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    Florida Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner with his Outback Bowl MVP trophy- GatorCountry photo taken by David Bowie

Recapping the Outback bowl,
plus recruiting: Florida Gators podcast

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  • Recapping the Outback bowl, plus recruiting: Florida Gators podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, January 6, 2017, 0 Comments,
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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Outback Bowl for the Florida Gators, plus update you on the latest recruiting news for Florida.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down how the defense played on Monday, plus how Randy Shannon’s play calling was.

Andrew and Nick also break down the latest news for the Gators recruiting efforts after the Under Armour game and what to look forward to it in January for recruiting.

TRANSCRIPT:

 

Nick:               What’s going on, Gator Country podcast listeners? We’re back. Travel. Andrew’s a little sick, but he’s powering through it today. We’re going to get back on an off season schedule. We’ll have podcasts going up Tuesday and Friday. Just one this week, and then we’ll get back on that regular schedule after the weekend, and we’ll be able to talk about that championship game going on Monday.

Andrew:         Yeah. We’ll get back on that Tuesday, Friday off season schedule that we’ve always had for baseball/softball and recruiting and all that good stuff. So we’ll start back on that on Tuesday and get back on that. Busy since we’ve last talked last week. Had the Outback Bowl. Had some recruiting stuff going on, and we’re finally back settled into our own beds.

Nick:               I went 16 days without sleeping in my own bed. I think I was on the road for a little over two weeks.

Andrew:         Can’t complain too much, except for coming home and, like you said, being under the weather. That Tampa weather was rough. Someone told me it was 103 on the field was the temperature on Monday.

Nick:               First day of practice we were all like, “Oh man, it’s hot.” Like 90 degrees. Second day of practice it’s hot again, and out of nowhere it’s freezing. You show up, leave Orlando, and you’re like, “What the heck?” I’m like, “I don’t know, man. I was sweating yesterday, and I’m freezing today.” We go out to practice for interviews, and somebody looks at me and is like, “You don’t have a jacket?” I was like, “I was in south Florida. I didn’t need a jacket. I didn’t pack for this.”

Andrew:         Exactly. Let’s get back to the Outback Bowl a little bit. Nick, it was what we kind of stated all along. It was a game Florida had to win, and they did. Surprisingly, for me, well, I guess I can’t continue to call it a surprise, because the defense played well, and it was a situation where it a bunch of young guys that played and did well. Chauncey Gardner ends up being Outback Bowl MVP of the game, and, Nick, I think he showed what you and I have talked about since watching him in the Under Armour game, and that is the guy’s a player. Corner, nickel, safety, wherever it may be, the guy’s a player.

Nick:               I don’t know if I’m ready to say corner. Love him at safety. Love him at nickel. I think he’s kind of like a Duke Dawson where put him in those spots. I don’t know if he plays corner next year. He might have to. See what happens after Signing Day, but just a player. He’s a football player, and that’s what you’re getting at is your football team is better if you have Chauncey Gardner on it.

Andrew:         Yeah. I think the thing, Nick, that is the reason that I’ve been very high on him, even at corner, is the speed he showed off, and you mentioned this to me in the press box on Monday. When he caught that pick, and wasn’t nobody catching him. Nobody was catching him.

Nick:               No. I think I said it to you. I was like, “He might be the fastest player on the team, hands down.” He caught that pick, and had to make a couple people miss, but once he got into it there were a couple guys that might have had angles on him, and I said, “He’s gone. He’s the fastest player on the field right now. No one’s catching him.”

Andrew:         Yeah. I think that’s a thing that is there. We can say the DBs loses their guys, but Chauncey Gardner may be the guy that is that face of the DB program, or position, going forward. We talk all the time about his mouth, and he loves to run his mouth, as Coach Mac says. He’s a guy that is like that, but he backs it up. He’s played well. He played some nickel. He played some at corner, and he played some at safety. All around he did well. Christian Garcia, the walk on linebacker, played well. Vosean Joseph had a great game, and then Marcell Harris continues to come along. I think you and I have been saying that. You’re still wearing a Braves hat because of your little bet with me on Keanu Neal, but better late than never, and Marcell’s playing his best ball.

Nick:               I think next year, you mentioned Chauncey, I think he might be the face of the program going forward, but I think next year, with Duke Dawson coming back, and the way Marcell Harris has really played, I think that’s the face of your defense next year. The other guys are just young, and they will be. Chauncey, David Reese, Vosean Joseph.

Andrew:         Kylan.

Nick:               Cece Jefferson, Kylan Johnson. There’s a lot of guys. Jabari. There’s a ton of young talent, and I’ve said it. This is my fourth season, so three years in a row I’ve said, “Florida’s defense is going to get worse next year, because of what they’re losing.”

You look at what they’re losing. You’re losing Tabor, probably Brantley. He hasn’t announced yet as we’re doing this, but probably Brantley. Davis, Anzalone, Bryan Cox, Joey Ivie, Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson. You’re losing eight, nine guys who, Joey Ivie, I don’t know if I said that already, but eight, nine guys who are starters on defense you’re losing. Based on what we’ve seen down the stretch, you’ve got young guys playing because of injuries. I don’t know if I’ll say that Florida’s defense takes a step back next year.

Andrew:         The only position that’s really concerning to me is defensive tackle, and that is…

Nick:               I would say corner too, just because you’re going to have to rely on freshmen. Not saying that the freshmen they have coming in aren’t talented. Just that you’re going to have to rely on freshmen. Nickel you’ve got locked up. I think safety you’ve got locked up. It’ll be interesting to see, because you get Nick Washington and Marcell Harris back next year. What do you do with Chauncey and Duke? Like I said, Duke will tell you he can play all three positions. Chauncey will tell you he can play all three positions. He can play quarterback, running back, punter, kicker. He’ll tell you all that. So, it’ll be interesting to see how those guys shake out, because I think you probably end up leaving those two seniors back there at safety.

Andrew:         I’m thinking that you’re going to have to start off with Chauncey and Duke at corner. I’m not big on Duke playing corner. I like him more inside, but I think that’s who you start off with. For me, outside of Jachai Polite, Taven Bryan started playing a little bit better. Khairi Clark has his moments. It’s just for me that’s where it is. You’re going to look at a guy like a Kyree Campbell, who’s the prep school guy that’s already in school. You’re going to look at him to get you some playing time as well. So, for me, that’s where I’m at. As far as the defensive end goes, Sherit coming back. Jabari coming back. I feel like you’re okay there. Cece as well there. I just worry about inside.

Nick:               Yeah. Who are you going to be looking at now? It’s going to be …

Andrew:         Jachai, Taven, Khairi.

Nick:               Jachai’s played a lot of end though.

Andrew:         Yeah. I think he’s a guy that is kind of a …

Nick:               He is so surprising to me, because before the year, I’ll call myself out here. Before the year you said, “Jachai looks good. He looks big.” I was like, “He looks like he’s out of shape,” and he’s a big dude. The way I saw him running around, and his pursuit really, I think I saw it against FSU. I saw it in the SEC Championship game, and I saw it in the Outback Bowl. His pursuit, he doesn’t play like a guy that’s, he’s probably 330. He doesn’t play like a guy that’s that big.

