Podcast: Previewing the Florida Gators road game against Tennessee

    Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier and quarterback Anthony Richardson- 1280x853
    The Florida Gators win 31-28 against the University of South Florida Bulls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida on September 17th, 2022. (Photo by David Bowie/Gatorcountry)

    The Florida Gators travel to take on Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville as the Gators will be on the road for the first time this season.

    Andrew Spivey and Nick Marcinko break down the keys for the Gators on offense and how they can potentially slow down this Vols offense.

    Andrew and Nick also give you three guys to watch for the Gators on Saturday, plus we predict the game.


    Andrew: Andrew Spivey back with Nick. Nick, it’s hate week, my man. Gators and Tennessee are going to get going. Saturday afternoon at 3:30 in Knoxville in what I expect to be an absolute rocking atmosphere. We will all have headaches from that God awful Rocky Top song. Our eyes will burn for weeks from seeing that gaudy orange.

    Nick: Right. It’s certainly hate week in Gainesville. It’s going to be a challenge for the Gators. They got to go on the road to Knoxville. There’s going to be upwards of 100,000 screaming fans, probably closer to 110,000. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere. Certainly, something to watch. I’m excited to get going with this week and kind of break down Tennessee and break down where we think we stand with Florida here.

    Andrew: It’s not how Florida would like to come into this game. Struggling a little bit on offense. Question marks on defense. Ventrell Miller is questionable. We got the depth chart on Wednesday, and he’s questionable there. From everything I’ve heard, they’ll put him through warmups and kind of see how he is after warmups. If it’s Ventrell Miller’s choice, Ventrell Miller’s going to play. Again though, he has to be ready to go. You can’t hurt his future or anything else, if he’s not. If it’s Ventrell Miller’s choice to play, he’s going to play.

    Michael Tarquin’s going to be out of the game. Austin Barber I thought did a pretty solid job against USF. Obviously, that’s a different pass rush than he’ll see this week against Tennessee. Still, I just look at this game, Nick, and I look at it as can Florida stop this potent offense of Tennessee that’s #3 in the country, #1 in the SEC? 553 yards of total offense per game. Putting it out through the air, 371 yards through the air. Does Florida have the depth on the defensive line? If Ventrell does or doesn’t play, do they have the depth at the linebacker spot to get going?

    Good news is they do get Jaydon Hill back this week. He’s going to be rusty as all get out, but still good to have him back. Does Florida have the ammo on defense to slow down this Tennessee team?

    Nick: Andrew, it’s certainly going to be a challenge for the Gators. When you look at the Gators defense, we have a mess of cornerbacks. We’ve got four to five guys that are going to rotate in. Here’s the issue, and here’s the issue with rotations with this game. Tennessee is not going to let the Gators rotate Austin. They run a play every 18.5 seconds, around there. Their team goal is to get it under 20 seconds. If you watch on TV, is something to watch. It is very fast. I’m familiar with a Heupel offense, because I live in Orlando, and I’ve been to a bunch of UCF games back when he was the coach here. It is so fast. It’s incredible to watch, but it is very difficult to defend. It’s going to be the toughest challenge, in my opinion, in the game is just getting back to the line and getting set up.

    Patrick Toney needs to do a good job of making sure his guys are just set and ready for the play, because that’s the hardest part is being ready. Once you’re ready, you can make the play, but if you’re not where you need to be prior to the snap, you’re in trouble. I think that’s what the Gators have worked on a lot this week in practice is just sprinting back to your spot and being ready for the play.

    Tennessee has a lot of weapons. Their offense is one that favors the quarterback. Heupel does a really good job of putting Hendon Hooker in a position to succeed. If you look at the stats this year, 59 completions on 85 attempts. That’s almost 70%. He’s averaging 10 yards a throw. Six touchdowns, no interceptions. Even the backup, Joe Milton, who we saw last year play in Gainesville a little bit, 12 completions, 14 attempts, 225 yards, 16.1 average per throw. Three touchdowns, no interceptions. This is a system that favors the quarterback, so the quarterback’s going to play well, but the Gators needs to do something to knock him off his game.

