This special edition of the Gator Country podcast is a big one as we were joined by former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel and Ross Dellenger of the Advocate to discuss the LSU Tigers game and more.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre asked Dellenger about the mindset in Bator Rouge after the Will Grier news broke on Monday, plus they ask Horschel what his thoughts of the Florida Gators are this year.
Andrew and Nick also discuss what it’s like for Horschel to be on the PGA Tour and what some of his best memories are from Steve Spurrier in the wake of Spurrier’s resignation on Monday.
Andrew: Hello, Gator Country. It is a better Tuesday morning, simply because the breaking news is hopefully behind us. Nick de la Torre and myself are ready to bring some heat on this Wednesday edition of the podcast. We’re taping it on Tuesday. You guys are listening to it on Wednesday. A bunch of good guests lined up, Nick.
Nick: You booked one. I booked one. We teamed up here.
Andrew: Ross Dellenger from the Advocate out of Baton Rouge, and then Billy Horschel, former Gator golfer, PGA tour member, just an awesome guy. Nick, maybe he can give us some short game tips for being a better golfer, hopefully.
Nick: If we can get the podcast to last a full month with Billy it might fix some of my short game problems.
Andrew: Maybe Billy could just come putt for me, and that would really fix my problems. I feel like we need to hit on this real quick. Steve Spurrier retiring, Nick, I don’t know about you, but me growing up in Alabama Steve Spurrier is the reason I started rooting for Florida when I was a young kid. He really made my interest in football become what it is today. He is a guy, I’m not going to lie, he was an idol to me. I loved him. I remember crying when he retired from the Gators. He’s just an inspiration to all, and just a great guy, great football coach. I finally had the opportunity this year to interview him in Birmingham, and you know me, I was giddy as all get out. It was a dream come true for me.
Nick: Getting a chance to meet Coach Spurrier, I think it was three SEC Media Days ago. Great guys, everyone’s got their Steve Spurrier story. Wish I would have gotten a chance to cover him and get to know him a little bit better, but Robbie Andreu and Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, Mark Long of the AP, they were sharing some Spurrier stories, because they covered him for his entire career here at Florida. Nice to see the coach and see the man through their eyes, through eyes of people who were very close to him while he was at Florida. Spurrier was Florida’s coach, both my parents went to Florida, so I grew up in a Gator household, and Spurrier was the first coach I started watching really. Those Florida teams were fun to watch.
Andrew: Absolutely. I still remember the day he, Senior Bowl is in Mobile, Alabama, as you know, Nick, his first year as the Redskins coach he comes to practice to scout. My brother and I, I believe I’m 12 at the time, 13, something like that, and my brother is younger than I am. He and I staked out the parking lot waiting on Coach Spurrier to come, because we wanted our football autographed. I remember Coach Spurrier getting out of his SUV with all of the people that were with him, Dan Snider and all his guys, and reporters just swarming him. He sees my brother and I, and he points out, you guys want my autograph? He gives us his autograph. Come to find out, my brother and I are in ESPN the magazine with Coach Spurrier, and we’re just in the middle of a group of reporters. Being 13 years old, you think you’re the most awesome kid on Earth for that. Coach Spurrier just always was a good dude to meet. Nick, it was a thing where you and I always wanted to catch his media day at SEC Media Days. It was the day after Florida always, but it was getting up early going to hear Coach Spurrier, because he was going to make you laugh some way or another.
Nick: Yeah. For me it was always funny, SEC Media Days the SEC has these girls that will lead the coaches and the SIDs around from room to room. These girls know the schedule inside and out. It’s a very tight schedule in SEC Media Days. I always felt terrible for the girl that had to lead Coach Spurrier around, because every single person at SEC Media Days either knew him or wanted to talk to him, and the head ball coach didn’t say no often. A lot of times you’d see this look of panic on a girl’s face as Spurrier stopped to talk to somebody for what he probably thought was going to be 30 seconds, a minute, and then 5 minutes later you’ve got this girl afraid to start yanking on the head ball coach’s arm to say, we got to get out of here.
Andrew: Cassidy, our Gator Country writer, Cassidy, she was telling me a little funny thing when I was interviewing. She was like, I’ve always noticed when Coach Spurrier goes to the pocket and starts rattling the keys that’s his signal of I’ve got to go. Always a nice guy, didn’t want to, but for me not the way I wanted him to go out, but I think I share the sentiments of a lot of other people that I’m glad to see Coach Spurrier leave South Carolina. I hated seeing him on the opposite sideline. It just felt like it wasn’t right. I said this to you yesterday, Nick, I can’t wait to see Coach Spurrier come back and be Mr. Two Bits. It’s going to happen sooner or later. That’d be awesome. That’d be so cool. Thanks, Coach. That’s about the best thing I can say.
Nick: Yeah. I think you might have fit Mr. Two Bits in between a golf round or two, but that would be cool to see. Certainly Steve Spurrier will be back in Florida. Still has a home here. Golf is great here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him around the Florida program a little bit, maybe not right away. Get some time to decompress, some time to get away from it all, and then maybe get back and hang out around the program a little bit.
Andrew: Maybe when Billy joins us here in a minute we can set up a golf round, Nick. You and Billy, and I’ll take Spurrier.
Nick: I’m sure that Spurrier would love to play with Billy. I just don’t know how we fit into that equation.
Andrew: I consider myself a goat.
Nick: I don’t know what we bring to that.
Andrew: I promise this. I promise one thing. I will keep Coach Spurrier laughing on the golf course. I can promise that. Coach, if you need a good laugh, if you’re listening to this, I can’t give you my cell phone number over the podcast.
Nick: I can do it. I’ll give your number out.
Andrew: No. Do not do that. If you will hit my email Andrew@GatorCountry.com, Coach, I promise you we will find a way to golf.
Nick: All right, Andrew. We will be joined by Ross Dellenger here shortly, and then Billy Horshel to follow him. Stay tuned. It should be a good one Gators.
