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    Jim McElwian watches as the Florida Gators go through their second practice of the spring. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Florida Gators Podcast: Gators
gaining momentum in recruiting

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Written by Andrew Spivey, March 27, 2015, 0 Comments,
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In the latest episode of Gator Country’s  podcast, Nick de la Torre and Andrew Spivey break down why the Florida Gators are having such a huge shift in momentum in recruiting and what has changed for the Gators under Jim McElwain as far as recruiting goes.

Also in the podcast Nick and Andrew will discuss the Gators newest commits Isaiah Johnson and Spencer Perry plus talk about how solid the class of 2016 is so far and if everyone will stick to their commitments.

Stay tuned to GatorCountry.com for more podcast on spring football and on the class of 2016 recruiting class as Andrew and Nick will keep everyone up to date on the Gators.

* * * TRANSCRIPT:

Nick:            What is going on Gator Country, it is Nick de la Torre, joined by, of course, Andrew Spivey. Andrew, say hello to the people.

Andrew:            I am here, and ready for business, boys.

Nick:            You are always ready for business, though.

Andrew:            I am always ready for business.

Nick:            Business is your middle name.

Andrew:            That’s right. You and I kind of had that Sunday off a little bit. I got to play golf. I call it playing, but the good old Will Muschamp era is he left his bad taste on my golf swing. I might need to bring my golf clubs to Coach McElwain and let him bless them or something, because we’re not playing too well lately.

Nick:            At least you’re seeing a lot of the course. You’re getting your money’s worth by taking some extra swings.

Andrew:            I get to visit the squirrels out in the trees. I get to visit all that good stuff. I get my workout in, let me just say that.

Nick:            Okay. We had a disappointing week in baseball, weekend in baseball. Not going to talk about that. Florida dropped from Number 1 in the country to Number 4. Softball did alright. Girls took care of business at Alabama, but we have recruiting to talk about. Andrew, there was another big weekend, another Junior Day, and what’s Jimmy Mac and staff, what are they doing on the recruiting trail?

Andrew:            Jimmy Mac. He pulled in two again.

Nick:            Chomp chomp times two.

Andrew:            There you go. Let me hit that real quick. You and I are kind of, I don’t want to call us young, because I think we’re not the young group, we’re not the old group, but social media is the hip hot thing now. You and I were kind of talking about this a little bit. It wasn’t just one or two coaches, it was 10 or 15 people all tweeting “Chomp chomp times two.” I think that is kind of what Coach McElwain’s doing, a little bit of bringing that young, hip energy into the program. I kind of think it’s pretty cool. I like seeing the chomp chomp times two.

Nick:            I was talking to somebody on the message board, and they brought up about these pictures that Jeff Collins tweets with the [crypted] and juice and swamp beast. I jokingly brought up the Joker Phillips, come play wide receiver for the joker. Somebody on the message board said, I think people were laughing at him and not with him for those. I remember thinking, yeah, those were pretty corny, but it seems like the social media stuff that Jim McElwain and Jeff Collins and those guys are doing now is, I guess, more hip. That might make me not hip for saying hip.

Andrew:            Never again.

Nick:            I think it is more appealing to the kids they’re trying to recruit.

Andrew:            I think it’s pretty cool. For me, I don’t want to say that if it’s appealing to me it’s appealing to an 18 year old, but some of these new photos are pretty cool, the Be the Legacy number 15. I think that stuff’s pretty cool. I like it. I think too though, maybe with social media it’s not so much about impressing the kids, but it also kind of bonds the fan base together. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything. But two commits again this weekend. They got a big receiver, 6’3” wide receiver Isaiah Johnson, and then a big, 6’3” hard hitting son of a gun, Spencer Perry. You and I were kind of talking a little bit about this on Saturday about Spencer Perry a little bit. You were like, he may be a linebacker, maybe a safety. I think that’s a good problem to have, though, because he can play that safety position, can play that linebacker position, but, man, he’s a hard hitter. He’ll knock you out if you’re not careful.

Nick:            That’s good. You don’t see that much in the NFL now, but you can still hit a little bit in college.

Andrew:            Yeah, and somebody brought that point up to me the other day. Should you recruit guys that don’t hit hard anymore, because of that rule? I don’t think so. I think you have to just teach kids the proper way to hit. You need to hit them from midsection down, and knock their legs out, instead of hitting them high. The thing that impresses me with Spencer is he’s a guy that high integrity, brings a lot of character to the team, good teammate, is very vocal in recruiting other guys as well, and he’s a really good athlete that’s gotten close to this staff.

Then Isaiah Johnson is kind of a, I don’t want to say a weird one to me, but this is his third commit already. He committed to Louisville, decommitted, committed to Miami, decommitted, committed to Florida. On Tuesday he’s back visiting Miami for their barbeque, so who knows? Maybe he just wants some barbequed chicken. Maybe.

Nick:            That brings up something that I want to talk about. It’s March, so it’s very early. You want to get excited whenever somebody commits, but when somebody commits this early, they’re not all an Adam Lane or a Duke Dawson who commits early, and then you never hear from him again until they’re national letter of intent is faxed in. Do Gator fans kind of need to temper their expectations with, Florida’s got seven commits now. They had seven commits when Jim McElwain signed on to be the coach last year. They have seven commits now, do you see all seven of them sticking? Do Florida fans need to be worried about a certain prospect still visiting schools might not end up in the class?

You don’t have to name a kid specifically, but in general. Kids that commit this early in this day and age. Should you be worried about them?

Andrew:            I think the word commitment doesn’t mean what it used to. Do I think kids honestly are committed to the class? I do. I believe when they say they’re committed to Florida. That means at this time I want to go to Florida. They don’t understand that the word commitment means you stick that out for life. So, again, I don’t get too bought into it, but I think my thing is Nick Sabin, he doesn’t lose recruits. If he gets you, you’re either signing with him, or he kicks you to the curb. So is Jim McElwain that kind of coach that he can keep his guys there, or is he a guy that loses guys? I think the thing Will Muschamp had a problem doing was once a guy committed he kind of stopped recruiting them, but we all know, who doesn’t want to get loved up every day of the week? I mean, it’s life.

So I think that that’s one thing Coach Mac is doing, but I kind of look at this list of seven here, and I could see two guys maybe flipping around a little bit. I ain’t afraid to say it. I think Isaiah Johnson’s one of those guys. Three commits already, you start to worry. Then you see a couple guys like a guy like Rick Wells, like a guy like Jaquan Bailey. Those guys are your Duke Dawsons, your Will Griers, your Adam Lanes that are going to really build around this class. Even a guy like Vosean Joseph, he kind of is that guy that built around. It’s the way of the land. You have to recruit these guys. You should get very happy when they commit, but you should always remember that they could leave. It’s March, not February. We got 11 months. If they decommit, don’t kill me.

Nick:            We’ll yell at you, but we won’t kill you, because then we couldn’t yell at you again.

Andrew:            There you go, and my golf game would be dead.