Andrew:         He is a grown man, and someone that I would not want to fight in the streets. To go to the offensive side of the ball, it’s tough for me to say that they improved, because it was the bowl game and quarterback situation was still iffy. Goolsby had an up and down day. He still can’t block the wind if he had to. Mark Thompson finally makes a play in the game, and Jordan Scarlett continues to do what he’s done all along. So, all of that was good. Tyrie had a catch in the game, and Callaway did okay in the game as well. To me though, we can talk about that all we want. Quarterback situation next year is still up in the air, so to me the bowl game on offense kind of means nothing.

Nick:               Looking at the stats right now. Iowa had more 1st downs. Iowa ran for more yards. Florida absolutely passed for more yards.

Andrew:         It’s kind of tough to look at the stats a little bit though, because you did have the pick six in the game, and then the one quick scoring drive. Tough too much to look at that, but I’m just saying it’s tough for me to say, “Okay, we’ve seen enough on the offense,” because we got a new quarterback playing next year.

Nick:               You got a new quarterback playing next year. I feel good at running back. I feel better about receiver than I have since I’ve covered this team, with two guys. Look at Swain. Look at Hammond. I thought Freddie Swain had that nice little pitch and catch. What was that? 24 yards. I feel better about wide receiver than I have since I’ve been here the last four years. Offensive line I think I feel good too.

Andrew:         Outside of left tackle, that’s a question mark of, I think we can agree it’s going to be Martez Ivey, and then my question mark is does that mean Fred Johnson’s your starting right guard, with Jordan your starting left guard? Any line with Fred Johnson scares me, and you lose Cam Dillard. He transfers. I’m not sure that’s a big loss, because I don’t think he played. I think he lost his job when he got hurt. As great of a guy he really is, and he’s a superb guy, TJ kind of took that spot from him.

Nick:               Yeah. Cam’s a great guy. He’s going to graduate after the spring semester, and people kind of get mad about that. Remember, people got really mad about Cody Riggs.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               When he left. You got to remember, these kids, these guys, these young adults, they’re students. Any student advisor would tell you, “Go to a different school for graduate school.”

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               It’s like, when a school gets a graduate transfer, “This is great.” Then when someone from your school wants to go somewhere else it’s like, “Why is he quitting on his team?” He’s just going to play his last year somewhere else.

Andrew:         You got to remember too, with Cam, he’s a guy that has adopted, and is married, and is from, both him and his wife are both from Michigan. Maybe it’s a chance for them to get a little closer to home, and start moving forward. It’s going to tough for Cam to play at the next level, so let him get his degree and start moving forward.

Nick:               Yeah. The interior line is really going to, to me you’re going to have to look at, what does Brett Heggie look like? I think that’s really the big one, because you’ve got Heggie, Jordan, McCoy, and Johnson as four guys right there that can play those three spots.

Andrew:         You got to remember as well, the new early enrollee, Kadeem Telfort. He’s a tackle as well, could play inside at guard. So, maybe he finds a way to get in there. We always talk about it, and we can talk about it a little bit now, and that is that they’re trying to get the transfer rule changed so Florida can take in some grad transfers. If that was to happen, maybe they go get a guy that can come in and play next season on the offensive line. It’s still a wait and see approach, but maybe they do get that, and they’re able to get someone to come in and fill, because I think we’re both here saying that we feel good on four of the positions. You’re looking for either that left guard or right guard, depending on where you play Tyler Jordan at.

Nick:               Yeah. That’s really the issue is that you’ve got four. You figure out another one, and then you think you’re good to go. Gator fans, I know, are excited about Waany, but at some point in the back of their head you got to keep thinking like, “Man, don’t have that sophomore slump.” I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it for too many years now.

Andrew:         He kind of started to struggle a little bit at the end of the year. We didn’t talk about it a ton, and he didn’t play bad. I mean, we won’t make a mountain out of a molehill, but he did start to struggle a little bit more in there, and that’s all because of teams see him on tape, see what his tendencies are and that kind of stuff. That’s something he has to improve on, and it’s nothing bad at all. I still think Waany’s a really good player, and is going to be a bright spot for Florida going forward, but he still has to improve.

We kind of saw that a little bit with Martez this year. At the beginning of the year Martez was struggling more than we all expected him to, and that’s a little bit because he wasn’t adjusting. He still wasn’t a little healthy, that kind of stuff, and that’s something else with Waany is Waany’s going to continue to get in better shape, and when he does that that’s going to not only help him in his pass game blocking, but also being able to move more from a run game situation.

Nick:               Do we just feel better about the offense as a whole, even though it wasn’t great? Right?

Andrew:         Yeah. I mean, the thing is, I feel like we talk about this every off season, but find me a quarterback, and I think the offense is okay, but until you find a quarterback I don’t know. People continue to say, “Does that mean you’re not high on Franks? You’re not high on Trask?” They haven’t played. I mean, they haven’t. They haven’t played. The last time I saw Feleipe Franks was in the Army All-American game in the spring game, and he didn’t look good. Last time we saw Kyle Trask in the spring game he looked okay, but that’s not Alabama. It’s not Tennessee. I need to see it.

Nick:               Got to see it. Not going to see it for a while, but you got to see that. I agree. Any other takes from the bowl game?

Andrew:         Was very excited to see that the team came out and played hard, didn’t lay an egg. Was very excited to see that.

Nick:               I thought almost for sure, and I couldn’t tell you why, I just had this sinking feeling that that’s what was going to happen.

Andrew:         We lost Nick, so I guess he laid an egg like the team.

Nick:               I think I unplugged my headset here. I just had this sinking feeling that that was going to be the case, that they were going to lay an egg. I didn’t understand it, but it was just a gut feeling, and they certainly didn’t. They took it to Iowa.

Andrew:         They did. I’ll say this, and that was I was excited to see that. I was excited to see that from a lot of standpoints of Tabor and those guys going out and doing well in the game, and just ending the season on a right note. Joey Ivie said this, he was like, “We wanted to leave with a ring.” Props to you, man. That’s what these bowl games are for. They’re for nothing but for that, to get an Outback Bowl ring, and an SEC Eastern Championship ring. I’m glad. I’m glad to see it, and you feel so much better about things going out on a winning note than you do a losing note.

Nick:               Yeah. That was our big thing for the bowl game is don’t go out, lay an egg. You have to change the perception. I think the offense looked good. The defense was fantastic. Defense was stellar, as they have been. So, to me, it’s kind of just looking at did it change the perception?

Andrew:         I mean, you can’t really say until Signing Day really, and then heading into the next. I mean, we’ll go on, and we’ll talk recruiting now. The big one is Alex Leatherwood showing up at Alabama, and you can read the story on the site. There’s a backstory, and, Nick, you know. You were with me all week last week and were hearing the back and forth, and it was really close. It was really close, but at the end of the day you have to beat the snake.

