Safid Dean joins the podcast to preview Florida Gators/FSU

Gator Country brings you a new podcast as Safid Dean of the Orlando Sentinel joined us to help preview the Florida Gators vs. Florida State game.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre ask Dean for his keys of the game from the Florida State side, plus what Jimbo Fisher is saying about the game.

Andrew and Nick also continue to break down the game, plus give you the keys for the Gators on both offense and defense.

Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, rivalry week. Gators/Noles, Tallahassee, Ron Zook Field, Saturday night.
Nick:Ron Zook Field. Oh my goodness, never forget Ron Zook getting carried off of the field that was named after him.
Andrew:Yeah. That was one of the games, and I’ll admit, so I actually remember this game very clear. So I was actually on a recruiting trip with a couple of my players at Troy, and I came back to a buddy’s house that lived in Troy to see the end of the game, see Florida win, see Zook get carried off. I’m sitting here thinking, wow. That is crazy. I mean, that was a Ron Zook signature win.
Nick:That was kind of like the beginning of the internet, and that was really the first time that you saw the internet completely turn on a coach., whoever ran that, I would love to meet them. Now, of course, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you get all kinds of stuff calling for coaches to be fired after seven games, but that was the birth of the internet really, and we got Nice way for Zook to go out, on the shoulders of his team, and renaming the field. That was a crazy season. I think it was losing to Mississippi State is what did it in.
Andrew:Yeah. Losing to Mississippi State on the road, cowbells. That was back in the UPN 44 game of the week at noon. Those were the bad…
Nick:This week we’ve got a prime time kickoff.
Andrew:Is it prime time at 8:00?
Nick:That’s prime time.
Nick:I probably shouldn’t be saying prime time. That’s Deon Sanders, show little FSU bias here. It’s prime time football.
Andrew:I can’t even do the chop this week, man.
Nick:Well, first off, the chop should never be done.
Andrew:Actually, the chop should be done.
Nick:Never, ever once.
Andrew:It’s okay. I can take a week off from that, because guess what? Guess what, Tennessee? Guess what?
Nick:Life champions.
Andrew:You’re the life champions. I’m going to be in Atlanta covering an SEC East champion while you’re getting your life championship. Nick, what the hell is Butch Jones doing? Is he losing his mind? Does he want to get fired? This guy is a loser. Really a loser.
Nick:Andrew, please. Being a champion of life is much more important than being an SEC champion.
Andrew:Where’s my championship?
Nick:Being a champion of life falls right under Bristol Speedway champions and a close third would be Preseason champions. So congratulations. Maybe they’ll make some rings for the life champions, kind of like FSU made state championship rings, because we’re still playing high school football.
Andrew:We’re going to talk about that here in a minute with our buddy, Safid Deen of Orlando Sentinel. You should be at Gator Country. Covers Florida State. We’re going to talk to him about that in a second, but, Nick, we’re not leaving Butch yet. What is he doing? I’ve always known he’s a loser, but only losers say the things he said on Saturday. Life champions? Life champions? What are you doing? Everybody’s a life champion. Hold on, Nick, he’s second to last in graduation rate in the SEC.
Nick:Life champions.
Andrew:I mean, maybe so. Maybe life after football is going back to work at McDonald’s.
Nick:Ouch. Butch was just shook. He was shook at that press conference, didn’t know what to say.
Andrew:I don’t even know what to say. What are you doing?
Nick:I don’t know. There’s no explanation for it.
Andrew:I mean, like to me that just took loser to a new level. He wants to be bowl champions. Bro, I don’t even know. We’re not done talking about this. Let’s got to Safid. We’ll talk to him about this Florida State game. We’ll get more into this Florida State game, and also some Butch Jones talk. Hold on one second. We’ll get Safid on real quick.
Welcome back, guys, we’re joined by our good friend, Mr. Safid Deen. He writes for the Orlando Sentinel, covering the Noles, or the school out west. How are you doing, my man?
Safid:I’m doing great. How you guys doing?
Andrew:We’re good. We’re making it. Can’t believe it’s the last week of the season already.
Safid:It’s been a blink of an eye, man. It really has. I think just a couple weeks ago, on the Florida State side for sure, I was up in Louisville, then worried about Clemson, and couldn’t believe FSU lost to North Carolina earlier this year. I’m watching Florida on the other end too, beating Georgia, having those wins early on in the season, and losing to Arkansas, and then just that rebound last week, man. I think that game was incredible for UF psyche, that’s for sure.
Andrew:For sure.
Safid:We’re at the end now, man.
Andrew:Yeah. What is the tone of this game? Florida down offensively still, but this game comes in, I personally think this is going to be a good football game on Saturday. What’s the psyche around Tallahassee, around the team? Do they feel it’s going to be a good game, or do they feel it’s just another step in the road for them?
Safid:I think in years past you would definitely look at this game as another step in the road, because this team had more to play for in years past. They won a national title in 2013. They were trying to go back to back 2014. This year, with those losses that I mentioned earlier, Florida State doesn’t have much to play for for the rest of the season. They’re trying to win 10 games for the fifth straight year, and that’d be something that’s a really big feat for Jimbo Fisher to accomplish here at Florida State and for his mark at the program. A win over Florida would be nine, a bowl win would be 10. So I think that’s really what they’re focused on. Florida State has a chance to win four in a row against Florida. Their seniors can go 8-0 against Florida and Miami, nobody’s ever done that in FSU history. So I think there’s a lot at stake for Florida State, a lot more than you would think before the season, especially with those losses early on.
