matchup in South Carolina to do that. It’s get to just some basic man blocking schemes. Just get into getting some double teams, getting some inside zone where you’re not having to move as much in space. I know they like a lot of the outside zones, counter plays, and kind of those fake read option type of long handoff zones. They need to just stick with allowing them to pick a man inside the box and just move that box backwards. I would love to see them do that, so you get confidence for that offensive line. That also sets up your play action passes, which makes it a lot easier, and it stops the blitzing issues.

Andrew:                 I agree with that. Nick and I had this conversation a couple weeks ago about this line is improving each week, because of them playing together, but it’s just tough when they’re playing good defenses like a Georgia defense, and even the Vandy defense that was pretty quick. They’re still going to be holes, because they’re so young.

Max:                         Yeah. They don’t have that rapport with each other. When you call a certain play, if I’ve played with that guard for a while, I know this is a deep five step drop. Let me hang my inside hand in a little bit longer to help him out, because he’s going to try and jump this guy and force him outside. This group doesn’t know that, because they haven’t played as much together. You’re still kind of rotating the pieces.

Andrew:                 That was going to be my next question. It’s a lot of trust, like you said with your UT buddy, your good friend. It’s a lot of trust in there, and working the double teams does go a lot to trust, and you got a guy like Ivey and Sharpe who haven’t played together. They may not know the quickness of each other, or does Sharpe know that Martez knows you get off. I see that a lot with that trust issue. I think some of the blitzes this year has been from that. Just not picking it up because they were not trusting their inside guy or their outside guy.

Max:                         Yeah. That’s what it is. It’s just developing that rapport. When you set up a double team, and Ivey says, I’m going to live him on the third step. Now Sharpe has to think about do I take a lateral step and then up, or do I come on a diagonal to hit that guy? That’s all what comes from experience and from playing the game. The good thing is I will say you’re getting this valuable experience now, and you’ve shown what you can do now with just one year inside the McElwain system. Just imagine when you have another year under your belt and how much more comfortable you’re going to be. Obviously we know Ivey’s probably not going to stay at guard, but for this year he’s getting that valuable experience. Now he even knows how to be a better tackle for a guard when that opportunity comes. It is that experience, but I am happy to see that they’re actually gelling, and they’re actually keeping the lineup the same, so they also build that rapport next to each other.

Nick:                         Right. We all kind of thought that the offensive line especially, because of its probably the one position on the field where you have to have all five guys playing in unison. If Antonio Callaway’s playing the X, and Demarcus Robinson’s over playing the Z, it sort of matters if they know what each other are doing, but not like the left tackle and left guard. We kind of thought Florida would take their lumps due to that inexperience. To see where they are right now, with their record and ranked, while still going through that, it’s kind of like they’ve skipped the stage of crawling and went right from not moving to walking pretty quickly. I wouldn’t say they’re running yet, but they’ve definitely skipped a couple of steps in that development.

Max:                         Yeah. You know what the biggest thing was that I recognized with why this line was able to do what they’re doing and still not be as big of an issue for this team and not necessarily be a negative but not be a positive? The play of the tight ends. That’s been kind of the X factor of this offense with keeping them going, so that when you do have to throw fast on a blitz you throw your hot, our tight ends are there, and they know how to make plays when they get the ball in their hands. I think that’s been the biggest X factor that’s really helped this offensive line, and if they listen to this they should go out and take out Jake McGee, C’yontai Lewis, and DeAndre Goolsby, because those guys have been saving them and making them look better than they are right now.

Andrew:                 They deserve a rose from Max Starks.

Max:                         That’s right. Maybe not a kiss on the cheek, but they can get the two hand hug. Not the one hand friend hug. They would get a full hug from me if I was that offensive line.

Andrew:                 Max, as we always do before we get our guest out, we want your thoughts this weekend. Do the Gators go to Columbia and take care of business, or is loss #2 on the board?

Max:                         No. They definitely go in there, and they take care of business. I think this crew, but it’s going to be not as tight a game as Vanderbilt, but I think it is going to come down to right in that 7-8 point victory range for them in this game. I don’t see tremendous plays scored, but I could be surprised. They could listen to this podcast and then decide on working on some unison blocks and just show me up and go through the double teams and just absolutely spring Scarlett and Taylor out of the back field. I see them probably scoring, I would want to say I would go with 20. I’m going to say 20-13 I think is a victory. I think they go in, it’s going to be hard fought, but they are going to pull out the victory and continue to build on their win streak.

Nick:                         I think the way Florida’s offense right now is looking all of these games are going to be going under whatever Vegas puts out there. I do like that. I did have one more question for you. The game has already happened this year, so maybe you can tell me who you’re rooting for then, but when Tennessee and Georgia play each other who do you find yourself rooting for that week?