I call Saban the snake, and, Nick, you know me, and me and you fuss about it all the time. I like Nick Saban. I think Nick Saban is a phenomenal football coach. He might be a bad dude, whatever. I’ve been able to meet him several times, and I don’t have a problem with him. I like the guy, but in order to beat the snake you got to be a snake, and Florida wasn’t the snake and didn’t win out on Leatherwood. As simple as it is. It stunk. We’re talking about a whole different perception today, on Friday, if Alex Leatherwood’s a Gator and not at Alabama.

Nick:               Our entire offensive side of the ball that we just talked about is Leatherwood’s your left tackle. Ivey’s your left guard. McCoy’s your center. Tyler Jordan’s your right guard, and Waany’s your right tackle. There it is. That’s what you got.

Andrew:         Leatherwood’s your best offensive lineman once he steps on campus.

Nick:               I think what could have helped Florida is if they’d gotten a financial aid agreement signed, because Alabama getting that done means as soon as Saban, or anybody, gets wind of Alex Leatherwood being kind of close to Florida that phone blows up, and they can call him as much as they want.

Andrew:         It’s tough, because if they do that then, guess what? That means that if he goes to Bama, like he did, then they’re on probation. They lose some days, that kind of stuff. So, it’s tough there. I’ll be the hard guy here, and that is Florida had the wrong people recruiting Alex Leatherwood. Nick, how many times have I told you this? Anybody on Florida’s campus besides the guy’s recruiting him probably lands Florida Alex Leatherwood. How many times have I told you that, Nick?

Nick:               Say it again.

Andrew:         I said, how many times have I told you that if Florida had anyone besides who they had recruiting Leatherwood that they get him? I’ve told you that. I’ve said that. He loves Mike Summers, but Mike Summers wasn’t ruthless enough to go against Nick Saban. You had to have someone ruthless going against Nick Saban to recruit Leatherwood.

Nick:               I don’t know if you have that, but it was just, I feel like people don’t really understand how close it was.

Andrew:         It was close. I mean, heading into, he called Saban on Sunday and was going to decommit. I mean, that’s what it was, but you got to be ruthless. To move on from him …

Nick:               I think the only way it would have happened, if would have been like an Alex Anzalone thing, where he never decommitted from Notre Dame, just showed up at Florida. If Alex Leatherwood would have just shown up at Florida and registered for classes on Tuesday, if people didn’t know that he was at the game and stuff like that, if Alabama didn’t have a reason to worry, and then do what Alabama does, I think you might be talking about a different ending to the story.

Andrew:         Maybe. That’s all I know. Maybe. You got to be ruthless. I hate to continue saying it, but you lost, and you’re second place here. This, and I’ll say it like it is, this shit show of recruiting that is going on right now doesn’t get better unless you start winning some of these battles. A guy like Leatherwood changes everything, and it was a miss. We can say, “Well, he was committed to Alabama for this long, this long.” You had him that close to flipping, and you didn’t flip. Got to.

Now you move on. You look at Tedarrell Slaton out of American Heritage, and he’s a guy that can play OL, DL. You’re looking at him. You’re looking at Kai-Leon Herbert, the Michigan commit. Tony Gray out of Georgia. So, you’ve got several options. Are they Leatherwood good? No. But you got some options. I mean, Nick, the proof’s in the pudding here. You got to end well on Signing Day. Find a way to get, you got to salvage this class, and that’s all it is. It’s not going to top 10, and that’s disappointing, but you got to find a way to salvage this class and boost your recruiting up with some of these changes that are going to be coming, and hope to win big on the trail in ’18.

Nick:               Then there’s no excuse at that point, right?

Andrew:         I don’t give them an excuse now. I mean, I understand the reasoning, but to me, when I look at some of the things that have been going on and some of the reasons that they’re losing guys. We talked about the James Robinson thing, about not recruiting because they were recruiting other guys. Henry Ruggs the same way. It’s small stuff, and I say this. Coach Mac continues to say, “We need to build the program the right way,” and I believe that he’s talking about some of these things that’s going on here.

Some of these things that are just kind of going by the wayside a little bit, and that’s nothing bad to say about anybody, but some of these small things. I mean, Nick, you know it. Small things can result in a big problem. Not talking to a kid for a week hurts a lot of things. You may say, “Well, he didn’t talk to him for a week,” but guess what? Alabama blew him up five times, or Florida State blew him up five times. This talent gap gets bigger every year. At some point you’ve got to say, “Enough of it.” Close the gap, and go forward, and if you don’t, guess what? You’re not winning on the field.

Nick:               It’s tough. Currently right now you still only have one spot.

Andrew:         I mean, I think you and I will agree that we think that changes, and, for Florida’s sake, for Coach Mac’s sake, for everybody’s sake, I hope it does, because I don’t know that you got enough dudes on staff. I mean, we talk about Tim Skipper. We talk about Chris Rumph. We talk about Randy Shannon being great, but at the end of the day those three guys can’t do it all. I mean, we’re talking about some stuff with the Leatherwood situation where if you had a strong OL recruiting guy he goes after that.

Nick:               Yeah. I defend Mike Summers, and everyone knows that I defend Mike Summers, just because the players love him. At some point that just needs to translate to something else. If he’s not a strong recruiter, that’s fine. You can only have one of those on staff.

Andrew:         Here’s the deal, Nick. Nick Saban can be the greatest coach in America, but if he ain’t got the dudes, he ain’t winning.

Nick:               It’s all about getting dudes.

Andrew:         I mean, that’s anywhere you go. Bill Belichick, as great as Bill Belichick is as a coach at New England, if he wasn’t able to pick the Waiver Wire and that kind of stuff, guess what? They don’t win. I mean, look at the Dallas Cowboys right now. Their quarterback, Dak Prescott, and they’re best team in the NFC right now, maybe the best team in football, all because of one guy. It takes players, and you have to, have to, start getting players that are Florida caliber, and this is not to pick on anyone, but when you’re beating out Pitt, when you’re beating out UCF, USF, those aren’t the guys you should be beating. You’ve got to start beating Bama. You’ve got to start beating Florida State. You’ve got to start beating Clemson, Ohio State, Miami. They’re doing a good job of beating Miami. Miami’s in the same case Florida is right now. Got to start winning those big battles.

Nick:               It’s gone to a point where that’s it. Now you’re competing with Pitt. You’re competing with Syracuse. You got to get to a point, it might take getting a Leatherwood. It might take getting a Mack Wilson. It might take beating them once to let people know, and maybe it’s being afraid to fail, and that’s something McElwain has talked about. It’s, “Well, I don’t want to go after that kid, because Alabama’s on him, and Mario Cristobal’s over there, and he’s a really good recruiter. I’d rather just focus my time more on somebody else who I think I can get, because I don’t know if I can get this kid if it’s between me and Alabama.” You can’t have that kind of attitude.

