This edition of the Spivey Senses podcast looks at how the Florida Gators offense did and Andrew Spivey grades what he liked and didn’t like from the offense during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Andrew also breaks down Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier’s play, looks at what is wrong with the offensive line and where Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain can go from here with the line.
To end the podcast Andrew looks at the Florida Gators recruiting efforts, plus he looks ahead to the Florida Gators game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon.
Hello, Gator Country. This is your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Spivey Senses this week. The Gators are 3-0. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win, and a win is all that matters. Crazy crowd in Lexington. I didn’t believe the hype that Kentucky was going to sell out having as good as they did, but they did. Props to you, Kentucky, but guess what? You still lost. It was a gratifying win for Florida in my opinion, because the talk all week was how good Kentucky was, how Kentucky was going to beat Florida. Guess what? It didn’t happen. Florida won, took care of business. They’re 3-0 and got a good, but not great Tennessee football team coming in this weekend. It should be electric. The crowd should be electric. The recruiting should be fine this weekend. A lot of kids coming in, over 100 prospects expected in. Just a great game heading up, a great environment heading.
As Mac said, let’s make the Swamp feared again, and that’s something that’s big for Mac, big for the team. First two games were there. I think this one will be even better. The tailgating scene should be electric as SEC nation comes into town. Yeah. Nick and I will be there. If you guys are listening to this and want to meet Nick and I, I’ll even give you my autograph. Just shoot us a message at Twitter, Gator Country, or however else you can find us, and we’ll definitely meet up with you guys.
Before that, let’s dig right into Florida vs. Kentucky. Will Grier didn’t have a great game. Mac said it was just okay, and I agree with that. It was just okay. I think Will regressed a little bit this week. I think that he showed me the last few weeks that he was a guy that was going to stand in the pocket and was going to wait till the last minute to run, and it was the opposite this week. That bothers me a lot, because that was the reason that I had given Will the start, in my opinion. The reason I thought Will should start is because he was the guy that was staying in the pocket more. That didn’t happen this weekend. Hopefully he gets better at that, because if not then I don’t see him being a great fit. I just don’t. I don’t see a quarterback that gets out of the pocket so quick to be a great fit for this offense. Hopefully he gets that fixed.
Had some good throws. The ball to Antonio Callaway was a great throw, an even better catch. It was thrown at a spot that only Callaway could catch it. Callaway did. He went up, one-handed it, made a great grab, 34 yard gain. Beautiful play for Callaway. Showed his athleticism, showed Grier’s arm strength, a really good play there. McGee had a good play across the middle on a little seam route, and it was nice. It was really good, really good play, really good catch all around. It was a good play.
Probably the play that Will will get attacked the most about is the throw to Jake McGee that was intercepted in the end zone. I said it on Saturday, I said it on Sunday, and I’ll say it again. It was a great play, a great play, great play call. If Grier throws the ball to the pylon and Jake McGee’s able to run up underneath it and just go get it, then it’s a good play, but you have to throw that ball to where it’s Jake McGee or nobody, and he didn’t. He threw a line drive, and it was picked off. That’s a learning mistake. Will Grier is going to get better at it. No quarterback can get better unless he’s put into the situation. You have to be in the situation to get better. He’s going to get better from this experience. The offensive line did not help him at all, and that hurts as well.
Overall I thought Grier played okay, like Mac said. I think there’s a lot of things that he can do, he can fix, and I think there’s some play calling that Mac will do to him to help him settle into the game more, and that’s the way it will go. You didn’t see much play action this week, and I think that’s something you’ll see a lot against Kentucky, and I think you’ll see more screen routes and stuff like that with the short game for Grier to get going against Tennessee.
To move a little bit to the offensive line, this was the worst performance of the year in my opinion. You look at the offensive line. It started out as Sharpe, Thurman, Dillard, Antonio Riles and Mason Halter. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again this week. The left side of the line of Sharpe and Thurman are really good. The right side of the line was really, really bad. Antonio Riles played really, really bad football. Two games in a row now at right guard he played really bad football. Florida has to find a way to get a new right guard in there. There is no if, ands, or buts about it. His play at right guard affected the whole right side, because he missed the block, so Fred Johnson or Mason Halter or Cam Dillard, one of those guys, was trying to pick up his guy. Guess what? Their guy gets free and hits the quarterback. All in all, you have to fix the first problem, that’s Riles. Then go from there at right tackle, whether that’s Fred Johnson, Mason Halter, Martez Ivey. Whoever it is, they’ve got to fix.
