Week two fall camp 2017 podcast: Florida Gators football

GatorCountry brings you a Florida Gators football fall camp update for week two of practice in this new podcast.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the offensive line as the Gators are dealing with Martez Ivey’s latest injury.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the secondary and how much the receiver position has changed since Jim McElwain arrived in Gainesville.

TRANSCRIPT:

 

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, football is in the swing, as we all know. We talked about it last week, but in my opinion Monday started football season, when the pads got to popping.

Nick:                         Yeah. You get a little something going, and start playing some actual football. It’ll be interesting to see. Florida went back at it on Tuesday, but we were not there. It was an early morning practice. They were out there, I think, around 9:00.

Andrew:                 They had to beat that heat.

Nick:                         Yeah. Yesterday I said it to Mac, and he did not agree, but, man, it was hot yesterday. I was out there sweating yesterday.

Andrew:                 Got to make them feel uncomfortable, as Mac says.

Nick:                         I was uncomfortable.

Andrew:                 Well, I think it’s good for Florida, because when you go into the season the heat’s not an issue. You’re going to play some hot games. Tennessee’s probably going to be a 3:30 start in the middle of September. That’s going to be a hot game. You look at the first game that’s going to be inside is probably not going to be hot. It’s not going to be cold for them, even though it’s indoors. And then you got the night game start for the second game. When you look at Tennessee, and even really into October, when it’s still hot, not this hot, but it’s still hot. It’s a good thing for Florida.

Interesting on Sunday. They went indoors, so that was a break up from the heat a little bit, even though it was raining. Still, it was a hot day on Monday.

Nick:                         Hot day on Monday. Florida likes that. They like training in that, but the first game you’re indoors at Jerry’s World. Next game is a night game, but you do have Tennessee. They already announced Tennessee as a 3:30, and you’re going to get Georgia as a 3:30 game. We’ll wait to see. I’m sure you’ll get some of these Tennessee, Texas A&M, those will probably be some night games. We’ll have to wait and see that.

But it’s always an advantage to practice in it. Not every team that you’ll play this year will be practicing in that kind of heat, and it’s kind of an advantage. They talk about that with the Dolphins. Growing up a Dolphins fan, you like to play New England at home early, because they’re not playing in that kind of heat. Bad side of that is you’re going to go have to play New England late, and you’re going to be playing in the snow, and you’re not ready for that.

It’s interesting. If you have an advantage of heat, go ahead and practice in it. To an extent. You don’t need to have people dying of heat exhaustion out there. Go ahead and wake up early a couple days and get out of the heat, if you can.

Andrew:                 I think it’s a good mix up of having both, the heat and then going indoors a little bit and doing it. Also, the one good thing about the heat is, as Mac’s been saying all fall, is the uncomfortable. You can kind of see what happens when they’re tired. I mean, you’re going to get tired a lot quicker in that heat, and see what it is. See who is lazy about their mechanics, their fundamentals. Offensive linemen, are they still getting off the ball, that kind of stuff? You kind of get to test that more so in the heat than anything. It’s always a positive for Florida schools in general. I mean, it’s hot everywhere, but more importantly for Florida schools.

Nick, before we really get into talking about football and fall camp, we’re going to dive into that a ton, but we got to talk about recruiting real quick. It sounds like a broken record, but Gators landed another big one on Sunday.

Nick:                         Another big one on Sunday. The momentum that this staff is creating is something to see. It’s something that I think is genuine too. The relationships these guys have made, it’s impressive.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Just the roll they’ve been on. The roll they’ve been on is incredible. I mean, we talked about Signing Days that last two years have been really good, but this is July and August, and they’re on a roll, Nick.

Nick:                         If you look back at what he learned, what Jim McElwain learned from Nick Saban, this is kind of like a Saban class, where you’re talented and loaded kind of early. Then you hold onto the guys that you want, while still chasing other guys. That’s something that Will Muschamp used to say, “It’s great that he has all these guys,” and my counter to that was, “Are they guys that you necessarily wanted or are they guys you maybe took too early?” I don’t think there’s a lot of guys in this class that you could make an argument for they took him too early.

Andrew:                 We said this, and I think you and I both had someone tell us this at the beginning, when Jim McElwain arrived, and that was Mac would like to have his class 75% full heading into the season. You think about that, and you say, does that mean they load up with bad kids that they don’t want to take? No. You still have to recruit these committee guys, but it’s easier to keep them when they’re committed, most of the time, than not. If you’re Miami, it’s harder, but that’s a different story for another day.