Andrew:         That’s, you don’t deserve to be at the University of Florida if you’re thinking like that, and that’s the way I look at it. One of the biggest things that made me mad about Will Muschamp was he wouldn’t go, he didn’t want to recruit Bo Scarbrough, because he was afraid of losing him to Alabama. Guess what? Nick, you and I both know Bo Scarbrough liked Florida a ton. Florida didn’t put the effort in. Look what that man child’s doing right now. There’s other guys. Props to Mac. Props to those guys for going in and getting Perine, getting Tony, getting Jawaan Taylor. Start doing it. You’ve got to start competing with it, and believing that you’re going to get it. The excuse of, “Well, I don’t believe,” is thrown out the water.

You look at a guy like James Robinson. You made a mistake. Now it’s time to fix that mistake and find a way to win that battle. James Robinson is a guy that comes in, plays next year at receiver, is 6’4”, is a monster. Find a way to get him, whatever it takes. Do it. Find a way to beat Alabama, beat Oklahoma, beat Ole Miss. You’ve got to. In state guy. What? An hour and a half away in Lakeland? Two hours away. Find a way.

Nick:               You got to start defending that home turf against out of state schools.

Andrew:         I mean, it’s different.

Nick:               I’m watching Tay Scott play for another national championship.

Andrew:         I mean, here’s the thing, and I understand what you’re saying, because what you’re saying is exactly right. People have to understand too, it’s a lot tougher to guard the fences of Florida. There’s so many guys, but the elite of the elite that you want you should be able to get the majority of these guys. Seeing Jared Judy, seeing Leatherwood, seeing, I’m trying to go through prospects. Shawn Wade, guys like that that you really wanted, just leave the state. Can’t happen. Got to lock down the turf, and it’s got to start soon.

Nick:               Soon as in now.

Andrew:         Yeah. Soon as in now. I mean, we talk about it all the time. There’s some issues around Florida, and it has been there. The facilities are bad. They’re getting better. There’s a lot of things that’s going on, and they’re going to improve, and they have to improve quick. That is not exactly something you want to say is on Mac, because it’s not on Mac, but it has to improve quick, or guess what? You’re going to continue to fall further and further behind.

Nick:               30 days.

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               Less than 30 days until Signing Day. What’s a realistic finish at this point?

Andrew:         Nick, I hate to do that. You know I don’t like that, the ranking thing, because we don’t do that. I think Florida will finish with some good players, and then I think they go on some of their backup plans. I think they can salvage and okay class. I don’t think it’s a great class. I don’t. I think they get some good players. I just am still missing that one superstar in the class, and that’s nothing against Zach Carter, those guys. They’re all great players, but I’m talking about that one guy that just really creates a buzz. When we talked about Leatherwood, when we talked about Jared Judy, these are household names that really create a buzz when they flip, and I’m just not seeing that guy. James Robinson is a fantastic player, but he’s a Lakeland guy that’s kind of low key. He doesn’t create that buzz.

Nick:               I think he could. I think he would have created more buzz in the summer than he would at this point though.

Andrew:         Yeah. You know what I’m saying? He’s not a guy that, he’s to himself a lot, that kind of stuff. So it’s tougher for him to do that. You want that with your quarterback. Like I said with Leatherwood, he’s a big name that everyone knows. Jared Judy was a big name everyone knows. That’s what I’m saying. You get a guy like Kai-Leon Herbert to flip, he’s a good player, but he doesn’t create a ton of buzz, because he’s a guy that now everybody’s thinking about. CJ Henderson, Brad Stewart, all those are good players, but do they really create a buzz? That’s kind of what I’m saying. I think if you’re Florida here you try to salvage this to get the best players you possibly can, and then really hope to just stack up in 2018.

Nick:               For me, and I’ve said it before, 2018 is that first year. Florida hasn’t finished inside the top 10, and I know you don’t, neither of us, really like rankings, but …

Andrew:         Florida should never finish outside the top 10.

Nick:               Yeah. Whether we agree with the ranking system or not, it shouldn’t be a question, and you talk about, when the coaches as part of their recruiting pitch talk about how great the school is, and the education and the greater good, Gators take care of Gators, talk about all that, then what’s going on?

Andrew:         There is, there’s some lack of help from former players, and that’s got to change. I mean, I talked to a couple of guys that are in recruiting areas of Greg Nord and Mike Summers, and they’re like, “Well, these guys don’t even know us,” and that kind of stuff. That’s inexcusable. That’s inexcusable. It’s got to fix. Florida can finish outside the top 10 every few years, but to finish, I mean, this would be what? The third year in a row, Nick? I believe, outside the top 10. That’s not working.

Nick:               I don’t know what the changes are, other than that. Now, finally, you should be a point where you’ve been talking to a kid since he was a sophomore, or since he was a freshman. These 2018 kids Florida should have been talking to for three years. If they have a bad class again this year, that’s when you start to think or say, “Maybe they weren’t, and if they weren’t, why weren’t they?”

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               That’s why I say next year’s your no excuse year.

Andrew:         I’m with you. I’m with you. Like I said, I’m with you. You have a good point there, and it’s fair, but at some point or another, and, Nick, I’ve been the biggest defender of everybody, but at some point or another when you see stuff get as close as it did, and then it fails, you just sit here back and wondering, like “What’s going on?” Get stuff fixed. To see the team be as good as they are now, and then get back to Atlanta, and for two years in a row, and you’re still struggling to get in the top 10, just it’s concerning for me. Here’s the thing for me too. Florida has a great eye for evaluation. I will never ever doubt that. You look at Perine. You look at Vosean. You look at David Reese. Look at all these guys that are there, and they’re great, but you have to fill it with some big name guys as well, some of these top guys that don’t take long to develop.

Nick:               Yeah. You got to have guys that can come and play right away.

Andrew:         Exactly. We’ll see. We’ll continue to break down this recruiting as we go. January 13 is the first big recruiting weekend. The Army game’s on Saturday, so, Nick, I think next week maybe one day we’ll just take one of our podcasts to really sit down and break down recruiting. We should have a coaching change next week, or in addition to the coaching change, at least one next week. So we’ll talk about that, and then we’ll talk about really recruiting. You and I will both be rested up. I’ll have my voice back fully, and we’ll be ready to go.

Nick:               That works. That works for me.

Andrew:         Alright. Tell everybody where they’ll find us. We’ll get out of here, and we’ll see everyone on Tuesday. Remember, Tuesday, Friday is the new schedule for the off season.

Nick:               www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is on iTunes. Go there, hit subscribe, never miss an episode. If you don’t have iTunes, if you’re an Android guy or gal, it’s on the website, audio and transcript form. Follow us on social media. On Facebook and Twitter, @GatorCountry. On Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. Follow me, @NickdelaTorreGC. Follow him, @AndrewSpiveyGC. We appreciate it. It was a good season, long season, and it’s going to be a crazy last month to Signing Day.