Nick:I think there’s a lot to be said for that, just when you talk about going 8-0 against Miami and against Florida. I think there’s a lot. I don’t know who that motivates more though. I don’t know if that motivates Florida to their seniors, their redshirt juniors, to not go winless against Florida State, or if it motivates Florida State more to kind of set that history. I don’t know who that affects more. We kind of talked about earlier in the year that, when Florida and Kentucky were playing, Florida really has all the pressure. Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida in my lifetime, and certainly not in anyone that’s playing the game’s lifetime, and that almost creates more pressure on Florida to not be the team that ends the streak.
Safid:Yeah. I think, to bring that back home to the Florida State/Florida game, I think you just look at how this rivalry has gone, and it’s really because of the changes that happened under Will Muschamp and McElwain’s first year, and even with Miami under Al Golden and now with Mark Richt. Florida and Miami have both had a lot of turnover with coaches, with just poor play all around, and it’s hurt in the recruiting rankings for both teams, on and off the field, and you’ve kind of seen Florida State just taking advantage, because they’ve been the most constant program of the three states. For a chance for them to go 8-0, first time ever done in school history, I think that’s a great mark, and I think that shows the real breadth of how much Florida State has been able to take advantage of the downfall of Florida and Miami in recent years.
I think UF has more than a punter’s chance, especially after that LSU game. That’s the kind of game that just, it revives a program. It makes you feel on a high, like you’re on a high. If you lose that game, maybe they’re in the dumps, down about yourself, especially after that Arkansas loss, but now, especially with that goal line stand, you feel like you can go out and beat anybody, and I think, I don’t think Florida really had that in recent years against FSU, especially that last year game where they lost 27-2.
Andrew:That’s what I was about to say. I think, and we talked about this before, had Florida lost that game last week, I think we’d have been talking about a different thing here, because you would go in with the mindset of, maybe they’re about to get blown out. Now you go in, and you think, “Okay, this is going to be a really good game.” I guess, what has Jimbo Fisher kind of said about this game? What does he see? On Florida’s side, the key is going to be stopping Dalvin Cook, and then running the ball. I guess, what is Jimbo seeing on this game, and what do you think on this game?
Safid:I think more so of stopping Florida’s offense is going down Jordan Scarlett. It’s really trying to get past this Florida defense. You’re not, this team has always been a great team defensively, even under Muschamp, although the offense has lagged in the last couple years. This D line is so stout, and those defensive backs. I love Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor and those linebackers like Jarrad Davis. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play or not, but this defense is for real, and it’s something that Florida State has kind of prided itself on being a better offensive team and being kind of quick on all cylinders. In recent weeks with their defense kind of getting some good games against Syracuse, NC State, Boston College, too, some teams that haven’t done so well offensively. FSU’s looking for that first real well-rounded game that can play all season, and Jimbo Fisher, he’s really big into that state title thing. You know, winning the state, like I said. FSU caught some flack earlier in the off season.
Nick:Oh, we know. Those rings.
Safid:State title rings. The rings to reward them for the Peach Bowl loss. On the side of the rings it said how they won the state championship, how they beat Miami, USF and Florida, and Florida State has another four years in a row to do that again. So we’ll see how it all unfolds, but that’s definitely how Florida State’s motivation has come up for this game.
Andrew:To look at things, we know Derwin James is out, and also Nate Andrews. Is there any other injuries for Florida State heading into this game?
Safid:They lost, because of those two guys, those are two starting safeties they had earlier this year, they’ve been playing Ermon Lane at safety, and he’s been doing a great job. He’s got his first career interception last week against Syracuse, but two other safeties that have been filling in some roles there, AJ Westbrook and Calvin Brewton. Those two guys are dealing with concussion symptoms right now. Trey Marshall, another safety, is dealing with a hip issue, and he’s been banged up all season. He had some concussion issues earlier this year as well.
So obviously the defense, as porous as it already was, the backend, is holding on for dear life with as many bodies as it has leftover. I think a linebacker, Matthew Thomas, might be a little banged up as well. Never really got a clear read on how he’s doing this week, but Florida State’s defensive line and their offense, both of their strengths are both relatively healthy. So I think with that aspect they’re going to depend on those guys a lot more come Saturday.
Nick:Where is Deondre Francois health wise?
Safid:He’s doing better, I think. He’s making, he was having some shoulder issues and maybe so neck pain, I guess, last month against, after Miami and Clemson, those games, but the last couple games he’s been making some check calls at the line, calling some running plays for himself. So I think definitely if he’s making those calls for himself, which he hasn’t done probably in the last month or so, while he was hurting, I think that definitely lets you know how he’s feeling as a result. He’s still making his throws downfield. He doesn’t look really like his shoulder is bothering him or anything bad either.