Going into the season, they’re able to worry about the team first. Had a couple people tell me how nice is it that they can just go focus on their team now instead of trying to fill up three quarters of the class, and that’s big. I think that’s what you’ll see. I mean, look, 2019 class is almost 75% full, and you’re still two years away. You’ll start to see that more and more now that Mac has really, I say, caught up. I’m not afraid to use that word, caught up. He’s caught up in recruiting. Got the guys on staff to recruit now. They’re going to have the class be 75-80% full heading into the season. It’s not going to be bad quality.

When you look back at this class, you got 17 guys in this class. I’m pretty comfortable in say at least 14 or 15 of these guys will be in the class at the end, and that’s not saying I know anybody that’s going to leave, because I don’t. So don’t hit our DMs and our messages and all that with that. I’m just saying, you’re always going to have one or two guys that either grade problems drop them, they flip, you drop them, something like that. There’s always that case scenario. That’s Alabama. That’s wherever you go. I would say 14 or 15 of these guys still in the class when it comes signing time.

But on Sunday, Nick, they landed a monster running back. 5’11”, 205 pounds, and that doesn’t even do it justice. When we look at this guy, that’s a physical specimen. When you watch his film, this is old-school Alabama football running back right here, a guy that is just going to be tough to tackle. Your favorite thing, and your favorite phrase is, he ain’t going down on the first tackle, and that’s what Damien Pierce brings to the table. Monster running back to pair with Iverson Clement in the class.

Nick:                         It was good to see Iverson Clement welcome him. That’s an interesting dynamic you and I have talked about with Clement when we talked to him at Friday Night Lights. Where sure it’s the SEC, and you can show that you need more than one running back to play, to be successful in this league. People go down. People get tired, but still, really only have one running back on the field.

Clement just tweets at him, let’s go get that bag. He’s ready to compete, Iverson Clement is, and it doesn’t matter that the guy that just committed was a former Alabama commit, and is a great running back. Clement’s mind is, good. He makes the team better. He’ll make me better by competing in practice. Good to see that. It seems like there’s great chemistry among the recruiting class.

Andrew:                 We posted that article on Gator Country on Tuesday, and that was guys are rooting for other guys, and guys are begging other guys. Randy Russell, who’s a DB, is sitting here saying, “Make it known. I want Tyson Campbell in the class.” Tyson Campbell’s one of the best DBs in the country, and would compete with Randy Russell. Randy Russell’s more of a nickel, but he’s going to compete for playing time, and he’s out there recruiting him.

You got guys like Jamar Chase recruiting Jacob Copeland. Like you say, it’s just a big piece. We talk about this, and I feel like we’re making this kind of a common theme here, but you go back to some of those great Urban class, the Tebow class, the John Brantley class, and it was just a team chemistry that was built before you get on campus. That’s something that’s special, that you don’t get a lot.

Mac talks about affecting the guys around each other. If you’re coming in a class of 25, and you’re a tightknit group, it’s not going to take long for you to really bond together, work together, and help each other in a positive way.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s a good point. Hit the fans with the stat that you told me before.

Andrew:                 Damien Pierce has played in 35 career high school games. He has 4,656 rushing yards, 60 touchdowns. He’s added 447 receiving yards, but he has 0 loss fumbles.

Nick:                         Huge.

Andrew:                 You and I talk about someone on the team now who every time he gets the ball he fumbles, it seems like. Not every time, but almost every time. He fumbles. It drives people crazy. It’s the single-handed reason this guy probably won’t play very much in 2017 for Florida. A guy like Damien Pierce coming in, and he’s got 715 rushing attempts in his career, and he has 0 loss fumbles. Pretty great.

Nick:                         You’re not going to play long at Florida, or really at any level, if you’re putting the ball on the ground. To me, being able to do that at any level, whether it’s at Florida or in high school. I think in high school you’re showing an example of I’m going to have good ball security. You’re not going to have to worry about that with me. Especially when you look at teams in the SEC, teams that Florida are playing. The margin of errors is so slim. Turning the ball over, even if you’re on the other person’s side of the field, those are points. Turning the ball over on your side of the field, you could be giving the other team points.

That’s a huge stat for me. That’s how you earn trust from a coaching staff, and that’s how you get on the field and play early. I know people are asking about the guys, the running backs this year, and asking me, and probably asking you too, who’s a redshirt candidate? You don’t want to redshirt running backs. If you’re a guy that is fumbling as a running back, probably not going to get redshirted. You’re just going to be playing special teams, and not going to have the ball in your hands.