Andrew:         I do think things get better with the coaching changes and all that. So, it’ll be fun, and if you haven’t joined up yet, now’s the time. Coaching changes are coming around the corner, some transfers possibly, recruiting. Come join us. We’ve had a good season, had a lot of new subscribers, and what are you waiting on? Come on and join us. As always, guys, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:               You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

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

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Florida-Gators-defensive-back-Chauncey-Gardner-with-his-Outback-Bowl-MVP-trophy-150x150.jpg Andrew Spivey FeatureFootballPodcastsRecruiting ,,,,,,,,,,
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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Outback Bowl for the Florida Gators, plus update you on the latest recruiting news for Florida.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down how the defense played on Monday, plus how Randy Shannon’s play calling was.

Andrew and Nick also break down the latest news for the Gators recruiting efforts after the Under Armour game and what to look forward to it in January for recruiting.

TRANSCRIPT:

 

Nick:               What’s going on, Gator Country podcast listeners? We’re back. Travel. Andrew’s a little sick, but he’s powering through it today. We’re going to get back on an off season schedule. We’ll have podcasts going up Tuesday and Friday. Just one this week, and then we’ll get back on that regular schedule after the weekend, and we’ll be able to talk about that championship game going on Monday.

Andrew:         Yeah. We’ll get back on that Tuesday, Friday off season schedule that we’ve always had for baseball/softball and recruiting and all that good stuff. So we’ll start back on that on Tuesday and get back on that. Busy since we’ve last talked last week. Had the Outback Bowl. Had some recruiting stuff going on, and we’re finally back settled into our own beds.

Nick:               I went 16 days without sleeping in my own bed. I think I was on the road for a little over two weeks.

Andrew:         Can’t complain too much, except for coming home and, like you said, being under the weather. That Tampa weather was rough. Someone told me it was 103 on the field was the temperature on Monday.

Nick:               First day of practice we were all like, “Oh man, it’s hot.” Like 90 degrees. Second day of practice it’s hot again, and out of nowhere it’s freezing. You show up, leave Orlando, and you’re like, “What the heck?” I’m like, “I don’t know, man. I was sweating yesterday, and I’m freezing today.” We go out to practice for interviews, and somebody looks at me and is like, “You don’t have a jacket?” I was like, “I was in south Florida. I didn’t need a jacket. I didn’t pack for this.”

Andrew:         Exactly. Let’s get back to the Outback Bowl a little bit. Nick, it was what we kind of stated all along. It was a game Florida had to win, and they did. Surprisingly, for me, well, I guess I can’t continue to call it a surprise, because the defense played well, and it was a situation where it a bunch of young guys that played and did well. Chauncey Gardner ends up being Outback Bowl MVP of the game, and, Nick, I think he showed what you and I have talked about since watching him in the Under Armour game, and that is the guy’s a player. Corner, nickel, safety, wherever it may be, the guy’s a player.

Nick:               I don’t know if I’m ready to say corner. Love him at safety. Love him at nickel. I think he’s kind of like a Duke Dawson where put him in those spots. I don’t know if he plays corner next year. He might have to. See what happens after Signing Day, but just a player. He’s a football player, and that’s what you’re getting at is your football team is better if you have Chauncey Gardner on it.

Andrew:         Yeah. I think the thing, Nick, that is the reason that I’ve been very high on him, even at corner, is the speed he showed off, and you mentioned this to me in the press box on Monday. When he caught that pick, and wasn’t nobody catching him. Nobody was catching him.

Nick:               No. I think I said it to you. I was like, “He might be the fastest player on the team, hands down.” He caught that pick, and had to make a couple people miss, but once he got into it there were a couple guys that might have had angles on him, and I said, “He’s gone. He’s the fastest player on the field right now. No one’s catching him.”

Andrew:         Yeah. I think that’s a thing that is there. We can say the DBs loses their guys, but Chauncey Gardner may be the guy that is that face of the DB program, or position, going forward. We talk all the time about his mouth, and he loves to run his mouth, as Coach Mac says. He’s a guy that is like that, but he backs it up. He’s played well. He played some nickel. He played some at corner, and he played some at safety. All around he did well. Christian Garcia, the walk on linebacker, played well. Vosean Joseph had a great game, and then Marcell Harris continues to come along. I think you and I have been saying that. You’re still wearing a Braves hat because of your little bet with me on Keanu Neal, but better late than never, and Marcell’s playing his best ball.

Nick:               I think next year, you mentioned Chauncey, I think he might be the face of the program going forward, but I think next year, with Duke Dawson coming back, and the way Marcell Harris has really played, I think that’s the face of your defense next year. The other guys are just young, and they will be. Chauncey, David Reese, Vosean Joseph.

Andrew:         Kylan.

Nick:               Cece Jefferson, Kylan Johnson. There’s a lot of guys. Jabari. There’s a ton of young talent, and I’ve said it. This is my fourth season, so three years in a row I’ve said, “Florida’s defense is going to get worse next year, because of what they’re losing.”

You look at what they’re losing. You’re losing Tabor, probably Brantley. He hasn’t announced yet as we’re doing this, but probably Brantley. Davis, Anzalone, Bryan Cox, Joey Ivie, Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson. You’re losing eight, nine guys who, Joey Ivie, I don’t know if I said that already, but eight, nine guys who are starters on defense you’re losing. Based on what we’ve seen down the stretch, you’ve got young guys playing because of injuries. I don’t know if I’ll say that Florida’s defense takes a step back next year.

Andrew:         The only position that’s really concerning to me is defensive tackle, and that is…

Nick:               I would say corner too, just because you’re going to have to rely on freshmen. Not saying that the freshmen they have coming in aren’t talented. Just that you’re going to have to rely on freshmen. Nickel you’ve got locked up. I think safety you’ve got locked up. It’ll be interesting to see, because you get Nick Washington and Marcell Harris back next year. What do you do with Chauncey and Duke? Like I said, Duke will tell you he can play all three positions. Chauncey will tell you he can play all three positions. He can play quarterback, running back, punter, kicker. He’ll tell you all that. So, it’ll be interesting to see how those guys shake out, because I think you probably end up leaving those two seniors back there at safety.

Andrew:         I’m thinking that you’re going to have to start off with Chauncey and Duke at corner. I’m not big on Duke playing corner. I like him more inside, but I think that’s who you start off with. For me, outside of Jachai Polite, Taven Bryan started playing a little bit better. Khairi Clark has his moments. It’s just for me that’s where it is. You’re going to look at a guy like a Kyree Campbell, who’s the prep school guy that’s already in school. You’re going to look at him to get you some playing time as well. So, for me, that’s where I’m at. As far as the defensive end goes, Sherit coming back. Jabari coming back. I feel like you’re okay there. Cece as well there. I just worry about inside.

Nick:               Yeah. Who are you going to be looking at now? It’s going to be …

Andrew:         Jachai, Taven, Khairi.

Nick:               Jachai’s played a lot of end though.

Andrew:         Yeah. I think he’s a guy that is kind of a …

Nick:               He is so surprising to me, because before the year, I’ll call myself out here. Before the year you said, “Jachai looks good. He looks big.” I was like, “He looks like he’s out of shape,” and he’s a big dude. The way I saw him running around, and his pursuit really, I think I saw it against FSU. I saw it in the SEC Championship game, and I saw it in the Outback Bowl. His pursuit, he doesn’t play like a guy that’s, he’s probably 330. He doesn’t play like a guy that’s that big.