Obviously his offensive linemen have done a better job of protecting him. Then again, they’re playing some, they’re not playing the most stiff of talent against Boston College, Syracuse, and NC State. So Florida’s defensive line is definitely going to look to get after him, and if he gets hit a couple times I definitely think that Florida State will try to feed Dalvin Cook even more and try to keep them honest in the backend, but if Francois gets hit a couple times, it’s definitely going to affect him in this game.
Andrew:Do you, to move ahead, the key matchups in your opinion, is it who wins the rushing attack wins the game? Is that kind of where you see this game going is if Dalvin Cook wins the rushing attack and is able to dominate, Florida State wins, and vice versa, if Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine are able to dominate, Florida wins the game? Is that kind of where you see this going?
Safid:I think so. That’s obviously one of the lines. I think one of the bigger matchups is Florida State’s receivers against Florida’s secondary, linebackers and defensive backs. I mean, Florida State has done a great job of getting guys like Auden Tate, a 6’5” sophomore, Nyqwan Murray, a 5’10” slot guy, who’s been really explosive. Both those guys, they’ve totaled 47 catches this season. They have about seven touchdowns total. They’ve really come on the last couple weeks to be really favorite targets for Deondre Francois, along with Travis Rudolph, leading the team in receiving, so kind of one of the quiet leaders on this team. I think how FSU’s receivers, if they can get separation with UF’s defensive backs, there’s a lot of F’s we’re talking about here, man.
Safid:I think if the Seminole’s receivers, they can get some separation there and create some magic, while being open and creating some plays after the catch against Florida’s DBs, I think that’s truly an edge that FSU could exploit if Francois is able to connect and has time in the pocket.
Andrew:Florida’s without Nick Washington this weekend as well, at safety. So you’re going to have either Duke Dawson or the freshman, Chauncey Gardner. I personally think play action may be there a little bit as well to test that Duke Dawson, Chauncey Gardner to see if they’re playing disciplined football, or if their eyes are in the backfield at Dalvin Cook.
Safid:Yeah. I think the last couple games, he just got the school rushing record for most yards career here at FSU, passing Warrick Dunn. Even in those last two games, while he was pursuing it, Jimbo Fisher went with Deondre Francois heavy, especially in the first half, because teams are narrowing on Dalvin Cook. I mean, everybody knows the type of player he is and what he can do. So loading the box is always customary, but he’s definitely done a great job of trying to put Francois in play action plays and calling passing plays early, so that, to keep the defense a little bit more honest.
Andrew:That’s what I was going to say. I think it’s one of those things where they need to get the passing game going, because last week against LSU, LSU didn’t really make Florida fear the passing game at the beginning of the game, the deep passing game. The play action was there to the tight end, but it wasn’t there on the deep ball like it was in past years with Brandon Harris even playing quarterback. I think that’s, personally, a big matchup.
Safid, before we get you out of here, I guess, what do you see this game? Do you see this game being a low scoring game? How do you see this game playing out?
Safid:I think it’s going to be a low scoring game, just like it was last year, man. I think it was what? 13-2 half time, and Shawn Maguire had such a crazy play on 4th and 1, rolling out and throwing a touchdown pass right before the second half. Florida State ran away with that game with those two touches in the second half, and I think Florida just got to the point where they realized the offense wasn’t going to do anything, and the defense just relinquished those final second half totals to Dalvin Cook.
I think this year I think UF has a lot to play for. You got a chance to really show how much you’ve grown after that LSU win, and maybe you have a chance against Alabama. I don’t think we’re all counting Florida 100%, counting them maybe 90%, as much as that hurts me to do. I think this FSU game gives both teams a chance to really show where they’ve come so far this season. They get to earn some bragging rights, as they do every year, especially on the recruiting trail after the season. I expect a fun game, man. I really do. I think it’s going to be another showdown, another one for the ages for this rivalry.
Andrew:Awesome, man. Tell everybody where they can find you, and we’ll see you on Saturday in Tallahassee.
Safid:I’ll see you guys. Man, I miss working with you guys over at GC. You can reach me on Twitter @Safid_Deen, and you can check all my stuff out at
Andrew:Alright, man. Have a good Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you soon.
Safid:Same to you guys. Can’t wait to see you.
Nick:Appreciate it.
Andrew:Alright, Nick, we’re back. Good stuff from him on that game. I think Florida State people did take notice of that game on Saturday.
Nick:I think everyone thought Florida would just be limping into Tallahassee with a loss, feeling sorry for themselves, having to wait until the night to see Vanderbilt and Tennessee. I think everyone assumed that Florida was just going to be coming in and going through the motions, and all of a sudden, especially like Safid said, ending that game the way you did, there’s no way that you can’t take that momentum with you next week.
Andrew:Yeah. That’s what it is. It’s that momentum. I mean, you and I talked about it last week multiple times. It was had you won the game against LSU you were going to go into this Florida State game feeling good about yourself. Had you lost, who knows? Who knows what’s going on in this game, but you’re feeling good about yourself, and there’s a lot of positives that you take heading into this game with this. Here’s the thing, and I see, I’ve already seen people saying, “Well, Florida State is much better offensively than LSU is.” I say to that, “Passing wise, yes. Dalvin Cook is better, playing better right now, but like LSU is a two headed monster, and in my opinion their offensive line is better.”