Andrew: It’s going to be a real big one. Stay tuned real quick. Let’s get Ross on.
Nick: Now we welcome in Ross. Ross, how is it going? I noticed you had a tight end yesterday, on Monday, interviewing a player with a banana, so it seems like you and I had a slightly different Monday.
Ross: Yeah. LSU doesn’t let freshmen talk, doesn’t let true freshmen talk. So there’s one true freshmen, he’s a tight end, and he enjoys acting as a reporter while we interview other players. He always finds a way to have a different recorder each time. He chose a banana with tape wrapped around the end of it yesterday.
Andrew: How was the mood in the program yesterday with the Will Grier stuff going on? Was there any reaction from LSU on that at all? Did you get any sense that the players were aware of it?
Ross: It happened I guess 20 minutes or so before Les Miles opened his weekly press conference on Monday with reporters, so he had to be told before the press conference. He had to be told what happened basically. He had no idea. I told the SID we’re probably going to ask him about this, so you might want to tell him. He was told about 5-10 minutes before stepping on the podium, and then after that we have player interviews, and they really all didn’t know until we told them. It was kind of a bizarre situation. The timing of it was kind of crazy. That just all happened right around the time that LSU had its big media availability stuff Monday. It was a surprise, just like it was nationally. It was a surprise to pretty much everybody at LSU as well.
Nick: We dealt with that last week talking to players and saying, Missouri kind of embarrassed you guys during homecoming, is it nice to be able to go up there for their homecoming game this year? They’re like, I didn’t even know it was homecoming. It makes for a good Q&A when you’re letting somebody know a piece of information and then immediately asking them about it right after.
Nick: Getting into the quarterback situation, Florida’s been a little snake bitten when it comes to LSU. In 2009 Tim Tebow had the concussion against Kentucky, goes down to play LSU, Florida wins 13-3. 2011 John Brantley and Jeff Driskel get injured, so freshman Jacoby Brissett makes his first career appearance in Death Valley. Florida lost that one 41-11. 2013, Jeff Driskel’s broken leg. Tyler Murphy made his third career start. Florida lost 17-6. Treon Harris comes in, leads a comeback against Tennessee last year, is going to presumably be named the starter going into the LSU game. A sexual assault allegation forces him to miss it. Florida loses by 3. Then yesterday Will Grier with the PED. I guess this shouldn’t be too much of a shock for LSU. It’s kind of old hat. We’re going to face one of Florida’s backups. I think you even wrote about that.
Ross: Yeah. Aside from the history of LSU facing Florida backups, you got to look at LSU facing backups in general this season. That’s kind of what I wrote about. This season will be the fourth straight game that LSU will face a backup quarterback. It’s just kind of crazy. You go back all the way to the game against Syracuse. Syracuse played really its fourth string quarterback. When the season started he was #4 on the depth chart. They hosted Eastern Michigan, and played I think their third string quarterback. Then last week against South Carolina they played the backup, actually their third string as well to start the season, because Connor Mitchel and Lorenzo Nunez were out. So that left Perry Orth the walk-on third string guy. Now this week LSU gets the backup in Treon Harris.
It’s been kind of crazy. They’re used to it. You say that, and I’m sure, as Les Miles would say, they enjoy it a lot the fact that they’re playing these quarterbacks that are really not starters. Treon’s a little different, as you all know, I’m sure. He started a lot of games and has played a lot more than any of the other backups that LSU’s seen. It is kind of different, but certainly LSU’s on a string here of the week before you play the Tigers something happens to your starting quarterback. That seems to be a little trend here. Of course the craziest thing about all this is the last true #1 starting quarterback LSU played is no longer the starting quarterback for his team in Jeremy Johnson at Auburn. Pretty wild.
Andrew: You kind of brought this up a little bit and touched on it. Treon’s not your typical backup quarterback. He was in a tight race, and had it not been for his suspension in the Tennessee game who knows what happens? How are you looking at that situation? Also, Treon Harris is a guy that has been in big stadiums, loud environments, Tennessee, Florida State. He’s actually probably more experienced with crowd noises. Is that something you’ve got the sense of as well? What’s your thoughts on that?
Ross: That was one of the things coming in I know a lot of people have talked about. Will Grier being a freshman has never really been in this environment. He’s going to get thrown to the wolves kind of thing. Treon has. Certainly that should give Florida a little more confidence from that perspective. He’s been through that. That was kind of a big thing here was it’s a night game in Tiger stadium, undefeated Top 10 matchup. Florida’s going to be starting a guy who’s never experienced this kind of environment and this loud of a road environment. From that standpoint certainly Florida has an advantage now in a way that Treon has experienced that type of stuff.
Andrew: You kind of look back at the last 10, 12 years of this game, and outside of a game or two it’s always a close physical football game. Florida had Tyler Murphy a couple years ago, and they go in and lose 14-3. It’s usually a close game. Are you expecting that as well? How do you see these two teams matching up? Do you feel that one team has a big advantage in talent over the other?
Ross: I don’t necessarily think that. The Alabama LSU rivalry over the last 6-8 years has kind of overshadowed the LSU Florida rivalry, because they’re really similar games. They’re two very talented teams from states that really kind of produce a lot of athletic players. They’re always this highly ranked, sometimes undefeated, matchups with two big offensive lines and two athletic defensive lines. They’re very similar type of matchups, LSU vs Alabama and LSU vs Florida. LSU Alabama has just kind of overshadowed the Florida one, but I think it’s very similar. They’re always kind of close and things like that.
I really thought that Florida had a chance to come in and beat LSU with Will Grier at quarterback. I think Florida’s defense is going to be the best that LSU will face. They haven’t proven yet completely that they have this great passing game. Certainly last week helped against South Carolina, but that’s a defense that really has struggled. LSU is going to get its first test against a really good defense, a talented, athletic defense, and you just can’t hand the ball off every play. I really did figure certainly that Florida would keep it really close, especially with Will Grier at quarterback. I still think it’s probably going to be a close game. I just can’t imagine it being a super blowout with these two defenses on the field. I do feel like it’s going to be a tight kind of defensive game.