    Hendon Hooker has been sacked five times this year, so that could be something the Gators try to do. That’s something the Gators, in my opinion, did not do, Andrew, too well last week was get pressure on the quarterback. there was too many situations on 3rd down, 2nd down, when they were passing, and the Gators had no pass rush. Gerry Bohanon was just sitting back there, and it kind of allowed him to run and do those kind of things that he does. It was a problem for the Gators.

    That’s where I’m looking this week, and I believe, Andrew, you mentioned that in your roundtable as well. Gators need to get a pass rush. They need to get in there and disrupt Hendon Hooker and kind of throw Tennessee off their rhythm a little bit.

    Andrew: The pass rush is the ultimate defense against the passing game. It just is what it is. Obviously, Tennessee does not hold the ball very long. Hendon Hooker does not. It’s a lot of short quick throws, and that does kind of help with the pass rush there. You look at Florida, the USF game, for instance, the Kentucky game. When they’re getting a pass rush, they’re so much better. It speaks for itself, because the quarterback’s got to make a quicker decision, that kind of stuff.

    Florida has to get Brenton Cox going in this game, has to get Justus Boone going in this game. Tennessee has allowed a sack to two sacks a game. They’ve allowed that. Florida though has only gotten three all year. That just isn’t enough. Florida has got to get a pass rush there, get Hendon Hooker feeling a little bit uncomfortable there.

    I will say this. Florida needs to play better jam up secondary with their corners. They need Avery Helm. They need Devin Moore. They need Jason Marshall. They need Jalen Kimber, Jaydon Hill, to be able to get in the face of this Tennessee receiver group that’s pretty good and play some bump and run and play some physical football. They’ve got to do that.

    The best defense against a passing game is playing physical football, and that’s just what it is. Obviously, you’ve got to be able to stop the run. You cannot allow Tennessee to run the ball, because then if you allow them to run the ball, you’ve got a whole different world of problems there. You better shut down the run, and then focus in on unleashing your dudes on the pass rush. If you’re Brenton Cox, you’re licking your chops. This is your game. Hendon Hooker, good passer. They’re going to throw the ball. Go get them.

    Nick: I agree. I kind of mentioned that earlier. Tennessee is a great passing team. I would almost consider them an air raid, per se. Check out this stat. They’ve thrown the ball 102 times and rushed the ball 131 this year. I know they’ve been winning in the majority of their games, so that’s kind of a huge stat for this point in the season. However, if the Gators are going to let Tennessee run the ball, they’re not going to stop running the football. Jaylen Wright has 45 carries on the season for 231 yards. That’s an average of 5.1 yards a carry. He’s got three touchdowns.

    They have three running backs with three touchdowns. They’re going to run the football, if the Gators are going to let them. I think that’s priority #1 is just kind of putting a clamp on the run. Make Tennessee throw the ball, and like you said, we got to be physical. In this game in particular, Gators can’t be playing 10 yards off the receiver, because guess what? Hendon Hooker is not going to throw too many interceptions. He’s not going to put the ball in a dangerous position. We got to physical, and the Gators have to be physical, like you said. The corners have to play up, bump and run. They got to knock Tennessee off their rhythm some way, somehow.

    Andrew: Again, it’s easier said than done.

    Nick: Absolutely.

    Andrew: That’s got to be the way. Now, let’s flip sides of the ball here. The best way to keep Tennessee’s offense in check? Don’t let them have the ball. Florida has been the most successful when they’ve been able to run the rock. They’ve got to be able to run the football consistently in this game against Tennessee. A Tennessee team that’s only allowing 83 yards a game on the ground. Florida has got to run the ball, got to control the clock. They cannot be in a situation where it’s like USF, where USF has 30 more plays run than Florida does.

