GatorCountry.com brings you a new podcast as we learn more about the Michigan Wolverines heading into their game against the Florida Gators.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre brought on Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News to get her take on Michigan through fall camp so far.
Andrew and Nick asked her about the Wolverines quarterback competition, plus the mood of camp.
Andrew and Nick also talk about Jim McElwain’s latest press conference and much more in this podcast.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, 10 days, as we’re taping this to kickoff in AT&T Stadium, or Jerry’s World.
Nick:Jerry’s World. Looking forward to Dallas. As always, back in football season, shoot me bars, restaurants. What do I need to see while I’m there? I will put on Instagram my eating feats while in Dallas.
Andrew:It’ll probably be a lot.
Nick:Yeah. I’ll be eating a lot.
Andrew:We may check out a Texas Rangers game. We’re kind of hoping to see Mr. Mike Trout. If there’s anything else cool, I’ve never been to Dallas. If there’s anything else cool, we’ll have Thursday evening and Friday morning. If there’s anything cool Nick and I should check out, let us know. We may have to check it out.
Nick:Yeah. Today we figured time to start, Jim McElwain joked today that they haven’t gotten into Michigan prep yet. They know who Michigan is, but now you’re going into game week.
Andrew:Actually, he doesn’t know who Michigan is. He’s got a bounty on their roster. He wants to see a roster.
Nick:A lot of people do. We’re going to bring in, I’m going to apologize to her for messing up her last name, but Angelique Chengelis. Last try to say that. We’re going to talk to her. She covers Michigan football for the Detroit News. We’re going to see if she has a roster, or if she can shed some light on the roster, and help you guys get to know an opponent that’s not really too familiar. Florida and Michigan played two years ago, but I think Michigan had 35 seniors last year. So far from the same team that they faced two years ago.
Andrew:And, as Jim McElwain says, “They’re faceless.”
Nick:Yeah. An opponent has no face. Game of Thrones, threw that in. Pat myself on back over there.
Andrew:It’ll be interesting to see how long Harbaugh keeps this up, the no roster kind of thing. I kind of find it dumb, I guess is the best way to say it. If anybody really wanted to get a roster, all they have to do is kind of check out things, and spend a little time doing it. I think that’s borderline crazy for them to do that.
Jim McElwain did speak on Wednesday, didn’t name a quarterback. We’ll get into all that in a little bit. Didn’t name a quarterback. Did go over the injuries. Injuries are getting a little bit lighter for them. They went over their plays in a scrimmage. Surprise, surprise. It happens every time. Not sure why it was news on Wednesday though.
Andrew:Nick, let’s not make her wait any longer. Let’s holler at her, and get her thoughts on the Michigan Wolverines. We’ll come back and give our thoughts on the Florida Gators.
Nick:Joining us now, Angelique Chengelis. We literally just went over that, so if I butchered it that’s on me. I tried to get it right there. From the Detroit Free Press, to talk a little Michigan.
Angelique:Actually, the Detroit News.
Nick:The Detroit News, sorry. Probably a rival too. I heard that I stirred up your work day with my Jim McElwain quote, and probably sent all of the beat writers in Michigan into a frenzy a little bit.
Angelique:It was great. To me, that’s what’s fun about college football are these little subtle jabs here and there, especially in non-conference. I don’t think you see it that much in conference. Maybe you do, but not in the Big Ten. I thought it was funny. I wasn’t there. I’m assuming he was joking a little bit, but it’s a popular thing now to poke at Michigan for not releasing a roster yet. A reporter who covers Rutgers filed an open records act at Michigan to get the roster, and Harbaugh says he’ll be releasing it three days before the game. There you have it.
Nick:To me, I get it as far as a reporter thing, but to a reporter, you can see who graduated, who left school early. You can go a recruiting site and see which freshmen are in. Simple addition and subtraction you can do. I don’t get it. I thought Jim McElwain was tongue in cheek, sarcastic. I thought it was funny.
Angelique:Absolutely. They scouted Michigan. They know as the scouts. I think what the challenge is that Michigan has, they’re going to have a lot of new faces, and newer faces that played a lot last year, like Rashan Gary and Mo Hurst and those guys. A lot of freshmen receivers, so there’s not going to be a lot of film of them. I think, not having a roster is not going to assist in anybody’s game prep, I don’t think. I mean, they have scouts. You know that they’ve broken down everything possible to figure out each other.