Nick: To me I kind of thought that LSU goes to the pass last week against South Carolina for a couple reasons. One, you’re playing a South Carolina defense that I think the three of us could run some routes on and complete some passes, and that way you can get Brandon Harris some confidence going forward. Have him see some completions. Two, I think you want to put it on tape for Florida, because before that game really LSU still has the worst passing offense in terms of yards in the SEC. I think before that game really the book on LSU is put as many in the box as you can to stop 7, and you don’t really have to worry about the quarterback beating you with his arm. They’re not interested in throwing. They’re not going to throw. When they try to it’s probably not going to be successful.
I really think you’re on to something. I think this game was, is, and will be Leonard Fournette versus Florida’s defense, and can they hold up against who I think, in my opinion, is the best player in college football right now? Leonard’s going to get his yards. I don’t think it’s a situation where you stop him, but you try to contain him and get LSU out of their rhythm and get Fournette out of his rhythm early if you can.
Ross: Yeah. South Carolina really did that. They loaded the box. They honestly had 10 people in the box to stop Leonard, and they did in the first half. I think Leonard at half time had around 15 carries for about 50 yards. He was averaging around 3.5 yards a carry, which is five yards less than his normal average a carry. They slowed him down. Then, of course, the second play of the 3rd quarter he ripped off an 87 yard touchdown run. That’s the things that you can’t let Leonard Fournette do. You can’t let him get the big chunks of yards. South Carolina, for two quarters they did that better than anybody this season by really just loading the box, by really crushing the middle, just clogging the middle.
That one play you just can’t let Leonard Fournette do that, because that gave LSU I think a 24-10 lead and South Carolina only scored 24 points the rest of the game. Those are the plays that you can’t let happen. With Florida’s athletic defense I think it’s possible that they can stop that, because, as you said, Leonard’s going to get his yards. He’s probably almost always going to get right around 100 yards. Even if he averages 3.5, 4 yards a carry, he’s going to get 100 yards. You just can’t let him get 180 yards, 200 yards.
Nick: It’s those big plays. He’s had a bunch of them this year, those plays 70 yards, 60 yards, 80 yards. Florida’s had one game this season where they really struggled tackling. Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd made them pay for it. Jim McElwain yesterday joked that Jalen Hurd probably called Leonard Fournette and said, those guys don’t like to tackle. You’re going to have fun on Saturday. They’ve since kind of shored that up. It’s a very prideful defense.
I did want to bring up one more thing. With LSU’s passing attack, guys like Malachi Dupre, there are players there. It’s kind of like Florida in the past where you wondered why isn’t this part of the offense better, because there is skill there. If Florida does slow down Fournette and force LSU to pass, can LSU pass on one half of the DBU debate?
Ross: That’s kind of the question. I think Brandon Harris has the talent to do it. He was a four, five star guy, a really good arm. He’s kind of a gunslinger guy, got this great tight spiral. He’s got quick feet. He’s smart. His presence in the pocket hasn’t been great, but he’s got talent to do it. LSU just they don’t want to let him do it, basically, because they have such a good running game. Les Miles has just kind of always been leans on his running game, especially when his running back is the best in the nation. We haven’t seen LSU say go ahead and do it, win this game with your arm. We don’t really know if Brandon can do it or not. He proved a little bit last week, given the receiving you mentioned, a very talented group, that they can throw for pretty good amount of yards against an SEC defense in South Carolina.
I can’t even think of a time last year or this year where LSU has won a game because of its passing game. It just doesn’t do that. Les Miles doesn’t do that a whole lot, even with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback he didn’t do that a ton. I think Les Miles is something like 70-0 or 100-0 or whatever when LSU runs for at least 100 yards. He loves to just pound that rock and that’s what they’re going to do. If something happens and LSU’s trailing by a touchdown in the middle of the 3rd quarter or the 4th quarter, and they have to win a game with the passing game I don’t know what’s going to happen, because they haven’t really done that. LSU was down 17-0 at Arkansas last season and he kept running the ball. That was Anthony Jennings at quarterback then, and he really struggled. They do have a more talented guy in Harris, but we just haven’t seen really LSU give the ball to Brandon Harris in a close game and say, win us the ballgame. I don’t know what will happen.
Andrew: Let’s turn our attention to LSU’s defense a little bit. I would say that they’re probably the least talked about defense of a Top 25 team right now. Obviously, in my opinion, LSU has the best secondary in the SEC or the country, safeties, the best safety group in the SEC. As far as the front seven goes, those are guys that are not really talked about as much, kind of like Florida’s is. How has the front seven done this year? Compared to past years, how are they?
Ross: The starters are good. They’re just as good, fast, and athletic pretty much as any LSU’s had. Maybe a little drop off from the teams like 2011 or ’07, but they’re pretty close, the starters are. The issue with the front seven this year has been the depth. That’s an issue that goes back two or three years when LSU lost so many players early to the NFL draft. That has really hurt their depth across the board. It’s really hurt it at defensive line. There is hardly any rotation. LSU rotates three defensive ends, and they rotate four defensive tackles, but the backup defensive tackles in close games don’t really see that much time, maybe two drives or so. There’s just not a lot of production from the depth.
Then at linebacker you’ve got Deion Jones and Kendell Beckwith and LSU pretty much stays in the nickel with the five defensive backs and two linebackers. You’ve got Beckwith and Jones, really good players. Beckwith obviously very good, possibly a 1st round draft pick. Deion Jones, senior, really fast guy. They hardly ever come out of the game. In fact, I know at least one game, probably two games this year, they played every single snap.