    If Tennessee has 30 more plays than Florida does, Tennessee runs Florida out of the building. Period. End of discussion. Florida’s got to be able to run the football. That all starts with Anthony Richardson. It’s time for Anthony Richardson to be Anthony Richardson. It’s time for the guy who does backflips and loves the game to be Anthony Richardson. That’s the guy you need. He’s got to be able to run the football, got to be able to get outside the pocket and do things with his legs to make the Tennessee defense come up a little bit, to where he can throw the football, and when he does, he’s got to be able to complete the football.

    Anthony Richardson has to be Anthony Richardson in this football game. The star shined when the lights are the brightest. The lights are going to be very bright Saturday at 3:30 in Knoxville and Neyland Stadium. If Anthony Richardson wants to be one of those elite guys, now is the time.

    Nick: I agree. I know that the Gators weren’t favored against Utah, but this to me feels like the first game that kind of Florida’s been disrespected, and rightfully so. They have not looked great the last two weeks. This is the first game where Tennessee is an 11 or 12 point favorite.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: We have not seen that in a long, long time. Hasn’t Florida won 16 of the last 17 games?

    Andrew: Yeah. You think about it. There’s not very many SEC games in general where a team is two point underdog, especially in a game where it’s two top 25 teams.

    Nick: I agree. If that doesn’t give you a spark or something to go out there and prove yourself as a quarterback and as a team, then I don’t know what does. This is a team that the Florida Gators have owned in the last 17 years. To me, when I’m looking at Anthony Richardson, I think you nailed it on the head. He needs to be that guy. Everything needs to come out here. The RPO needs to be back in play efficiently. The play action rollout needs to be back. We need to see QB designed runs. We need to see scrambles when nothing’s open. We need to see Richardson progressing through his reads, and if nothing is there, taking off.

    Richardson has to be the Richardson we know, if the Gators are going to win this game. It all starts with the run game. Get him confident through the run game. He’s a huge part of the run game as well. I’m looking for Montrell Johnson to get a heavy dose of carries in this game, and Etienne kind of following behind him. Gators are going to need to make big plays on Saturday at 3:30, and that does start with Anthony Richardson.

    Andrew: Hell, if I’m Anthony Richardson, if I’m this offense or defense, I’m pissed off. Tennessee team that I’ve dominated, you’ve got them as a two score favorite. To hell with that. It’s time. It’s time to unleash the dudes. I don’t want to say that Billy Napier is holding anything back, because I don’t know that that’s true. I hope that that’s true, and I hope that the last two weeks Richardson’s been held back a little bit. A lot of rumors and stuff that he’s been banged up a little bit. If that’s true, cool. Turn him loose. Get ready. Put a Band-Aid on it. Get ready. It’s time.

    Nick: Let me just say this. I think you’ll agree with me as well. Florida’s sitting at 2-1 right now. They have not played good football. Is that fair to say?

    Andrew: 100%. They haven’t played good football. No.

    Nick: Okay. So, Florida has not played good football. That’s correct, and they’re sitting at 2-1. You have a chance to go knock off a top 15 team on the road, and the respect is immediately given back to you. If Florida starts off 3-1, if the Billy Napier era starts off 3-1, you would have taken a 3-1 start any day of the week. You would take a 2-1 start, if I asked you three weeks ago.

    As bad as this team plays, everything they’ve wanted is still in front of them. They get a chance to go knock off a top 15 team and prove their worth. That to me is exciting. That’s why I’m looking forward to the game. The players, obviously, should be looking forward to the game. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere, and the Gators have everything they wanted still in front of them.

    I know the loss to Kentucky sucks, and it wasn’t great, but Gators are 2-1. Let’s be honest. They could be 0-3. They could also be 3-0. The Gators did not play great against Kentucky, by any means. They shot themselves in the foot. But they could easily be 1-2 or 0-3 to start this season. I think you’ve got to take this 2-1. You’ve got to put everything behind you, start fresh against Tennessee, and just go in and whoop their butts.