Nick:I’d say so. This has not really been the season that FSU thought they would have.
Nick:I really think losing Derwin James, and it’s a team game, next man up, feed me all that BS that you want, their defense never recovered from that. I said after they lost to Louisville, I said, “That’s Derwin James.” Derwin James is the guy that you say, “Hey, your only job this week is to spy Lamar Jackson. You’re going to keep him in the pocket, corral him.” Once you don’t have that, but then even past that you’ve seen, there’s just no answer. When you take a player like that who you can kind of build a defense around, when you take him out, there’s really no answer. You’ve got Ermon Lane playing safety now. Safid mentioned that he gets his first pick last week. He also got mossed in the end zone last week. So, what are you doing? Is that where we are right now?
Andrew:That’s what I was going to say. He’s one of those, and it’s not to take anything away from anybody, but, I mean, let’s face it. Derwin James is one of the best defensive players in the country.
Nick:In the country, and he was last year, as a freshman.
Andrew:Right. I think it’s even further than that, and that is, Deondre Francois, poor guy, I don’t know how he’s alive right now. His offensive line is getting the man killed.
Nick:Every game he goes into their super secret injury tent.
Andrew:Yeah. It’s like, wow, like the guy is just getting crushed back there every time, and that’s where I think Florida is able to succeed is getting pressure, because Cece Jefferson, Taven Bryan, Jabari, those guys are going to get to the passer. They’re going to get to the passer, and when they blitz and Reese and those guys are coming, they’re going. I think that you’re going to go man this week with Quincy and Jalen on Rudolph and Tate. You’re going to take your chances. I think that the one guy that can be a problem is Nookie, Nyqwan Murry, is a guy that is a slot receiver and is a true slot receiver, really good. He’s going to be matched on one of Duke Dawson or Chauncey Gardner. That could be a matchup to watch there, but you can bet one thing, and that is Florida’s going to come in with the same game plan as they did last week, and that is Dalvin Cook’s not beating you.
Nick:Florida State might have the most sacks as a defensive line in the country at 41, one ahead of Alabama, but they are 116th out of 128 teams in the country, they’ve given up 34 sacks, giving up three sacks a game. Florida comes in with 28 sacks, and a confident defensive line after the way the game ended.
Andrew:Yeah. I was talking to Fee Bartley, former Gator, Fee Bartley, about this. Actually, he and I were discussing TJ McCoy and stuff. He said, “TJ’s still struggling a little bit in pass protection, but him and Fred Johnson were destroying people in that game against LSU.”
Nick:I think Fred’s found a home.
Andrew:He has. I think you and I have talked about that before, in that he’s better suited to go against the bull rush than it is that guy coming off the edge, that speed guy trying to come off the edge and beat it. Hey, listen, that’s not a knock on Fred. Fred’s a big old boy. If that’s where it is, that’s where it is. There’s a lot of guys that are better fit to play inside than they are outside, and vice versa. So nothing wrong with that at all. The line has found that, and also I think a lot of people forget that offensive line is a lot about feeling confident. When you kick the guy in front of you’s ass, it’s a lot easier to sit back and do it again.
Nick:That’s for sure. It’s easier to help the guy you just shoved down, help him up, and feel good about the next play, rather than to get helped up and feel good about the next play.
Andrew:Right. When your receivers are running to the sideline telling coach to run the ball, because we’re killing them up front, something’s wrong, because there ain’t too many receivers in the country that don’t want a pass play.
Nick:That’s the most, I’m writing a story about that, that’s the most prima donna position historically in sports, probably in all of sport, probably the most prima donna position, and they want the ball. They don’t want to block. Most of them don’t have an interest in blocking. At some point though, when you see the way that those two, not just Jordan Scarlett, but when you see the way that Lamical Perine was also running, you look, and you got to think, “Listen, let’s just take these dude’s soul right now. Let’s just take their soul right now. I’m going to keep blocking whoever’s in front of me, because they can’t stop it, and it’s demoralizing.”
Andrew:I think that’s something too. Here’s the thing. Is running the rock at someone, is it style points? Maybe not, but at the end of the game when you’re running over your opponent, that is where you just signal, okay, we just beat their ass. That’s what you signal. I think it was a little bit different in that, I know LSU rushed for more yards, but a lot of that was more elusive runs outside with their zone. Florida’s runs were strictly we’re lining up, and we’re going to run that right side, and we’re running right at you, down your throat.
Nick:That was, Florida between the tackles was definitely something. Something that we’d been maybe waiting to see, right?
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, that’s Jim McElwain’s thing. That’s what he wants. He wants to run the ball right up the gut at someone.
Nick:I think what’s frustrating, at least for me, is I’ve asked all year, what is the identity? Austin Appleby going into his first start, “We want to be a team that runs the football, that pounds the football, and then we build off of that.” You just never saw it, especially when Luke Del Rio was in. I think it was almost kind of like forcing passing plays just to show you can do it, or something, but it was just forcing the pass, and I couldn’t understand why, if everyone’s telling me, “We want to be a team that is a power running team that builds off of that with the play action.” Well, they why aren’t you doing that?