The depth is an issue in that front seven, but the starters are there. They’re a really good solid group. One or two injuries to that front seven though, I should say front six. LSU plays 90, 95% in the nickel. One injury to that group and it could be trouble. I think you can see how little coaches have confidence in the depth of the front six, because of the fact that they stay in that nickel look. They think they have Kendell Beckwith and Deion Jones has the two top linebackers, and there is this huge space between the next guy. Sometimes they just play with three defensive linemen as well. They’ll play kind of a fixed DB package every now and then. The depth is the issue, but the starters, they have played really well. They’re athletic speedy guys.
Nick: Florida’s pretty much been in the dime or the nickel this entire season. A lot of that goes to the offenses that they’re facing. LSU is a completely different offense than what Florida has faced. Florida is so thin at linebacker that they might end up playing in the dime and bringing one of their bigger safeties in Marcus Maye or Marcell Harris down to defend against LSU. We haven’t had a chance to talk to players yet. We’ll do that today. Florida, the defensive backs, the secondary, were really into this whole DBU social media war over the off season. They’ve kind of cooled on it since football actually started. Where does LSU stand? Are the players talking about that? Do they see this as kind of a game to maybe put that argument to rest?
Ross: The players don’t talk about it much, unless they’re asked. Les was asked on Monday about the debate and Twitter, and he’s kind of cut off players from Twitter. He didn’t really say he had cut them off, judging by the things I’ve seen on Twitter over the last day he has not cut them off. I think he’s like there’s no reason to kind of get into that this week, for players to kind of stay away from that on Twitter. There’s a few defensive backs that they take it personally. Safety Ricky Jefferson, I’ve talked to him before about it, not actually this week, but I talked to him in the past about it. They really take that whole DBU thing really seriously. Way more seriously than I ever thought. They’re out to prove that they’re a better secondary than Florida. That’s kind of the goal.
I know there are some personal things when it comes to Jamal Adams and Florida. I know Jamal’s godfather was Joker Phillips. I know it was actually between Florida and LSU, he picked LSU. The kid’s going to end up turning into an All American. We talked about Leonard Fournette, his breakout game was at Florida last year. Jamal Adams’ breakout game was at Florida last year as well.
Nick: Florida fans remember Jamal, of course first for picking LSU over them, and then last year for his flop, his NBA sized flop on the sideline. Jamal, in my opinion, is right up there with Tony Connor as one of the best safeties already in the SEC, tremendous player. Jokes aside about theatrics on the sideline, great player.
Another question we’ve kind of had from fans, for me personally I was in Baton Rouge two years ago. I was a little upset about the 2:30 kickoff time then, because I wanted to experience a Saturday night in Death Valley. I’ll get the chance this weekend. Is there any other venue, you’ve been doing this for a while. You’ve had the opportunity to see Saturday night in Death Valley. Is there any other venue in the country that can give you that kind of atmosphere? Two Top 10 teams, Saturday night, Death Valley, the whole video plays when the sun sets in the western sky. I think Les Miles record is something ridiculous like 44-2 when playing at home at night. What is that atmosphere like for somebody who hasn’t been? What is it like for a player to have to deal with?
Ross: It is certainly incredible. The only thing I can even come close to comparing it to is an Alabama game at night. The crowd and how into it they are, the videos that play, the band. I think Alabama, and to a small extent Auburn, a night game the Eagle flies around. All that pre-game stuff. If you were taking the total package from the sounds to the video stuff and the band and the crowd noise, and just everything, the atmosphere, it would it’s probably the best I’ve ever experienced. Alabama and Auburn, those two schools probably aren’t far away. I’ll tell you this, my first job at a college I covered Auburn, and it was the 2007 season where they went to Florida when Florida was #1. They beat them down there by a field goal. That was the loudest I had ever heard a stadium in my life was the Swamp when Tim Tebow tied the game at 14 on a putdown sneak at the 1 in the 4th quarter. I remember the press box shaking. I remember thinking this is the loudest I’ve ever heard a football stadium.
Then, of course, when I covered LSU last year against Ole Miss and Alabama. That was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard a football stadium was last season when LSU played night games against Ole Miss and Alabama. I would imagine that it’s going to be just as loud, if not louder, on Saturday.
Andrew: How is this game being perceived on campus? You kind of touched on it a second ago, this rivalry’s kind of lost its touch a little bit from the LSU side of things. Is it picked back up now that it’s a Top 10 matchup?
Ross: Yeah. Even when the game’s not big, like last year’s game, it ended up being a wild, crazy game with a good atmosphere. I do think there’s a feeling around here of the rivalry and how this is a big game. We talked to Deion Jones the linebacker from LSU. We were talking about the rivalry in general, and he said as a kid he grew up thinking this was it. The Florida LSU rivalry, this was it, not Alabama LSU, but Florida LSU. Even some players, they know the history behind it, and they know how important and how big it is.
Nick: It is early in the week, but we normally ask if our guest has a prediction. I think LSU, last time I checked, was a 7.5 point favorite. How do you see this game going on Saturday? If you want you can drop a prediction on us.
Ross: It is so early I haven’t even thought of score wise prediction. I still think even without Grier it’s going to be a somewhat close game, defensive game, a low scoring game. I think at the end, because of the home field advantage we talked about and the crowd and all this stuff that LSU will win, but I think it could come down to the last play. I feel like LSU wins maybe by 6-10 points, something like that. Certainly a close tight game with a fantastic atmosphere.
Nick: I’m looking forward to it. I really enjoyed that press box. I think they had some grandma making some delicious jambalaya last time I was there. I had to loosen the belt a notch after eating a couple plates. Look forward to getting down there, seeing you down there as well. Hopefully we’ll be treated to a great football game.
Andrew: Absolutely. Thanks for coming on with us, Ross. We will see you on Saturday.
Ross: Thanks, ya’ll.