Nick:            There you go. What about this week coming up? I know Florida’s going to continue spring practice, and this seems to be the time to get all of these juniors, soon to be seniors, on campus. I know there is a familiar name. It might not be a popular name, but a familiar name that’ll be coming to visit, as well as a quarterback coming. So who can Florida fans expect to hear from and read a Spivey story about after this weekend?

Andrew:            Well, it’s always great to read a Spivey story. Let’s throw that out. Trevon Diggs, Mr. Troll, Stefon Diggs, who committed to Maryland, who the day before committing to Maryland had a dream about playing in the Swamp. Well, now little brother is here, and little brother is just like Stefon Diggs.

Nick:            And little brother’s got offers from Alabama, Florida, Penn State, Auburn, and Maryland.

Andrew:            If it’s a big name school they’re offering Trevon Diggs. Is he an athlete? Heck, yeah. He is a superstar athlete like his brother. He is prima donna just like his brother in that he’ll probably show up to Florida in his underwear, under armor boxers, like Stefon did. Trevon is a good player. He’s a very good player. He’s very close to the guy visiting with him this weekend, quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a guy from the Maryland area as well, and he’s kind of a mixture of a dual threat quarterback, pro-style quarterback, 6’2”, 188, 190, depending on what day of the week you measure him. Both of those guys are going to visit on their way to IOG for the seven on seven tournament.

The interesting thing with Haskins is he visited Florida last year with Roper and Muschamp, liked the visit a lot, but he’s actually closer to Nuss and McElwain, because they were recruiting him a little bit at other schools, Nuss in Michigan, Mac at Colorado State. Anyway, Haskins is going to come back down. Right now I think Florida trails Maryland and Ohio State, maybe even Notre Dame, but Florida has a good shot, because he’s very interested in playing in the Swamp. Getting a guy like Haskins could get a guy like Diggs.

My thing is do not buy into Trevon Digg’s tweets, because he already tweeted about how he has a feeling about Florida. Come on, dude. You’ve never visited Florida. Your brother, Stefon Diggs, no, not believing it. Sorry.

Nick:            Trevon is just sitting math class bored trying to get his Twitter followers up.

Andrew:            He’s like 1+1=troll Florida.

Nick:            Well, what about the Maryland connection, maybe having a guy like Jalen Tabor on the team, maybe having them hang out with Jalen while they’re on campus. Maybe that can help Florida.

Andrew:            I think that will, but for a guy like Dwayne Haskins, I mean if you’re a quarterback how are you not licking your chops right now? You’re looking at a guy like Treon and Will Grier, both of those guys are going to be upperclassmen when you come onto campus, and there’s nobody. You look at Nuss, and you look at McElwain’s past of developing quarterbacks. They’ve done really well. So whoever becomes the quarterback in this class is getting a golden opportunity to be a really good quarterback in this class, whether that be a guy like Haskins or someone else.

Personally, I like Dwayne Haskins. I think he’s got very good arm strength. I think he’s very athletic for his position. He throws a good ball. His pocket presence as well, accuracy still a question mark, but that’s a lot of high school football for it. For me, it’s kind of getting into that crunch time. You and I talked a couple weeks ago about June 1st being that date you want to have a quarterback in sight, and we’re slowly marching towards there, and Florida’s slowly marching towards gaining that quarterback. Last Monday they had Logan Bird, a quarterback from Georgia, on campus. They didn’t offer him yet. Florida wants to see him throw and stuff. We’ll see how it goes.

That is one thing I think will happen. I think we talked about this the last time. Nick Sabin, those guys, they have a motto of they have to see a quarterback throw in person before they’ll take him. I think Nuss and McElwain want to do that as well. They’re either going to have to see him in spring ball, or they’re going to have to come on campus in the summer and throw for them before they accept a commit. So as we go on I think you’ll start to see a narrow down of maybe five guys they want to see throw, pick the best one, and go for that. Anyway, big weekend ahead.

Nick:            Now here’s something we haven’t really talked about this before. It’ll be the first time here live for everyone listening. We’ve talked about how Florida needs a quarterback, have to get one this class. Does having a sophomore and a red shirt freshman hurt Florida trying to recruit a quarterback for this class? Because Florida is putting their chips in that their starting quarterback this year is either going to be a red shirt freshman in Will Grier or a sophomore in Treon Harris. Then you’ve got to think, both of those guys might be four year players, so if I’m coming in I might be a red shirt sophomore or red shirt junior before I’m getting a chance to be the starter.

It worked for Pete Carroll at USC. They seem to just get the top quarterback in California every year, and that kid was just waiting till he was a senior, and they won a couple Heismans, but it doesn’t seem to be, and you see Florida State now is scrambling to try to find a quarterback, because they couldn’t recruit one when they had Jameis Winston, because these quarterbacks, not saying they don’t want to come in and compete, but they’re trying to find good fits. A lot of them their families and the quarterbacks don’t see a good fit being somewhere where they’ve got to start, or somebody a starter, set in stone, set in place already.

Andrew:            To be fair with Florida State, they did have Jacob Coker, who transferred out.

Nick:            That happens as well.

Andrew:            Well it’s considered a good quarterback. I don’t want to speculate on this, because it is speculating, but it’s tough to see that both Will and Treon stay at Florida for the long period of time, so you plan for that. Let’s just say hypothetically Will Grier wins the job this year. He’s going to play as starter and be a red shirt freshman. Most quarterbacks leave as a junior. We kind of know that as well. If he doesn’t play then you got to think he’s probably going to transfer in a couple years, so Treon Harris is going to play. Treon Harris is going to play three more years, so quarterback has to come in as sophomore.

I don’t think it hurts, because I think you see quarterbacks and then it’s there. Florida’s recruiting right now against Florida State, who just signed dang near three quarterbacks that are two quarterbacks and have two quarterbacks that are red shirt freshman, so four quarterbacks on campus, and they got the top quarterback this year. They’re recruiting against that. Then they’re recruiting against Miami who just had a true freshman play and lead them to six victories, seven victories, in Brad Kaaya. So they’re recruiting against those guys.

If you’re Mac you say, we got two unproven quarterbacks on campus right now. If both of them suck this year, you come in and play potentially as a freshman. I think it could go both ways. Quarterbacks are a different breed in that they believe that they’re the best ever. They believe they’re the next Tom Brady. I’m not sure how much it buys in, but whether it buys in or not, McElwain better use his salesman job to sell these guys.

Nick:            We’re talking about McElwain as a salesman. Our freelancer and good friend, Daniel Thompson, joined us on the last podcast, brought up in a story that he wrote for us that Florida offered 60 total players from the state of Florida in 2014, and only 56 the year before that. Already Jim McElwain has offered 64 kids from the state of Florida, and we have 10, 11 months left for recruiting.

Andrew:            I think it’s atrocious. I think it’s dumb, and I think it’s moronic on Will Muschamp’s part. I say that, because, Nick, you and I have had this discussion time and time again. A three star in the state of Florida is a four star everywhere else. It is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast. Florida has probably the top athletes, if not one of, with California and Texas. Why not recruit your state? Go get the guys that are in state who either grew up loving Florida or had a family member loving Florida? It’s close to home. You don’t have to worry about them getting too homesick. The farthest city from Gainesville’s five hours in Miami. So that’s a quick day trip home if they get homesick. I think that you start to believe what Mac says in that he wants to take back the state. He keeps saying he wants to dominate the 400 mile radius.