    Andrew: Yeah. Get your offensive line going and start laying wood. It’s rivalry football. There is nothing better in sports in general than rivalry football. There’s nothing better in sports than going to an opposing team’s home field and whipping their ass. There is nothing better than beating Tennessee. There’s nothing better than watching Neyland Stadium cry. There’s nothing better than that.

    This is a big game for Josh Heupel. This is a huge game for Josh Heupel.

    Nick: Absolutely.

    Andrew: All the pressure is there. There’s no pressure on Florida. Go out, play your game. Anthony is a good enough football player to beat this team. He’s shown it. You have to go out there with the mindset of laying it all on the line. Next week’s the time to get healthy against Eastern Washington. Lay it all on the line. Keep the football. Run the football. Be efficient running the football. The nasty’s up front. Put the pressure on Tennessee. Continue to lay on them. Continue to push on them. Make them in the fourth quarter lay down. That’s your game. Play it.

    You’re a physical brand of football. Billy Napier wants a physical brand of football. This is your game to be a physical brand of football, where you control the game and keep Hendon Hooker on the sidelines. When he does get on the sidelines, pin your ears back and go get him. You’ll win the football game.

    Nick: I agree. It all starts with the Gators offensive line. I’ve said it time and time again. They just need long drives. There’s so many benefits to a long drive, not just the fact that you’re keeping Tennessee’s offense off the field, but you are wearing out that Tennessee defense. That, quite frankly, let’s be honest, hasn’t really been challenged this year.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: They played Akron and Ball State, which I know Akron is typically the worst team in college football, or one of, and Ball State’s obviously not very good. I would have to go see the advance statistics behind that for the season. Those are two of the worst teams in college football, and then they went on, and they played Pitt, when Pitt’s backup quarterback, Nick Patti had to play for a full quarter, maybe a little bit more. I think he had 13 passes or something like that.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: He played a decent amount of the game, and they only won by seven. Yeah, they were on the road. It was still a great win for them. Props there. This defense hasn’t been challenged. They have not really been challenged this year. When I’m looking at Florida’s offensive line, I don’t think they’ve played an offense line as good as Florida’s this year. Line up. Let’s line up. To me, that’s how this team has to approach the game, and there’s so many benefits to having a long drive where you’re just running the ball. It's not only keeping Hendon Hooker off the field and that Tennessee offense off the field, but it’s wearing out Tennessee’s defense, which is something that in the third, fourth quarter is going to benefit the Florida Gators.

    Andrew: Right. That’s the thing. This Tennessee team hasn’t, except for the Pitt game, had to play the fourth quarter game. This is a Tennessee team that, put some doubt in them early. This is a Tennessee team that’s been dominated by you. Put some doubt in their mind. Make them think, oh God, here we go again. This is Florida. Here they go again. Put some doubt in it. That’s the best way to do it is put some doubt in it.

    Figure out ways to get Anthony going early. I wouldn’t mind seeing some early quarterback runs just to get him going, to get the defense of Tennessee thinking hard about that, getting the offense to believing a little bit. That’s the way to go. That’s the way to go and get this team going.

    I think I know Billy Napier well enough to know that he’s going to have a good gameplan. Patrick Toney’s going to have a good gameplan. People are bashing Toney and his defense. His defensive scheme is great. Patrick Toney’s a bright defensive coordinator. Obviously, he doesn’t have the talent depth wise there to do it, and I think having Shemar James there will help. You’ve got to cover it up. But also, just playing a physical brand of football. I think that that’s coming for sure.

    I think you’ll see a different team on Saturday. I think you’ll see a team motivated on Saturday. If you can’t get up for this game, if you’re Florida, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is rivalry football, a team that you’ve beaten and disrespected multiple times. It’s your time to win. Go win. Put your name back out there. Look at the love you got after Utah. How fun was that? Do it again this week, the love will be right back.

    Nick: Absolutely. You brought up Patrick Toney, and I actually wanted to bring him up on this podcast today. I’ve seen a lot of people kind of bashing him, and I don’t understand it at all. I think through three games we’ve seen three pretty good defensive schemes. Like you said, Florida just doesn’t have the depth and the overall talent on the defensive side of the ball to execute his scheme yet.