Andrew:                 We’ll talk about that in a second, because I do think there’s a realistic opportunity that one of those freshmen gets redshirted, just because it’s a loaded back field. We’ll talk about that more in a second, but I want to hit one more recruiting point, Nick, and we’ll get out of here as far as talking recruiting. I don’t think it’s over with for the fall.

One guy who kind of made news a little bit on Monday night was defensive end, Andrew Chatfield, out of American Heritage. Nick, you and I, we’re very close to Chad Wilson, Quincy and Marco’s father. So we obviously watch American Heritage, follow American Heritage, more than a lot of other teams. Andrew Chatfield’s been a guy for a while who has impressed me. Something like 24 sacks last season. Just crazy numbers. He decommitted from Ohio State on Monday night, after he got his Florida offer at Friday Night Lights. Florida’s trending well here.

He’s someone to watch going down this stretch, as that defensive end/outside linebacker type. Some said is he a buck? Florida doesn’t use the buck anymore. That’s a term Will Muschamp used for his 3-4 defense. Florida basically calls it the Sam linebacker, which is more your 4-3 linebacker. That’s what they call it. He’s probably that guy, but he’s going to play more D end than he’s going to play linebacker.

Moving forward, he’s a guy to watch. I don’t think they’re done for the month of August yet. We can now move on to football talk, where you want to talk, Nick.

Nick:                         Well, we are getting back into the season.

Andrew:                 Finally.

Nick:                         A lot of questions. Of course, I understand where the questions come from, but as far as me, when I’m allowed to see, I’ve seen three practices. It was like 20 minutes. I’ve seen less than 45 minutes of practice, and 30 of those are stretching. So when you ask me after every practice, which quarterback looks the best? I don’t know, man. Feleipe Franks is very flexible. He’s very good at stretching. Malk Zaire, knows what he’s doing when the Gators are stretching. I haven’t seen a lot. I’ll still hold on to my pre-season opinion that I think Zaire is the starter.

You can tell that it’s really a three-way race. It’s Franks, Zaire, and then Luke Del Rio is still hanging in there at that third spot. Just the way the reps are shaking out, Jake Allen, Trask, and Del Rio are kind of paired off into one group. Del Rio will still get snaps with the first team during fastball, but it’s really a two man race with Del Rio possibly making it a three man race. I still see Zaire.

Andrew:                 I want to say this. Quite frankly, I’m going to call some people out here. To walk away and give an observation, you see these VIP notes on practice. Getting 15 minutes of warmup. What Franks and Zaire do in warmup, is it notable? Sure. Is it facts? Sure, because you’ve seen it. But to say that’s what they’re going to do during practice, or what they’re going to do during a game, is, quite frankly, baloney. It’s crazy. It’s stupid. You have to ask around about what’s happening in real practice. Not when they’re getting loose.

You got to remember, these guys are just getting loose when they do that. You see people tweet all the time about, there’s a ball in the dirt. He’s getting loose. Let’s talk about it when he’s doing 11 on 11, or when he’s doing seven on seven later in practice, when he’s loose and ready to go, and everybody’s ready to go. Let’s talk about that kind of stuff, and not the five minutes of fastball you see, or the five minutes of routes on air you see. Let’s get in depth with that.

Nick, before we move on to that, let’s talk about the one big piece of news out there, and that’s Martez Ivey. Coach Mac was very low key. Is that the best word to use there, Nick?

Nick:                         I would say evasive.

Andrew:                 Evasive. There you go. I say low key in that he was very non-commental about him. You and I had heard over the weekend that he missed Saturday and Sunday’s practice for an injury, ankle injury. Some people had said his knee was also bothering him. Again, we’re not sure 100% on that. We were told he got treatment. Probably even got a cortisone shot or something like that, if it was just his ankle. That’s pretty typical.                                                                                                                    He probably got that. I don’t know for sure, 100%. Been told both ways on that.

But we know he got treatment, and Mac said that he expected to practice on Tuesday. Of course, we’re taping this Tuesday morning, so you’re not going to get that. We’ll have that posted on the website. Anyway, Nick, if it’s something that keeps him out a week, cool. If it’s something that keeps him out four weeks, five weeks, into the season, that’s when the depth at tackle comes into question in my opinion.

Nick:                         Big time. Obviously, he’s not out there on Monday, when we’re out there. So you have to see a shift. Jawaan Taylor was still left. We’ve talked about it before. Tackle isn’t as interchangeable as people think. It’s not Madden, where you can just flip them, and sometimes, oh, he got better. I moved him from right tackle to left tackle, and he got better. It’s different. The footwork is completely different. It’s mirrored. You’re facing a different type of lineman, whether you’re on the left side or the right side. There’s lots of stuff that goes into that.