Nick:            That’s something that Muschamp said. He said, we’re going to recruit the state of Florida first.

Andrew:            Yeah, but you say something, and you don’t do it.

Nick:            Actions speak louder than words, always.

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, not to be rude to Will, but we kind of figured out that his actions and his words, they don’t believe too much. He always says, we’re going to figure out a way, well you didn’t figure out a way, and now you’re at Auburn. I believe what Mac is doing. I’ve had several kids tell me as well that Mac’s come in and said, I’m going to dominate the state. I’m going to take over the state first. You look at these last two Junior Days. You’ve had about a total of 10 guys out of state come in, out of about 100 guys come in. So that kind of shows where it is.

Now, do I think he needs to recruit out of state as well? Sure, Georgia needs to be a necessity, some of the other are going to be necessities. You’re never going to fill a whole class of guys in Florida, especially at the offensive line position. It is what it is. Especially if Mac’s going to run a true pro-style offense. He’s going to have to go out of the state to get some offensive linemen. I think that one of the positives of being a coach at Florida is that you can dominate in state. McElwain wants to do that. I’m all for it. I love it.

Nick:            All right. We’ve got practice going on this week. Fans were a little angry with me yesterday, or sarcastic with me yesterday, after practice was rained out on Monday. I told them, don’t worry, indoor practice facility is coming.

Andrew:            It’s coming? We have an indoor practice facility? Will Muschamp’s still telling kids it’s not coming.

Nick:            It’s coming. I can see it on my way to baseball every weekend that it is being built.

Andrew:            That’s breaking news. Will Muschamp, you hear that? Nick de la Torre can confirm it is coming.

Nick:            They’re pushing dirt around, but we’ve got a little bit more going on. Still waiting for my first opportunity to really see some offensive line, defensive line, go one on one in camp. I’ve been seeing really good things out of Joey Ivie. Seeing really good things out of [Kaden Brian], someone who red shirted last year after he got, I believe it was mono or strep. He got sick last year, so seeing really good things out of him. Interested to see them. Hopefully I’ll see them Tuesday at practice, Wednesday at practice, and I can talk to you guys about it on the next podcast.

Andrew:            Something you’ve hit on with me a little bit. You and I we talk all the time about different things we see. The one thing that I’ve heard the most resounding from these kids is fast paced tempo, energetic, and these coaches believe in what they’re talking about. Everybody can put that vibe off, and Will Muschamp could put that vibe off, but when you have kids coming and saying, the energy’s so much different from last year to this year. The coaches line up to speak to you, and these guys are speaking to every one of them.

For me, it’s great, because Will Muschamp didn’t speak to Alex Collins, who is now a potential All SEC running back. He didn’t even speak to him, because he didn’t think he was Florida good enough. For me, I just can’t say enough positive about the way McElwain’s taking this approach. I think he, I don’t want to say he’s taking it as a politician that he’s running for a job, but in part he is, because it’s almost like he’s trying to sell his fan base and his style to the fan base to these kids.

Nick:            I think that the tempo’s definitely there. Practice may be more organized, but the thing, and I brought it up to you, that most sticks out to me is watching Randy Shannon coach the linebackers. It is just impressive. It’s the kind of thing that I watched when I would watch Will Muschamp coach the safeties. It’s just a coach who knows exactly what he’s talking about, and knows what he’s trying to teach so well, that he can say it, say the same thing four different ways, to make it resonate and connect with four different people. They know the position inside and out, and they’re able to tell it to Alex Anzalone.

Randy Shannon can tell Alex Anzalone, your step on that drop, or your line that you took to try to make that tackle, was a little bit off. Here’s how you can fix it. Then he might go to Daniel McMillian and tell him something completely different, but to fix those same things. So it’s just of watching Randy Shannon, seeing how quickly he’s getting to know these kids and the way that they learn, and the way that he can best teach them. It’s just impressive to see. He’s a very impressive coach, commands respect out there. When his mouth opens every linebacker is staring right at him.

Andrew:            You and kind of had this conversation about a couple of things. Coaching, you have to realize the type of kid. I’ve told you the story several times, Nick. I had a guy that was a very good player, but he was a kid that if I hollered, screamed, chewed him out, he shut down, but if I calmly talked to him and pointed out what he was instead of embarrassing him, I got my point across. Then there was another guy who was maybe not as good, but he was a guy that if I embarrassed him he got pissed off, and he would wake up, and he would go.

I think that maybe that’s why we’ve seen a lot more guys transfer out is because they just haven’t been able to be coached up properly. I’m not saying there’s one way better than another. You can’t be a crybaby on the field, and you can’t be sensitive on the field, but everybody learns differently. Nick, you and I learn differently. You could tell me something, and I’ll say, you’re going to have to repeat that in some other terms. It’s just the lay of the land. We all learn differently.

Nick:            That’s probably up there with one of the most important things that a coach needs to do. You need to find the most successful way to reach. You might have 15 kids at your position. You might have to find 15 different ways to say the same thing to make it stick with somebody.

Andrew:            Let’s transition on to, we were going to talk a little bit about the diamond, baseball and softball. You have two contrasting styles in Tim Walton and Kevin O’Sullivan. Kevin O’Sullivan is a hard butt. He is a guy that…

Nick:            A little bit of a micromanager.

Andrew:            Yeah. He never looks like he’s going to smile. He looks like Bobby Knight out there, and then you got a guy like Tim Walton, who before the game yesterday on Monday night he was throwing sunflower seeds, hitting his girls in the back of the heads, trying to keep them relaxed. I think it’s all about your style of coaching a little bit. It’s fun. It’s what makes some guys different. Everybody thinks Nick Sabin’s a punk. I’ve seen Nick Sabin have fun and joke around with his kids. You just don’t see that. You look at Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll looks like a punk, but you see him out there throwing the ball with his player’s kids all the time. It’s all differently on there.

Before we end the podcast, Nick, I got to ask you. You go to Oxford for the baseball team. Logan Shore looks like dominant Roger Clemens. You can’t give up a earned run. Tennessee puts a whacking. You blame it on me, because I covered that game. Now he goes out to Oxford. I’m far away from it. I didn’t even watch the game, and he gives up some runs. What’s going on with the team? What’s going on with Logan Shore?

Nick:            His confidence is obviously shook because of the bad juju that you put on him from that first game. No. I mean, Florida goes out, and you don’t bring Josh Tobias, because of a violation of team rules. He’s suspended, doesn’t make the trip. Very uncharacteristic move for him. Tobias is a guy that Jeremy Foley brought to SEC meetings to represent all of the student athletes at Florida. That’s the kind of character and the kind of kid that Josh Tobias is. So for him to be suspended and not make a trip, something’s not adding up there.