Nick:Before we get into what everyone wants to talk about always, quarterbacks, the Wolverines lose, I think, 10 starters on the defensive side of the ball, including Jabrill Peppers, who was a starter at 10 positions himself. I know Jim Harbaugh’s recruited well, and Don Brown’s a great defensive coordinator, but how challenging is that? From what you’ve seen, how are those guys filling in?
Angelique:Absolutely it’s a challenge to replace guys like Jabrill Peppers. That defensive line all drafted. I think defensive line they’re good. The guys who are going to be starting, like Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Bryan Mone, and Chase Winovich, played a lot last year. They rotated in quite a bit. I think the concern is the guys behind them. They’re not going to be as deep in that sense as they were a year ago, but still some talent.
I think linebackers will probably be better. Even though Jabrill’s not there, I think with Mike McCray and Devin Bush, a Florida guy, I think they’re going to be solid there. It’s the secondary that I think is concerning all of them. Mike Zordich, who coaches the corners, came in the other day, and it might have been a little coach speak, but he was definitely like, “No one’s here taking the reins. No one is taking the lead. There’s talent there. I know it’s there, but no one’s jumping at it.” I think he’s reached a frustration level. Again, the talent is there. It’s just really young.
Last year’s defense was awfully good, and I think I’ll quantify that by looking at the NFL Draft, and Michigan did quite well on the defensive side. If you talk to them, they think that they’re more athletic. Even the defensive linemen who did go to the NFL think that these guys coming back are more athletic than they were. I think the front seven will be pretty good. It’s just the back, the secondary is questionable.
Andrew:Speaking on that point a little bit, how is the leadership of this team? I guess, is it a closer unit now that it’s more Jim Harbaugh’s guys there? Do you kind of sense that there’s more pride, I guess you could say, on that side of the ball?
Angelique:I think there definitely is a confidence level there, and partly because a lot of them are Harbaugh recruits. A lot of the guys have said that it’s interesting to them, knowing how young the team is, how many people are vocal. They’re not just relying on the seniors. I mean, a guy like Rashan Gary, who is a sophomore, I saw it in Italy at the spring practices there. He was pulling guys aside, even guys who are older than he is, and saying, “Look, you’re not doing this. Look, you got to try to see this here in this drill.” They listen to him. It’s not threatening for an older guy to listen to a sophomore.
The freshmen are really like we’re going to be quiet. That’s what all the older guys said is that the freshmen have kept their mouths shut, and they’ve listened, and they’ve allowed themselves to be led by these older guys. They respect them.
To me, it’s interesting that they said so many guys are being vocal, because usually it’s just a couple guys here and there that they rely on. I think the seniors, the captains, will end up probably being a Mason Cole, who’s another Florida guy, offensive lineman, and you could make an argument for Rashan Gary, but he’s a sophomore. I think you’re going to see Mike McCray and Maurice Hurst take over. So they will have the senior leadership, but there’s going to be a lot of leadership from the younger guys. There has to be.
Andrew:To go to the offensive side of the ball, do you expect that the scheme of things is still going to be the same with the turnover so much on offense? Do you see Harbaugh implementing more of his own stuff around these guys?
Angelique:I think it’s going to be very similar to what we have seen. An interesting piece that they’ve added is Greg Fry, who was at Indiana. He coached at Michigan before that with Richard Rodriguez, and he’s coaching the tackles and the tight ends. He’s been on a spread offense, and he understands that. I think that there may be a few little pops of that in this offense. I’m not saying Michigan’s going to change dramatically. I just think he’s going to bring a different wrinkle, and he’s certainly going to help the defense prepare for those types of teams that are on the schedule, like Indiana and Ohio State, where Kevin Wilson is now, from Indiana. I think that’s an interesting wrinkle.
I think, Jim Harbaugh doesn’t change up too much. He’s going to rely on his fullbacks and his tight ends, and they’ve got a great group of receivers. That’s the group, even though very young, I think could be very exciting to watch this year. They’ve got guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones, the #1 rated receiver in the country coming out of high school, and he’s a local guy from Detroit, and another freshman, Tarik Black. Then they’ve got Eddie McDoom and Kekoa Crawford, and a couple veterans, like Grant Perry and Mo Ways. I think that they’re really solid at that position.