Didn’t really see much of Jawaan over there. Is it something he could do? Probably. Maybe. Sure. Then you start looking at, who plays right tackle then? It was Tyler Jordan. I don’t know the last time Tyler Jordan played tackle. He’s been working a lot at center this year. I think he’s your backup center, if something were to happen to TJ McCoy. He’s really, in his three years, has only worked inside. So that was the first time I’ve seen him take snaps at tackle. Can it work in fall camp? Sure. It’s a whole different ballgame when you start getting into playing other people though.

Andrew:                 My opinion, if it happens to where Martez is missing a game, I think they slide Jawaan to left, and probably play big Fred out at right tackle. That would what I would think would happen, if it happened. I think Jordan is just something that’s maybe another depth piece. I definitely think Jawaan goes to left tackle then.

I don’t have as concern about Jawaan at left tackle as I do about who will play right tackle.

Nick:                         Those kind of go hand in hand.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Again, I think that Fred’s your right tackle, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing if you’re a Florida fan.

Nick:                         It’s probably causing some indigestion thinking about it.

Andrew:                 Probably causing Zaire and Franks some aches and pains without getting hit.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Moving forward, looking ahead at the offensive line. In general, from the little bit you have seen, do you see a different mindset, or are we still going to go through the season saying, “We’ll know how the game turns out by the way the offensive line looks when they run out on the field?”

Nick:                         I haven’t been as high on the offensive line, I think, as anybody else. Is the potential there? Yeah, sure. Last year, I think going into the season we said the potential is there. You still have to put it together.

Then, I don’t know how deep they are. An injury, and then you’re moving in someone like Antonio Riles. You’re moving in if Brett Heggie goes down. There’s just so many pieces that get shifted around. You see that right now in what’s happening with Martez Ivey. Then if you like how Florida’s five are, those five right there in the spots that they are, one injury, and now it’s not.

Kind of like we talked about in the past where it’s like, your left tackle goes down. You’re not in a spot where you have a left tackle to go in. Kadeem Telfort’s been working there. He’s not ready to go in. Stone Forsythe has really been at right tackle, and I don’t think he’s ready to play yet either. That’s when you get in the situation where you’re not at a position where left tackle goes down, backup left tackle goes in.

Now it’s slide him over. He goes here. The second sting guy’s here. You’re starting to try to figure things out that way. Is it almost kind of a blessing in disguise that Martez goes down maybe this early? And then you can kind of figure out, how would we figure this out if it happened in the middle of September, rather than the beginning or middle of August.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I’m still not as high on the offensive line as other people are.

Andrew:                 Like I said, I see your point, and I see Mac’s point. I think the potential’s there. Part of me does believe that last year’s mindset was a little bit of a reason they struggled. Don’t hold that back. I think Mike Summers was an issue, and I think that having him out is a big thing. Brad Davis’ energy’s there.

Nick:                         I do agree with that 100%. Brad Davis has brought a whole different attitude to the offensive line. I believe that.

Andrew:                 Exactly. I also think that guys like TJ McCoy, guys like Brett Heggie, are gamers to the point where, is it ever going to look pretty the way they do it? Probably not. But they’re one of those guys where you’re not going to say very often, “That guy was beat badly.” I think that’s a big key.

But I’m also agreeing with you in this, and say that tackle is a question mark. Depth’s a huge question mark there. Fred, in my opinion, is a guard that has to play tackle. I just am not comfortable saying you’re going into the Michigan game, Tennessee game, the LSU game, any of those other games, with Fred as your starting right tackle. I think that’s a cause for concern.

Nick:                         There is a reason that he moved last year, and a freshman took his place. To me, it’s questionable if you move him back out there.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. Let’s move on a little bit. Defensive back’s been another question mark. You and I were told that right now at safety it’s kind of a three man rotation as far as starters go. That’s Nick Washington. That’s Chauncey Gardner, and that’s Jawaan Taylor. You and I have had this discussion off air several times. I want you to tell, kind of explain what we talked about on here as well, but I also want to say that I think that, out of those three guys, two of those guys are going to be able to play.

I think that a lot of people don’t talk about Jawaan as much, because he was injured last year, but go back and watch some film on the guy. He’s got the ability to play. I think your point that you’re about to say makes a lot of sense, and should make fans very comfortable about the way things are going about.

Nick:                         What point is that?

Andrew:                 About having Chauncey back there, and who you think they want to get the job.