    There are bright spots in this defense. Gators have created a turnover in every game this season, more than one. I think we had three turnovers against USF. We had the interception, obviously, against Utah. We picked off Kentucky as well. That’s something that this defense last year and this scheme that we had last year wasn’t. Gators weren’t creating any turnovers. I think we were close to dead last in the SEC in turnovers, created turnovers.

    This season we’re seeing more aggression, I think, from the defensive backs. I know a lot of people were saying, why are Gator defensive backs playing five, six, seven yards off the line of scrimmage? Look, there are certain situations where that is okay. The issue with the last staff and why it was a problem last year was because they were doing it on 3rd down and 3s. They were lining up 10 yards off the line on 3rd down and 3, and they were just giving up 1st downs. You’re not seeing that this year. Patrick Toney is having his receivers play off kind of strategically this year. People were saying it’s been a great failure. I disagree.

    Florida defensive backs, I know they haven’t quite been challenged much this year, but they have not played bad this season, I don’t think, by any means. I think it could be better. The DBs and safety play could be better. What I’m looking at when I look at the statistics this year, no quarterback has carved up Florida this year, in my opinion. You go look at the statistics. Every quarterback has thrown an interception, and every quarterback has not been on top of their game as far as completion percentage and accuracy goes.

    Like I said, I think the Gator DBs could be playing better, but let me just say this. That Jalen Kimber pick six that honestly was the game changer in our game against USF, he was nine yards off the receiver. Nine yards when he made that interception. What giving a little bit of cushion does for a defensive back is it allows you to keep your eyes on two people and not just the receiver. I agree that there are certain situations, like we mentioned in this game, I think in particular, against Tennessee, we’ll see a lot of press coverage and kind of bump and run type coverage, but against USF we saw a little bit more of cushion in between. That was completely by design, and it worked. To my eyes, it worked.

    What giving a six, seven, eight yard cushion does for a defensive back is it allows you to keep your eyes on the quarterback and follow his eyes, because that’s how you intercept the ball is knowing where the ball is and where it’s coming. Jalen Kimber did a great job on that. He made a great break on the ball, and he was able to get his hands on it and return it for six.

    Andrew: Here’s the thing. You’ve still got the same defensive backs playing, outside of Jalen Kimber. Helm and Marshall are still playing from last year. You are what you are.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: Florida has to protect those guys at times too. Like you said, there’s going to be times where you play press man. There’s times when you play off. It just is what it is. I’ll ask you this. Would you prefer Todd Grantham, or would you prefer Patrick Toney?

    Nick: Exactly. It’s a no brainer. Obviously, I don’t think anyone calls a perfect game defensively.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: Napier has admitted after the game, we’ve put the players in situations where they were never going to succeed, and that’s on us. Napier has said that, and that goes for Patrick Toney too. I think for the most part, when you’re looking at the Gators defense, a lot of it is just execution, and it’s the same for the offense. A lot of it is just poor execution, linebackers not filling their gaps, the defensive line not getting a pass rush.

    Let me tell you this. It is so hard to defend a wide receiver when there’s no pass rush, when that quarterback is sitting back there for 10 seconds. Andrew, I think you’ll agree with this. A perfect offense beats a perfect defense every time.

    Andrew: 100%.

    Nick: Right. So, defense is incredibly hard, especially when you’re not getting a pass rush. To me, I was watching the USF game over again, and the Gators just did not get to the quarterback. They did not create the pass rush. Luckily enough, Gerry Bohanon just he’s not good enough to beat us over top through the air. He did do some things on the run, on the ground, which was nice, but he just wasn’t good enough, and ultimately that’s what it came down to. But the Gators gave him a lot of time in the pocket, and if that happens this week, the Gators are going to be in trouble. They need to get that pass rush.