Andrew:Right. I think a lot of it is this, and that is with Del Rio’s arm strength not being a threat teams were loading the box more, and then let’s just call it like it is, and that is at the beginning of the year the team just wasn’t getting the push. I mean, it was no push. I think, yeah, it was last week, I looked at you, and I told you to look up at the jumbotron at LSU. We didn’t have the opportunity to really see the TV replays, so we were watching the jumbotron replay, and I said, “Nick, watch the line of scrimmage.” The line of scrimmage was three yards off the ball. Jordan Scarlett’s getting tackled at the line of scrimmage, but the line of scrimmage wasn’t at the ball anymore. It was three yards up the field, so when it looked like that was a no gain, it was actually a three yard gain, because the line of scrimmage had been moved, and that’s something you and I even talked about early in the season, and that is the line of scrimmage was always two and three yards in Florida’s backfield. That’s no longer the case.
Nick:That’s something that you and I have pointed out kind of all season long, or maybe not all season long, but definitely early on in the season, is that when you’re an offensive line or a defensive line, your goal every play is to move the line of scrimmage. Defensive line, you want to move it backwards. Offensive line, you want to create, if the ball’s on the 20, you want by the time your running back has the ball, you want to have moved that line of scrimmage to the 23.
Andrew:Yup. Exactly. You want to have moved it every time. You want to set the line of scrimmage ahead of it. You want to keep the chains moving, and that is the easiest way to guarantee that your running back’s going to get yards, and that’s what it is. Then, and then here’s the thing that I think Florida’s done really good defensively, and I think it’s gotten overshadowed some, but the defensive line’s pad level, Nick, and Caleb Brantley’s has always been great, so I’m not exactly talking about Brantley, but Joey Ivie’s and Taven’s and even Khairi Clark’s and Jachai Polite’s is getting so low that there is no, just no possible way for a guard or a tackle to really push them around.
I say this a lot, and it’s very true on Taven Bryan, in that he is really coming off the ball so low that his point of impact on the guard is to set that line of scrimmage back, and it’s helping guys like Reese, guys like Kylan Johnson, guys like Caleb Brantley. It’s just really helping them, because Taven, Ivie, all of those guys are just able to really stay low, get the offensive linemen on skates backwards.
Nick:Agree with that. I’m more impressed, like you said, I am impressed with the defensive line being able to do that and getting it more than just one person. I’m more impressed with the push, especially in run blocking that the offensive line is getting, and you can be negative and say, “Well, why the hell did it take so long to find the right combination?” Just be happy that the right combination has been found.
Andrew:I can tell you why that is.
Nick:Why is that?
Andrew:Freshman. Sophomore. Redshirt freshman. Sophomore.
Nick:Yeah. You have questions about what are they going to be able to do, and you really only find out when you throw them into the water, and you kind of were forced into that.
Andrew:Exactly. That’s exactly what it is. You know, you can say a lot about TJ McCoy and that, and we have. We’ve talked him up, but at center there’s one thing you better do, and that’s better be tough, because you’re always going to get the biggest guy, the strongest guy, after you, and McCoy’s done really well. To say, the South Carolina game he maybe didn’t have the best defensive tackle. He had a really good guy, player, over him. Then you had guys like Greg Gilmore over him at LSU. He’s done such a good job, and then it’s
I think what might be the biggest surprise to me though, Nick, is the way him and Fred have worked together, and it’s something you and I talk about a lot. We don’t talk about it enough on here, but the relationship between the guard and center is such a big relationship, because those are the guys that work that double team. Those are the guys that work that defensive tackle to linebacker combo that really sets it up. You always hear people talk about, “We need that offensive lineman to get to the second level.” Well, it’s all about working those combos, and the way those two guys work together, especially in that LSU game, was very impressive. Outside of the one blitz that they gave up, the combos were working.
Nick:That combo is what we talk when we say it takes chemistry, because that’s a lot of knowing the play, knowing what you’re looking at, what you’re seeing, verbal and nonverbal ques, and then also being able to pass guys off, and that takes a lot. One, with how fast guys are in the SEC, one wrong step, and all of a sudden you’re both blocking the same guy, while Arden Key is running by you, or while somebody, a Caleb Brantley type, is running by you, straight to the quarterback.
Nick:So that’s something, to me, that’s impressive. When TJ McCoy’s been playing second and third team all year, and Fred Johnson’s been playing first team right tackle all year, to kind of just throw them in together and say, “You guys are going to have to work together. Figure it out,” and they figure it out instantly. So, to me, that’s really impressive.
Andrew:That’s what I was going to say about that. We always talk about that chemistry and that making the calls, that’s what that’s all about right there is making that call, and when you look at, to start looking ahead at this Florida State game, when you look ahead to that, with so many key injuries there, if you are able to get that running game going to where you now have Florida State saying, “What’s about to happen?” You keep them guessing. Tyrie, Antonio, those guys are getting that one on one matchup, and, quite frankly, I don’t think Florida State’s DBs are that good. Tarvarus McFadden’s okay, and he’s good. I know he leads the nation in interceptions this year. That’s not always a good stat. That means you’re getting thrown at. So I think they can, and then, you can tell me Ermon Lane got his first safety, or interception, or whatever. Ermon Lane’s not blocking or covering anyone. So throw at Ermon Lane.
