We’re finally into football season and the Florida Gators football team will officially kick-off their season on Saturday night in the Swamp. Before toe meets leather and the Jim McElwain era begins, Gator Country has our new Friday podcast to update you one more time on things to watch at the game.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre talk about the quarterback situation in this podcast, plus some games they’re looking forward to watching from around the country this weekend.
To end the podcast both Andrew and Nick give you a prediction on the Florida game, plus some players that will have big games. Make sure to give this podcast a listen before you tune into the Florida Gators football game on Saturday night.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Andrew and Nick, we’re back, and guess what? This is the last podcast before football season. It’s going to be a Friday ritual. You guys will hear it on Friday. Nick and I are taping this on Thursday, but you guys are going to hear it on Friday. It’s going to be a weekly deal. Nick and I are going to give our final thoughts on the week, talk about some games around the country, and we’ll end it with our prediction. If you’re a betting man, never pick what Nick does. He likes to lose. Nick, what’s up, man? Are you ready? 38 football games on Thursday night, you say.
Nick: 38 football teams on Thursday night, yes. Divide that by 2 you’ve got 19 games. How about that? Happy football season to you all. I am pumped up. I am jacked. I am ready to go. Have been watching a lot of old games, and I’m ready to start watching some new games, some live games. Ready for Saturday as well.
Andrew: You don’t like knowing the outcome of the game?
Nick: I’ve watched a lot of games where I’ve known the outcome. I watched the 2009 SEC championship game to see how Jim McElwain called an offensive game with going up against a defense that included names like Janoris Jenkins, Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright, Ahmad Black. Masterful game plan and execution that game for Alabama and for McElwain’s offense. Going back into the old vault to find some old games to see if I can get a better glimpse of what we’re going to see this Saturday and this season from McElwain, and also watch some Mississippi State film to see what Geoff Collins does. I can tell you there will be blitzing. There will be a lot of blitzing. Collins estimated that they blitzed 30% of the time last year. That might be a little bit low on his estimation, but that’s something that a defensive coordinator would know.
Andrew: You and I kind of get into some Xs and Os talk off the air a little bit, and some of the things that we were talking about you were like, I definitely saw that in game film. I think the one thing, not to bore everyone with Xs and Os, but I think the one thing we can agree on is when McElwain says he’s going to get his playmakers in one on one situations you and I have already named off about five different ways he’s done it. That was in 2009 and then some in last year. That’s not McElwain having a whole year to plan for it. I do think that when McElwain says he’s going to get his playmakers in one on one situations he truly means it, and it will happen on Saturday.
Nick: We kind of learned, you and I, that you can’t take any one thing that Jim McElwain says at face value. That’s not saying he’s lying about anything. It’s just he’s controlling the message that he puts out. It’s kind of how I piece together him saying around SEC media time in the summer saying, I need a quarterback that affects the people around him, that brings the 10 people on the field with him up to his level. Then he stopped saying that and started saying that Treon was moving the twos better than the ones. Put those two pieces together, and you think, maybe that’s what he’s talking about. Treon’s moving the twos better than the ones. He’s affecting the guys better. Boom, Treon is starting.
He mentioned how much versatility that the skill sets that he has at tight end, how much versatility that will give the offense. Turn on the 2009 SEC championship game, and sure enough there’s Gary Danielson on the telecast circling a big guy outside, out wide, and says, that’s a tight end. When Jim McElwain says that the tight ends, specifically Jake McGee, and I know you have a note about Jake McGee versus the tight ends that McElwain has had, but when McElwain says the tight end gives versatility, expect to see these guys all over the field, in the back field with their hand in the dirt, in the slot, out wide at the X or at the Z. I think Jim McElwain is going to find creative ways to get playmakers the ball, and some of his past games with his past teams show that.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean you and I talked about this a little last night when we were discussing McGee. McGee is by far the most athletic tight end Jim McElwain’s ever had.
Nick: I loved Preston Dial as a player, but you are 100% on that. Pure athleticism, receiving ability, hands down.