Nick:                         To me, the first practice I think a lot of people freaked out when Jim McElwain, before practice says, “Chauncey Gardner’s going to play at corner.” Then we get out there, and he’s playing safety. Practices were split. Jawaan Taylor wasn’t out with that same group, and Jawaan Taylor was playing safety with the younger guys. You have to remember, he didn’t play a lot of defense last year, and then missed the last month of the season with a shoulder injury.

To me, having Chauncey back there is great. Keep working at safety. It’s not something he did for most of last season. He played it a little bit, played some nickel last season. Played some regular corner last season. Go ahead and shore him up there, but I think Florida wants Jawaan Taylor to go ahead and win that spot. If I’m Florida, and I feel comfortable with a sophomore taking over, and holding down that spot at safety, now I have Chauncey Gardner, who can play outside corner. He can play nickel. Duke Dawson can play outside. He can play nickel. Now I have three guys that I can put at that safety spot and feel good.

If I can get Jawaan Taylor to a point where I’m comfortable playing him, now I only have to play one freshman. If we go into a dime, I might have to play two freshmen. But having those three guys there next to Nick Washington you feel more comfortable than if we don’t feel comfortable about Jawaan, now we have to slide Chauncey back to safety. Okay. If Chauncey’s back at safety, who’s playing nickel. Okay. Now you have Marco Wilson playing nickel or Brad Stewart playing nickel. Who’s on the other side of Duke? Whoever’s not playing nickel is on the other side of Duke. Now you have more freshmen on the field.

Are the freshmen talented? Yeah. Absolutely. There’s still going to be freshmen moments. It’s going to happen. Vern had freshmen moments. Jalen had freshmen moments. Quincy Wilson. These are first round draft picks, first round talented players, and they had freshmen moments. When you look at Florida’s schedule, there’s some teams that will try to pick on those freshmen, and they’re not going to be 100%. They’re going to get beat. Everyone that plays corner gets beat at some point.

That versatility that Chauncey has, that versatility that Duke has, you’ll get even more out of it if you can have Jawaan Taylor take over that safety spot.

Andrew:                 Right. I agree with that, because I think, like you say, it all depends on Jawaan. Because if Chauncey’s able to play corner, I think you eliminate a big problem, and that is having the two freshmen at corner. You think about it. Just say Jawaan wins the starting safety job. You have Jawaan. You can pair Jawaan on the same side as Chauncey when you line up a lot of times, and you’ll have Nick on the same side as a freshman. So you have a veteran on both sides of the field.

If you have to play two freshmen, yes, you still have two veterans at safety back there, but it’s still a little bit more uncomfortable. I think, like you say, having Jawaan play safety is good, but you can’t underestimate the ability of Chauncey. If something was to happen to a Nick or to a Jawaan, you can slide Chauncey back there pretty easily. We all know safety is one of the tougher positions, just because you got to be the play caller on the field, and that’s big for Florida to have that piece in Chauncey.

Like you say, Brad Stewart, Marco Wilson are two of the guys that I think are going to play and play a lot. Another guy I’m interested to kind of see how he does this fall is Quincy Litton. I had a lot of confidence in Quincy Litton after watching him that Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. Watching him play a little bit, he’s got talent if he can stay healthy, but he has that foot problem, a lot like Brandon Powell.

Nick:                         And it popped up again. He missed practice.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s what I was going to say. You have that question mark of how long is it going to hurt? How long can he stay healthy?

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m mentioning Jawaan Taylor. If not for that lingering foot issue, I’d be mentioning, I think, Quincy Litton in the same breath as saying one of these two guys. When it pops up again, when it’s the injury that happened twice last year, and now it’s three days into camp. It happens again. You have to start wondering about where’s your confidence. How you make plans for somebody when you don’t know if they’re going to be there? It’s hard to put somebody in a game plan and put confidence in them. It’s not his fault, but hard to put confidence in somebody and plan your defense around them, if you’re not even that sure that they’re going to be there.

Andrew:                 Right. It’s same thing with Brandon Powell, and that is you can’t base your offensive game plan around a guy like Brandon Powell, just because of that. It’s no fault of Brandon’s. No fault of Quincy. It’s no fault of none of them. It’s just a foot injury.

Nick:                         Just unfortunate.

Andrew:                 It’s a foot injury. It’s kind of Colin Thompson, when he transferred out. It was just one of those things where it flairs up at times. Is it new shoes or new cleats or something?

Nick:                         Brandon Powell gets a new shoe every year, and it hasn’t really worked.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It was modified for him. They do different things for them, but still one of those things where you never know when it’s going to pop up. Again, secondary, it’s a question mark. I think it’ll be a question mark all year. Quite frankly, you’re going to hope that your defensive line and your linebackers can create enough pressure. That way you’re not expecting your back, defensive backfield, to hold the receivers tight, lock them up for an extended period of time.