I think it’s going to look like a Jim Harbaugh offense. The other piece they added is Pep Hamilton, from the Cleveland Browns. What all the guys said is he wants to be explosive on every play. I think every offensive coordinator wants that, but they seem to keep emphasizing that. I think they’re going to really try to have some big play, receiving plays, I mean.
Nick:I think fans kind of fall into the new shiny toy, every freshmen is the only people they want to talk about. Can Donovan Peoples-Jones, not going to win a Heisman as a freshman or anything crazy like that, but can he be kind of an X factor that Harbaugh can use, and that Pep can use in the passing game?
Angelique:I think so. I know a lot of people are talking about Tarik Black, another freshman from the northeast, and he’s apparently dazzling them, and so is Oliver Martin, another freshman from Iowa. It’s a very athletic group. But, yes, to your point about Donovan Peoples-Jones, everybody I’ve talked to has said the guy has got freaky talent, and he’s been showing it in practice. I think he’s a guy they expect a lot from this fall.
Nick:All right. Now it’s time. It might not be as big of a battle as we have here in Gainesville, but what is going on at quarterback? Before we get into a serious talk, is Speight the spitting image of Jim Harbaugh when he was in college?
Angelique:Gosh, everybody says that. A lot of people think that. I guess I don’t quite see it. Yeah, Wilton has dropped like 20 pounds, 22 pounds, and is looking maybe a little bit more Jim Harbaughish. Different body types, no doubt, but equally as competitive. Not quite as quirky personality wise. I’ll say that.
Andrew:He doesn’t do sleepovers, right?
Angelique:Not that I’m aware of. Yeah. I think that’s where the similarities, where they’re done.
Andrew:Tell us about the quarterback battle. What is it? Obviously, off the air, you said that you kind of had a leader in your mind. I don’t know if you’re comfortable saying that, but just where is the quarterback battle for you?
Angelique:I’ll say. In Chicago, at the Big Ten meetings, when Harbaugh said it was a dead heat for first with Wilton Speight and John O’Korn and Brandon Peters, I kind of rolled my eyes. I’m like, really? I mean, Harbaugh in December, at their football banquet has said, “Wilton Speight’s going to be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country heading into the season.”
I don’t think you suddenly bench that guy, who you’ve talked so much about, and a guy who started all of last season, except for one game, because of injury. A guy who’s definitely shown in the off season how much this matters to him. He dropped the weight. I’m not sure that was necessary, but he felt like he wanted to be faster, and proved that he’s a mobile guy. He played lacrosse in high school too. He really thinks that he’s got very good footwork. Not only in dropping back, but also in running and scrambling.
I’ve always thought Wilton Speight was going to be the starting quarterback. I mean, I would be shocked if he’s not starting against Florida. Let’s put it that way.
Andrew:Let me ask another question, as far as that goes. Jim McElwain on saying whoever his quarterback is is a guy that affects the team, and the team responds well. Do you have a feeling of which way the team leans as far as quarterback, or are they pretty open as far as all three go?
Angelique:Oh, no, they’re open. They don’t really say one way or the other, to be honest. I mean, they’re very well versed in how to handle these kind of questions in interviews. I think, Brandon Peters is a young guy. He’s a redshirt freshman, extremely tight. His upside is dynamite. I think that probably the younger guys are partial to him, just because they’re in the class with him. I think that they also understand that Wilton and John O’Korn have starting experience. John O’Korn started one game at Michigan, but he was a starter at Houston. They’re all very well-respected among their teammates.
I think that they saw what Wilton did with the weight loss. He went out to California and worked with his personal quarterback coach, who he’s worked with since he was in high school. They’ve seen the work that John O’Korn has put in, and also Brandon Peters. Brandon Peters has done a lot. His thing, and Harbaugh has harped on this, is he’s not loud. He’s not a commanding presence when he’s like barking plays and stuff. That’s what they’re working on with him. Once they get that together, I think he’s going to be a pretty special quarterback.
Nick:It’s certainly something to look for. I thought that he played well last year. Obviously, I think it was the first pass of the season against Hawaii was an interception. I think my friends who went to Michigan are looking like, “What is going on? Who is this kid?” But kind of a guy that, I think, is what Florida’s looking for. You trust him to know the offense. You trust him not to make plays that are going to lose you games. He might not be All Big Ten or All-American, but he’s a quarterback that can win you football games.
