Buddy Martin was a guest on my afternoon radio show last week and we had a chance to break down the Gators. Florida lost a lot of great players from the national championship team, but there is plenty of talent. The Gators won’t be short on talent this year although experience will be gained on the job. Just because the Gators lost nine starters on defense, don’t sell them short. Remember, Ohio State lost nine defensive starters in 2005 and the Buckeyes made it to the national championship game where they, of course, lost to the Gators.
I’m really happy to be part of the Gator Country team. I’ll be a regular contributor with audio interviews and written columns. In the fall, one of my weekly assignments will be to break down the defenses, both of the Gators and who they’re playing. I’ll be doing that before and after the games, so I hope that’s a feature you’ll enjoy.
You can listen to the Scot Brantley Show every afternoon (4-7 p.m.) on ESPN Radio 1470AM in the Tampa area.
Here’s the transcript from our original audio story earlier:
BUDDY MARTIN: Pretty sure and get it all, but you go gatorcountry.com that will lead you to the website and you can pick and choose what you want to see there. I did a chat with them last night and that was fun. They asked some great questions last night.
SCOT BRANTLEY: I read every one of them. Now I do get that stuff forwarded, Buddy. I do pay attention and read all the specifics to it, there was even a couple of Johnny Brantley questions in that.
BUDDY MARTIN: Yes, there were couple of Johnny Brantley questions; they asked me why if I thought would happen to Johnny Brantley and I said in my opinion he will probably redshirt but if something happens and he’s needed, he will be there, right?
SCOT BRANTLEY: You will never know, they going to probably in the dressing him, because they are very short. We went into that championship last year, we only had two quarterbacks dressed off and they both played and that was Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.
BUDDY MARTIN: Yeah, that’s true, that’s true, and they were very lucky. Of course, they have two this year and three if Waggner’s okay … four actually, if Waggner’s okay but Cam Newton is going to play and have a big part in this offense.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Cam Newton is a very special freshman that is, most people saw him they were saying “man, he is like clone to that fellow up there at LSU that just got drafted” …
BUDDY MARTIN: JaMarcus Russell
SCOT BRANTLEY: I think he’s even bigger, more put together, maybe not taller but at 6-5 and 250, he’s a big strong kid.
BUDDY MARTIN: And he is a good sized fellow and when he sticks it in there on the option those little bitty cornerbacks aren’t going to have a have whole lot of success bringing him down, I can tell you that right now.
SCOT BRANTLEY: That’s a fact and I guarantee though in that get a lot of mileage out of that quarterback position running the football because I am not to certain, you see what’s happening at the running back position and Kestahn Moore is going to be the bread winner? I think there needs to be some guys step out and may be a couple of true freshman might be able to pick that up. No Mon Williams and he was going to be our kind of ace in the hole and he is going to be lost for the year.
BUDDY MARTIN: Yeah, Mon Williams is hurt, but they have got plenty of help back there. First of all in that tailback position is by committee anyway. Don’t forget Jared Fayson is going to be a force at both the tailback and wide receiver position and Percy Harvin is …. he lines up in that wildcat formation back there and he is very good. We have mentioned Kestahn Moore and don’t forget Braden James and the word that I have with Braden James will come back and will not lose any time, will not be charged at all on that deal that went down ….
SCOT BRANTLEY: Yeah, little sting … they have him redhanded on video/audio, the whole nine yards … he made a stupid, you know what, decision. He’ll learn from that and I can guarantee you’ll he’ll be a heck of lot more careful in that Gainesville town from now on.
BUDDY MARTIN: Yeah, I am not making excuses for Branden James, because he shouldn’t, but I know the story and unfortunately he made that stupid decision to get in the car and go somewhere with the friend. He didn’t instigate it, he wasn’t really part of it but he was there because he chose to go with a friend he wound up ….
SCOT BRANTLEY: Guilt by association…
BUDDY MARTIN: He was involved from the standpoint of participating in the act of it where you know the whole story you’ll know what I mean. Unfortunately because of the Butler Act they can’t tell what really happened so we really don’t know.
SCOT BRANTLEY: The old confidentiality rule.
BUDDY MARTIN: Exactly, now look, I want to get you give me a little rundown. I know you have other things to do, but I want you to give me a little breakdown, a Brantley’s Breakdown breakdown here, if you will, on the defense at Florida. Everybody says look, they got two guys coming back on defense — Derrick Harvey, naturally most valuable player, played terrific in BCA championship game and of course Tony Joiner …
SCOT BRANTLEY: Yeah, two very good players that would be All-SEC unanimous choices if they can stay healthy.
BUDDY MARTIN: Now, Scot now I ask you and put you on the spot here … you do all these games and you break it down, you old linebacker … let’s start with the linebackers and tell me about the assets of those guys got … start Dustin Doe, what do you think?
SCOT BRANTLEY: Dustin Doe, I hope he is got Does, woes straightened out because he got into a couple of ruckuses up there and did a little time in the doghouse with Urban Meyer so hopefully Dustin will be back. Tremendous speed, the only thing I have told Dustin is I don’t like him wearing the 32 number, that’s a running back number, give it to a running back. Wear a linebacker number. Brandon Spikes wears number 51, that’s where it should be. Ryan Stamper, that’s more of a running back number but this is all about the number. I love break it down that because I think there it identifies the player. When I think of the number 50 I think of Yancy Sutton who wore that, my roommate, and I think of Brad Culpepper. It kind of goes with the flavor, but Dustin Doe is going to be a great player with great speed. I think the guy that’s really going to contend … I think Ryan Stamper is the guy that could work at that SAM linebacker position. Dustin Doe is going to work at the WILL but A.J. Jones, one of our own from right around from here in Tampa, last year was a true freshman but he has worked his butt off and gotten a little bit bigger. I was worried about his size but I think the linebacker position is going to be fine, because you got Charlie Strong coaching them and there ain’t nothing wrong with that!