Andrew: That was Ross. Good interview with him, Nick. He is confident. I think he’s confident in what LSU brings. It was interesting that he kind of said he thought kind of the same thing we did that Treon coming in probably gives Florida more experience in the crowd.
Nick: Yeah. That’s interesting. Will Grier played in two road games, but no disrespect, Commonwealth was loud at times when he played against Kentucky, and Missouri’s not very loud based on their construction of the stadium there. That’s no Death Valley that Will Grier has played in. You can kind of say that Treon coming in last year against Tennessee is that kind of crowd, but like I said on the podcast that went up on Tuesday, Treon Harris grew up in a very rough neighborhood. There’s nothing he’s going to see on a football field that’s going to rattle him.
Andrew: Definitely. We kind of got his thoughts on it and got his opinion. It was a good opinion, but I need to talk to a Gator. Let’s go bring on our man, former Gator golfer Billy Horschel, get his take on it, and hopefully some take on my short game.
Welcome back, Gator Country. We’re joined by Billy Horschel, former Gator golfer, now FedEx cup champion. Billy, it is my pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much for taking your time to join us today.
Billy: My pleasure, guys. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Kind of a whirlwind day yesterday. I’m sure you kept up with it in your off season. Big news, Coach Spurrier resigning, Will Grier getting busted for PEDs. What was your thoughts on that as a Gator fan of yesterday?
Billy: It was a weird day, obviously. Another Gator golfer, Matt Every, a really good friend of mine, sent me a text saying he had heard that Will was going to get suspended or possibly getting suspended for PEDs, and I hadn’t heard anything. There’s nothing on Twitter, and then about five minutes later I check and all this stuff’s coming up on Twitter. It was unfortunate. I think Will did make an honest mistake. I don’t think he took whatever he did on purpose trying to gain an advantage at all. There’s a lot of rumors swirling around that he gained 42 pounds in a year, which is a complete false rumor type deal. From what I’ve been told he probably gained maybe about 20 pounds, maybe 25. That’s in 18 months, and it’s very normal to see that with kids coming in as freshmen, especially on football level. I’ve seen linemen that came in that redshirted one year, weighed 260 when they came in, and then they redshirted, because the coach wanted them to get 300. I saw that when I was at school there.
It’s an unfortunate situation. I know that everyone talks about they always tell us to go see trainers and medical staff and nutritionists and make sure everything’s approved, but we’re college kids. We think we know everything. We make mistakes. It happens. It’s an unfortunate situation, like I said. He’s not the first one that’s made this mistake, and he surely won’t be the last. It’s tough right now.
Then you hear later that night that Steve Spurrier decides to resign, retire. He’s the Florida is where it is today. If Steve Spurrier doesn’t come along, I don’t think Florida is in the position that it is now. He took a program that was very average and made it something that became a powerhouse.
Andrew: What is your favorite memory of Coach Spurrier, Billy? Do you have a favorite memory? I’m sure you have a lot. What’s your favorite memory?
Billy: Obviously I was real young during his tenure, but I still remember watching games with my dad and everything at home. Just the enjoyment you saw from him on the sidelines. He’s an emotional guy. You saw when the players made great plays he was ecstatic, and he was happy for them. Then when they made mistakes or a referee made a bad call you knew the visor was going to be thrown down on the ground. He’s just a well liked guy. He’s got a great sense of humor, and like I said, I think the passion for the sport of football that he brought to the field every day I think that’s something that I’ll always remember.
Nick: Billy, as somebody whose profession, whose job puts them in the public eye, getting back to Will Grier here, how tough is it? What do you think it says about Will’s character to step in front of reporters yesterday? He easily could have had the university release a statement that were his words, or weren’t his words, and kind of faded into the background, but instead he chose to get up and take ownership in front of it with a lot of strangers pounding on laptops and a bunch of cameras in front of him.
Billy: It’s tough being a Florida Gator. It’s tough being in the public eye. There’s a lot of people that want to be haters out there, and that’s really a true fact. You do one thing wrong, it could be an honest mistake, and people want to get a bandwagon and bash you and be a hater. We live in a society that’s that unfortunately now and doesn’t give someone the benefit of the doubt. I think Will made an honest mistake. He’s a 19, 20 year old kid. He’s been at the University of Florida for roughly a year and a half now, and from everything that I know about the kid from the people that are within the program, he’s been a great kid, been a model student, been everything they could ask for. No issues at all. It’s a mistake. It happens. It does.
I have an older brother who is a Director of Sports Medicine at College of Charleston, so he oversees all the athletes up there. We were talking about it the other night, and he had a couple athletes several years ago have a similar situation. They went into a GNC store. They were talking to the GNC guy, and we think that the people in the stores know everything about the product.
Nick: They do not.
Billy: What’s not illegal and everything. The guy told his players, this is good to take, you’re fine. They took a drug test, and they got busted. It wasn’t like they were trying to gain an advantage or anything. They didn’t go see the nutritionist about whether it’s approved or not, and it happens. They’re 18-22 year old kids. They’re going to make mistakes. This is a very small mistake in the eyes of what other players at other schools have done. No one’s getting arrested or anything like that.
Nick: It’s a victimless crime.
Billy: Just a little thing.
Andrew: Billy, let’s turn to some positive news. This is getting me down. It’s a big week. You’re very active on Twitter during the games. What have you thought about this team this year? What kind of energy has it brought to Gator fans, former Gators, around the country?
Billy: I think when Coach McElwain was hired we were all, was it the home run hire that the Gator fans were hoping for? Was it a Chip Kelly or somewhere along that line, the big name coach? No. I think it was the right coach for the job. I think Jeremy Foley does a good job of hiring coaches. Obviously he’s had a couple bad hires in football, but you look at what he’s done in other sports. He knocks it out of the ballpark on a regular basis. I think he did a great job with McElwain. I think that Foley understood that University of Florida we’re an offensive school. We run the great defense we’ve had the last couple years, but we want to see that fun and gun that Spurrier had, and we want to see pro [inaudible] that Urban Meyer had when Tebow was in school there.