I think that’s what Jim Harbaugh is looking for, just someone that has that kind of trust level. I think watching him play last year, and, as you’ve said, when you see the dedication off the field to lose weight and to do things like that, that probably ramps up the confidence level that the coaching staff has in you, and the trust that they have in you.
Angelique:Absolutely. To your point about Wilton’s first play with the interception, I think he got the most improved award, which was a new award for the team. His mother was up on stage with him, and said, “Well, after that first play, I don’t know how he couldn’t have won this award.” He started from the bottom.
What I recall about that game, and I thought it was interesting about how Harbaugh coaches, is that everybody wants to pull the quarterback after a play like that, even if it’s the first one. Harbaugh said he wanted to see how Wilton, Harbaugh was laughing on the sideline, and as Wilton’s coming off the field, he’s waiting to see how Wilton is going to react. Wilton wasn’t down. He wasn’t anything. He was just like, “I got to get better.”
I think that that’s what Harbaugh likes to see. I think any coach likes to see that, but that’s what Harbaugh was looking for. He’s not quick with the hook. I mean, you go back to Jake Rudock in the Utah game with three interceptions, he played that game. They didn’t change things up.
I think that once Harbaugh picks a quarterback he’s going to stick with him. I would think in some of those games early, against my alma mater, Cincinnati, I bet you see O’Korn, and maybe even Peters, get in and play. This will be the starting quarterback’s team, and he’ll play. He’s not going to have to look over his should that much.
Andrew:Before we let you go, got a question that we’re asked a lot. We say it’s big. For you guys in Michigan, how big is this game, and where is the excitement level for this game?
Angelique:I think it’s huge. I think Michigan fans love the idea that they’re playing a big name opponent in Florida. They did this game in Dallas a few years ago against Alabama, and I know the people, the fans who traveled, they traveled a lot. Not as many as Alabama did, but a lot of Michigan fans went. It feels like a bowl game, and they like this kind of pre-season hype in a way. I’ve talked to a lot of people that are planning on tailgating there, making the trip to Dallas. It’s a cool stadium, and a big opponent.
I think the players are really excited about it, mostly because camp’s over. They got something tangible to prepare for right now. I think that a lot of the guys from Florida know a lot these players on the Florida roster, that you have in your possession actually.
People really want to see this. They want to see what Michigan looks like too. No one really knows what this team looks like, including all the Michigan fans. They want to see what Harbaugh’s putting together here with all these young players. I think a lot of anticipation for this one on so many levels.
Andrew:Jim McElwain says all opponents have no face, so we know Michigan has no face.
Angelique:That was a very funny tweet. That was very funny. That was a little good natured jab. I know people got caught up in what he said at the pep rally. I forget what.
Nick:Beat the heck out of Michigan. That was what it was.
Angelique:Isn’t that what a coach is supposed to say at a pep rally? I didn’t get like, wow, bulletin board material.
Nick:Hey, guys, we’re probably going to go out there and lay an egg. Don’t even come to Detroit. You’re not going to want to see what happens.
Angelique:Exactly. It’s a pep rally. Coaches say that stuff. I would hope that they believe it too.
Angelique:Exactly. That stuff, when people get hyped up about that, I’m like, whatever. It’s just all part of people getting ready to play in the college football season. I think it’s like enough already, let’s just get going.
Nick:Yeah. It’s the Detroit News. I’ll get it right the second time.
Nick:Tell everyone where they can find you on Twitter, where they can find where you’re writing.
Angelique:It’s @Chengelis, which is really not very easy is it? You need a roster for my name too. It’s Chengelis. Angelique. I’ve been covering the team, this is my 26th season.
Angelique:I know. That’s a little extreme.
Nick:Goes back to Bo.
Angelique:No, it doesn’t, thankfully. Bo would always say, “You remember the old building.” I’m like, “No, Bo, I didn’t cover your team.” I know I’ve been here forever. No. Mueller was the first coach I covered. This is my fifth coach I’ve covered.
Nick:I’ve only been covering Florida for five years, but I’ve had two.
Andrew:We don’t know if the first one was a coach. He had that title. We appreciate it so much. We will definitely look forward to talking to you again. Wish you guys the best of luck.
Angelique:Thank you. See you down in Texas.
Nick:Yes. Thank you so much.