Florida goes, runs into a buzz saw on Friday. The junior that Old Miss threw on Friday was coming off of a loss at LSU. It was his first loss in 22 appearances. So he wanted to bounce back. Unfortunately, Florida couldn’t get anything going with the bats. They put themselves into a hole. You get home runs in the first inning, and momentum swings to Old Miss. So Florida goes down. I think Dalton Guthrie started it, started each game off with a hit, but then they go down 1, 2, 3 behind him. Then the starting pitcher goes out and gives up a home run. Now the momentum’s gone.

You’re sitting in the dugout thinking, what do we have to do? Our pitchers can’t put up zeros on the board. They’re giving up home runs. Florida goes down 0-2. They are able to come out, and actually came out and scored four runs in the first inning of the double header in the second game on Saturday, but you stave off a sweep, but you still lose the series. If Florida wants to do, reach their goals this year of an SEC championship, hosting a regional, getting to a super-regional, and then on to the College World Series, they can’t lose too many of these weekend series.

You’ve got Alabama coming in this weekend. After going 2-1 against Tennessee, and then losing a series. Now you’re 3-3, you’re really looking at a situation where you probably need a sweep this weekend of Alabama.

Andrew:            You and I talk about this a lot. We usually don’t put very much precedence on a one series, or two series, because it is baseball. I think that thing that starts to worry me a little bit is I just don’t see consistency enough in this lineup that guys putting the ball in play, that kind of thing. I guess I just start to worry a little bit about the young guys and that. You’ve seen it a little bit more. Are you concerned enough yet, or is it still missing that one bat at Pete Alonzo?

Nick:            I’m not concerned yet. The lineup, Sully is shaking up this lineup so much. I think he’s playing the matchups too much, because John Sternagel hit under his weight right now, hitting a buck 20 something. Any time Florida faces a lefty, Sully doesn’t want to put Christian Hicks, a freshman, in. By all means, Christian Hicks is hitting a buck 50, but he’s making contact. He’s not striking out a lot. He’s hitting the ball hard, just at people. So when you get Pete Alonzo back into that lineup, and now you’re looking Guthrie, who is hitting well above 300, has been a spark plug as a freshman. Then Buddy Reid, Harrison Bader, Pete Alonzo, Richie Martin, Jeremy Vasquez. Now you’re starting to build a serious lineup.

We’re still probably about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, away from getting Alonzo back. Then you got think that there’s going to be an adjustment period for him. There was an adjustment period for Bader last year, who missed 19 games to start the year, and then Bader’s first game was the first SEC series. There’s going to be an adjustment period for Alonzo, but getting his bat into the lineup makes things much better.

Then you can’t imagine that Logan Shore is going to keep going out and putting up these kind of innings and these kind of outings, unless he’s hurt. He left the Miami game with the hip issue. We asked him about it the following week, after he threw really well, and he said, not an issue at all. It was kind of a one time thing. We haven’t talked to him since he pitched against Rhode Island, but if there’s no injury issue you got to think it’s two bad starts. He’ll shake it off. Then that’s a still a very strong rotation. Dane Dunning is a really quality pitcher who’s probably one of the best Sunday pitchers in the league.

Andrew:            What kind of worries me is when you got Richie Martin, and you’ve got Buddy Reid, hitting cleanup back to back days. Neither one of those guys are cleanup hitters.

Nick:            That’s all a product of losing Pete Alonzo.

Andrew:            Right. I’m just saying, I guess, that’s where maybe my concern comes in a little bit. You start to wonder. You’re like, okay, Harrison Bader is never going to get a strike thrown to him if those two guys are hitting behind him.

Nick:            You’ve got JJ Schwartz behind Bader as well. You can put him there. I don’t know why Sully’s been hesitant to put Schwartz in the four spot, hitting Bader three to protect him a little bit. He’s been mainly hitting five. JJ Schwartz is hitting 318, second on the team with five home runs. He’s got 11 doubles, excuse me, he’s got four doubles. So why not put him there?

Andrew:            He needs to bring some of that good mojo to his sister. His sister right now, Taylor Schwartz, first baseman for the softball team, is in a deep struggle for the last probably three weeks. I know that they hit a little bit together sometimes, and maybe he can help his sister out.

Nick:            We got Alabama coming in to Gainesville. It’s a different schedule. We’re going Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon. Andrew, who is Tim Walton, who are the girls hosting this weekend?

Andrew:            Mississippi State. After back to back weeks, I put this on Twitter. Yes, Michigan’s good. Yes, Oregon’s good, but right now LSU, Florida and Alabama are the three best teams in the country, in my opinion. Florida gets the bad luck of facing both of those teams after a long road trip to California. They go three and three in those two series combined. You think, it’s 3-3 that ain’t going to look good, but when you’re facing the two best teams in the country possibly, besides yourself, and you go 3-3, you’re okay with that.

It sucks, because LSU doesn’t play Alabama this year in conference. LSU has a very weak schedule in the conference. Florida right now is 3-3 in the conference. They’re going to struggle to get back to that top where LSU’s 5-1. This weekend they get Mississippi State who comes in with a 4-5 conference record and 21-7 overall record. They’re just okay. They go on the road to play them.

Florida should sweep, but much like the baseball team, this team is struggling hitting the ball right now. Lauren Haeger, Bailey Castro in the middle. They’re not hitting the ball. Florida went a whole weekend without hitting a home run. If you watch Florida softball you know that’s not good. Pitching is still there. They gave up six runs to the best hitting team in the SEC in Alabama this weekend. At a tough place in Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. So hitting the ball is something that you and both know you go through struggles at times, and right now Florida’s struggling the ball.

A good weekend of hitting the ball, blasting the ball a little bit, seeing it fly over the fence, should get it going. I’m not concerned yet. It’s still in my opinion the best team in the country. Talent is there. They’ll be fine. Mississippi State’s coming up this weekend. Florida can take care of them, and then get rolling again. Then I think next week is the dirty Noles, so the Gators like to put down the Noles.

Nick:            Florida will play Florida State next Tuesday, following the Alabama series up in Jacksonville.

Andrew:            Can we see another fight? Is Jameis coming?

Nick:            Maybe. I might have to make the drive up there, as long as weather doesn’t push. I was actually going to drive to Stetson today to watch Florida take on the Hatters, but we have football practice.

Andrew:            Real quick. Here’s a trivia question for you. Who is a famous Stetson alum? There’s two of them.

Nick:            Two. I know one. Name’s on the tip of my tongue. I’m giving you no answer. Who are they?

Andrew:            Chipper’s father. Chipper Jone’s father was a coach at Stetson. Chipper’s a big Stetson guy, and then Braves third baseman, Chris Johnson, is a Stetson. So a little Brave flavor up there. I didn’t know too much about Stetson’s baseball history till I did a little bit of research, but they don’t have bad history.

Nick:            No, not at all. It should be a win. We’ll say that. It should be a win. Hopefully on our next podcast I will be updating you of Florida’s win as they prepare for Alabama to come into town. We’ve run past our time, as we are both long winded. Andrew, say goodbye to the people.

Andrew:            Goodbye, folks. Hopefully I get two more commits this weekend, and we can talk about them next week. Hopefully Coach Mac does well and softball does well, and maybe get to the golf course and hit them straight. So pray for me, guys.