I personally think they need to find a way to get Mason Halter inside, but then you think, where’s Martez Ivey? Where’s Fred Johnson? One of them is going to play right tackle, but the other one is too good to sit down. Do you maybe put the other one at right guard? Here’s my thing. Maybe you put Martez Ivey at right guard, because he was a run blocking tackle in high school, so he knows how to run block really well. Maybe you put him at right guard this year. He is a future left tackle, probably next year, probably in the NFL for a long time, but who’s to say he can’t start off at right guard this year for the better of the team? I think that’s that what they need to do this week. Going forward I think they need to run with a line of David Sharpe, Trip Thurman, Cam Dillard, Martez Ivey, Fred Johnson. It can’t be any worse. The right side of the line is awful. They have got to get that better.
Then the play calling, I would like to see more of the outside running game. The toss play was very good for Florida against Kentucky this past week. I liked that. I thought it was really good. I wish you’d have seen more. I wish you’d have seen play action off of that. I like the reverse, need to see more reverses. Need to see more speed sweeps to these guys. Get the ball to your playmakers. Is Mac holding this stuff back for Tennessee? I don’t know. My guess is no, but it went from showing that a lot in the New Mexico State game to showing it a little bit in the ECU game to hardly none of it in the Kentucky game. I’m guessing he is. I really hope so. It worked. I want to see more of the screen passes to Powell, more of the screen passes to Callaway. Get CJ Worton involved a little bit. See those guys get more involved in the game, and I think you’ll see the offense move more.
Get the ball to the perimeter and let things happen. Get it away from the middle of the field as quick as possible and as much as possible, because the middle of the field is a problem for Florida this year. It’s nobody’s fault, unless it’s Will Muschamp’s fault. It is Will Muschamp’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault on staff right now. It’s nobody’s fault on the team right now. It’s the hand and the cards McElwain and company were dealt. Mike Summers had his hands tied behind his back with Will Muschamp there, and it happens. It is what it is. I think you’ve got to figure out a way to get the ball to the outside as quick as possible and then go.
Of course, you’re going to have to run the ball up the middle some, just to keep the defense honest, but don’t run it up the middle a ton. You look at the offense last week. Kelvin Taylor only had 2.8 yards per carry, that’s awful. They need to do better than that. Kelvin Taylor is a big problem with that, because he’s got to hit one step, dance, then get up the field. That’s it. You don’t have to time to dance three and four times in the back field. It’s like Demarcus Robinson. There is no time for that. Hit the stick, get up field. That’s just period, end of discussion. That’s what it is. Scarlett’s got to play more this week. Cronkrite’s got to play more this week. That’s just what it is.
I do think Will Grier starts this week again. He did well enough to earn another start. I don’t think Treon does any better in that game. It’s just the nature of the business with the offensive line. It’s bad right now. Overall, I will say that I saw some good things. I saw that there was a lot of guys playing. You see Tyler Jordan. You see Martez Ivey. You see Fred Johnson. You see those guys. They played good ball. They didn’t play great ball, but they played good ball for a freshman that’s never been on the road before. They went to a silent count. Of course, Fred Johnson’s going to jump off sides one time a game. It’s natural. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s offensive line play. You’re looking at the ball. You’re not looking at the ball, you’re hearing snap counts. It’s the nature of the beast. Overall I am okay with what happened on Saturday. Just improve this week. You’re at home. The crowd’s not going to be a factor for you on offense. Get better.
That’s all I’m going to talk about on offense for right now. I do want to see more outside game and want to see a new right guard. Defensively, props to the defensive line, Chris Rumph. Caleb Brantley, in my opinion, is not getting enough love, but the guy was pushing guys in the back field all night long. All night long he had that poor center and right guard on skates and going backwards. That helps Ivie, Joey Ivie. That helps Alex McCallister. That helps Bullard. That helps Bryan Cox. That helps the whole team when he is manhandling his guy to where the offensive line is now putting more pressure on him. Jonathan Bullard, man, you’re making cash this year, buddy. I’m proud of you. I think you had a great decision to come back. I’m really glad that you’ve been able to come back and make some money this year for yourself, because you’re having a great year. In my opinion he’s probably a better defensive tackle going forward. I think he will be a good NFL player at defensive tackle and defensive end, but I think more of a defensive tackle. Got the speed rush going, the bull rush going, and had a great game overall.