Andrew:Welcome back, guys. Good stuff from the Detroit newspaper. I won’t mess it up. Nick, shame on you for messing it up. I’m definitely not going to butcher her name.
Nick:We know how you are with names. You just stay away from that. Thank you to Angelique though. That was a good wrap of Michigan. Certainly a lot of guys to replace. Kind of like Florida every year on defense. That’s why you recruit. Certainly like Florida last year, like we’ve said about the Gators, is they’re young, but these guys have played a lot.
Michigan did, coaches do that throughout the year, especially when you’re talking about defensive line. Coach Rumph said something that I think really stuck with me. He said, “When I was at Alabama, I learned. Nick Saban told me, these big guys, they have one tank of gas, and you’ve got to use that throughout the game.” So shifting guys in.
Rashan Gary’s a beast. She said Rashan Gary’s kind of taken on like a vocal leadership role. If Rashan Gary grabs me, I’m listening to whatever he says.
Nick:That’s it. Yes, sir. You’ve got it.
Andrew:Aubrey Soloman’s not far behind, because that’s a monster too. Nick, I want to ask you a question.
Andrew:You know me.
Nick:I don’t like when you don’t give me a head’s up before we tape about what questions you’re going to ask me.
Andrew:It’s what makes this podcast special. Unplanned, unscripted, anything goes. No. I’ve done some radio. I’m sure you’ve done some as well. Every radio has this kind of conclusion that Michigan’s going to run away in this game. I mean, am I being a homer in just saying I don’t see it? I don’t see it. I see this being a good football game, 24-17 football game. Am I wrong? What am I missing?
Nick:Well, Jim McElwain said this today. He said, “Call it the way it is. A couple years ago they, Michigan, physically dominated us, and there’s no doubt about it.” That was directly pointed at the offensive and defensive line. Michigan dominated in the trenches.
Leading up to that game, leading up to the Citrus Bowl, Camping World Bowl, whatever bowl it was called at the time, that was the big storyline. Hey, SEC speed, smaller players, faster, stuff like that. Can you handle, and can you match physicality with a Big Ten defense, a Big Ten offensive line, where it’s a different style of football that they play? The answer, definitively, two years ago, was no.
To sound cliché, I think that’s where this game is won and lost is going to be in the trenches. You bring Brad Smith in to juice up the offensive line, to get them player tougher. No really questions on the defensive line about the toughness of the guys there, but the offensive line, worst rushing offense in the SEC. You’re going to have to run the ball against Michigan. Can you match that physicality?
To me, that’s where it’s going to be won and lost, and that’s where it was definitively lost two years ago. But like you, no, I don’t see Michigan running away with this, unless we see a repeat of that domination in the trenches two years ago. I think if that gets away from you, then I can see the game potentially getting ugly. I don’t see that scenario, situation, playing out.
Andrew:I think you could say it the other way around. I think you could say it gets away from Michigan. I mean, a bunch of young guys. You go down 10 points. How do they respond?
Nick:It’s a big question on both sides with how do the young guys handle playing. I was talking to Freddie Swain yesterday. Freddie Swain’s never been to a NFL stadium. Certainly not played in it. You look up, damn video boards 80 yards long. You’re in the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. Jerry Jones, Tony Romo, Dak Prescott, Zeke. These are guys that the players playing in the game are looking up to and idolizing. They’re going to be in the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room. They’re so many things. All of a sudden, oh crap, we’re playing a game. Crap, we’re down 10. How does a young guy handle that?
I think that’s probably the biggest thing both Jim Harbaugh and Jim McElwain are thinking and wondering, and probably the thing that might be keeping them up at night is how are these young guys going to handle adversity when it comes? Because it’s going to come at some point in the game.
Andrew:Right. That’s what I’m saying. That’s why I think that it’s borderline stupid, quite frankly, to say going into the game that either team is just going to get spanked. I don’t think so. Now, at the same time, did we think Florida was going to go into the Camping World or Buffalo Wild Wings game, whatever, and get spanked? No. That was a different team, weird team, and that’s a bowl game. Bowl games are different than first game of the season. That’s kind of where I’m at. I just wanted to ask you that, because I felt like that it’s been multiple people say that. I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing it at all.
Let’s go to the storylines, I guess, from Wednesday’s press conference with Mac. Obviously, no quarterback being named starter. You and I said multiple times we did not expect that to happen. I mean, it would kind of be dumb a little bit to do it, because you still got a week and a half to do it. I would expect a starter to be named sometime next week.