Andrew: Yeah. I am actually good friends with Preston Dial, went to rival high schools with Preston Dial. One of my good buddies is best friends with Preston, and Preston will be the first one to tell you that he’s not the most athletic guy, and then you went to a guy like Colin Peek, he wasn’t a great athletic guy. He was more of a Colin Thompson kind of tight end. Then a Mike Williams, none of these guys were what I call receiver/tight end hybrids, and that’s exactly what Jake McGee and C’yontai Lewis are. I think you’re going to see McGee be the second leading receiver on the team, outside Demarcus Robinson, and I say that because I think you’re going to see Robinson get a ton of screens that will count as catches in the stats sheet.
Nick: Yeah. It’s all about getting the ball out quick. Lopsiding the field, and by that I’m not using a very good term, but by that I mean putting three guys on the right side of the football field with a lone receiver on the left. That way you have to have the defense account for those guys, maybe even lining up Kelvin Taylor, the running back, to that trip side. Now you’re holding the linebacker over, maybe the safety creeps over, and it’s all about creating an illusion that we’ve got something going on over here at the right, because we have a ton of players over here, but really we just want to clear the field out on the left for that single matchup.
Andrew: Agreed. Big news yesterday, Wednesday.
Nick: I don’t think we had big news, did we?
Andrew: We had big news. My phone is the witness. We now have a quarterback to throw the first ball Saturday. He is named the starter, Treon Harris from Booker T, but not the starter for the season. He’s just the guy that’s going to get the first snaps on Saturday. I know you had the chance to talk to McElwain about it a little bit. You and I kind of knew the story about 30 minutes before practice ended that that’s what was going to happen. My opinion is that somebody had to take the first snap. Treon Harris got that. This is not job ending, but we will really see what these two quarterbacks are made of to how they respond. Does Treon now take it and kind of not feel the pressure anymore and back off? Does Will light a fire under his butt that he’s not starting? What’s your take on the quarterback situation, and what was Mac’s word yesterday?
Nick: First I’ll got to my take, because that’s why you’re tuning in to the podcast. My take is this, yesterday the sky was falling. Wear a hard hat. We’re never going to win a game. Treon is too short. He doesn’t have a strong enough arm. What happened to the #freeTreon? What happened to in Mac we trust? Whatever Mac does I know he’s got the Gators best interest at heart. Fans haven’t even seen Will Grier throw a pass against anyone not in an orange and blue jersey. The hate that a guy who went 4-2 last year is getting, to me, was absurd. I don’t understand it. If you’re a Gator fan you want your quarterback to play well, it doesn’t matter if his name is Joe Blow, Treon Harris, Will Grier, or Andrew Spivey. You want your quarterback to play well.
Nick: Or Clarabelle. As far as what McElwain said, listen, this is not a declaration for the season. Jim McElwain said, somebody had to take the first snap. He wasn’t going to be Will Muschamp cute with it and trot both guys out there, and then throw one over to wide receiver. If I’m Jim McElwain, maybe I go wildcat the first play and Kelvin Taylor gets your first snap. There’s your starting quarterback, Kelvin Taylor. This is not a declaration in any sense for the season. Jim McElwain made the decision on who will take the first snap Saturday. Today as we’re filming, or taping, they will have the first eight plays drawn up and installed. So those first eight plays, at minimum, will be Treon Harris.
Jim McElwain also said something that I agree with. He’s not going to box himself in to a certain rotation. If Jim McElwain came out and said, Treon’s going to start. It’s super close, so Treon’s going to get the first two series, and then Will’s coming in for the third and the fourth series. What happens if Treon goes 9 of 9 in the first two series? You’re hot, you’re in a rhythm now, so come on out. Will, go in there. He’s not going to do that. He said that. Jim McElwain likes to use a lot basketball terminology. He says, it’s not going to be a situation where if a guy’s 11 of 11 we’re going to take out the hot shooter. He’s going to play it by gut. Both guys will play in this game, and this game, more so than any single practice that they’ve had in the spring or the fall, will determine who will be the starting quarterback moving forward.