Nick:            There you go. You stay class, Gator Nation.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

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

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In the latest episode of Gator Country’s  podcast, Nick de la Torre and Andrew Spivey break down why the Florida Gators are having such a huge shift in momentum in recruiting and what has changed for the Gators under Jim McElwain as far as recruiting goes.

Also in the podcast Nick and Andrew will discuss the Gators newest commits Isaiah Johnson and Spencer Perry plus talk about how solid the class of 2016 is so far and if everyone will stick to their commitments.

Stay tuned to GatorCountry.com for more podcast on spring football and on the class of 2016 recruiting class as Andrew and Nick will keep everyone up to date on the Gators.

* * * TRANSCRIPT:

Nick:            What is going on Gator Country, it is Nick de la Torre, joined by, of course, Andrew Spivey. Andrew, say hello to the people.

Andrew:            I am here, and ready for business, boys.

Nick:            You are always ready for business, though.

Andrew:            I am always ready for business.

Nick:            Business is your middle name.

Andrew:            That’s right. You and I kind of had that Sunday off a little bit. I got to play golf. I call it playing, but the good old Will Muschamp era is he left his bad taste on my golf swing. I might need to bring my golf clubs to Coach McElwain and let him bless them or something, because we’re not playing too well lately.

Nick:            At least you’re seeing a lot of the course. You’re getting your money’s worth by taking some extra swings.

Andrew:            I get to visit the squirrels out in the trees. I get to visit all that good stuff. I get my workout in, let me just say that.

Nick:            Okay. We had a disappointing week in baseball, weekend in baseball. Not going to talk about that. Florida dropped from Number 1 in the country to Number 4. Softball did alright. Girls took care of business at Alabama, but we have recruiting to talk about. Andrew, there was another big weekend, another Junior Day, and what’s Jimmy Mac and staff, what are they doing on the recruiting trail?

Andrew:            Jimmy Mac. He pulled in two again.

Nick:            Chomp chomp times two.

Andrew:            There you go. Let me hit that real quick. You and I are kind of, I don’t want to call us young, because I think we’re not the young group, we’re not the old group, but social media is the hip hot thing now. You and I were kind of talking about this a little bit. It wasn’t just one or two coaches, it was 10 or 15 people all tweeting “Chomp chomp times two.” I think that is kind of what Coach McElwain’s doing, a little bit of bringing that young, hip energy into the program. I kind of think it’s pretty cool. I like seeing the chomp chomp times two.

Nick:            I was talking to somebody on the message board, and they brought up about these pictures that Jeff Collins tweets with the [crypted] and juice and swamp beast. I jokingly brought up the Joker Phillips, come play wide receiver for the joker. Somebody on the message board said, I think people were laughing at him and not with him for those. I remember thinking, yeah, those were pretty corny, but it seems like the social media stuff that Jim McElwain and Jeff Collins and those guys are doing now is, I guess, more hip. That might make me not hip for saying hip.

Andrew:            Never again.

Nick:            I think it is more appealing to the kids they’re trying to recruit.

Andrew:            I think it’s pretty cool. For me, I don’t want to say that if it’s appealing to me it’s appealing to an 18 year old, but some of these new photos are pretty cool, the Be the Legacy number 15. I think that stuff’s pretty cool. I like it. I think too though, maybe with social media it’s not so much about impressing the kids, but it also kind of bonds the fan base together. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything. But two commits again this weekend. They got a big receiver, 6’3” wide receiver Isaiah Johnson, and then a big, 6’3” hard hitting son of a gun, Spencer Perry. You and I were kind of talking a little bit about this on Saturday about Spencer Perry a little bit. You were like, he may be a linebacker, maybe a safety. I think that’s a good problem to have, though, because he can play that safety position, can play that linebacker position, but, man, he’s a hard hitter. He’ll knock you out if you’re not careful.

Nick:            That’s good. You don’t see that much in the NFL now, but you can still hit a little bit in college.

Andrew:            Yeah, and somebody brought that point up to me the other day. Should you recruit guys that don’t hit hard anymore, because of that rule? I don’t think so. I think you have to just teach kids the proper way to hit. You need to hit them from midsection down, and knock their legs out, instead of hitting them high. The thing that impresses me with Spencer is he’s a guy that high integrity, brings a lot of character to the team, good teammate, is very vocal in recruiting other guys as well, and he’s a really good athlete that’s gotten close to this staff.

Then Isaiah Johnson is kind of a, I don’t want to say a weird one to me, but this is his third commit already. He committed to Louisville, decommitted, committed to Miami, decommitted, committed to Florida. On Tuesday he’s back visiting Miami for their barbeque, so who knows? Maybe he just wants some barbequed chicken. Maybe.

Nick:            That brings up something that I want to talk about. It’s March, so it’s very early. You want to get excited whenever somebody commits, but when somebody commits this early, they’re not all an Adam Lane or a Duke Dawson who commits early, and then you never hear from him again until they’re national letter of intent is faxed in. Do Gator fans kind of need to temper their expectations with, Florida’s got seven commits now. They had seven commits when Jim McElwain signed on to be the coach last year. They have seven commits now, do you see all seven of them sticking? Do Florida fans need to be worried about a certain prospect still visiting schools might not end up in the class?

You don’t have to name a kid specifically, but in general. Kids that commit this early in this day and age. Should you be worried about them?

Andrew:            I think the word commitment doesn’t mean what it used to. Do I think kids honestly are committed to the class? I do. I believe when they say they’re committed to Florida. That means at this time I want to go to Florida. They don’t understand that the word commitment means you stick that out for life. So, again, I don’t get too bought into it, but I think my thing is Nick Sabin, he doesn’t lose recruits. If he gets you, you’re either signing with him, or he kicks you to the curb. So is Jim McElwain that kind of coach that he can keep his guys there, or is he a guy that loses guys? I think the thing Will Muschamp had a problem doing was once a guy committed he kind of stopped recruiting them, but we all know, who doesn’t want to get loved up every day of the week? I mean, it’s life.

So I think that that’s one thing Coach Mac is doing, but I kind of look at this list of seven here, and I could see two guys maybe flipping around a little bit. I ain’t afraid to say it. I think Isaiah Johnson’s one of those guys. Three commits already, you start to worry. Then you see a couple guys like a guy like Rick Wells, like a guy like Jaquan Bailey. Those guys are your Duke Dawsons, your Will Griers, your Adam Lanes that are going to really build around this class. Even a guy like Vosean Joseph, he kind of is that guy that built around. It’s the way of the land. You have to recruit these guys. You should get very happy when they commit, but you should always remember that they could leave. It’s March, not February. We got 11 months. If they decommit, don’t kill me.

Nick:            We’ll yell at you, but we won’t kill you, because then we couldn’t yell at you again.

Andrew:            There you go, and my golf game would be dead.

Nick:            There you go. What about this week coming up? I know Florida’s going to continue spring practice, and this seems to be the time to get all of these juniors, soon to be seniors, on campus. I know there is a familiar name. It might not be a popular name, but a familiar name that’ll be coming to visit, as well as a quarterback coming. So who can Florida fans expect to hear from and read a Spivey story about after this weekend?