Nick:I’m looking forward to see Ermon Lane tackle.
Andrew:Can him and Quincy just line up at each other on a special teams, because I’m not going to lie, I like seeing Quincy trash talk him.
Nick:What happens if Jordan Scarlett breaks free, and Ermon Lane is the one person in between him and the end zone?
Andrew:Got one message for you. Hop on board.
Nick:That’s not going to be pretty, right?
Andrew:Hop on board, because that’s what’s going to happen.
Nick:Where do you think, where do you think is, do you think Florida State can shut down Florida’s running game? Do you see that?
Andrew:If they sell out.
Nick:So to make that, so to prevent Florida State from being able to sell out you’re going to have to hit something, but I still think I need to see, okay. It’s a fine line. The fine line there is everyone wants to throw the ball and do this and do that, and I turned to you after Florida threw on 1st down once. I said, “Everyone wants to throw the ball deep on 1st down and say, the play action’s set up. Incomplete pass. Now it’s 2nd and 10. What are you going to do?”
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, here’s the thing. I understand what you say, and it makes sense. I mean, I’m not…
Nick:To me, that’s when, when Florida starts doing that, is when the 3 and outs start piling up.
Andrew:Right, but what I’m saying is this, and that is I think that you have to keep them honest, and I think that’s where we get away from, I think that’s where you and I disagree with Austin Appleby. That is, is Appleby putting up the numbers? No, but he is a threat that Florida hasn’t had. He is a threat that teams have to respect, because of his arm.
Nick:His arm makes you respect the deep ball, which you didn’t have to respect with Del Rio.
Andrew:Right, and I think that is what is different, and I think that is what makes him…
Nick:What opens up the offense.
Nick:More so than, he doesn’t need to complete 98% of his passes, stuff like that. It’s really just that he put it on tape, and that he’s shown it before. You have to respect, not only the deep ball, but you also have to respect him as a runner.
Andrew:Right. That’s what I was going to say. It’s one of those things where it’s just a different offense with him right now, and I know I can’t back it up with the numbers, but it is. It is, because you’re seeing it. You’re seeing that, I mean, the running game, the push can be there, but if the eight in the box every time, it’s not there. You and I were even talking about this with the LSU game in that they weren’t dropping the safeties in the box like they did last year. Jamal Adams was still outside of the deep ball to Tryie. A lot of times they were still going with the safeties over the top. They did go a lot of one high safety and drop the other safety down in the box, but at times they were still playing just six or seven in the box, not eight or nine in the box.
Nick:On the other end, Florida was putting eight, nine, 10 in the box.
Andrew:You get, you can do that, because you got the, you got your best two corners in the country over there. You can do that. Outside of Travis Rudolph, do you really have to respect too much of what…
Nick:I think, I like Tate.
Andrew:I do too, but I’m not sure he, you know what I’m saying? Those two guys, they’re not beating Quincy. They’re not beating Jalen on a consistent basis.
Nick:I would say no. I don’t know if there’s anybody beating those guys on a consistent basis.
Andrew:Right. That’s what I’m getting at. I just, you’re not going to make me believe that those two guys are going to do that. The one thing I will say about this with Francois is Reese and Kylan have got to be aware, and Vosean, have got to be aware of where those guys, where Francois is at, because he can run, and he will run if you let him.
Nick:Who does that fall on now?
Andrew:I don’t know who. I don’t know really where you, who you put on him. I would say probably Kylan, because I think Kylan’s a little bit more athletic than Reese, but I’ll say this to you, and that is, and I think you and I talked about this on Saturday, Reese can close in open field now.
Nick:He can. I think it would be, I would agree with Kylan.
Andrew:Right. I think it’s Kylan. Had Marcus Maye been there, you maybe drop Marcell down to be that guy, maybe. I don’t know. I would say it’s Kylan, but I really am not 100% confident on it being Kylan. If it was me, I’m putting Kylan, but Geoff Collins hasn’t called yet.
Nick:Yeah. I think Alex Anzalone would be a guy that could do it. Jarrad Davis.
Andrew:Absolutely. Yes.
Nick:With his athleticism, he could do it. Like you said, Marcus Maye, he could do it. You’re going to have to find out which one of those younger guys can do it. I do think, just given the skillset and athletic ability of Kylan Johnson, I would probably go with him.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, here’s the thing, that is that the defensive ends have got to do a better job this week. As good as the defensive tackles did this week.
Nick:Have to keep contained.
Andrew:Have to keep contained, and I’m going to pick on Keivonnis Davis here, because he’s the one that I know for a fact had multiple missed containments. The speed sweep that LSU was running was consistently working as basically a stretch play, because Keivonnis was constantly not setting the edge, and that’s going to be a key this week, because don’t think Deondre hasn’t, and Jimbo hasn’t, looked at that, and Deondre’s not going to pull one of those zone reads and keep it, if Keivonnis isn’t staying home, or Sherit or whoever it may be at end isn’t staying home. They’re going to pull that, so they have to make sure that the ends are playing containment football this week.
Nick:That’s tougher for a younger player, right?