Andrew: I think that, I said this on Twitter yesterday, everyone wanted a quarterback. When the quarterback got named it was not the right decision. Nick, you and I, I’ll eat crow. I did think Will Grier was going to be the starting quarterback of the Gators this year. I really did, and it was not because Treon wasn’t a very good quarterback. I thought Will was better. From what I heard, Will was better, up until the last two weeks. I’ll simply say this. I don’t give a damn if it’s Treon or if it’s Will Grier, Clarabelle, if it’s you, if it’s me. I want to see a football team that can move the offense and can play ball, and it’s entertaining for you and I to cover. If that’s Treon, so be it. If that’s Will Grier, so be it. Let the best man win.
I see some people saying, Treon gets to start because he has more experience. Jim McElwain has no experience with Treon Harris as a quarterback. He has no experience of Will Grier as the quarterback. Jim McElwain is putting the best man that he feels can win the job on the field on Saturday. That may not be the same guy that gives him the best chance to win against ECU, but we will see. I had a source tell me that McElwain’s message was, go win the game in the Swamp. This battle will be won in the Swamp on Saturday. I think it’s pretty clear. Let it be won on Saturday.
Nick: That’s it. When you’ve got a situation where you’ve got two quarterbacks that are close, and you don’t want to make a decision to get a good idea, a better idea of how they’re going to handle pressure you’d like to take that noncontact jersey off of them, but at what risk? You’ve got New Mexico State, I’m not going to mince words here, is one of the worst football teams in America. You have an opportunity to not worry about hurting your quarterback in practice and having an injury make the decision for you, and you have an opportunity to get them live game reps and still continue that battle. I understand the decision. I understand why he still hasn’t made it.
I don’t think he will make a clear decision even next week. I think we’ll be in the same situation next week, unless somebody really goes out there and craps the bed. If Treon Harris or Will Grier go out there and look significantly worse than the other, then I think you might get a decision, but Jim McElwain is in no rush. This quarterback controversy, battle, whatever you want to call it, will continue through next week, through Eastern Carolina, and I think then you have to settle on one before you travel to Lexington to open up SEC play in Kentucky.
Andrew: Yeah. We say quarterback controversy, and I know you didn’t say it on purpose, but I don’t know if it’s a controversy. Is it a bad things that both quarterbacks are battling so much that there is one guy getting the start on Saturday but not any one pulling away? I guess you can look at it in either a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of mindset. Neither one pulled away, so Florida doesn’t have a good quarterback. Some are saying that they feel like both of them give a good chance to win.
If that’s the case, then let’s see who really shows up under the spotlight. Maybe Treon craps the bed this week. Maybe Will craps the bed this week. You never know, and I think that handcuffing yourself to saying Treon Harris is the starter, Will Grier was the starter before this game, made no sense, because it almost said the race was over and gave the other person no hope. Keep the race open. Let the best man win, and then go for it.
My opinion to Gator fans is whoever Mac picks you’ve got to get behind. Don’t choose one or the other. They both play quarterback for the University of Florida. Just choose them and be done with it.
Nick: I think Jim McElwain would tell you, and would tell the team, that this quarterback battle is going to be won on the field, not on the practice fields, but in the Swamp. I’m really interested to see how both guys play. We’ve seen Treon Harris, and maybe some of this also plays into the decision, we’ve seen Treon Harris under the lights. We’ve seen him in front of a 100,000 checker boarded Rocky Top fans, Tennessee fans. You’ve kind of seen what he can do. Obviously the ultimate test will be the games this Saturday and next Saturday. I am done talking quarterbacks. Yesterday was a migraine the way people reacted. We have got 21 other started to talk about other than Treon Harris. We’ve got a matchup, a game, the season is starting. Treon Harris will start. Will Grier will play. That’s a wrap on quarterbacks for this show.
Andrew: There you go. Definitely. Couple quick things, real quick, Duke Dawson we’ve been told will be held out of the game. He could play if it was a big game at SEC football.
Nick: You mean Keanu Neal.
Andrew: Keanu Neal, who did I say?
Nick: Duke Dawson.