Andrew:            Well, it’s always great to read a Spivey story. Let’s throw that out. Trevon Diggs, Mr. Troll, Stefon Diggs, who committed to Maryland, who the day before committing to Maryland had a dream about playing in the Swamp. Well, now little brother is here, and little brother is just like Stefon Diggs.

Nick:            And little brother’s got offers from Alabama, Florida, Penn State, Auburn, and Maryland.

Andrew:            If it’s a big name school they’re offering Trevon Diggs. Is he an athlete? Heck, yeah. He is a superstar athlete like his brother. He is prima donna just like his brother in that he’ll probably show up to Florida in his underwear, under armor boxers, like Stefon did. Trevon is a good player. He’s a very good player. He’s very close to the guy visiting with him this weekend, quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a guy from the Maryland area as well, and he’s kind of a mixture of a dual threat quarterback, pro-style quarterback, 6’2”, 188, 190, depending on what day of the week you measure him. Both of those guys are going to visit on their way to IOG for the seven on seven tournament.

The interesting thing with Haskins is he visited Florida last year with Roper and Muschamp, liked the visit a lot, but he’s actually closer to Nuss and McElwain, because they were recruiting him a little bit at other schools, Nuss in Michigan, Mac at Colorado State. Anyway, Haskins is going to come back down. Right now I think Florida trails Maryland and Ohio State, maybe even Notre Dame, but Florida has a good shot, because he’s very interested in playing in the Swamp. Getting a guy like Haskins could get a guy like Diggs.

My thing is do not buy into Trevon Digg’s tweets, because he already tweeted about how he has a feeling about Florida. Come on, dude. You’ve never visited Florida. Your brother, Stefon Diggs, no, not believing it. Sorry.

Nick:            Trevon is just sitting math class bored trying to get his Twitter followers up.

Andrew:            He’s like 1+1=troll Florida.

Nick:            Well, what about the Maryland connection, maybe having a guy like Jalen Tabor on the team, maybe having them hang out with Jalen while they’re on campus. Maybe that can help Florida.

Andrew:            I think that will, but for a guy like Dwayne Haskins, I mean if you’re a quarterback how are you not licking your chops right now? You’re looking at a guy like Treon and Will Grier, both of those guys are going to be upperclassmen when you come onto campus, and there’s nobody. You look at Nuss, and you look at McElwain’s past of developing quarterbacks. They’ve done really well. So whoever becomes the quarterback in this class is getting a golden opportunity to be a really good quarterback in this class, whether that be a guy like Haskins or someone else.

Personally, I like Dwayne Haskins. I think he’s got very good arm strength. I think he’s very athletic for his position. He throws a good ball. His pocket presence as well, accuracy still a question mark, but that’s a lot of high school football for it. For me, it’s kind of getting into that crunch time. You and I talked a couple weeks ago about June 1st being that date you want to have a quarterback in sight, and we’re slowly marching towards there, and Florida’s slowly marching towards gaining that quarterback. Last Monday they had Logan Bird, a quarterback from Georgia, on campus. They didn’t offer him yet. Florida wants to see him throw and stuff. We’ll see how it goes.

That is one thing I think will happen. I think we talked about this the last time. Nick Sabin, those guys, they have a motto of they have to see a quarterback throw in person before they’ll take him. I think Nuss and McElwain want to do that as well. They’re either going to have to see him in spring ball, or they’re going to have to come on campus in the summer and throw for them before they accept a commit. So as we go on I think you’ll start to see a narrow down of maybe five guys they want to see throw, pick the best one, and go for that. Anyway, big weekend ahead.

Nick:            Now here’s something we haven’t really talked about this before. It’ll be the first time here live for everyone listening. We’ve talked about how Florida needs a quarterback, have to get one this class. Does having a sophomore and a red shirt freshman hurt Florida trying to recruit a quarterback for this class? Because Florida is putting their chips in that their starting quarterback this year is either going to be a red shirt freshman in Will Grier or a sophomore in Treon Harris. Then you’ve got to think, both of those guys might be four year players, so if I’m coming in I might be a red shirt sophomore or red shirt junior before I’m getting a chance to be the starter.

It worked for Pete Carroll at USC. They seem to just get the top quarterback in California every year, and that kid was just waiting till he was a senior, and they won a couple Heismans, but it doesn’t seem to be, and you see Florida State now is scrambling to try to find a quarterback, because they couldn’t recruit one when they had Jameis Winston, because these quarterbacks, not saying they don’t want to come in and compete, but they’re trying to find good fits. A lot of them their families and the quarterbacks don’t see a good fit being somewhere where they’ve got to start, or somebody a starter, set in stone, set in place already.

Andrew:            To be fair with Florida State, they did have Jacob Coker, who transferred out.

Nick:            That happens as well.

Andrew:            Well it’s considered a good quarterback. I don’t want to speculate on this, because it is speculating, but it’s tough to see that both Will and Treon stay at Florida for the long period of time, so you plan for that. Let’s just say hypothetically Will Grier wins the job this year. He’s going to play as starter and be a red shirt freshman. Most quarterbacks leave as a junior. We kind of know that as well. If he doesn’t play then you got to think he’s probably going to transfer in a couple years, so Treon Harris is going to play. Treon Harris is going to play three more years, so quarterback has to come in as sophomore.

I don’t think it hurts, because I think you see quarterbacks and then it’s there. Florida’s recruiting right now against Florida State, who just signed dang near three quarterbacks that are two quarterbacks and have two quarterbacks that are red shirt freshman, so four quarterbacks on campus, and they got the top quarterback this year. They’re recruiting against that. Then they’re recruiting against Miami who just had a true freshman play and lead them to six victories, seven victories, in Brad Kaaya. So they’re recruiting against those guys.

If you’re Mac you say, we got two unproven quarterbacks on campus right now. If both of them suck this year, you come in and play potentially as a freshman. I think it could go both ways. Quarterbacks are a different breed in that they believe that they’re the best ever. They believe they’re the next Tom Brady. I’m not sure how much it buys in, but whether it buys in or not, McElwain better use his salesman job to sell these guys.

Nick:            We’re talking about McElwain as a salesman. Our freelancer and good friend, Daniel Thompson, joined us on the last podcast, brought up in a story that he wrote for us that Florida offered 60 total players from the state of Florida in 2014, and only 56 the year before that. Already Jim McElwain has offered 64 kids from the state of Florida, and we have 10, 11 months left for recruiting.

Andrew:            I think it’s atrocious. I think it’s dumb, and I think it’s moronic on Will Muschamp’s part. I say that, because, Nick, you and I have had this discussion time and time again. A three star in the state of Florida is a four star everywhere else. It is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast. Florida has probably the top athletes, if not one of, with California and Texas. Why not recruit your state? Go get the guys that are in state who either grew up loving Florida or had a family member loving Florida? It’s close to home. You don’t have to worry about them getting too homesick. The farthest city from Gainesville’s five hours in Miami. So that’s a quick day trip home if they get homesick. I think that you start to believe what Mac says in that he wants to take back the state. He keeps saying he wants to dominate the 400 mile radius.