After looking at the past years, it’s time for the linebackers and defensive line to do that. I mean, defensive backs have kind of led the group for the past several years now. It’s time for guys like Cece Jefferson, Jachai Polite, Jabari, all those guys, to step up and play.

Nick:                         Yeah. I see a lot of people excited about Cece, and I want to see it with him. I want to see it, because I expected more out of him last year. I think a lot of that was probably having him move inside and outside. I think the guy that does that this year is a Jachai Polite. You mentioned it. He’s probably mad I keep calling him a defensive tackle, because he’s definitely changed his body and has slimmed down. But I think you tried to make Cece the swing guy, and he can do, and he helped create for other people, but he’s a guy that you need getting after the quarterback, not helping create for other people. So I think you tried that. The experiment didn’t go. The experiment wasn’t optimal. Try somebody else.

I think Jachai Polite can be that guy, and then create for Cece. It’s just, you’re a sophomore. You’re going to create for someone who’s older than you. Do your job this year well, and next year your job will be Cece’s job. You’ll be on the edge, and we’ll find somebody else that will be eating those double teams for you.

Andrew:                 I think Cece will still have a little bit of a role moving inside on third downs, kind of like Jon Jon did, Jonathan Bullard did a little bit. That’s not a bad thing, especially when you think about dropping down a Jeremiah Moon to rush off the edge. I think that’s a good thing.

I’m like you in that I know Jachai doesn’t like the whole he’s a defensive tackle, and I don’t think he’s a true defensive tackle, but at the end of the day, he’s a monster in the middle. Him and Kyrie Campbell should have really solid years. I don’t see it as a bad thing. I mean, there’s a big payday coming for Jachai Polite if he continues to grow, whether that’s at defensive tackle, defensive end, however he wants to be viewed. I think he’s viewed kind of as both.

Nick:                         Yeah. If you’re in a situation, 3rd and long, the kind of guys that you have you can just go put four pass rushers on the field and not even have a tackle. Maybe put Taven Bryan, because he’s kind of got that speedy quickness to him, and put him in the middle, and then put three defensive backs, or three defensive ends on the line, and then Moon coming off of the edge. There’s other ways you can get in and get pressure that way on those pure passing downs.

Andrew:                 You got to find ways to create a pass rush. Nick, I want to kind of move on and talk about the offensive side of the ball now a little bit again. We talked about the revamped roster Mac has had since he took over the team. In three short years though, is there a position group, I guess you could say running back, but is there a position group that has turned over from being lackluster to pretty solid, than the receiver position?

Nick:                         I’m trying to think. The guys you had there in the past. Ahmad Fulwood.

Andrew:                 Valdez Showers.

Nick:                         Valdez. Yeah. No.

Andrew:                 LaTroy Pittman.

Nick:                         Geez. The names are there. James Robinson looks impressive. There is a drill where it’s basically just getting off the line and working on press, and Kerry Dixon stands in as the defensive back, and he tries to get his hands on the guys. Obviously not as much as a linebacker or defensive back from LSU would do, but it’s mimicking the drill. James Robinson forgot that they were mimicking it, and kind of just tossed Kerry Dixon to the side. He’s impressive.

I think Josh Hammond is a guy that probably will be under the radar through his entire career, just based on guys that are around him, but another solid player. I think Antonio Callaway, his footwork, his quickness, his burst, is probably second to none at that position. Then Tyrie Cleveland is still a freak. The guys are there. Can they put it all together?

Andrew:                 Can they have somebody throw them the ball?

Nick:                         Yeah. I think this year is the year that Tyrie kind of provides that second option where teams can’t just focus in on Antonio Callaway. He was pissed off last year. He was frustrated last year, because no matter what team they’re playing, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing Alabama or you’re Vanderbilt, safeties shading over to his side, or they’re just flat out double teaming him. That gets frustrating. Especially when your offense isn’t moving. You know that you’re supposed to help the offense move, but you can’t do much because they’re double teaming you.

To me, if you can get a guy to change that, then that makes Antonio Callaway more dangerous. I think that has to be Tyrie Cleveland this year. But there will be other options.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. You got to have other options make up for that. That’s where I see Dre Massey, Kadarius Toney, Brandon Powell, guys that are in that slot who are one on one now with either a linebacker or a nickel, making those teams pay. Even guys like Kemore Gamble or Deandre Goolsby or C’yontai Lewis at tight end making those guys pay. They’ve got to make them pay. I think that might be one of the things that’s been missing though is that middle of the field attack from Florida.