I did like that I saw Marcus May slide down a little bit to the linebacker position. He played really well there. The defense is simplified for him. That’s helping him out a lot. He played well. Overall, defense played well. You look at Kentucky, 241 yards of offense is all they had. That’s not great. I have no problem with that. It’s not great, but I have no problem with it, because there was some drives that were big plays there, 71 yards on the first drive out of that 241. Overall the defense played well. Patrick Towles was 8 of 24 passing the ball. That sucks. That’s awful for Patrick Towles. Last year he put up over 300 yards. That’s awful for him. Good job to the defense. They took back that best defense in the nation, DBU. They took back that stuff that they wanted that they weren’t hearing. They got it back. They got a good matchup this week. You got Josh Malone there. You got some other guys, Maquez North. You got some guys that are going to be playing some good football. They’re going to be playing some good football receivers. Time for that defense to lock them down and get pressure.
Tennessee’s offensive line is not very good. This defensive line in Florida should get pressure on them. They should. Josh Dobbs is not a good quarterback. They should get pressure on him. They should. Overall going into this, looking back at the Kentucky game, good game for them. Going into Tennessee they should have a good game. I do think it’s going to be a slug fest for that, but we’ll talk a little bit more of that in a second.
Got to hit on special teams real quick. Awful. Awful. Very bad. Very bad for the special teams. Austin Hardin’s got to get the ball up. McElwain says he’s kind of getting fed up with it now. The bad thing about it is you don’t really have a backup on the team. Punting very bad as well. Johnny Townsend’s got to get the ball and get some net yards on that ball and get it out there a little bit. That’s not good enough for him right now. Punt coverage not good enough right now. Kickoff return coverage not good enough right now. Got to get better. When you’re a team that struggles at offense like Florida you’ve got to win special teams. Win special teams. Got to get better there.
Special teams is not hard. Special teams is all about working hard, doing your job, and playing hard and fast. You play hard and fast, you’re going to beat the guy. All it is in special teams is you versus one guy. Make a play. Do your assignment. That’s it. You don’t have to catch the ball. You don’t have to run the ball. You don’t have to do anything else. You don’t have to memorize a play. You have one guy. Block the guy. Do your job. That’s it. Special teams can win football games. Florida needs to do that in these coming weeks. It’s going to be hell. These next five games are going to be bad. They got to win special teams. Greg Nord, Marc Nudelberg, all those guys, have got to get special teams better. Austin Hardin, you got to get better. You’re kicking the ball in kickoff really well. Make a field goal. Get 3 points. Help your team win a ball game. That’s all I got on special teams. That’s all I got.
Recruiting wise for this past weekend, to catch everybody up. Chauncey Gardner went to Georgia. Of course he enjoyed the visit. It’s official visit. Nothing to worry about right now, in my opinion. Nate Craig went to North Carolina. North Carolina ain’t signing Nate Craig-Myers. I think that’s about it as far as guys visiting. Zach Carter, 2017 defensive end, went to LSU. They’re a factor, but Florida’s the team by far. He still says Florida leads. He’s visiting Florida this weekend. Nothing too much to worry about right there.
On the field wise, Mark Thompson had 2 touchdowns. Lamical Perine had 200 more yards at rushing, got beat though in the game on a last second play, had a touchdown in the game. Chauncey Gardner was Gator Country’s player of the week. He had 150 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. Bruce Judson, 2017 Ohio State commit, is out for Coco last week, so Gardner had to pick up some slack. They won big. He had a good game. Isaiah Johnson had 130 plus yards receiving, 2 touchdowns, in the game. I’m trying to think of who else. Josh Hammond had a decent game. I think he had 1 touchdown in the game. Daquon Green had a touchdown in the game. Jake Allen had 2 touchdowns in the first half. It was good for those guys.