McElwain’s a great guy. I had a chance to meet him in March at Tim Tebow’s foundation event here in Jacksonville. Great guy. I can see why the players love him. I can see why the recruits love him. I think he’s done an awesome job. From what I’ve been getting back from inside the program from people that I’m close with in there and just reading reports the players have bought into his plan. Obviously you’re going to have resistance at first, but now that we’re playing well and winning and we’re doing things right I think you’re going to see more players, everyone bought in now, and the recruits are all excited about it.
I think Florida football is going in the right direction. It’s going to go in the right direction no matter what with Jim McElwain, but could I imagine us being 6-0 at the start of the year? No. I was telling people if we go 8-4 I think it’s a good year. I said if we can somehow do 9-3 I think it’s a great year for us. Now that we’re 6-0, now we’re looking at we got a chance for almost full control of the SEC East, and now we got a really good chance of being into the playoff, the College football playoff system, if we can keep playing well. I think the fan base is energized. We’re all excited. I was at the game against Ole Miss. I haven’t seen our stadium be that loud for an entire four quarters for a long time. It’s been a long time.
Nick: Probably since you were in school.
Billy: Yeah. Like I said, there were parts there where I was like, that’s the loudest it may have ever been. I think the loudest when I’ve been in that stadium is when we blocked the kick against South Carolina.
Nick: That’s what I told Andrew. I was in the stands for that game. The Jarvis Moss field goal block at the end of the game was probably the loudest I’ve been at any sporting event.
Billy: I told people that stadium literally shook. It was shaking. We’re all really excited. I think McElwain’s doing an awesome job. Our defense has not let up at all, which is awesome. I think if we keep going down this road, McElwain and the coaching staff and players keep preaching what McElwain’s doing on a regular basis and preaching it to these recruits that we’re trying to get, I think we’re going to hopefully be a dynasty. Hopefully we’re going to be something like Alabama’s been for the last 10 years with Nick Saban.
One last thing, I remember when we hired McElwain my teacher, my coach Todd Anderson is an Alabama alum, and he was telling me all about McElwain when he was there at Alabama. He’s like, you’re going to love this guy. This guy is going to do an awesome job for University of Florida. My coach is a big fan of McElwain. I can’t fault my teacher. He seems to know what’s right.
Andrew: Couple quick things for you. You’re having a good golf career so far. You won the FedEx cup. You’ve done the Gator chomp so far. Just give us a quick look. How is the PGA tour treating you? How big of an enjoyment has it been for you?
Billy: I love my life. I say it a lot on Twitter. I hashtag it a lot. I’m doing something I love. I wake up every day, and I love what I do. I get to go out and travel this world, something that I’m a big fan of. I love going to new places. I get to play golf, and I get to make a living playing golf. There’s not much that I’m ever really down about. I’m pretty happy on a regular basis. There’s not much that’s going to get me down, maybe if the Florida Gators lose once in a while, but we don’t have to worry about that right now. I love my life. PGA tour is great. There’s a lot of unbelievable players out there on tour, a lot of friends that I’ve met and am close with now, with other players and their families and everything. I couldn’t ask for anything better. Could I have predicted that I was going to be on the PGA tour and win what I’ve won so far when I started my freshman year of college? No. I wouldn’t say I could have even thought of that five years ago. It’s been a dream come true, and hopefully I’ve still got another good 10-15 years in me, and then I can retire and just go to every Florida football game that I can.
Nick: Maybe they’ll get you down there as an honorary Mr. Two Bits sometime here in the future.
Billy: I was actually asked at the LSU game last year, and I felt personally thanks for the offer, but I feel like there was more people in line that deserve to be Mr. Two Bits before I was. It’s been cool to see Dominic Easley. I saw him on the field, and I saw him at the hotel later that night. I saw some other people do it. Chris Demarco did it a couple years ago. I think it’s a cool tradition that the University of Florida did. It’s been a great thing to see how every former athlete or whoever it may be come down and do two bits put their own little spin on it.
Nick: It might just be because I cover Florida, grew up in a Gator household, but it seems to me you always have an orange and blue outfit to wear at least one of the days. Is there any smack talk on the tour between you guys as far as your alma maters? Sunday I know is a pretty serious day, but any smack talk during rounds or practice rounds with guys who went to rival schools?
Billy: All the time, especially this time of year with college football being in store and everything. We all give each other good ribbing here and there about whether our team lost, or we beat this team. Two guys that I love giving a little smack talk to, one of them being Butch Koepka, he’s a Florida State golfer. He’s been with the PGA tour now for a couple years. He won the Waste Management in February. We all give it back and forth and everything. It’s fun out on the PGA tour, especially during college football season. I’m sure when I see someone here in the next week or two people are going to be ribbing me about the Will Grier situation and the PEDs. You got to be able to take it. If you’re going to give it some people you got to be able to take it.
Andrew: Definitely. We joked before you came on the air that the perfect foursome for us would be myself and Nick versus you and Coach Spurrier. I would probably have to take one of you guys, and you’d have to take the other one. What do you think about that? Do you think Coach Spurrier could hang with you on the golf course?
Billy: I know he’s a good golfer. I would have to give him some shots. I haven’t played with him yet, but he’s a competitive guy. Chris Demarco is a really good friend of his, and I know they’ve played some rounds together. He doesn’t like to lose, so when he gets on that golf course he’s doing whatever he can to beat you.
Andrew: Billy, we appreciate it so much. Quick predication for this weekend. Do you think the Gators can go to Baton Rouge and get a win?