Nick:                         Hasn’t been coming from the tight ends.

Andrew:                 I don’t think it’s come from anybody, to be honest. I don’t think it’s come from anybody really. That’s something Mac was big in at Alabama and at Colorado State was attacking the seams. When I say attacking the seams, that’s in between the hashmarks. That’s the middle of the field. That’s attacking where the safeties should be, so that the safeties aren’t able to roll out to the sides, aren’t able to spread. They’re having to stay home to protect. You got to take care of those mismatches. When Antonio Morrison was at Florida, other teams took advantage of him when he lined up against those guys. That’s what Florida has to do to other teams. I think that’s where you see Kadarius Toney, Brandon Powell, Dre Massey all come up.

Two guys that I’m very impressed with, that I think are going to have big years, is Hammond and Swain. First of all, I think you said it correctly. Josh Hammond will probably be a guy that goes his entire career at Florida not getting talked about a ton, because is he going to do anything spectacular? Probably not. Is he going to do everything really good? Yes.

Nick:                         Consistency.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He’s just going to be a consistent guy that’s a playmaker. He’s going to catch that 3rd and 10 ball for 11 yards or 10.5 yards. He’s going to make that block to get a running back an extra 10 yards. He’s going to be that guy.

The same thing with Freddie Swain. I think Swain was a guy that at the beginning of the year last year showed flashes, before he hurt his shoulder. Anybody that’s had a shoulder injury can attest, it’s tough to go up and catch a ball, especially when you’re going to get hit, with a shoulder injury.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s something to watch for me, because it happened last year, and McElwain talked about it held him back. It’s something you think about. I’ve hurt my shoulder. It’s something you think about all the time. So where is that? Especially when you’re playing where he is, in the slot, you’re going to get hit.

Andrew:                 I think you hit the nail on the head with Tyrie. It’s his time to show out. He’s going to get a lot of one on one coverages. A guy his size should be able to take advantage of it. I think that he will exceed expectations from last season this year. I think he’ll have a better year, and I think he’ll have a better year because of two things. He understands the game more, and I think he will have a quarterback to get him the ball on that. It’s not going to simple like it was last year.

I would say probably 85, 90% of the time, correct me if I’m wrong, Nick, when Tyrie was in the game, he was running a nine route. He was running a go route. That was what Tyrie was running, and that’s because he didn’t understand a lot of things, because he wasn’t around a ton in the off season.

I think what you see from James Robinson is you’re going to see a lot of what you saw out of Tyrie last year. You’re going to see him come in the game, run a lot of nine routes, go routes, a lot of fades in the end zone, that kind of thing, as he continues to learn. Because much like Tyrie, James is in the same situation, just a little bit different circumstances, in that he missed the summer. He’s missed that time with his quarterbacks. He’s missed that time with Kerry Dixon in the meeting room that simply cannot be made up right now. I think you’ll see James have a role like Tyrie did, and I think you’ll see Tyrie have a greater role.

I just can’t say it enough. I think Florida finally has speed in that slot that they’re going to do some cool things. I think you’ll have more speed sweeps. I think you’ll have Mac’s favorite bubble screen. I even think with Tyrie you’ll see what I call the pop pass. That’s where they stand up, just throw it to the receiver. Mac made that famous at Alabama with Julio, and I think that’s something Tyrie will do a lot this season.

Nick:                         He’s a big guy, and hard to bring down.

Andrew:                 Physical.

Nick:                         Physical. Hard to bring down. You saw that at LSU. You see that a lot. He is all of his listed height of weight, and very physical. I think that stand pass, that pop pass, that needs to be more. You were calling for that last year when you’re trying all these other things, and it’s not working. Just try this. They kind of went away from it.

To me, when I was just talking about outside guys, I didn’t even add in those slot guys. I think Brandon Powell is not as good, in my opinion, as Dre Massey, and you kind of saw that where you’re trying to fit Brandon Powell into the role that you had for Dre Massey, and it’s just not the same. They’re just different players.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. I think that they’re different players, and I think they have different roles. I think Massey and Toney both have a role at different positions. Not only receiver. I think you see them get a little bit of wild cat action. I think you see them get a little bit of action at 3rd down when it’s 3rd and 4, 3rd and 5. You’re able to have Massey or Toney able to come out from the backfield against a linebacker, against a safety or a nickel. You’re able to have that mismatch, and that’s something, Mac talked about it last year, and I think he underplayed it a little bit. Not to make excuses for the bad offense last year, that they had a plan for Massey that was going to be a pretty solid plan, and that all went to shambles the first game of the season when he got hurt.