    Andrew: Let me ask you this. How many times this year have you seen the Gators look absolutely lost defensively and not know what the play call was?

    Nick: Not much.

    Andrew: Right. That’s where I’m at. Again, it’s not a play calling. I’m not blaming play calling on either side of the ball here. Again, you can only call a play and expect your guys to go out and make the play. Billy’s not going out there and running the offensive play. He calls it. It has to be executed by the players. I’ve said this multiple times. I thought he’s had some really good calls. There’s been a couple, and he needs to listen to this. The Xzavier Henderson screen, that needs to go in the garbage.

    Nick: Right. We’ve talked about, I think we’ve been fairly critical on some of the play calls that Napier has, but I think we both agree that for the most part his offensive scheme has been good enough to be 3-0. Ultimately, that’s what Napier cares about. He doesn’t care about how the team looks or winning by 60 points. His job is to win football games at this school. He’s 2-1, and he’ll admit that he needs to do a better job, I think. Ultimately, the play calling has been good enough.

    Let me ask you this, Andrew. I saw a lot of people talking about this as well. They were saying this looks like a high school level offense, it’s not sophisticated, this and that. Let me tell you this, with Richardson playing as poorly has he’s played the last two games, why in the world would you want a more sophisticated offense?

    Andrew: Here’s the thing too. I’ve seen some games where Tom Brady has ran the same play five and six and seven and eight times in a row, and just got up there and ran it in different ways. If you think an offense is sophisticated, most offenses are not very tough. If you look at an offense in general, most offenses are about 15 plays run out of about 10 different formations and motions and things like that. That’s just what an offense is.

    But you have to slim your offense down when you’re not getting production. You can’t run out there and run combo routes when your receivers can’t get open, or your quarterback can’t get there, throw the ball there. You can’t run those things like that. So, that criticism to me is unwarranted and stupid. I hate to say it like that and be like that, but it just is what it is.

    Nick: Right. To me, when I was reading a bunch of these comments, the last thing I’d want is Richardson to be more unsure of himself, right? Because he seems to me like he’s worrying about too much, and we need Richardson to play like he’s fearless. We need old Richardson to come in and walk through those doors Saturday. To me, the dumb down playbook, if you will, is kind of what the Gators need right now, at least with the passing attack.

    I don’t think the Gators have the offensive weapons to go out there and try all these trick plays and different play calls that you guys might want to see. Napier is calling a fine game. Like me and Andrew said, we think there’s things that need to be improved on, but the bottom line is his play calling is good enough to be 3-0.

    For the first three games, you guys got to remember, these guys are learning the playbook for the first time. Most of these players. I know there’s been some Louisiana transfers, but most of these offensive players are learning this playbook for the first time. You’re not going to see out of the gate all these crazy formations and things like that, because Napier’s priority right now is his players executing the installation plays that they had for fall camp. That’s Napier’s #1 goal is that his team fully comprehends and can execute the installation plays that they put in during fall camp. That’s his #1 goal.

    Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, you may see some wrinkles and different formations and different sets and things like that, but that’s going to come with time. You may see a wrinkle against Tennessee. Me and Andrew have talked about.

    Andrew: You will.

    Nick: Wanted to see RB screens, maybe get the tight ends a little bit more involved, things like that. You may see one or two different kind of wrinkles in the game, but I’m talking a full schematic change is not going to happen this year. He’s going to run the playbook he’s running now, and Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 you may see some different sets, different formations, things like that. Right now, Napier’s #1 goal is to have his team execute the basic plays that he’s been calling.

    Andrew: Here’s the thing too. A staple in Billy Napier’s offense is the throw to the tight end. You haven’t seen it a time. Do you know why you haven’t seen it? Because he doesn’t have a tight end right now that can get open. Is that his fault? No. I mean, it just is what it is. Dan Mullen didn’t recruit the position. Had the best tight end in college football history in Kyle Pitts, and you couldn’t recruit a guy to replace him for God knows why. It just is what it is.