Nick:You kind of get a little antsy.
Andrew:Yeah, you see run, and I think, I think you said this with Appleby in that Appleby’s done a really good job of selling it. If you sell it good, I mean you just got to be disciplined. It’s one of those where you’re not going to get that tackle for loss.
Nick:You know what they’re hearing this week?
Andrew:What’s that?
Nick:Do your job. Play within the defense. So if I’m Keivonnis Davis, I’m on the end. It’s not, there’s the handoff, I’m going to go run after the running back and make the play on the other side of the field. It’s, that’s not my job.
Nick:My job is to stay here and to make sure the quarterback doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
Andrew:Yup. That’s what I was saying. You see Sherit doing this a lot, and that is he’s quick off the edge real quick, and he’s tackling the running back in the backfield, and that looks pretty, but that’s not going to look pretty when Deondre keeps it and is gone for 40. That’s where you look at it, and then if it’s Daniel McMillian or if it’s Vosean or whoever it may be at outside linebacker, if it’s their job, they’ve got to stay home, because it’s coming. You know it’s coming. It’s on film. You know it’s coming. You’re not beating Florida up the middle. You’re beating them on the edges with the running game, so you know it’s coming.
Andrew:So that’s kind of my key this week for the defense.
Nick:Defense is keep contained, play disciplined.
Nick:Key for the defense this week. Key for the offense, run that ball.
Andrew:I said this with Safid, and that is with Duke and Chauncey, whoever’s playing that safety position, make damn sure that running back has the ball before you decide to come up. Don’t let Rudolph get behind you.
Nick:That is true. Florida State pretty good running defense this year. They have given up a bunch of touchdowns though. Of course, they’ve given up 18 touchdowns. Seven of those were to Louisville on the ground, but then you gave up to South Florida, a couple to Clemson, a couple to North Carolina. So I think Florida could have success on the ground. It’s kind of like we said, it’s not just playing Les Miles football where you’re going to run between the tackles 50 times. It’s setting it off with the threat of Austin Appleby running, the threat of Austin Appleby being able to hit deep, deep passes. I think Florida should be able to run the ball, and that should be their bread and butter this week. I mean, we’ve been calling for that for a while though.
Andrew:And there’s two guys that it should be the bread and butter for.
Nick:That’s clear. We both took a loss on that, because we were asked last week, are Scarlett and Perine the only ones going to get the carries? We said no, but happily wrong there.
Andrew:Happily wrong there. It wasn’t because we thought it shouldn’t happen. It was just one of those things where it hasn’t happened yet, so we just didn’t believe it.
Nick:Doubting Thomas. Believe it when I see it.
Andrew:Yeah. You know, I think too something we haven’t really talked about a lot, but I want to see the running backs get involved a little bit in the passing game this week. Matthew Thomas is a really good linebacker, but not in space.
Nick:He’s pretty athletic.
Andrew:Yeah, but I’m saying in pass coverage.
Andrew:He’s a guy that gets lost, quickly.
Andrew:Football IQ ain’t high.
Nick:That might be some field day stuff for Goolsby.
Andrew:Stop. Stop.
Nick:Who’s going to be covering him?
Andrew:I’m going to put 30 on the bench with 24.
Nick:You put 30 on the bench for 24?
Andrew:With 24.
Nick:Oh, I thought you were about to sub in 24 for 30.
Andrew:No. I’m going to put him on the bench with him.
Nick:That’d be a revelation to the podcast.
Andrew:No. I’ve already put him on the bench with 24. I’m tired of seeing the sniper get him every time he catches the ball for one yard, and sometimes for negative yards.
Nick:He didn’t get any yards last week. No touches either.
Andrew:They got the win.
Nick:That’s true.
Andrew:Just saying, they got the win without 24 and 30 touching the rock.
Nick:Where, what does this game do for recruiting?
Andrew:Monster. Monster recruiting. It’s not that Florida is not doing good in recruiting now after that LSU win, but it’s about taking back the state. That is about getting the momentum of that back. Florida State can’t use, we beat you four in a row against Jim McElwain if they win on Saturday. McElwain can say, “Okay, we just took that streak back. The streak’s no longer there. We have the momentum against Florida State. We’re on the rise. We went to Tallahassee to win.” That’s what he can use on the road in his recruiting pitch, instead of, “Well, we lost again.” It’s, “Well, we won again.” It’s a different message the coaches use by wining, and prospects are going to be there. They’re going to be watching this game. It’s big. I mean, you don’t start beating Florida State in recruiting battles unless you start beating them on the field.
Nick:Do you know who will be there? I know a lot of kids, and they do it at Florida too, kind of take a, if they’re down between a couple schools, and Florida and Florida State are one of them, “Coach, let me take an official visit for the Florida game. Let me take an official visit for the Florida State game.” You kind of knock out two birds with one stone. Anyone in attendance that you know of that Florida could do some winning over?
Andrew:Yeah. I think the biggest one that is there, and it’s kind of weird, I mean, it’s not weird, but Donovan Peoples-Jones is going to make the visit to Florida State for an official this weekend. He’s already visited Florida for his official. He’s coming down to the wire where he’s going to make a decision.
Nick:Early enrollee guy?