Andrew:         He is a grown man, and someone that I would not want to fight in the streets. To go to the offensive side of the ball, it’s tough for me to say that they improved, because it was the bowl game and quarterback situation was still iffy. Goolsby had an up and down day. He still can’t block the wind if he had to. Mark Thompson finally makes a play in the game, and Jordan Scarlett continues to do what he’s done all along. So, all of that was good. Tyrie had a catch in the game, and Callaway did okay in the game as well. To me though, we can talk about that all we want. Quarterback situation next year is still up in the air, so to me the bowl game on offense kind of means nothing.

Nick:               Looking at the stats right now. Iowa had more 1st downs. Iowa ran for more yards. Florida absolutely passed for more yards.

Andrew:         It’s kind of tough to look at the stats a little bit though, because you did have the pick six in the game, and then the one quick scoring drive. Tough too much to look at that, but I’m just saying it’s tough for me to say, “Okay, we’ve seen enough on the offense,” because we got a new quarterback playing next year.

Nick:               You got a new quarterback playing next year. I feel good at running back. I feel better about receiver than I have since I’ve covered this team, with two guys. Look at Swain. Look at Hammond. I thought Freddie Swain had that nice little pitch and catch. What was that? 24 yards. I feel better about wide receiver than I have since I’ve been here the last four years. Offensive line I think I feel good too.

Andrew:         Outside of left tackle, that’s a question mark of, I think we can agree it’s going to be Martez Ivey, and then my question mark is does that mean Fred Johnson’s your starting right guard, with Jordan your starting left guard? Any line with Fred Johnson scares me, and you lose Cam Dillard. He transfers. I’m not sure that’s a big loss, because I don’t think he played. I think he lost his job when he got hurt. As great of a guy he really is, and he’s a superb guy, TJ kind of took that spot from him.

Nick:               Yeah. Cam’s a great guy. He’s going to graduate after the spring semester, and people kind of get mad about that. Remember, people got really mad about Cody Riggs.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               When he left. You got to remember, these kids, these guys, these young adults, they’re students. Any student advisor would tell you, “Go to a different school for graduate school.”

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               It’s like, when a school gets a graduate transfer, “This is great.” Then when someone from your school wants to go somewhere else it’s like, “Why is he quitting on his team?” He’s just going to play his last year somewhere else.

Andrew:         You got to remember too, with Cam, he’s a guy that has adopted, and is married, and is from, both him and his wife are both from Michigan. Maybe it’s a chance for them to get a little closer to home, and start moving forward. It’s going to tough for Cam to play at the next level, so let him get his degree and start moving forward.

Nick:               Yeah. The interior line is really going to, to me you’re going to have to look at, what does Brett Heggie look like? I think that’s really the big one, because you’ve got Heggie, Jordan, McCoy, and Johnson as four guys right there that can play those three spots.

Andrew:         You got to remember as well, the new early enrollee, Kadeem Telfort. He’s a tackle as well, could play inside at guard. So, maybe he finds a way to get in there. We always talk about it, and we can talk about it a little bit now, and that is that they’re trying to get the transfer rule changed so Florida can take in some grad transfers. If that was to happen, maybe they go get a guy that can come in and play next season on the offensive line. It’s still a wait and see approach, but maybe they do get that, and they’re able to get someone to come in and fill, because I think we’re both here saying that we feel good on four of the positions. You’re looking for either that left guard or right guard, depending on where you play Tyler Jordan at.

Nick:               Yeah. That’s really the issue is that you’ve got four. You figure out another one, and then you think you’re good to go. Gator fans, I know, are excited about Waany, but at some point in the back of their head you got to keep thinking like, “Man, don’t have that sophomore slump.” I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it for too many years now.

Andrew:         He kind of started to struggle a little bit at the end of the year. We didn’t talk about it a ton, and he didn’t play bad. I mean, we won’t make a mountain out of a molehill, but he did start to struggle a little bit more in there, and that’s all because of teams see him on tape, see what his tendencies are and that kind of stuff. That’s something he has to improve on, and it’s nothing bad at all. I still think Waany’s a really good player, and is going to be a bright spot for Florida going forward, but he still has to improve.

We kind of saw that a little bit with Martez this year. At the beginning of the year Martez was struggling more than we all expected him to, and that’s a little bit because he wasn’t adjusting. He still wasn’t a little healthy, that kind of stuff, and that’s something else with Waany is Waany’s going to continue to get in better shape, and when he does that that’s going to not only help him in his pass game blocking, but also being able to move more from a run game situation.

Nick:               Do we just feel better about the offense as a whole, even though it wasn’t great? Right?

Andrew:         Yeah. I mean, the thing is, I feel like we talk about this every off season, but find me a quarterback, and I think the offense is okay, but until you find a quarterback I don’t know. People continue to say, “Does that mean you’re not high on Franks? You’re not high on Trask?” They haven’t played. I mean, they haven’t. They haven’t played. The last time I saw Feleipe Franks was in the Army All-American game in the spring game, and he didn’t look good. Last time we saw Kyle Trask in the spring game he looked okay, but that’s not Alabama. It’s not Tennessee. I need to see it.

Nick:               Got to see it. Not going to see it for a while, but you got to see that. I agree. Any other takes from the bowl game?

Andrew:         Was very excited to see that the team came out and played hard, didn’t lay an egg. Was very excited to see that.

Nick:               I thought almost for sure, and I couldn’t tell you why, I just had this sinking feeling that that’s what was going to happen.

Andrew:         We lost Nick, so I guess he laid an egg like the team.

Nick:               I think I unplugged my headset here. I just had this sinking feeling that that was going to be the case, that they were going to lay an egg. I didn’t understand it, but it was just a gut feeling, and they certainly didn’t. They took it to Iowa.

Andrew:         They did. I’ll say this, and that was I was excited to see that. I was excited to see that from a lot of standpoints of Tabor and those guys going out and doing well in the game, and just ending the season on a right note. Joey Ivie said this, he was like, “We wanted to leave with a ring.” Props to you, man. That’s what these bowl games are for. They’re for nothing but for that, to get an Outback Bowl ring, and an SEC Eastern Championship ring. I’m glad. I’m glad to see it, and you feel so much better about things going out on a winning note than you do a losing note.

Nick:               Yeah. That was our big thing for the bowl game is don’t go out, lay an egg. You have to change the perception. I think the offense looked good. The defense was fantastic. Defense was stellar, as they have been. So, to me, it’s kind of just looking at did it change the perception?

Andrew:         I mean, you can’t really say until Signing Day really, and then heading into the next. I mean, we’ll go on, and we’ll talk recruiting now. The big one is Alex Leatherwood showing up at Alabama, and you can read the story on the site. There’s a backstory, and, Nick, you know. You were with me all week last week and were hearing the back and forth, and it was really close. It was really close, but at the end of the day you have to beat the snake.