    Right now, Billy Napier’s dealing with some freshman that he recruited last year, and that’s it. He has Dante Zanders. I like Dante, and I think Dante’s done a good job, but he’s a defensive end that’s been converted. It just is what it is. Yes, he played some tight end in high school, but he moved defensive end for a reason.

    We say this isn’t very good, yada, yada. It’s all about the players you have on the field. It’s all about what you have on the field that allows you to do what you do. Your personnel dictates year after year after year what you do. Your offense will not be the same next year as it is this year. It will not be the same the year after that then it is this year. Just like Dan Mullen’s offense wasn’t the same with Kyle Trask as it was with Emory Jones. It just simply is what it is. It’s not the same every year.

    Nick: Right. In the first ever podcast that me and you shot together, Andrew, we mentioned Dante Zanders, and we said we liked him, but we asked the question how good can he actually be? Right.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: As a player that’s changed positions three times, how good can he actually be? I think we were right. He’s not a bad player, but he’s just not the guy that’s going to go and change the game.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: Right now, Florida has no gamechangers at the tight end position. I answered this question in the mailbag. Napier would love to use his tight ends.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    Nick: This is something that he wishes he had. Look at it this way. Has there been another tight end play besides Zip? I don’t think so. Zip and Zanders?

    Andrew: No. I believe any time they’ve went to the three tight ends it’s been that they’ve brought in the extra offensive lineman.

    Nick: Yes. I thought that as well. They haven’t even brought in a third tight end, guys. That kind of shows you where Napier is at with this room and how comfortable he is with this room. Lot of work to be done with the younger guys still. That’s going to take some time. I don’t expect this year there to be much of a tight end threat, much at all.

    But I also said this, there hasn’t been much of a tight end threat, but there hasn’t been much of any threat with the receivers, with this receiving group. I think Ricky Pearsall has seven catches on the season. No wide receiver has been a threat. No pass catcher has been a threat this season. So, I don’t think it’s completely the tight end’s fault. I’m not going to sit here and say, oh my God, they’re so much worse than everyone else, because it’s not true. It just kind of goes to show the receiving group, the pass catchers as a whole, being a weak spot for the Gators, in my opinion.

    Andrew: Agreed. Let’s go pick some players, my friend. You went first last week, so I’m taking the rings this week. Anthony Richardson is going to be Anthony Richardson this week. He’s going to get going this week. You can mark it down. He’s going to get it going this week. Anthony Richardson’s going to have a big day on Saturday. When the lights get bright, stars get bright. He’s going to be good this week.

    Nick: I’m going to go with Montrell Johnson with my first pick, and here’s why. Obviously, we saw what he did last week, ripped the long run. I think ultimately, when you’re playing Tennessee, and when you are planning on running the football a lot, in my opinion you want your most physical running back out there, and the most physical running back is Montrell Johnson. He may not be as shifty as Trevor Etienne. He may not be as elusive, but he can run someone over, and that’s who I want running the football this game. He’s got high end speed too. I’m looking for him to find the endzone more than once this Saturday.

    Andrew: There you go. I like it. I like it a lot. I’m going to go with a guy at the same position, but I’m going to go a guy that seems to be forgotten, Mr. Nay’Quan Wright.

    Nick: There you go.

    Andrew: We want the running back screens, that kind of stuff. Nay’Quan’s going to have a big game. Again, when the lights get bright, the stars get brighter. Nay’Quan’s a star, in my opinion. He’s just overshadowed right now. Nay’Quan is going to have a big game on Saturday. Mark it down in your books.

    Nick: I’m going to go, and I may be stealing your pick here, Andrew, but I’m going to go Shemar James. Here’s why. When you look at Tennessee’s offense, and when you look at how much they can do offensively, both on the ground and through the air, I want Shemar James in there on every play. Another reason is Tennessee is not going to let the Gators substitute, so I want someone in that linebacker room that’s versatile, someone that can cover the pass, someone that can cover the run extremely well. We’ve heard it all camp and all season, Shemar James does not play like he’s a freshman. Everybody is saying it. He looks the part. I want to see him kind of out there.