Max:                         I always hope that the game gets delayed and they can’t finish the game, so I don’t even have to figure out who I want to hate less.

Nick:                         Rooting for a tie that week.

Max:                         It’s a tie, or just a complete cancellation, kind of like what LSU had in the beginning of this year. Just a cancellation on the game, and maybe you got to schedule it to the end of the year, and you could make it like your pseudo SEC championship, because neither one of you are going to go. You could treat it like that at the end of the year. I can’t do it.

Andrew:                 I’ve found a new friend in Max Starks. This is my guy. Max I said I wanted it to be 2-0 with Georgia fumbling the kick and Tennessee accidentally kicking it out of the end zone. That’s how I wanted the game to end. I don’t like to root for neither one of those guys.

Max:                         Exactly. I don’t even want points on the board to where you can actually point to a clear winner and show that I pay any bias. I just want the game cancelled and rescheduled for some other time when it really doesn’t matter to us, and we’ve beaten both of them. Then I can say, good luck to both of them. When it’s before we play them I can’t do it.

Nick:                         They could just schedule it for the first weekend in December, because neither team is ever going to play on the first weekend in December.

Max:                         It gives them something to look forward to after Thanksgiving. You could mark your calendar every year, and you could be like, this is going to be great. We’re going to be great. We have something to shoot for. It’s guaranteed game. It has to be on the schedule. It has to be played. It’s like, we’re playing for nothing, so let’s just go out and roll the ball out on the field.

Andrew:                 Mark Richt would be the happiest man in the world if that happened. Max, we really appreciate you joining us, and we’ll definitely get you back for the SEC championship week, as we’ll be talking Gators in Atlanta.

Max:                         All right. Appreciate it guys.

Andrew:                 You got it, Max. Thanks so much. We will talk to you soon.

Max:                         Sounds good.

Andrew:                 Nick, I have found a new friend.

Nick:                         Putting that aside real quick, putting aside you and Max’s mutual hatred for Tennessee and for Georgia, he just dropped some knowledge about offensive line play right there.

Andrew:                 Knowledge. Knowledge. Knowledge is the absolute truth there. It’s good stuff, very good stuff. I think that you can learn a lot from listening to a guy like Max. You and I talked a little bit about this before. I think it might have even been just a private conversation between us. When the two guys are working together you notice both guys are in contact with the one guy, and then other one has to know when to work off. That’s all about knowing these two guys together. I think that’s something that Max brought up that was very good point is knowing each other is huge.

Nick:                         Yeah. When you look at that it’s like he talked about. Especially when there’s a double team called. It’s really tough to be playing with somebody for the first time. When you get guys who have been playing together for three, four years it’s kind of you don’t even need to say anything. It’s just understood. This play is called. This is how we’re going to handle it. Right now Florida’s working through those kinks. To me, I brought it up to Max, to me the fact that Florida is where they are record wise, ranking wise, despite having to play three freshmen on the offensive line, that’s pretty incredible. I was very worried, very concerned about what the offensive line would look like. Even though they’re struggling a little bit right now I think it’s only going to get better, and it’s like he said, getting these guys experience as freshmen and as sophomores is really going to pay dividends next year and the year after.

Andrew:                 Completely agree. It’s going to be good for them. Guys that come up and have been able to play together several years, that’s what makes Alabama and LSU’s offensive line good is they’re having guys that are third and fourth year guys in the program. Not even all playing together, but have been in the system to know the system. That’s something that Florida hasn’t had the opportunity to do, but, Nick, it’s time. It’s always time for this every Friday. The people want to hear Andrew’s hot takes, his flame on fire picks of the week. I feel like I need to go ahead and give it to the people. What do you think?

Nick:                         You can go ahead, but I’m going to win anyway.

Andrew:                 Okay. I think if we counted this year I would be way ahead. I was on like a three game winning streak for a while.

Nick:                         You can go ahead and count, but I think I am still ahead of you.

Andrew:                 Boss, how? There’s only been how many games? 9, 10. What are we in Week 10? There’s no way you’re winning. Whatever. If that’s what gets you to go to bed at night, good for you. It’s my week to go first, and my first pick this week’s going to be Taylor made, #21, Kelvin Taylor. I think the Gators find a way offensively. I think the offensive line was called out this past week. I think they may listen to this podcast and get some juice from Max Starks. I think that he listens to them, and I think Kelvin Taylor has a big week.

Nick:                         I am going with 0 offensive players this week. I will start it off with Jarrad Davis. South Carolina’s going to try to run the ball with Perry Orth at quarterback. I’m going to go with they’ve had a very good running back in Brandon Wilds, an experienced offensive line. South Carolina has had four offensive linemen start at the same position every game this year. The way that guys get rolled up on and nicks and bruises that’s kind of rare to have four guys play one position for this long. Brandon Wilds has come into his own. Since coming back from an injury carried the ball 24, 17, 20 times. It’s going to be big for both Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis to have big games. I’m going to go with Jarrad Davis this week as my first player.