Andrew: Oh, Keanu Neal. Duke Dawson will start for Keanu Neal. Keanu Neal is out for this game from what we heard, with the hamstring. They’re just being precautious with him. Like Nick said, New Mexico State I could probably play free safety and the Gators would still have a great chance to win. I’m fat. I’m out of shape. I think Martez Ivey as well probably won’t play in the game very much, and then besides that I think it’ll be everybody that is not a walk-on, I think even walk-ons will play. As long as you’re on the football team I think you play on Saturday.
Nick: Yeah. There’s going to be a lot of people getting some time in this game. I’m really interested to see, first and foremost, what the offense and the defense look like. By that I mean just how Geoff Collins and Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier react in game. What are their in game decision making skills like? I want to see that on Saturday. I want to see the wide receivers, get this, holding on to the football, catching the football. Receivers, it is in your position name. Receive the football. Routes on air. When we were out there on Wednesday I couldn’t count the number of drops on two hands. There’s nobody covering you. So if the receivers can’t catch the football I don’t know what to do.
Also, very excited to see my STA alum family, Jordan Scarlett, run the football. Ready to see Kelvin Taylor run the football. To me, I don’t know if I’ve talked about it on the podcast, to me it seems like Kelvin Taylor’s maybe dropped some weight, and he’s looking a little bit quicker. He’s one of those guys who’s a little bit shorter, so he’s got a stocky build, but he seems to me like he’s trimmed down some and maybe getting some quickness back into his game. I’m excited to see freshmen, obviously. Mentioned Jordan Scarlett, but there will be a ton of freshmen. There are 17 freshmen and redshirt freshmen on Florida’s two deep. There will be a lot of youth on the field. Ready and excited to see how they react the first time in front of 90,000.
Andrew: I agree. I think a couple guys I’m looking forward to seeing is Brandon Powell at the receiver position. How well does he do in the game? I do think he’ll do very well. Scarlett as well, Cece Jefferson as well. Then Taven Bryan and Caleb Brantley, want to see those guys as well, how they play with Rumph, see that defense. I’m very excited to see the blitzing of the defense from Collins. To your point about Kelvin Taylor, I said this I think in the opening podcast, Tim Skipper was the best thing to ever happen to Kelvin Taylor. Tim Skipper and Kelvin relate very well. Skipper has been in the NFL, like his father, and has motivated Kelvin Taylor. It’s the best thing to happen to Kelvin Taylor. I know he has kind of underachieved some in his career. I do think he has a good year with Jordan Scarlett. I think the Gators have a very good one, two punch at running back.
Nick: Another person I want to kind of call out, I kind of what to see. We’re not going to see Alex McCallister. Show me what you got, Bryan Cox. Show me what you got, Jordan Sherit. Cox obviously had, I don’t know if you can call it a breakout game, but had a breakout game against Tennessee last year following the passing of his grandfather, three sacks, ended up with four sacks on the year, which is why I say I don’t know if you can call it a breakout game. He kind of had a really good game, and then didn’t do much the rest of the year. Show me what you got. You’re starting this game with Alex McCallister out because of a suspension. Jordan Sherit, three years he’s been here. Finally 100% healthy, talked to him last week. Said it feels great to not worry about something, some kind of nagging injury. Show me what you got. This is your first chance.
Andrew: Who said they were finally healthy?
Nick: Jordan Sherit.
Andrew: He’s not playing football for Florida, not meaningful news.
Nick: Jordan Sherit will be playing football on Saturday.
Andrew: On Saturday.
Nick: As the backup rush linebacker, and what I’m saying is show me something. Show me something on Saturday that says I can be back in the lineup next Saturday, in two Saturdays at Kentucky, in three Saturdays when Tennessee comes in. That’s what I’m saying here, Spivey. Show me something Saturday, because the opportunity is there. The door is open.
Andrew: Show me something, but Bryan Cox, Cece, those guys in my opinion are playing football over Jordan Sherit. We’ll see. Nick, let’s get off the Gator train for a second here. A lot of games going around the country this weekend. Some of the big games are South Carolina vs. North Carolina tonight.