Nick:            That’s something that Muschamp said. He said, we’re going to recruit the state of Florida first.

Andrew:            Yeah, but you say something, and you don’t do it.

Nick:            Actions speak louder than words, always.

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, not to be rude to Will, but we kind of figured out that his actions and his words, they don’t believe too much. He always says, we’re going to figure out a way, well you didn’t figure out a way, and now you’re at Auburn. I believe what Mac is doing. I’ve had several kids tell me as well that Mac’s come in and said, I’m going to dominate the state. I’m going to take over the state first. You look at these last two Junior Days. You’ve had about a total of 10 guys out of state come in, out of about 100 guys come in. So that kind of shows where it is.

Now, do I think he needs to recruit out of state as well? Sure, Georgia needs to be a necessity, some of the other are going to be necessities. You’re never going to fill a whole class of guys in Florida, especially at the offensive line position. It is what it is. Especially if Mac’s going to run a true pro-style offense. He’s going to have to go out of the state to get some offensive linemen. I think that one of the positives of being a coach at Florida is that you can dominate in state. McElwain wants to do that. I’m all for it. I love it.

Nick:            All right. We’ve got practice going on this week. Fans were a little angry with me yesterday, or sarcastic with me yesterday, after practice was rained out on Monday. I told them, don’t worry, indoor practice facility is coming.

Andrew:            It’s coming? We have an indoor practice facility? Will Muschamp’s still telling kids it’s not coming.

Nick:            It’s coming. I can see it on my way to baseball every weekend that it is being built.

Andrew:            That’s breaking news. Will Muschamp, you hear that? Nick de la Torre can confirm it is coming.

Nick:            They’re pushing dirt around, but we’ve got a little bit more going on. Still waiting for my first opportunity to really see some offensive line, defensive line, go one on one in camp. I’ve been seeing really good things out of Joey Ivie. Seeing really good things out of [Kaden Brian], someone who red shirted last year after he got, I believe it was mono or strep. He got sick last year, so seeing really good things out of him. Interested to see them. Hopefully I’ll see them Tuesday at practice, Wednesday at practice, and I can talk to you guys about it on the next podcast.

Andrew:            Something you’ve hit on with me a little bit. You and I we talk all the time about different things we see. The one thing that I’ve heard the most resounding from these kids is fast paced tempo, energetic, and these coaches believe in what they’re talking about. Everybody can put that vibe off, and Will Muschamp could put that vibe off, but when you have kids coming and saying, the energy’s so much different from last year to this year. The coaches line up to speak to you, and these guys are speaking to every one of them.

For me, it’s great, because Will Muschamp didn’t speak to Alex Collins, who is now a potential All SEC running back. He didn’t even speak to him, because he didn’t think he was Florida good enough. For me, I just can’t say enough positive about the way McElwain’s taking this approach. I think he, I don’t want to say he’s taking it as a politician that he’s running for a job, but in part he is, because it’s almost like he’s trying to sell his fan base and his style to the fan base to these kids.

Nick:            I think that the tempo’s definitely there. Practice may be more organized, but the thing, and I brought it up to you, that most sticks out to me is watching Randy Shannon coach the linebackers. It is just impressive. It’s the kind of thing that I watched when I would watch Will Muschamp coach the safeties. It’s just a coach who knows exactly what he’s talking about, and knows what he’s trying to teach so well, that he can say it, say the same thing four different ways, to make it resonate and connect with four different people. They know the position inside and out, and they’re able to tell it to Alex Anzalone.

Randy Shannon can tell Alex Anzalone, your step on that drop, or your line that you took to try to make that tackle, was a little bit off. Here’s how you can fix it. Then he might go to Daniel McMillian and tell him something completely different, but to fix those same things. So it’s just of watching Randy Shannon, seeing how quickly he’s getting to know these kids and the way that they learn, and the way that he can best teach them. It’s just impressive to see. He’s a very impressive coach, commands respect out there. When his mouth opens every linebacker is staring right at him.

Andrew:            You and kind of had this conversation about a couple of things. Coaching, you have to realize the type of kid. I’ve told you the story several times, Nick. I had a guy that was a very good player, but he was a kid that if I hollered, screamed, chewed him out, he shut down, but if I calmly talked to him and pointed out what he was instead of embarrassing him, I got my point across. Then there was another guy who was maybe not as good, but he was a guy that if I embarrassed him he got pissed off, and he would wake up, and he would go.

I think that maybe that’s why we’ve seen a lot more guys transfer out is because they just haven’t been able to be coached up properly. I’m not saying there’s one way better than another. You can’t be a crybaby on the field, and you can’t be sensitive on the field, but everybody learns differently. Nick, you and I learn differently. You could tell me something, and I’ll say, you’re going to have to repeat that in some other terms. It’s just the lay of the land. We all learn differently.

Nick:            That’s probably up there with one of the most important things that a coach needs to do. You need to find the most successful way to reach. You might have 15 kids at your position. You might have to find 15 different ways to say the same thing to make it stick with somebody.

Andrew:            Let’s transition on to, we were going to talk a little bit about the diamond, baseball and softball. You have two contrasting styles in Tim Walton and Kevin O’Sullivan. Kevin O’Sullivan is a hard butt. He is a guy that…

Nick:            A little bit of a micromanager.

Andrew:            Yeah. He never looks like he’s going to smile. He looks like Bobby Knight out there, and then you got a guy like Tim Walton, who before the game yesterday on Monday night he was throwing sunflower seeds, hitting his girls in the back of the heads, trying to keep them relaxed. I think it’s all about your style of coaching a little bit. It’s fun. It’s what makes some guys different. Everybody thinks Nick Sabin’s a punk. I’ve seen Nick Sabin have fun and joke around with his kids. You just don’t see that. You look at Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll looks like a punk, but you see him out there throwing the ball with his player’s kids all the time. It’s all differently on there.

Before we end the podcast, Nick, I got to ask you. You go to Oxford for the baseball team. Logan Shore looks like dominant Roger Clemens. You can’t give up a earned run. Tennessee puts a whacking. You blame it on me, because I covered that game. Now he goes out to Oxford. I’m far away from it. I didn’t even watch the game, and he gives up some runs. What’s going on with the team? What’s going on with Logan Shore?

Nick:            His confidence is obviously shook because of the bad juju that you put on him from that first game. No. I mean, Florida goes out, and you don’t bring Josh Tobias, because of a violation of team rules. He’s suspended, doesn’t make the trip. Very uncharacteristic move for him. Tobias is a guy that Jeremy Foley brought to SEC meetings to represent all of the student athletes at Florida. That’s the kind of character and the kind of kid that Josh Tobias is. So for him to be suspended and not make a trip, something’s not adding up there.

Florida goes, runs into a buzz saw on Friday. The junior that Old Miss threw on Friday was coming off of a loss at LSU. It was his first loss in 22 appearances. So he wanted to bounce back. Unfortunately, Florida couldn’t get anything going with the bats. They put themselves into a hole. You get home runs in the first inning, and momentum swings to Old Miss. So Florida goes down. I think Dalton Guthrie started it, started each game off with a hit, but then they go down 1, 2, 3 behind him. Then the starting pitcher goes out and gives up a home run. Now the momentum’s gone.