Andrew:Yeah, and Florida’s his dream school, or was his dream school. He liked Florida, whatever. You’re going to be there for that game, or he’s going to be there for that game. He gets to see Florida again, and I know he’s going to be on a visit. He’s going to see all the pitch and all that stuff from Florida State, but to see Florida get a win there would be huge. Another guy is Navaughn Donaldson, the Miami commit. He’s going to be on his official there, coming off of Florida official two weeks ago. Is a big offensive line target that they need.
You see that. You see Florida win. You see them drive the ball down the gut at Florida State. Gets your attention. Trey McKinney’s another tight end going. Jarez Parks, a defensive end. It’s all about seeing things on the field. To see Florida go out and win in Tallahassee, not only doesn’t give Florida State momentum for the visit, but it gives Florida momentum. Florida can then hit the kids up and be like, “How did you like seeing us beat Florida State?”
Nick:What did the coaches have to say after the game on your official visit?
Andrew:Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. You and I talk about this all the time. You want to get a win on your big recruiting weekend to make it special. For Florida to go there, not only to put a win out in front of their kids, but to make Florida State miserable that weekend, is good.
Nick:Florida State has been able to do that the past two times they’ve come to Gainesville, so being able to make up for those last two trips would be nice for the Gators.
Andrew:Let me ask you this before we get you out of here. Do you consider Tallahassee to be a hostile environment?
Nick:Yes. Absolutely.
Andrew:Do you?
Nick:Growing up in south Florida I had friends that, listen, getting into Florida is very tough. So a lot of my friends went to Florida State. A lot went to UCF. These are, a lot of these kids grow up as Florida fans, and then not getting into the school and going somewhere else, and then you’re immersed in that culture. It’s hostile. It’s something that in south Florida if you’re a Gator fan, or you’re a Noles fan, you live with that outcome for 365 days. Whatever happens on Saturday, you live and have to hear about that outcome for another year until your team has a chance to either make it keep going or change it. It’s a hostile environment. If you’re wearing orange and blue in that stadium, it’s hostile.
Andrew:I just don’t know if it’s the loud, like if the noise.
Nick:It’s not. No. I’m talking about…
Andrew:Maybe hostile was the wrong word.
Nick:Is it LSU? No. That place is scary.
Andrew:Right. Is it Tennessee? No.
Nick:Tennessee was scary this year. It had been quiet my previous trips, but this year it was scary. I enjoyed it. Students, the security guard was afraid the students were going to trample me. I said, “Bring it on.”
Andrew:Then they were scared of old women pulling their shirt up.
Nick:But if you are…
Andrew:Oh, the players get trash talked. We heard Dante Fowler getting trashed.
Nick:Oh, well, Dante gave it right back to him.
Andrew:Yeah. I’m just saying.
Nick:Things that would get us kicked off iTunes, and they said some things to him that would also get us kicked off iTunes.
Andrew:Yeah. Alright, Nick. Look, we had basketball on Monday. Gators moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2012. What’s up?
Nick:They were 4-0.
Andrew:What’d I say, 3-0?
Andrew:Oh. 4-0, sorry. Got Thursday and Friday out in Orlando at the AdvoCare Classic. Going to have some good rivalry pieces up. I know you’re working on some good stuff, Nick. We’ll have some recruiting stuff up the rest of the week. Basketball, like I said, Thursday, Friday. We’ll be ready up in Tallahassee, and then, guess what, Nick?
Andrew:The next week, while Tennessee and Butch are getting their life lessons trophy, we’re getting to prepare for Atlanta.
Nick:Back into the worse city in the south.
Andrew:No, the best city in the south.
Andrew:I’m still wondering if that beat writer is going, even though he was thanking David Sharpe’s agent for not making him go. I’m still wondering if he goes. Maybe he got fired. That would be nice.
Nick:I said, “David Sharpe’s agent is probably going to send Arden Key a gift.” But I was not the beat writer you’re speaking of.
Andrew:No. You said a gift, and then it was turned around and said, “I’m going to thank David Sharpe for making Florida lose so I don’t have to go to Atlanta.” That was his exact quote. Yeah. Piece of shit, but tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. Tell the people where they can find the real Gator site., for all your Florida Gator news. On iTunes, search @GatorCountry. Subscribe, never miss a podcast. If you don’t have iTunes, don’t have an Apple phone, you’re an Android user, it’s on the website every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 5:00AM. There’s a transcript and audio there, so you can consume the podcast however you choose. Also, social media, @GatorCountry on Twitter and Facebook. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and Andrew, @AndrewSpiveyGC on Tweeter.
Andrew:That’s right. We’ll have some good stuff from Tallahassee. We’ll be tweeting from the field and all that good stuff. Be ready. Alright, guys. We’ll see everyone on Friday. Butch and Mark, I really hope you enjoy that view. Can someone get me photos of those guys watching Atlanta in two weeks? That’s all I want. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves.
Nick:If you’re listening to this on Thursday, happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday. Find something to be thankful for. You stay classy, Gator Country.
Andrew:That’s right, and while you’re thankful remember, ask Butch for your life trophy, or ring. Sorry. Goodbye, Gator Country.

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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, 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.