BUDDY MARTIN: I was asked last night about Brandon Spikes versus Brandon Siler. My assessment, maybe I was right or wrong, maybe you’re better to answer this but I said I think really Brandon Spikes is probably got more ability, but…..
SCOT BRANTLEY: Big play ability, now how you say Brandon Siler had a lot of big play, let me ask some Buddy, we never do this, we done it only one at a time. You want to hold-on? We got hit this top of the hour break, we got a ESPN Sports Center and we will come back and you will review a little bit more.
BUDDY MARTIN: OK.
BACK FROM THE BREAK:
SCOT BRANTLEY: When we went break we were doing a little bit of a breakdown with some of this defensive stuff going on, but when you got a great leader like Tony Joiner back there in secondary where he could have made a choice to come out and probably would have been may be a second round pick at least. But he made decision to come back and like we bragged about, this coaching staff especially defensively and offensively, you can take it for what it’s worth, but Chuck Heater, Doc Holliday, two of the best defensive back, safety corner back coaches in America.
BUDDY MARTIN: Scott I was going to ask you about that, you have been around Gator football for a long time, you have seen all the coaches come and go. Have you even seen a better job of coaching a position or the defensive backs or any position as much as these two guys have done? I think they have done incredible job of coming up with guys out of nowhere and making them stars.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Yeah, that whole Markus Manson experiment is going to stick and we got to talk about this last week with coach Carl Franks who is now University of South Florida, he says that you don’t remember a guy that came there as a running back, a little bit undersized named Elijah Williams? Eli Williams went on to the Atlanta Falcons and played in the National Football League for about seven or eight years as a corner back! He is just one of the examples and that’s why they see in Markus Manson, I think it’s going to work out marvelously for him and this football team that needs corner help.
BUDDY MARTIN: They have two returning starters among defense; this is the Southeastern Conference with some high powered offenses, what you think Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison are going to have to do with the defense this year?
SCOT BRANTLEY: I think you got to keep on keeping on and have the same philosophy. You have a lot of guys that have to move in. I mean look at Javier [Estopinan], even though he’s a junior it seems old 93 has been there about four years. Derrick Harvey will be as junior that he is. [Brandon] Antwine, a young kid, not very big but he comes with a high motor Junior with Clint McMillan as well. So you got some guys up there with Jermaine Cunningham. Trent Pupello, I love that move. He was a fine little tight end — not little, he’s a big guy — that played right here at Jefferson and now they move him to defensive end but I don’t know if he is going to stick or not. I hope he does because I like Trent, but I think they can mix and match and they can do it and get away with about anything, it’s about reloading and I know that there will be lot of those hungry freshmen that did not report — and there’s not many that did not report back in December — but those guys have come in there with I think a “hey I got a chance to play because we lost nine starters on defense”.
BUDDY MARTIN: You mentioned Javier Estopinan and I know they like him a lot, he is an injury yet to come off of but there are couple of freshmen that are really getting people excited and one we are looking forward to is Carlos Dunlap, who is supposed to be the real deal and he could be factor defensive end as a freshman. I don’t think they’re going to be hurting at defensive end this year even though they lost an awfully good one in Jarvis Moss.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Yeah, Jarvis Moss one of the best, but Dunlap will come in … a rangy guy that can come off the corner. You don’t have to be coached up too much even though Coach Mattison will have him ready, but one thing about that defensive end position, you get your hand on the ground and you get a good angle and get that good leverage that you have and get a good push and great containment. He could be a star automatically.
BUDDY MARTIN: Talk about the scheme Scot, will you, what they run and why they run it that way.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Well it varies, I think that’s what keeps everybody on their toes. It’s a traditional 43 defense and they move the linebackers around a little bit, they walk up they cover down, they’ll move, they do play a lot of the nickel package dependent on the personnel offensively, but what it is? It’s a gap responsibility made basically one gap responsibility, get up the field, make plays don’t over-run and stay back side when called upon. It’s good discipline defense and that’s what Charlie Strong, Greg Mattison, Chuck Heater and Doc Holliday are all about — discipline.
BUDDY MARTIN: Any chances as defense is good enough to take them to SEC championship?
SCOT BRANTLEY: You know what, this is the last team that I have studied that had lost nine starters and came back the next year to not only win the conference, but to play for the National Championship, you know who that was?
BUDDY MARTIN: I don’t.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Ohio State University. The year before Ohio State had lost nine starters on defense, only returned two guys, but they reloaded guys and got as far as they got. So, I have got a hope that we have a little bit of the same thing happening with this team. My main objective is win the East and play for the SEC title in Atlanta and we’ve had a pretty good record there. So, whatever happens beyond that and after that is gravy, just get and win the East and win the SEC and let everything else fall where it may.
BUDDY MARTIN: Yet another Ohio State connection made by Scot Brantley.
SCOT BRANTLEY: Yeah, there you go. Right Buddy, its always its great to visit with you, hug your wife for me and hope we’ll talk further down the road, I will be down in Boca Grande next week around the 4th of July and maybe we will get you to drive over have dinner with us one night.
BUDDY MARTIN: Well, you’ll miss me. I will see grandbaby in Pennsylvania next week. You have a good one and catch you big old tarpon and then we will talk and if you get a chance call me and we’ll talk about that column.