Andrew:                 You know what I say about that, Nicholas?

Nick:                         What? Are you going to change your picks again?

Andrew:                 No, I’m not going to change my picks. I was going to actually congratulate you for having a good pick this week.

Nick:                         Thank you.

Andrew:                 That was a good pick this week. My second pick is going to be a guy that’s having a phenomenal season, from the North Carolina area, so he’s going to be having a game close to home. No, it’s not #90, but it’s #14, Alex McAllister. Nick, 6.5 sacks this year for McAllister. Is that accurate?

Nick:                         Yup. He said he wanted to get 10 this year.

Andrew:                 He’s close.

Nick:                         He said the goal was double digits, but he also wanted to get more than Dante Fowler had last year.

Andrew:                 He had what? 9.5?

Nick:                         I will tell you in a second.

Andrew:                 I think it was 9.5. Anyway, I’m going to say McAllister gets to 9 this weekend. That means 2.5 this weekend. He has to step up a little bit. I think Jon Jon Bullard plays this weekend, but I still think McAllister has a good little day. Carolina’s going to get behind in the game, have to throw the ball. Guess what? That’s eating time for #14. McAllister’s pick number two for the man, the goat.

Nick:                         Dante Fowler had 8.5 sacks last year. So two sacks would tie McAllister with him.

Andrew:                 I think McAllister gets there this weekend. 14 is pick number two.

Nick:                         My pick number two, you just go ahead and add a 0 after that. Marcus Maye, sticking with my theme of defense. Jim McElwain said, “If you didn’t look at the roster, and you only watched the film, you might think Marcus Maye is a linebacker based on how much dime we’ve had to play with Alex Anzalone out.” Marcus Maye having a career year for the Gators. I’m going to go with him. Ton of tackles for him and Jarrad Davis this week. They’ll be right up there with Morrison leading the Gators in tackles.

Andrew:                 Can I ask you one question? Who picked Maye to have a good year this year?

Nick:                         Me.

Andrew:                 No. That would be moi. Right here, the goat. Anyway. Pick number three for me is going to be #3, Treon Harris. Treon did not have a good game. He got called out this week by a lot of people, including a lot of people on Twitter. I think he has a big game this week, finds a way to put up a touchdown on the board. Maybe he goes like Austin Hardin and does a little calling out on Twitter after the game. That’d be cool. Pick number three, #3.

Nick:                         I am going with my tried and true, if I would have just picked him every week I would have been good to go. I’d have had at least one of three players.

Andrew:                 Except for LSU.

Nick:                         I’m going with #19 in your program, but #1 in your heart, Johnny Townsend, the punter. Sports Analytics tweeted out today that Florida has just 4.31% of opposing team’s offensive drives against the Gators have started in Florida’s territory. That is best in the country. A reason for that is Johnny Townsend. I have picked 0 offensive players, because I have zero faith in the offense this week. I think Johnny Townsend and the defense are key. The defense is key for Florida. Townsend assures the defense that they have a lot of green at their backs to work with. Johnny Townsend will be my third star of the week.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. This is one little …

Nick:                         Every time I pick the player this week there’s a, let me ask you this right after.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. If you had to go with, did you have a player outside of those three that you thought about going with? I’ll be honest, I really thought about putting Austin Hardin in mine. I think Hardin in mine. I think Hardin gets two field goals this week, as I think confidence is back in Mr. 16’s jersey.

Nick:                         You are calling two field goals for Austin Hardin.

Andrew:                 I am, and one’s going to be 40+.

Nick:                         Hold on. Austin Hardin has made four field goals this season, and you’re calling for two and a 40 yarder.

Andrew:                 You better back up. I am going to put this on Twitter, and after Saturday you will get a Twitter from him if you do not be careful.

Nick:                         No, thank you. Okay. Andrew’s prediction is up on the board. Austin Hardin, is that two for two? Two for three? Two for four?

Andrew:                 I’m going to go two for two. If I was picking Hardin as my third guy that would have been Austin Hardin. I think he has a big game, but I couldn’t knock out any of my three. I think Kelvin finds a way to have a big game, and I think Treon rebounds and has a really good game. I think Treon’s a guy, he’s from south Florida. He has that little extra step in his … I think that he gets pissed off about people doubting him.

Nick:                         You’re right. We are made differently in south Florida, made better.

Andrew:                 You’re not. You’re not from south Florida. You’re from Westin is what you tell me all the time. That doesn’t count. Nick, let’s go to our three games of the week that we’re looking forward to. We got to make them quick.