Nick:Yeah. I would expect a starter to be named Wednesday. We talk to McElwain, the schedule that we have, getting back into game week schedule, is we get McElwain on Mondays and Wednesdays. Wednesday is after practice. That’s the final injury report, final time we talk to him before they do walkthroughs and travel to the game. I wouldn’t expect it Monday. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Monday, but I wouldn’t expect it. I think Wednesday.
Andrew:Right. I think Wednesday is legit. I think that it probably is then. Could it be Monday? Yeah. I don’t expect McElwain to go into the game without naming a starter.
Nick:I think we’ll have a starter named before then. As to who it will be …
Andrew:Right. Here’s another thing, Nick. I don’t know, maybe I’m just dumb. I don’t know. Mac says he doesn’t know if all three will play. Then you come out and see storylines saying he says all three were going to play. I think it’s fake news, quite frankly, that it is that. I think that there will be two quarterbacks to play. I think it’ll be the starter and Malik Zaire. Zaire’s going to have a role. He’s going to have a package. I think those two are going to play, unless the starter, Franks or Del Rio, struggles.
Nick:Yeah. Here’s a question I’ll pose to you. If you’re the coach, and you certainly aren’t getting paid like the coach of Florida. That’d be nice. If you’re the coach, are you worried, “Okay, if I start Feleipe Franks, and he struggles,” am I worried about how he handles being taken out of the game for somebody else? Versus Luke Del Rio, he’s been through that before. Am I more comfortable starting Luke, in case he struggles, then to put Feleipe in? Am I worried about a freshman, a redshirt freshman, handles that situation? Is that something that crosses your mind? Do you think about that, worry about that?
Andrew:Does it cross your mind? I think so.
Nick:It would be the first time Feleipe Franks has played competitive football since high school.
Nick:How does he handle getting yanked out of the game if that happens? Does that affect him long term? I think that’s a real question to ask.
Andrew:Yeah. I think it’s a real question to ask. I think it’s something that you think about, but it’s something that you can’t let come into your decision, because if Franks is the guy that has really earned the job, then you have to reward him and expect that he goes out and does his job. Do I understand what you’re saying? 100%, because it would affect that. Does that lose Franks’ confidence that he did build up? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that, because we’re obviously not around Franks enough to see that. I just don’t think you can make that decision based off of that.
I will say this. I do kind of expect Feleipe Franks to be the starter.
Nick:You’re going with Franks.
Andrew:I’m rolling with Franks, from everything I’ve heard.
Nick:I go back and forth. I hear the same things that you hear. I hear things about Del Rio. I keep going back and forth about it. I don’t get emotional about it though. I’m okay.
Andrew:Here’s my thing, and I’m about to go on a little bit of a rant.
Nick:You know it’s football season.
Andrew:You know it’s football season. What the hell does it matter who the starting quarterback is? As fans, aren’t you supposed to only care about winning? This is my thing, and I’m going to turn this completely around. As a Braves fan, I could honestly give a shit if John Smoltz is out pitching for me or if it’s Alex Faedo next year pitching. If I’m going to the World Series for the Braves, I don’t care who it is playing, unless it’s Bryce Harper. No thank you. I could probably get along with that if that was there. Different story, different time.
You see people on Twitter. Nick, I know you had this pretty bad on Tuesday. They said, “Luke Del Rio starting is stupid.” If Luke Del Rio gives you the best chance of winning a National Championship, is it really that stupid?
Nick:Apparently. The timeline told me it is.
Andrew:You know what I’m saying? What’s the rationale behind that? I don’t understand that. People say, “Del Rio was bad last year.” So was Feleipe Franks. I mean, so was Feleipe Franks. Franks can improve that much, but, God forbid, Luke Del Rio improve?
Nick:I think Franks playing last year would have been …
Nick:Borderline disastrous. He was not ready to play last year. I think he’s better suited to play this year. He’s come a long way, not just technique wise. We’ve talked about this, not just technique wise, but as far as a leader and with confidence.
For me, I’m with you though, on your take. Whoever the coaches, the coaching staff sees more than I do, than anyone does. They’re with these guys day in and day out. They see them. They watch more of Feleipe Franks than Feleipe Franks has watched of him, than his parents have seen of him, because this is their only job. They’re going over practice film from last year, from the spring, from what’s going on in the fall camp. They’re going over everything.