You’re sitting in the dugout thinking, what do we have to do? Our pitchers can’t put up zeros on the board. They’re giving up home runs. Florida goes down 0-2. They are able to come out, and actually came out and scored four runs in the first inning of the double header in the second game on Saturday, but you stave off a sweep, but you still lose the series. If Florida wants to do, reach their goals this year of an SEC championship, hosting a regional, getting to a super-regional, and then on to the College World Series, they can’t lose too many of these weekend series.

You’ve got Alabama coming in this weekend. After going 2-1 against Tennessee, and then losing a series. Now you’re 3-3, you’re really looking at a situation where you probably need a sweep this weekend of Alabama.

Andrew:            You and I talk about this a lot. We usually don’t put very much precedence on a one series, or two series, because it is baseball. I think that thing that starts to worry me a little bit is I just don’t see consistency enough in this lineup that guys putting the ball in play, that kind of thing. I guess I just start to worry a little bit about the young guys and that. You’ve seen it a little bit more. Are you concerned enough yet, or is it still missing that one bat at Pete Alonzo?

Nick:            I’m not concerned yet. The lineup, Sully is shaking up this lineup so much. I think he’s playing the matchups too much, because John Sternagel hit under his weight right now, hitting a buck 20 something. Any time Florida faces a lefty, Sully doesn’t want to put Christian Hicks, a freshman, in. By all means, Christian Hicks is hitting a buck 50, but he’s making contact. He’s not striking out a lot. He’s hitting the ball hard, just at people. So when you get Pete Alonzo back into that lineup, and now you’re looking Guthrie, who is hitting well above 300, has been a spark plug as a freshman. Then Buddy Reid, Harrison Bader, Pete Alonzo, Richie Martin, Jeremy Vasquez. Now you’re starting to build a serious lineup.

We’re still probably about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, away from getting Alonzo back. Then you got think that there’s going to be an adjustment period for him. There was an adjustment period for Bader last year, who missed 19 games to start the year, and then Bader’s first game was the first SEC series. There’s going to be an adjustment period for Alonzo, but getting his bat into the lineup makes things much better.

Then you can’t imagine that Logan Shore is going to keep going out and putting up these kind of innings and these kind of outings, unless he’s hurt. He left the Miami game with the hip issue. We asked him about it the following week, after he threw really well, and he said, not an issue at all. It was kind of a one time thing. We haven’t talked to him since he pitched against Rhode Island, but if there’s no injury issue you got to think it’s two bad starts. He’ll shake it off. Then that’s a still a very strong rotation. Dane Dunning is a really quality pitcher who’s probably one of the best Sunday pitchers in the league.

Andrew:            What kind of worries me is when you got Richie Martin, and you’ve got Buddy Reid, hitting cleanup back to back days. Neither one of those guys are cleanup hitters.

Nick:            That’s all a product of losing Pete Alonzo.

Andrew:            Right. I’m just saying, I guess, that’s where maybe my concern comes in a little bit. You start to wonder. You’re like, okay, Harrison Bader is never going to get a strike thrown to him if those two guys are hitting behind him.

Nick:            You’ve got JJ Schwartz behind Bader as well. You can put him there. I don’t know why Sully’s been hesitant to put Schwartz in the four spot, hitting Bader three to protect him a little bit. He’s been mainly hitting five. JJ Schwartz is hitting 318, second on the team with five home runs. He’s got 11 doubles, excuse me, he’s got four doubles. So why not put him there?

Andrew:            He needs to bring some of that good mojo to his sister. His sister right now, Taylor Schwartz, first baseman for the softball team, is in a deep struggle for the last probably three weeks. I know that they hit a little bit together sometimes, and maybe he can help his sister out.

Nick:            We got Alabama coming in to Gainesville. It’s a different schedule. We’re going Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon. Andrew, who is Tim Walton, who are the girls hosting this weekend?

Andrew:            Mississippi State. After back to back weeks, I put this on Twitter. Yes, Michigan’s good. Yes, Oregon’s good, but right now LSU, Florida and Alabama are the three best teams in the country, in my opinion. Florida gets the bad luck of facing both of those teams after a long road trip to California. They go three and three in those two series combined. You think, it’s 3-3 that ain’t going to look good, but when you’re facing the two best teams in the country possibly, besides yourself, and you go 3-3, you’re okay with that.

It sucks, because LSU doesn’t play Alabama this year in conference. LSU has a very weak schedule in the conference. Florida right now is 3-3 in the conference. They’re going to struggle to get back to that top where LSU’s 5-1. This weekend they get Mississippi State who comes in with a 4-5 conference record and 21-7 overall record. They’re just okay. They go on the road to play them.

Florida should sweep, but much like the baseball team, this team is struggling hitting the ball right now. Lauren Haeger, Bailey Castro in the middle. They’re not hitting the ball. Florida went a whole weekend without hitting a home run. If you watch Florida softball you know that’s not good. Pitching is still there. They gave up six runs to the best hitting team in the SEC in Alabama this weekend. At a tough place in Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. So hitting the ball is something that you and both know you go through struggles at times, and right now Florida’s struggling the ball.

A good weekend of hitting the ball, blasting the ball a little bit, seeing it fly over the fence, should get it going. I’m not concerned yet. It’s still in my opinion the best team in the country. Talent is there. They’ll be fine. Mississippi State’s coming up this weekend. Florida can take care of them, and then get rolling again. Then I think next week is the dirty Noles, so the Gators like to put down the Noles.

Nick:            Florida will play Florida State next Tuesday, following the Alabama series up in Jacksonville.

Andrew:            Can we see another fight? Is Jameis coming?

Nick:            Maybe. I might have to make the drive up there, as long as weather doesn’t push. I was actually going to drive to Stetson today to watch Florida take on the Hatters, but we have football practice.

Andrew:            Real quick. Here’s a trivia question for you. Who is a famous Stetson alum? There’s two of them.

Nick:            Two. I know one. Name’s on the tip of my tongue. I’m giving you no answer. Who are they?

Andrew:            Chipper’s father. Chipper Jone’s father was a coach at Stetson. Chipper’s a big Stetson guy, and then Braves third baseman, Chris Johnson, is a Stetson. So a little Brave flavor up there. I didn’t know too much about Stetson’s baseball history till I did a little bit of research, but they don’t have bad history.

Nick:            No, not at all. It should be a win. We’ll say that. It should be a win. Hopefully on our next podcast I will be updating you of Florida’s win as they prepare for Alabama to come into town. We’ve run past our time, as we are both long winded. Andrew, say goodbye to the people.

Andrew:            Goodbye, folks. Hopefully I get two more commits this weekend, and we can talk about them next week. Hopefully Coach Mac does well and softball does well, and maybe get to the golf course and hit them straight. So pray for me, guys.

Nick:            There you go. You stay class, Gator Nation.

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Florida Gators Football: The Wyoming Wild Man

Chris Rumph calls redshirt freshman Taven Bryan his "Wyoming Wild Man".

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