I call Saban the snake, and, Nick, you know me, and me and you fuss about it all the time. I like Nick Saban. I think Nick Saban is a phenomenal football coach. He might be a bad dude, whatever. I’ve been able to meet him several times, and I don’t have a problem with him. I like the guy, but in order to beat the snake you got to be a snake, and Florida wasn’t the snake and didn’t win out on Leatherwood. As simple as it is. It stunk. We’re talking about a whole different perception today, on Friday, if Alex Leatherwood’s a Gator and not at Alabama.

Nick:               Our entire offensive side of the ball that we just talked about is Leatherwood’s your left tackle. Ivey’s your left guard. McCoy’s your center. Tyler Jordan’s your right guard, and Waany’s your right tackle. There it is. That’s what you got.

Andrew:         Leatherwood’s your best offensive lineman once he steps on campus.

Nick:               I think what could have helped Florida is if they’d gotten a financial aid agreement signed, because Alabama getting that done means as soon as Saban, or anybody, gets wind of Alex Leatherwood being kind of close to Florida that phone blows up, and they can call him as much as they want.

Andrew:         It’s tough, because if they do that then, guess what? That means that if he goes to Bama, like he did, then they’re on probation. They lose some days, that kind of stuff. So, it’s tough there. I’ll be the hard guy here, and that is Florida had the wrong people recruiting Alex Leatherwood. Nick, how many times have I told you this? Anybody on Florida’s campus besides the guy’s recruiting him probably lands Florida Alex Leatherwood. How many times have I told you that, Nick?

Nick:               Say it again.

Andrew:         I said, how many times have I told you that if Florida had anyone besides who they had recruiting Leatherwood that they get him? I’ve told you that. I’ve said that. He loves Mike Summers, but Mike Summers wasn’t ruthless enough to go against Nick Saban. You had to have someone ruthless going against Nick Saban to recruit Leatherwood.

Nick:               I don’t know if you have that, but it was just, I feel like people don’t really understand how close it was.

Andrew:         It was close. I mean, heading into, he called Saban on Sunday and was going to decommit. I mean, that’s what it was, but you got to be ruthless. To move on from him …

Nick:               I think the only way it would have happened, if would have been like an Alex Anzalone thing, where he never decommitted from Notre Dame, just showed up at Florida. If Alex Leatherwood would have just shown up at Florida and registered for classes on Tuesday, if people didn’t know that he was at the game and stuff like that, if Alabama didn’t have a reason to worry, and then do what Alabama does, I think you might be talking about a different ending to the story.

Andrew:         Maybe. That’s all I know. Maybe. You got to be ruthless. I hate to continue saying it, but you lost, and you’re second place here. This, and I’ll say it like it is, this shit show of recruiting that is going on right now doesn’t get better unless you start winning some of these battles. A guy like Leatherwood changes everything, and it was a miss. We can say, “Well, he was committed to Alabama for this long, this long.” You had him that close to flipping, and you didn’t flip. Got to.

Now you move on. You look at Tedarrell Slaton out of American Heritage, and he’s a guy that can play OL, DL. You’re looking at him. You’re looking at Kai-Leon Herbert, the Michigan commit. Tony Gray out of Georgia. So, you’ve got several options. Are they Leatherwood good? No. But you got some options. I mean, Nick, the proof’s in the pudding here. You got to end well on Signing Day. Find a way to get, you got to salvage this class, and that’s all it is. It’s not going to top 10, and that’s disappointing, but you got to find a way to salvage this class and boost your recruiting up with some of these changes that are going to be coming, and hope to win big on the trail in ’18.

Nick:               Then there’s no excuse at that point, right?

Andrew:         I don’t give them an excuse now. I mean, I understand the reasoning, but to me, when I look at some of the things that have been going on and some of the reasons that they’re losing guys. We talked about the James Robinson thing, about not recruiting because they were recruiting other guys. Henry Ruggs the same way. It’s small stuff, and I say this. Coach Mac continues to say, “We need to build the program the right way,” and I believe that he’s talking about some of these things that’s going on here.

Some of these things that are just kind of going by the wayside a little bit, and that’s nothing bad to say about anybody, but some of these small things. I mean, Nick, you know it. Small things can result in a big problem. Not talking to a kid for a week hurts a lot of things. You may say, “Well, he didn’t talk to him for a week,” but guess what? Alabama blew him up five times, or Florida State blew him up five times. This talent gap gets bigger every year. At some point you’ve got to say, “Enough of it.” Close the gap, and go forward, and if you don’t, guess what? You’re not winning on the field.

Nick:               It’s tough. Currently right now you still only have one spot.

Andrew:         I mean, I think you and I will agree that we think that changes, and, for Florida’s sake, for Coach Mac’s sake, for everybody’s sake, I hope it does, because I don’t know that you got enough dudes on staff. I mean, we talk about Tim Skipper. We talk about Chris Rumph. We talk about Randy Shannon being great, but at the end of the day those three guys can’t do it all. I mean, we’re talking about some stuff with the Leatherwood situation where if you had a strong OL recruiting guy he goes after that.

Nick:               Yeah. I defend Mike Summers, and everyone knows that I defend Mike Summers, just because the players love him. At some point that just needs to translate to something else. If he’s not a strong recruiter, that’s fine. You can only have one of those on staff.

Andrew:         Here’s the deal, Nick. Nick Saban can be the greatest coach in America, but if he ain’t got the dudes, he ain’t winning.

Nick:               It’s all about getting dudes.

Andrew:         I mean, that’s anywhere you go. Bill Belichick, as great as Bill Belichick is as a coach at New England, if he wasn’t able to pick the Waiver Wire and that kind of stuff, guess what? They don’t win. I mean, look at the Dallas Cowboys right now. Their quarterback, Dak Prescott, and they’re best team in the NFC right now, maybe the best team in football, all because of one guy. It takes players, and you have to, have to, start getting players that are Florida caliber, and this is not to pick on anyone, but when you’re beating out Pitt, when you’re beating out UCF, USF, those aren’t the guys you should be beating. You’ve got to start beating Bama. You’ve got to start beating Florida State. You’ve got to start beating Clemson, Ohio State, Miami. They’re doing a good job of beating Miami. Miami’s in the same case Florida is right now. Got to start winning those big battles.

Nick:               It’s gone to a point where that’s it. Now you’re competing with Pitt. You’re competing with Syracuse. You got to get to a point, it might take getting a Leatherwood. It might take getting a Mack Wilson. It might take beating them once to let people know, and maybe it’s being afraid to fail, and that’s something McElwain has talked about. It’s, “Well, I don’t want to go after that kid, because Alabama’s on him, and Mario Cristobal’s over there, and he’s a really good recruiter. I’d rather just focus my time more on somebody else who I think I can get, because I don’t know if I can get this kid if it’s between me and Alabama.” You can’t have that kind of attitude.