Andrew: On Thursday night, which you guys will be listening to it after the game. Michigan and Utah, finally the Jim Harbaugh era gets underway. Then Auburn vs. Louisville is a big game this weekend in Atlanta. Alabama has a big game over in Dallas against Wisconsin, and Notre Dame vs. Texas is another big game. What’s your overall feel for this weekend, and what are some games you’re looking forward to?
Nick: They’ve done a better job of adding some of these games to the first week. I’m very interested in North Carolina vs. South Carolina. I’m very interested in the Michigan vs. Utah. I’m very interested in seeing what TCU has, even though I think Minnesota’s terrible. Interested to see what TCU, coming into the season ranked #2 in the country, the highest preseason ranking the school’s ever had. Then Alabama vs. Wisconsin I don’t think that’s going to be a great game, but it’s a matchup that’s intriguing.
The first week of the season used to sound a lot like this. Florida vs. New Mexico State, Georgia vs. Louisiana Monroe, Ole Miss vs. Tennessee Martin. It was like you waited all off season to get football back, and then you were reminded everyone plays those tune-up games, so we’re getting kind of college football this weekend. I really like how they’re trying to make some marquee games in this first week. The second week of the season is a particularly bad football slate as far as matchups and games. Then obviously you get right into conference play.
Andrew: You still have Tennessee vs. Oklahoma though.
Nick: Tennessee vs. Oklahoma, yeah, but for the most part you’re going to get more Florida vs. ECUs.
Andrew: I do think that they have done a better job. The Auburn vs. Louisville game is intriguing to me to see Bobby Petrino’s offense versus Will Muschamp’s defense. I think that’s going to be a good one. A game that a lot of people aren’t talking about is the Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech game. How nasty is that game going to get? Ohio State wanting a little revenge from last year on Labor Day.
Nick: Ohio State is going to score as many points as they can.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying.
Nick: The only thing that is going to stop Ohio State’s offense is going to be the game clock.
Andrew: Okay. That sounds good. I agree. I think that they run it up, and it gets a little on the ugly side real quick. To kind of finish off this podcast—
Nick: Before that I have a little surprise for you, a game that you might not have recognized, but that I think you’ll end up tuning in to. You were very close with Colin Thompson, who is now at Temple. Temple opens the season by hosting Penn State. Colin from Pennsylvania, that’s the big state college coming in to him. He is finally healthy and appears to be ready to play for the Temple Owls, so I’m sure you will tuning into that game, 3:30 ESPN on Saturday.
Andrew: I didn’t even notice that. That is a very good game. I’ll have to wish my boy some luck.
Nick: They’re playing at Lincoln Financial Field where the Eagles play.
Andrew: There you go. Colin is a great guy. I did speak to him over the summer. He is finally healthy. For you guys who don’t know, Colin’s a great guy. Nick, you can attest to that. Very happy to see him healthy, and I know it can be a big win for him if they were to take down the Lions of Penn State.
Nick: Yes. I am excited for many games. I am excited for games like Florida International vs. UCF. Of course, UCF is where I went, and my sister is a freshman at Florida International. So I will be talking to her tonight at 6:00 about that game. I’m just excited for football. I might even get crazy and tune into Villanova vs. Connecticut. I don’t even know. I’m a degenerate. Southern Utah State is looking good to me right now.
Andrew: Some of these night games on Thursday night, as you’re getting ready to go to bed, these Colorado vs. Hawaii games. It might be a game you just watch, because it’s like, I have football.
Nick: Sign me up.
Andrew: I won’t say that myself, Alabama Jaguars.
Nick: Sign me up for a 1:00AM kickoff between Hawaii and Colorado.
Andrew: There you go. Myself, Alabama Jaguars, looking for a second straight bowl game. Open up against Gardner Webb before hosting the NC State Wolf Pack next week. Big game for the Jaguars. Nick, let’s end this podcast, as always on Fridays, with our prediction of the Gator game. Just what you’re expecting of this. Would you like me to go first, or do you want to go first?
Nick: You can go first.