Billy: It’s going to be a tough game. I was telling someone yesterday. I think for us to win our defense is going to have to keep playing well, which I don’t see that changing. I think we’re going to have to create about two turnovers, and I think one of those turnovers is going to have to go for a touchdown. Then I think our punter is going to have to keep kicking the ball really well like he has the last several games to help with field position. It’s tough for me to say the prediction right now if we’re going to win or lose. My biased side being a Florida Gator and everything I want to say we’re going to win. The realistic person in me it’s going to be touch. I know Treon Harris is an unbelievable quarterback, but he hasn’t played the last couple games. There’s going to be a little bit of timing issue with the wide receivers and everything. I think this team’s going to rally around, come together even closer now from this Will Grier situation. I think it’s going to be a close game. I’m going to say 17-14 Gators.
Andrew: There you go.
Nick: There you go.
Andrew: Billy, we appreciate it so much. Hopefully when the Gators get to Georgia we can have you on to talk about the championship.
Billy: That’d be awesome. Thanks, guys.
Andrew: Thanks so much, Billy.
Nick: Thanks, Billy.
Andrew: Nick, that was some good stuff from Mr. Horschel. Always good to talk to him. I really appreciate him coming on. He’s a guy that I, me being a big golfing fan, I love to watch him play, just because of his energy. Not even so much that he’s a former Gator. It’s just the energy he brings to the golf course. I hate the guys that go out there and just mope around. I like the energy he brings.
Nick: I definitely love the energy that he brings. You’ve seen my fashion sense, top notch, if I do say so myself, and anyone that can pull off orange pants with a blue striped polo, you’re doing a good job.
Andrew: Definitely. He’s definitely doing a good job there. He had some good points. I think that while we all talk about the program and that kind of stuff I think he brought up a good point. The energy is back around, the atmosphere is back around it, and people are very, I think happy again would be the word to say. They’re just very excited for the program, and that was good to hear from Billy.
Nick: Excited, happy, hopefully. Billy was at Florida from 2006-2009, that was a dominant stretch of years for Florida football. To him, to see that he sees the program returning to that, and I think we all kind of see maybe it returning to something like that, this soon. Florida, we’ve talked about it, is a year early, but to just see the culture changes and the changes that have happened so quickly it’s kind of hard not to look down the road and think they might be building something like that.
Andrew: Guys like Billy that are in the atmosphere of the world, they get to see what the former players, what the fans are saying, and I think that’s interesting to always see is what their impression of things are. Are they feeling that the program’s there? I’m sure for Billy he’s sitting here very happy that he gets to actually root for his team in public now.
Nick: He always rooted for them in public. He was critical of them at times during some rough stretches, but that’s a fan, and every fan is entitled to cheer, to be critical. It’s your team. Fan is short for fanatic, so it’s too be expected.
Andrew: Yeah. Definitely.
Nick: I wanted to touch real quick, going back to Will Grier. I’ve been getting a lot of questions on Twitter and on the message board about the situation that Will is in now as far as being around the team and practice and stuff. Will is ineligible, which he can’t play, and he can’t travel with the team. He won’t be in Baton Rouge this week with the team. He can go to meetings. He can go through practice, anything that isn’t a competition, intercollegiate competition, he can be involved in, meetings, practices, film room sessions, stuff like that he can be a part of. I think he can do Gator Walk for home games. I don’t think he can be on the sideline, and I know that he cannot travel, and obviously can’t play in games.
Andrew: It’s like a transfer guy. I believe he can be on the sidelines in street clothes, but I don’t believe he can be there in his Gator jersey, but that’s something I’ll definitely have to check on. Real quick, just to clarify everything that we talked about. He is going to be a redshirt sophomore. The reports that were out were false.
Nick: Florida’s communications department was kind of scrambling to get us correct information quickly, and we got some bad information on that end. Andrew here was able to find the fine folks at the NCAA and get some clarification for us pretty quickly. Will Grier will be a redshirt sophomore when he returns, if the appeal, which was filed on Tuesday, is upheld. If it stands, he will available to play October 12 as a redshirt sophomore, and getting into that appeal process it’s not a situation, the NCAA is not going to rule, sorry, we think the ruling is too harsh. Will can come back and play this year. The NCAA has a very hardline stance on banned substances. Will basically came out yesterday and said, yeah I took something unknowingly, but I still took something. That substance was in my body. I should have gotten it checked. He’s admitting fault. At this point in appeal what you’re hoping to get is a reduced suspension, and I would not expect to see that reduced to under six games. We’ve seen Will Grier play his last down this season. Florida is hoping to get some kind of reduction to that suspension as it pertains to the first six games of next season.
Andrew: Absolutely. It’s a situation where I think that it should be reduced, but we’ll see. I don’t believe in the NCAA for anything they do whatsoever. They’re crazy about it. You look at stuff like Laramie Tunsil, that situation, it’s gone on way too far. Make a decision. If he’s going to be six games, just tell him it’s going to be six games. If it’s going to be the rest of the year, let it be the rest of the year. We’ll just see where it is. I don’t have faith in it. Everything I’ve heard says the precedent has been set that it doesn’t happen very often. I voiced my opinion yesterday. It’s a bull crap, bull shit rule. I’m going to say it. Sorry for my language.
Nick: You’re going to get our everyone content rating banned.
Andrew: Probably. You can’t make me believe this. Here’s my thing. Jameis Winston steals. Steals. He admits that he’s stealing. He gets nothing. Nothing. Treon Harris smokes weed. One game. JC Jackson is in court for 3, 5 counts of felonies. He’s playing ball at Juco.
Nick: Juco’s not NCAA.
Andrew: Still, my thing is, Antonio Gates is busted in the NFL for PEDs. Four games. You’re taking it out on a guy, and let’s just say, I don’t know. I don’t know if he knew it was a banned substance or not. I don’t know. It’s not my job to judge him. In my opinion it’s the Good Lord’s job to judge him, not anybody’s job to judge him. If he’s telling the truth that he did not knowingly take it that it was on the banned list, then how is the NCAA giving him a one year suspension? It doesn’t matter. Someone sent me a message on Twitter saying, it’s performance enhancing drugs. Weed is a performance enhancing drug as well.