If they pick a starting quarterback, that’s probably because that’s what they’ve seen and what they’ve determined. I don’t see it as a disaster if anyone starts over another person. They’re making the big bucks for a reason, and for me to say starting so-and-so is a disaster, or I’ll turn the game off. I mean, I can’t. I get paid to be there. I can’t turn the game off. But to say something like that, what makes you more qualified than the coach, who’s making the actual decision?
Andrew:I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t care. I want to see offense. I mean, we get paid to be there, but we can also get bored. I want to see offense. I don’t get the notion that one is worse than the other. Do I understand how bad Del Rio was at times last year? Yes. But he was injured. Do I also understand how bad Franks was at times last year? Yes. Yes, I do. That’s kind of where I’m at. I don’t understand the hate for Del Rio if he’s the guy that’s best suited to go out and win the game.
Nick:Yeah. I think he takes a lot of heat, and when I say that I don’t understand why he takes that kind of heat it’s like, “I don’t like what he tweets,” or “I don’t like this. I don’t like that.” You don’t have to like a person’s opinions on politics, and he has not shied away from getting into political tweets and stuff like that. you don’t have to agree with a quarterback’s politics to like them as a quarterback for your football team.
Andrew:Right. That’s where I’m at. I don’t understand the hatred. I thought, at the end of the day, the only thing that mattered was winning.
Nick:Shoot. If you want to get Gator fans to rally, Gator fans can fight each other, but if you want them to rally, say something nice about Luke Del Rio, because they will rally in anger against him. Almost to the point where I feel bad for the kid.
Listen, he’s grown up around media, because of his dad being an NFL player, and then an NFL coach. He’s not surly or not mean, but he’s not a guy that will carry on and have a conversation with me, if I run into him out and about in Gainesville. You run into Cece Jefferson, or a guy like Cece, and you’re almost like, “Hey, man, I got to go. I have stuff to do today. I got to go.” They’ll just talk your ear off. That’s not Del Rio, but he’s very professional when it comes to handling his media responsibilities.
People are like, “Why is he talking?” He’s talking because he’s in a quarterback battle and could be the starter. Does he want to be talking to the media? Probably not, but he handles it in a professional manner. Similar in the way that Jeff Driskel did. Jeff Driskel took a lot of crap, but he was a great guy. Stand up guy off the field.
For me, coming from my perspective, where it’s a job, and there’s a mutual understanding between writers and coaches and writers and players that I’m never going to take shots at your character. If I write anything negative about you, it’s from something that happened in the game, and it’s probably nothing that you’re not thinking yourself. Some people don’t like when you write bad stuff about them, and I think Luke Del Rio doesn’t like what people have been saying about him on Twitter. He sees it all, and I think that’s where his reaction comes from.
Andrew:Yeah. Let’s move on a little bit. We kind of hit on that, and it’s all cool. Let’s move on a little bit. There’s a couple injuries, but the injury note is down. Kemore Gamble’s going to get a second look on his foot. That’s probably the worst of them all, because of the fact that he was going to probably play.
You have Kylan Johnson, who we’ve been told that Kylan’s being basically held out to not injury himself more.
Nick:Same thing as Nick Washington.
Andrew:And Martez. That’s kind of what it is. The other one is CJ McWilliams, probably not going to be a big factor in there. Getting Quincy Litton back is good, because, Nick, you and I have heard this. Every time he’s on the field, the guy’s think he’s a guy that can make plays and help the team win. It’s simply about him staying on the field. That’ll be good.
One key thing that did come out was the guys that he expects to play in the secondary. Jawaan Taylor being one. Donovan Stiner being another. We’ve heard positive things about him. Didn’t know that he was going to see a lot of playing time. Then, of course, the obvious is Marco Wilson starting.
Nick:Yeah. I was going to bring that up to you. Here’s my shocked face about Marco Wilson starting.
Nick:But to me the big note was Stiner. It’s a guy that when we did our freshmen will they play, will they not play, I think we both expected him to redshirt or maybe play on special teams. Over the weekend was the first time I really heard that he’s really impressing. I was like, okay. Then to hear today he’s solidifying that starting spot when they go into six guys. It’s kind of, Randy Shannon said, “We’re looking for the best five, or the best six, if that’s the case. We’re just looking for that. It doesn’t matter about where they can play. We’re going to get the best six, five guys on the field at the same time.”