It’s going to be a big week for visitors for this Tennessee game. Shavar Manuel’s coming in. Janoris Robinson is coming in. Isaac Nauta’s coming in. Perine’s coming in. Jake Allen’s probably coming in. He hasn’t said 100% if he is. Terrell Hall, the defensive end from Maryland, is coming in on an official. You’ve got Janoris Robinson, FSU commit. Antonneous Clayton from Georgia is coming in. I think that’s the big ones right now. Freddie Swain and Jordan Woods are coming in. Sam Bruce, can’t forget about Miami commit, Sam Bruce. The Miami Hurricanes receiver commit is coming up with the Scarletts on Saturday, so that should be big for them.
I know you guys are listening to this because it’s UT hate week. Let’s talk a little bit about this Florida vs. Tennessee game. This Florida vs. Tennessee game in my opinion is stacking up to be a great football game, a very good football game. Quincy Wilson said it best, “We beat them 10 years in a row.” Facts are facts. Ten years in a row, Tennessee. That’s Will Muschamp’s four years too. It happens. It’s just like you guys say, Jalen Hurd’s better than Leonard Fournette. Really? What’s going on up in Tennessee? No way you can tell me that Jalen Hurd is better than Leonard Fournette. That’s like saying Butch Jones is better than Urban Meyer. Butch Jones is better than Nick Saban. Come on. Really? That’s just crazy. Josh Dobbs is an okay quarterback. Is he great? No. Tennessee is a good football team, not a great football team. I don’t see this big glamour of Tennessee. I just don’t. Maybe I’m nuts. I just don’t see it. I really don’t. Florida should have a good game this week. It should be a good game. I’m looking forward to it.
To give a quick matchup, Florida’s got to get the ball on the perimeter against these guys. Stay away from their defensive line. Make their linebackers tackle you. Make their cornerbacks tackle you. Todd Kelly’s their starting safety. He’s their backup. Secondary’s weak right now. Eric Berry’s younger brother, he’s playing safety. He’s a backup. They lost their starters. Make them make plays. You’re in the Swamp. Blow it out. Make them make plays. Defensively, I think Florida’s going to be all right against Tennessee offensively. They’re going to make plays. Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara, they’re going to make plays. Just don’t let them beat you. Contain them. Don’t let them beat you. They’re going to get their yards. Just like Fournette and those guys, they’re going to get their yards, just contain them. Jalen Hurd is not Leonard Fournette, guys. Sorry. Not happening, Tennessee. That’s just what it is.
James Bates, former Gator, he had a couple of funny tweets sent out. I think it’s awesome. I love it. UT hate week is in full blast. These Tennessee fans are just nuts, guys. They really are. They’re nuts. Blue this place out on Saturday for the Swamp. Have a great game. I really think Florida’s going to come out fired up on Saturday. The crowd’s going to be electric. Should be a great game. I’m looking forward to it.
As always, stay tuned to GatorCountry.com. Nick and I are going to have a special podcast with Vince from Knoxville radio. He’s a good guy, even though he’s a Vol. I’m going to try to rile him up a little bit, get him talking some smack, so I can talk some smack. He’s a Vol. That Kentucky Sports Radio guy, he kind of shut up didn’t he? He kind of shut up after that smack talk about how they were going to storm the field, how they were going to break down the goal posts. Goal posts still standing. Your fans still went out the exit, and they still were crying. 29 in a row. Don’t talk smack on Gator Country podcast unless you can back it up. Kentucky couldn’t back it up. Vince, from Tennessee, we’ll see if he can back it up this week.
As always, stay tuned to GatorCountry.com. Follow myself on Twitter @AndrewSpiveyGC. Make sure I get some love, guys. I need my Twitter followers to go up. I got a big head. I need it to be boosted a little bit. For real, guys, I really appreciate all you guys. Stay tuned for everything this week at GatorCountry.com, SEC Nation will be in town. Nick and I will be there. Again, if you’re in town for SEC Nation and for the game let us know. We’ll meet up with you guys, for sure. That’s all I got for today. As always, stay tuned, GatorCountry.com. Follow me on Twitter, and join us on the message board, because we always like you to read our stories. We appreciate it. Boomer Sooner this week, guys. Stay classy, and my man, Nick, says. We’ll talk to you soon, Gator Nation.