Andrew: You want me to go first. I knew you were going to say that. I think the Gators roll and roll big, 57-10 is what I came up with. I don’t even know if New Mexico scores 10 points, but I kind of feel like saying 57-3 is I know some Tennessee jackwagon is going to call me a homer if I say that, so 57-10 Gators roll. I think Grier and Harris both have good day, and Jordan Scarlett gets his first rushing touchdown in the orange and blue.
Nick: Florida is a 37 point favorite to beat New Mexico State. Like I said before, New Mexico State is 4-20 under head coach Doug Martin. They were 1-7 in the Sunbelt conference. This is not a challenge for Florida. If Florida stumbles or struggles at any point in this game then there will be serious problems the rest of the season. I think the Gators roll in this game. I’m going to go with 52-0.
Andrew: 52-0. Any stars of the game?
Nick: I think when there’s a game 52-0 there’s a bunch of stars. I expect turnovers on defense. New Mexico State does a very good job of protecting the quarterback. They only gave up nine sacks last year, and they returned four starting offensive linemen, but they just don’t have the playmakers at the skill positions to match up with Florida. They don’t have the people on defense to cover Florida’s skill position guys. This is a game where that quick passing game, that get the ball out into our playmaker’s hands quickly, this is the game where Florida does that, and those plays that you always see on Top 10 where somebody throws a two yard pass, and then all of a sudden eight people on defense miss a tackle, and a guy scores. The pass traveled two yards in the air, and it’s an 84 yard touchdown pass. People would always ask the past four years, why don’t I ever see that happen to Florida? This is the game. Mac is the coach to take advantage of those deficiencies that New Mexico State has.
I think stars of the game will be everyone. Everyone is going to be touching the ball, even guys like Alvin Bailey, Chris Thompson, will get involved in this game. Guys who once the rotation gets tighter as the conference play starts and don’t play as much, those guys will be able to shine on this stage. I remember, I think it was last year or two years ago, Mack Brown had a breakout game in the opener, and everyone was talking about Mack Brown’s going to lead the team in rushing. I don’t take a lot from this game other than seeing what the coaching staff does schematically. But I am predicting a big win.
Andrew: Florida wins 57-0, and they’re not going to national championship?
Nick: Absolutely not. Florida will not be in the national championship or the college football playoff this year. Sorry.
Andrew: I do think it’s going to be a good year for Florida. Maybe not record wise. I do still see eight wins, or seven wins, somewhere in that ballpark. The Gators do show improvement on offense, and they finish with a bang in recruiting. A quick update on recruiting before we get out of here. Jake Allen, Chauncey Gardner, Sam Bruce, Freddie Swain, those are the big visitors coming in this weekend. 2017 defensive end Zach Carter and 2017 running back Devon Barrett coming in. I’ll have a full visitors list on Friday. Two basketball official visitors, commit Eric Hester and forward Tyler Cook are coming in on official visits. Check out my visitors list on the site, and updates all weekend long from Nick and I. I think that’s all for this episode, Nicholas.
Nick: Yup. We will be back next week. Also, if you haven’t, make sure you tune in to the last podcast we did with Ken of Ken Eats Gainesville. It made me hungry, and I will be seeing Ken on Sunday for bottomless mimosas and biscuits and gravy at one of the places we talked about in that podcast.
Andrew: No hints. Check it out. Give Ken a follow on Twitter and Facebook. Tell him the guys at Gator Country sent you over there.
Nick: Here you go. If you are in Gainesville, and you listen to the podcast, we’ll be at that place at 11:00 if you want to come and say hello. Even more incentive, go listen to the podcast. It’s all in there.
Andrew: Nick will be signing autographs.
Nick: I don’t think anyone wants that.
Andrew: You never know. Nick’s signing autographs, and he will allow you to buy him beer or food, if you want to do that as well. Nick is a very easy guy to please.
Nick: I will allow you to buy me beer, absolutely.
Andrew: Nick, say your thing. Let’s get out of here.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country. Happy college football season.
Andrew: Thanks, Gator Country. We finally made it. Take care, and stay tuned.