Nick:                         Good ones. I get to actually watch them again, because Florida kicks off at noon.

Andrew:                 We’re boring the people, so let’s go real quick. Alabama at Mississippi State this weekend. What do you got?

Nick:                         I want to pick the upset, but I can’t. It’s going to be Alabama. I do think Alabama struggles with Dak Prescott a little bit on the road. That’s the kind of offense that they’re not really built to beat. I said last week that Alabama’s defense is built to stop an offense like LSU, not one like Mississippi State.

Andrew:                 I’m like you. Everything tells me to pick State, but Alabama is not going to lose. Alabama wins big. Not big, Alabama wins by 10. Fourth quarter game. They win, though and continue marching to the SEC championship game to meet the Gators. Oregon vs. Stanford, the Gators really need to be Duck fans this weekend if they want to move up. Do you think the Ducks can take down the Trees?

Nick:                         I don’t know. Stanford has just been kind of a mixed bag this season. It’s at Stanford. I’m going to go, not so fast my friend, say that the Ducks upset the Trees on the road.

Andrew:                 I’m going to say the Trees win by 30.

Nick:                         Hello.

Andrew:                 Against the Ducks. Hello. Last pick of the week, Nicholas.

Nick:                         Best game of the week.

Andrew:                 It is the best game of the week. Oklahoma Sooners go down to Waco to face the undefeated Baylor team that has faced nobody. Can the Baylor Bears keep up or not?

Nick:                         This is a tough one. Oklahoma, one loss on the year. Didn’t look great early on in the year against Tennessee. They’ve rebounded to put together a nice year. Baylor playing great. I’m going to have to go with the Baylor Bears here at home against Oklahoma. I think that offense is just kind of an offense that you hope to slow down, because you’re not going to be able to stop.

Andrew:                 Agreed. I think Baylor wins, and I think it kind of gets a little out of control. We’ll see how Baylor does the rest of the year. Nick, let’s go ahead. Let’s pick the Gators Carolina game. I’ll give you the first pick.

Nick:                         Real quick, Baylor wide receiver, Corey Coleman, 20 touchdowns through eight games, which is absolutely ridiculous. Just wanted to add that in there.

Andrew:                 Jarrett Stidham, a freshman, stepping in. He was a guy that I had a chance to talk to. Good dude. Was a baseball player as well. Props to the freshman.

Nick:                         Yeah. Also, KD Cannon, that’s a talented group over there. Talking about the game that you’re all thinking about. I think this is a very difficult game for Florida. South Carolina is playing inspired football these last three weeks. Only 1-2 record, but playing inspired football. I do think that Florida does enough to come away with a win, but if you are betting I’m taking the under, and depending on the line I’m probably going to take South Carolina if I’m betting against the line. We don’t bet against the line here. I think Florida wins, but it’s a low scoring, ugly, close game, very similar to last week.

Andrew:                 Gators 27, South Carolina 10. The Gators go to 9-1, take care of the Gamecocks. Treon and my boy, Taylor made, have big games. 27-10, Gators find a way to win.

Nick:                         You predicted two Austin Hardin field goals, so who’s scoring your three touchdowns?

Andrew:                 Taylor made with two, Treon with one to Callaway.

Nick:                         Wow. Okay.

Andrew:                 There you go.

Nick:                         All of the guys you picked.

Andrew:                 All my guys that picked. I am the goat for a reason.

Nick:                         I did see your goat picture on Twitter today.

Andrew:                 That was pretty fly. I can’t lie. It was pretty fly. Pretty cool.

Nick:                         I thought that was funny.

Andrew:                 It was funny. People love me. They can’t help but to love me. It’s one of those things where they see my name, and it’s like instant give him a rose, as Max Starks said.

Nick:                         I would not give you a rose. Anyway, Nick @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. Follow me on Instagram. I’ll be posting pictures of what I’m eating in South Carolina, and of South Carolina this weekend. That is just NickdelaTorre on Instagram. As always, www.GatorCountry.com for the latest greatest Gator news on the interwebs. That’s all I got. I’m losing my voice. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                 Same way here. Losing my voice, because Mr. Max got me fired up with Butch. I was promising not to bring the heat this time to Butch and Mark, but when a former Gator wants to talk trash I ain’t denying it. As always, follow us. My dude, Nick, will be bringing coverage. We’re heading to Atlanta. We booked everything. The road to Atlanta starts this weekend. There’ll be fire. A lot of good recruiting stuff as well. Basketball as well. Gators and Navy take on each other on Friday night. As you’re listening to this be prepared for that game. As always, Butch, Mark, you know the drill. Max and I don’t like you very much. Go Braves.

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