Andrew:         That’s, you don’t deserve to be at the University of Florida if you’re thinking like that, and that’s the way I look at it. One of the biggest things that made me mad about Will Muschamp was he wouldn’t go, he didn’t want to recruit Bo Scarbrough, because he was afraid of losing him to Alabama. Guess what? Nick, you and I both know Bo Scarbrough liked Florida a ton. Florida didn’t put the effort in. Look what that man child’s doing right now. There’s other guys. Props to Mac. Props to those guys for going in and getting Perine, getting Tony, getting Jawaan Taylor. Start doing it. You’ve got to start competing with it, and believing that you’re going to get it. The excuse of, “Well, I don’t believe,” is thrown out the water.

You look at a guy like James Robinson. You made a mistake. Now it’s time to fix that mistake and find a way to win that battle. James Robinson is a guy that comes in, plays next year at receiver, is 6’4”, is a monster. Find a way to get him, whatever it takes. Do it. Find a way to beat Alabama, beat Oklahoma, beat Ole Miss. You’ve got to. In state guy. What? An hour and a half away in Lakeland? Two hours away. Find a way.

Nick:               You got to start defending that home turf against out of state schools.

Andrew:         I mean, it’s different.

Nick:               I’m watching Tay Scott play for another national championship.

Andrew:         I mean, here’s the thing, and I understand what you’re saying, because what you’re saying is exactly right. People have to understand too, it’s a lot tougher to guard the fences of Florida. There’s so many guys, but the elite of the elite that you want you should be able to get the majority of these guys. Seeing Jared Judy, seeing Leatherwood, seeing, I’m trying to go through prospects. Shawn Wade, guys like that that you really wanted, just leave the state. Can’t happen. Got to lock down the turf, and it’s got to start soon.

Nick:               Soon as in now.

Andrew:         Yeah. Soon as in now. I mean, we talk about it all the time. There’s some issues around Florida, and it has been there. The facilities are bad. They’re getting better. There’s a lot of things that’s going on, and they’re going to improve, and they have to improve quick. That is not exactly something you want to say is on Mac, because it’s not on Mac, but it has to improve quick, or guess what? You’re going to continue to fall further and further behind.

Nick:               30 days.

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               Less than 30 days until Signing Day. What’s a realistic finish at this point?

Andrew:         Nick, I hate to do that. You know I don’t like that, the ranking thing, because we don’t do that. I think Florida will finish with some good players, and then I think they go on some of their backup plans. I think they can salvage and okay class. I don’t think it’s a great class. I don’t. I think they get some good players. I just am still missing that one superstar in the class, and that’s nothing against Zach Carter, those guys. They’re all great players, but I’m talking about that one guy that just really creates a buzz. When we talked about Leatherwood, when we talked about Jared Judy, these are household names that really create a buzz when they flip, and I’m just not seeing that guy. James Robinson is a fantastic player, but he’s a Lakeland guy that’s kind of low key. He doesn’t create that buzz.

Nick:               I think he could. I think he would have created more buzz in the summer than he would at this point though.

Andrew:         Yeah. You know what I’m saying? He’s not a guy that, he’s to himself a lot, that kind of stuff. So it’s tougher for him to do that. You want that with your quarterback. Like I said with Leatherwood, he’s a big name that everyone knows. Jared Judy was a big name everyone knows. That’s what I’m saying. You get a guy like Kai-Leon Herbert to flip, he’s a good player, but he doesn’t create a ton of buzz, because he’s a guy that now everybody’s thinking about. CJ Henderson, Brad Stewart, all those are good players, but do they really create a buzz? That’s kind of what I’m saying. I think if you’re Florida here you try to salvage this to get the best players you possibly can, and then really hope to just stack up in 2018.

Nick:               For me, and I’ve said it before, 2018 is that first year. Florida hasn’t finished inside the top 10, and I know you don’t, neither of us, really like rankings, but …

Andrew:         Florida should never finish outside the top 10.

Nick:               Yeah. Whether we agree with the ranking system or not, it shouldn’t be a question, and you talk about, when the coaches as part of their recruiting pitch talk about how great the school is, and the education and the greater good, Gators take care of Gators, talk about all that, then what’s going on?

Andrew:         There is, there’s some lack of help from former players, and that’s got to change. I mean, I talked to a couple of guys that are in recruiting areas of Greg Nord and Mike Summers, and they’re like, “Well, these guys don’t even know us,” and that kind of stuff. That’s inexcusable. That’s inexcusable. It’s got to fix. Florida can finish outside the top 10 every few years, but to finish, I mean, this would be what? The third year in a row, Nick? I believe, outside the top 10. That’s not working.

Nick:               I don’t know what the changes are, other than that. Now, finally, you should be a point where you’ve been talking to a kid since he was a sophomore, or since he was a freshman. These 2018 kids Florida should have been talking to for three years. If they have a bad class again this year, that’s when you start to think or say, “Maybe they weren’t, and if they weren’t, why weren’t they?”

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               That’s why I say next year’s your no excuse year.

Andrew:         I’m with you. I’m with you. Like I said, I’m with you. You have a good point there, and it’s fair, but at some point or another, and, Nick, I’ve been the biggest defender of everybody, but at some point or another when you see stuff get as close as it did, and then it fails, you just sit here back and wondering, like “What’s going on?” Get stuff fixed. To see the team be as good as they are now, and then get back to Atlanta, and for two years in a row, and you’re still struggling to get in the top 10, just it’s concerning for me. Here’s the thing for me too. Florida has a great eye for evaluation. I will never ever doubt that. You look at Perine. You look at Vosean. You look at David Reese. Look at all these guys that are there, and they’re great, but you have to fill it with some big name guys as well, some of these top guys that don’t take long to develop.

Nick:               Yeah. You got to have guys that can come and play right away.

Andrew:         Exactly. We’ll see. We’ll continue to break down this recruiting as we go. January 13 is the first big recruiting weekend. The Army game’s on Saturday, so, Nick, I think next week maybe one day we’ll just take one of our podcasts to really sit down and break down recruiting. We should have a coaching change next week, or in addition to the coaching change, at least one next week. So we’ll talk about that, and then we’ll talk about really recruiting. You and I will both be rested up. I’ll have my voice back fully, and we’ll be ready to go.

Nick:               That works. That works for me.

Andrew:         Alright. Tell everybody where they’ll find us. We’ll get out of here, and we’ll see everyone on Tuesday. Remember, Tuesday, Friday is the new schedule for the off season.

Nick:               www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is on iTunes. Go there, hit subscribe, never miss an episode. If you don’t have iTunes, if you’re an Android guy or gal, it’s on the website, audio and transcript form. Follow us on social media. On Facebook and Twitter, @GatorCountry. On Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. Follow me, @NickdelaTorreGC. Follow him, @AndrewSpiveyGC. We appreciate it. It was a good season, long season, and it’s going to be a crazy last month to Signing Day.

Andrew:         I do think things get better with the coaching changes and all that. So, it’ll be fun, and if you haven’t joined up yet, now’s the time. Coaching changes are coming around the corner, some transfers possibly, recruiting. Come join us. We’ve had a good season, had a lot of new subscribers, and what are you waiting on? Come on and join us. As always, guys, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:               You stay classy, Gator Country.

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