Nick:So to me, for him to step up and work his way into that top six group, that’s impressive. Very impressive for a guy probably the least talked about, maybe most forgotten guy from the class, coming all the way over from Texas.
Andrew:Right. That was probably a guy that most people thought, “What’s going on here? Why sign the guy?” He’s a guy that is going to be a good player. Everything we’ve heard is that he’s going to be a really good player. Big for him to play. It’s big for all those guys to play. Mac even mentioned CJ Henderson and Shawn Davis a little bit. I think both of those guys are probably going to see playing time.
You’re going to see those guys play. They’re going to rotate. It’s kind of like the defensive line, they only have so much gas, until they get a cramp or something, and worst-case scenario, that’s going to happen, especially early on in the games. Then also, you hope that you get some games like a Northern Colorado game where you go up big, and those guys can rotate in and play.
Nick:Where do you see, yesterday working with the second team was CJ Henderson too. Is there anyone. I guess we haven’t really heard a ton from, or about, Edwards or Brad Stewart. Is there anyone?
Andrew:I think they’re special teams guys.
Nick:Is there anyone in that class that you see, maybe they will all play.
Andrew:I think so. I think so, in some shape or form. I think they will. I think that they’re all going to see playing time. We talk about Brad, I mean we don’t talk about Brad a ton, but he’s still making plays. It’s more of a little bit of a learning factor for him at safety, but I still think they see playing time. Kind of go to defensive line a little bit, Mac says he expects that …
Nick:The Bam Bam boys.
Andrew:Yeah. The Bam Bam boys. That’s what I was trying to think of. Conliffe and Slayton. He said this, and it kind of made sense a little bit. He said, “They’re going to see playing time as the season moves on.” That’s kind of where defensive linemen are. They see more and more playing time as the season goes on.
This freshman class is a talented class. Combine those with the older guys, and it’s going to be a good class. Guys like Taven Bryan are ready to play. You have a guy like Duke at safety, or Chauncey and Nick. I mean, Duke at corner, and then Chauncey and Nick at safety. All those guys are able to help the younger guys. It’s an influence of veterans with the young guys. It’s exciting to see.
Then eight to nine receivers playing. Nick, there was a couple years ago where we were like, if they get three on the field, they’re lucky.
Nick:I don’t know if Will Muschamp ever had nine receivers.
Andrew:Yeah. The nine receivers on the roster. Let’s be honest here. You were thinking about Valdez Showers for a while. Latroy Pittman for a while.
Nick:He’s a good blocker.
Andrew:By the way, Latroy Pittman, I heard went into the armed forces. Congrats to him, and thanks for serving.
Nick:I didn’t even hear that.
Andrew:Yeah. I saw someone post that the other day. Props to Latroy. As much crap as we give Troy, Latroy was a great guy.
Andrew:All right, Nick. We’re getting out of here. Couple things real quick. We’ve had seven or eight new members contact us from the podcast. Hit me up, either Andrew@GatorCountry.com, that’s my email, or hit us on social media and come join the fun. Not many places you can get what we get. Nick and I are both bringing the insider notes, and we have plenty of former players and big time people that have connection to bring that #insiderheat. I’m trying to be cool with that. Hit one of us with a message, or hit my email with a message, and we’ll get you that discount code, and come join us. Nick, tell them where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone, probably on Monday.
Nick:www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript and audio form. You can also find it on iTunes. Social media, @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can follow me and Andrew, @NickdelaTorreGC and @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew:There you go. Hit one of us up. We’ll be glad to get you that. Follow along with us as the season gets here. Start the normal schedule next week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday for sure. Recruiting podcast going to start next week with myself and Mr. Zach Hughes. We’ll be ready. Monday’ll be normal press conference, and then Wednesday will be Michigan writer, and Friday will be the good old predictions and me kicking Nick’s ass again this year in picks.
Nick:No, you will not. How dare you?
Andrew:I did last year. So what are you saying? You’re going to get revenge?
Nick:No. I don’t know if you won last year.
Andrew:I did. You can go ahead and kiss that goodbye. Guys, as always, we appreciate it. Butch, Mark, sorry your season has to start so bad, because it’s going to be terrible this year. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.
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Transcript by Five Stars Transcription