Nick: Weed is not a performance, I think weed is a performance deterrent drug.
Andrew: It makes you more focused, gives you more energy, that kind of stuff. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Weed, honestly you get in a car and you drive and you’re high you kill someone. Drink and drive you kill someone. Will Grier didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t put anybody’s life in jeopardy of killing anyone, and you’re banning him for a year. I just don’t see that the NCAA is smart here. They say they’re in for the betterment of the student athlete and the university. How is banning him for a year good for him? That is bull crap. I don’t care. Call me, NCAA. Fine me. I don’t care.
Nick: Fine me. The NCAA says a lot of things that I don’t agree with. I don’t agree with a lot of their rules, but that is the world. If you want to play an NCAA sport you don’t have to like the rules, but you have to follow them. I agree with you. I don’t think the rule and the way they handle certain things make a whole lot of sense, but I don’t think a lot of things that the NCAA does make a whole lot of sense. That’s the give and take. You want to play at a Division I school, and you want to play Division I football, you have to play by their rules.
Andrew: Yeah. It is. Again, you can’t tell me it’s right. Is it right? Can you honestly say that it’s right, Nick?
Nick: No. I don’t think that it’s right, but every player knows what you have to do, the steps you have to go through. It’s easy. Trust me. It is easy to forget that one time to not take something in to the medical staff, because who knows how long that takes for them to find out. The NCAA’s list basically says there is no complete list of banned substances. We’ve banned so much stuff we’ve completely forgotten how much it is. Just assume that it’s banned, because it probably is. How long does it take the medical staff at the school when you bring something in to go through that process? It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to not want to do it and think I only get tested twice a year. I’m only going to be taking this for 14 days. I don’t think it’s banned. It’s an over the counter thing. It’s an easy mistake to make. It’s just one that you can’t make.
Andrew: Yeah. It is. As Billy said, I think Billy made a good point, they’re 18, 19 year old kids, 20 year old kids. It’s like you and I, you go to the store to buy bread, and you find the newest candy, and you buy it. Will goes there getting his normal whatever he gets there, sees this new thing and gets it. I know that’s a bad example.
Nick: People at GNC are paid to sell. They’re salesmen. Do they know everything that is in those supplements that they’re selling? Absolutely not. I’ve stopped listening to people at GNC, because they have products that are more expensive, and they will spin you a beautiful tale about how you will gain 20 pounds of muscle, lose 40 pounds of fat, and look shredded if you take this pill. I read the back of the ingredients, do a little research, and I go back to them and say, you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve stopped listening to the people at GNC a long time ago, but it’s easy to walk into a store like that and assume that because of the job, because of the place, the establishment that you’re in, and the job that they have, it’s easy to think that they know what they’re selling. They don’t know what they’re selling.
Andrew: They’re salesmen. It’s kind of like the advertisement people that call you. Here’s the deal. This is my take on things. It’s over with. It’s done with. He’s suspended. He’s not coming back this year. It’s time to move on. Treon Harris is a fordable backup. He’s a guy that is a good football player. I’ll be the first one to admit I was very hard on him in saying that Will Grier should be the quarterback of the team this year. I do not take that back. Will Grier is the best option for the Florida Gators at quarterback, but he’s not there. Would I rather have Treon Harris or Anthony Jennings at LSU? I want Treon Harris. Would I rather have Treon Harris or Cooper Bateman at Alabama, their backup? Treon Harris. Treon Harris or Bryce Ramsey at Georgia? Treon Harris. Would I rather him be in a Gator uniform than anybody be in that ugly Tennessee? Yes. There it is. Would I rather Jim McElwain be the football coach over Butch Jones? Yes.
Things are still golden in Gator land. Heading to Baton Rouge. Go out there, have a good ballgame, and take it to the 4th quarter and let’s see what happens. That’s my way of looking at it. Bring your best game plan. Jim McElwain’s done an incredible job of game planning. That game plan he put together against Ole Miss was a hell of a game plan. It was a game plan that was built to win. This is a game plan going into this game that’s going to be built to win. Treon Harris can do a lot of things. I think he’ll be fine.
Nick: I think Treon will be fine. I think Florida will be fine. Based on how we’ve seen Florida’s offensive staff game plan I am very interested to see how they get some new wrinkles involved with Treon Harris and the offense this week. I never thought that that whole Gator tail package with Josh Grady would ever come about, but maybe now. Jim McElwain said on Monday, maybe now we’ve got to go back into stuff we’ve worked on and dust it off and bring it out. I’m interested to see what kind of wrinkles Florida brings to the table here going down to face a very worthy opponent in LSU.
Andrew: It’s there. It’s going to be a good football game. You and I will be there on Saturday. I’m fired up. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good football game. Nick, hopefully we have a very special guest on tomorrow for our podcast. You and I will be kind of tying everything together and heading out to New Orleans on Thursday night. Let’s get off of this and thank you so much to Ross Dellenger from the Advocate, and thank you so much to Billy Horschel, former Gator golfer and PGA tour member now for coming on our podcast. For you guys on Twitter, on our message board, everyone for listening to it. Nick and I never thought our podcast would take off as much as it has. It’s all for you guys, so we appreciate it so much.
Nick: As always, thank you for listening, tuning in, downloading, even if you download and don’t listen, thank you for that. I don’t know if you’ll hear this in that case, but thank you. You can follow me @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter, @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. As always, we have a ton of content over on GatorCountry.com. We’d love to have you over there. It will be a fun week for Andrew and I in Baton Rouge. If you are down in Baton Rouge or in New Orleans, let us know. We’d love to see you. Grab some beignets with us. Grab some jambalaya with us and enjoy everything New Orleans and Baton Rouge have to offer.
Andrew: Cajun hot wings.
Nick: As always, you stay classy.
Andrew: And as always, Butch, Mark, still not a very good coach. Go Braves.