    A lot of this will depend on if Ventrell goes or not, but I think even if he does go, I want to see him out there more often than not. I think I want to see him in over Scooby Williams, just because I think he’s more versatile than Scooby is, and I think he can do a little bit more at the position. I’m looking for him to play. I’m looking for him to have a good game. He’s going to have to bring his A game, his physicality, like we know he can. The linebackers are going to play a crucial part in this game.

    Andrew: I like it. I like it a lot. I’m going to go with another guy here, and that’s Trey Dean.

    Nick: Okay.

    Andrew: Trey Dean is going to find a way to make some plays this week. I like Dean. He gets a lot of criticism, and rightfully so in a lot of ways, but Trey Dean is going to have a big day. Go ahead and mark it down. Trey Dean. He’s going to get an interception this week.

    Nick: Cool. I’m going to go Desmond Watson.

    Andrew: Okay.

    Nick: This is an interesting one, because he’s getting his first start, which is awesome for him. I listened to his press conference last night, and he just looks excited. He looks ready to go. The staff has mentioned that this is the first time, these last few weeks is the first time that he’s kind of walked around with a smile on his face. To me, that’s an awesome experience. This is going to be an awesome experience for him.

    This is an interesting pick. I don’t know if this pick is more so that I think he’s going to dominate or more so he's just a player to watch in this game. I always put out my players to watch on Saturday, and I will do that this week, and he’ll be on it. When I look at Desmond Watson for this game, it’s no question to anyone that he’s right now 415 pounds. Tennessee is going to try to take advantage of that when he’s on the field. They’re going to make him stay on, but Desmond Watson is a guy that’s taken huge strides from Week 1 to Week 3. He logged 38 snaps last week, Andrew. 38 snaps. That’s very impressive for him. Super proud of him.

    He said yesterday, Patrick Toney has a great gameplan for me to be able to stay in the game, so I’m interested to see what it was. I think he could be a huge force in the run game this week and really kind of clamping that Tennessee run game and making them throw the ball and kind of knocking them off their rhythm a little bit. I’m picking Desmond Watson.

    Andrew: There you go. Let’s go to the big question. Give me your score pick this week.

    Nick: Oh lord. Everyone, turn off your audio here for a quick second. I don’t know if you want to hear this. I’m going to go- what did I pick in the roundtable? I want to make sure it’s the same. What did I pick?

    Andrew: I’ll tell you my pick.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: I said 34-17 in the roundtable, and I’ve already changed my mind.

    Nick: You said 35. I have it right here.

    Andrew: I’m going 34-24, or 35-24.

    Nick: Okay.

    Andrew: Tennessee. I think it’s closer than that, but that’s where I’m going to go.

    Nick: I found my pick from the roundtable. I didn’t want to waver from it. I wanted to keep it consistent. I’m going to 35-21, Tennessee. 14-point win for the Vols. I hate saying that, guys. I hate it so much, but I just think Tennessee’s offense is going to be a lot to handle for the Gators. I do think the Gators find some success early on with the offense and even making a few stops on the defense, defensive side, but I think ultimately, they just get outmatched in the second half.

    It’s not because of a lack of talent, more so just a lack of depth. Tennessee’s an experienced offensive group. They returned a lot of players, including their quarterback. It’s going to be an extremely tough challenge for the Gators. Yeah, the Gators can win this football game. There is no question about it. I was asked that question a few times. Zero questions. The talent is there. Gators could win this football game. I just don’t see it happening this week. I think the Gators have too much on their plate.

    Andrew: There you go. Guys, make sure to follow Nick and myself and Gentry and the rest of the Gator Country team at GatorCountry.com on the web and @GatorCounty on HootSuite and Twitter, as we’ll be talking about the game on Saturday in Knoxville. We’ll be back on Monday and hope to be talking about an upset win of the Gators over the Vols. Thank you everyone for listening, and we will see you guys on Monday.

    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.