Nick:                         First kick of the season.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Now you have some options there, and I think it’ll be something that goes forward and plays a big part. Options are big, and having that mismatch is the biggest thing. When you look at Xs and Os, you want to find the mismatch. Having a guy at running back with Toney or Massey’s speed is a mismatch. I think you’ll see at times you’ll have both of them on the field, and that’s an incredible mismatch.

Nick:                         Big mismatch. I want to see the running backs get involved in the passing game more. I think that’s something that both Lamical and Jordan Scarlett have worked on. I want to see them get involved in the running game more. Not the running game. I want to see the running backs get involved in the passing game more.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s something Lamical is kind of known for. He’s a guy that can catch the ball. He’s a true 3rd down back. For me, I want to see both of those guys continue to develop in the blocking game to be that 3rd down back. It was something that they both got better at last year, but they still struggled with at times, and that’s the blocking game. I think that that will determine who is that 3rd down back.

Real quick, we got about five minutes here. We talked at the beginning about redshirting. I think one of those two freshmen guys get redshirted, just for the simple fact of you’re not going to play five guys. We talk about Mark Thompson. Do I think he gets a lot of carries? No. But I think he still gets maybe two or three a game, four a game. Then I personally think Adarius Lemons probably gets most carries out of the freshmen, as Malik continues to gain weight. I think Malik might be the guy that gets that redshirt. Again, if Malik passes Adarius, then maybe Adarius is the guy that gets the redshirt.

Like we say all the time, it’s not really something you want to do, redshirt running backs, because if they have two good years they’re gone anyway. I think, just from the simple fact of carries. There’s not a lot of carries. You’re going to try to get Scarlett and Perine the most carries. That third guy is going to probably be one of the freshmen. What do you do with the other two? You’re not redshirting Mark Thompson.

Nick:                         No. Mark Thompson will be gone after this year.

Andrew:                 That’s what I’m saying. Do you agree with that?

Nick:                         No, I agree with that. I think you find a spot for Malik on special teams though. I just don’t know. Maybe he’s a guy. I just don’t know about redshirting running backs. It’s the whole climate of everything right now is if they’re good enough, they’re gone in three years. If they’re not good enough, then they’re holding up a roster spot.

Andrew:                 Yeah. We’ll see. Like I said, I just don’t know. Maybe. Maybe you’re right. Maybe they don’t redshirt him, and they play him on special teams. I mean, Malik’s a hell of an athlete and would be good on special teams. We’ll see. You don’t have to really worry about kickoff. Eddie’s going to kick it out in the end zone every time.

Nick:                         He’s certainly capable of doing that. I don’t know why you’d tell him not to.

Andrew:                 Just kick it out of the end zone. Don’t even put your other 10 guys out there.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Nick, we’ll round out this podcast real quick. We’ll be back on Friday, have some more good stuff on Friday. Still looking at rounding up a guest for next week. We’re going to start the recruiting show next week, and we’ll have Jacob Copeland on that show. We’ll see about a guest for next week to talk football.

Anything else for the rest of the week, Nick? Tell everybody kind of what the schedule is.

Nick:                         We got Tuesday and Wednesday off. We’re back on Thursday, Friday with the guys, with the team. A couple days off for me. I get to relax a little bit again, and we’ll be back at it Thursday, Friday talking to players and all that good stuff.

Andrew:                 You talk players Thursday. Mac is on Friday. Correct?

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 Okay. Guys, if you have anything you want to see. Nick’s not able to get any player, but he’s able to talk to guys. If there’s anything you want to hear or Nick ask the players, shoot us a message on the message board or on Twitter. Guys, if you haven’t joined over yet, let us know. We’ll get you a special deal. Coming up we’re about to have our new calendars come out. So it’s a great time to join. Get the scoop. Gator Country in football, football recruiting, and basketball recruiting. Nick, tell them where they can find us, and we’ll get out of here.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there, and it’s also on iTunes. Just search @GatorCountry. You can find us on social media @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. Our guys Kevin and some of our other guys are making great edits, so check out Instagram too. Me, @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter, and he is @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 Guys, we had a couple people say about SoundCloud. Quite frankly, Nick and I just dropped the ball there. I am going to personally get on that and see what it’s going to take to make that happen. I’m not sure. I’m not smart enough for that. Sorry. I’m going to personally see what’s going on with that. Give us a couple days, maybe a week on that, and let me see what I can do for that.

As always, guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, 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 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.