GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview the Florida Gators’ home game against USF in the Swamp on Saturday night.
Andrew Spivey and Nick Marcinko breakdown what they want to see out of the offense following last week’s game and what Billy Napier can do to get Anthony Richardson going.
Andrew and Nick also pick three players to watch for the Gators on Saturday, plus we pick several games around the country and the SEC.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nick. Nick, it’s time. Gators and the Bulls facing off in the Swamp. Another Saturday night. Hopefully Florida can rebound and get back on the winning ways, as they host South Florida in the third straight night game. I love night games, but I’m not going to lie. I’m ready for a 3:30 kick against Tennessee next week.
Nick: Believe me, I am looking forward to the 3:30 kickoff as well. I am tired of staying up till 3:00 in the morning and writing, but I love it. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. USF coming into Gainesville. Another night kick. It should be close to another sellout here in Gainesville. We’ll see how many actually show up, but at least tickets are being sold. We’ll see a decent crowd there. Gators got to be ready to play. They need a bounce back game. Look for Richardson to get into a rhythm in this game. He’s got to bounce back.
Andrew: I think they said a couple thousand tickets is all that remains. Like you said, we’ll see. I think it’ll be close. I think it’ll be a good environment. Obviously, you’re not going to have Kentucky or Utah environment, by any means, just simply because of the opponent. An opponent that Billy Napier’s kind of familiar with. He knows Jeff Scott really well from when Jeff was getting recruited and Billy was at Furman. They were both at Clemson together. They’re very familiar with each other. Two coaches that are kind of on different paths. Napier has Florida, in my opinion, trending in the right direction, and then Jeff Scott has USF trending in a mediocre area, I guess is the best way to say it.
Nick: USF’s an interesting team to look at, because the Gators did play them last year, and the Gators played well. They gave up some points there at the end, but overall the Gators played pretty well last year against the Bulls. You look at this year’s team, and the team that we’re facing is a little bit different. It’s filled with transfers. 15 total is what Napier had. I have not actually doublechecked that, but 15 transfers on the team this year. That’s a significant difference than last year, right? Gators got to be prepared for a new team.
Like you said, the Bulls aren’t a team that should come into Gainesville and smack the Gators around. We’ll get into more of that detail later, but 15 transfers on the Bulls. It’ll be a different team. It’ll be a different look. A team that’s going to try to run the ball against the Gators. Gators need to be prepared for that.
Andrew: I think that’s kind of where football teams in general are going, especially at the level of USF, of UCF, the non-powerhouse SEC, Big Ten schools where you’re having tons of transfers every year. I think it is not only transferring in but transferring out. If you’re a star player at USF, you’re not sticking around at USF. You’re bouncing to the SEC. That’s just the nature of this business that we’re talking about.
I was talking this to someone. Nick, I know you’re a UCF grad, so you can kind of relate to this, and me with my South Alabama Jaguars. If you have a great player at smaller schools like that, you’re going to lose them probably. My Jaguars had Jalen Tolbert, who was drafted by the Cowboys and was one of the best receivers in the country last year. Had the transfer rule picked up like it has now, I don’t think he ends his career at South Alabama.
I think that hurts Jeff Scott a little bit, because it’s tough to build that senior older statemen rosters now. When USF was ranked #1 in the country years back, it was because they had a ton of seniors. I don’t know that you’re going to have that anymore with the transfer portal the way it is.
Nick: Right. It kind of works both ways. USF, if they got a superstar player that’s up and coming, they’re likely going to lose them. But it kind of works both ways, if there’s someone on Florida that’s not getting any playing time or not playing or not moving up the depth chart, school down south might be a team that he looks at.
Nick: It works both ways, but I do think it hurts them more than it helps them. Just simply because you’re losing out of the players that you recruited. These are the guys that you went through the process with. You went to their high school, recruited them. They took official visits, all that. Then just for them to go play their senior season somewhere else. That’s not good. That sucks. You do get the chance to go and get talented players that are trying to show their talent, instead of be buried on a depth chart at another school.
That’s a strategy we’ve seen even Power Five teams take that. How about Michigan State?
Nick: I don’t think they’ve recruited poorly, but their strategy has been to go and get. They got Khris Bogle from the Gators. It’s an interesting time that we’re in right now in college football, because so much can change year in and year out.
Andrew: Right. It’s free agency. That’s what it is.
Nick: Exactly. One roster could be looking poor, and then three weeks later you get three, four guys in there, and it looks a little bit different. So much can change so quickly now in college football and all these different rules with the transfers changing seemingly every few weeks, it seems like. It’s a different time in college football, but it’s exciting, and it keeps us on our toes.
Andrew: Think about Florida. O’Cyrus Torrence doesn’t transfer in. Ricky doesn’t transfer in. Montrell doesn’t transfer in. That’s three of your top five best players on offense. Top three.
Nick: I was going to say, you could argue that that’s the three best players at those positions you just named.
Andrew: Yeah. If you don’t have O’Cyrus at right guard, who are you playing at right guard? You’re probably playing Josh Braun, and he’s a guy who’s now the seventh or eighth guy in the rotation of the offensive line. We’re going down a path of that transfer. I just think it’s interesting when we talk about these games now. We saw it last week where App State goes to A&M and wins. Georgia Southern goes to Nebraska and wins. You had Marshall go to Notre Dame. I do think in a way it helps a little bit with some of these upsets, because you’re able to get some talented guys that are maybe not playing elsewhere are coming in and maybe just need an opportunity. Who knows?
You look at a guy like Carlos Del Rio for Florida who goes to Syracuse. He was never going to get an opportunity at Florida, so maybe he goes to Syracuse and has a good opportunity. I think that’s kind of a thing we have to look at. It helps a little bit with parity, but then again it hurts a little bit.
Nick: You remember Jordan Cronkrite, right?
Nick: He transferred to the Bulls and ended up having a really good career there. He had a cup of coffee in the NFL. He signed. Did he sign with a practice squad?
Andrew: Yeah. I think he was on practice squad for a year or so.
Nick: He’s a prime example of a guy that just wasn’t quite getting the playing time he wanted, and, quite frankly, he probably deserved more playing time. He went to the Bulls and was awesome. Didn’t he have multiple 200-yard games in a row or something like that?
Andrew: It was something crazy.
Nick: He was doing something nutty down there.
Nick: But good for him, and it ended up working out really well for him. It can work, and this is why the Gators can’t overlook USF this weekend.
Nick: We all saw last week with college football what can happen if teams are overlooking other teams. Napier was asked in a press conference this week by a reporter. It was phrased these teams, and Napier was not too happy about that. He actually didn’t even answer the question. He literally told the reporter that I’m not going to answer that question. He’s trying to get his mindset right. He’s trying to get the players’ mindset right. Especially after last week and after the loss to Kentucky. They were high off a win in Week 1, and they lost. Now they definitely cannot overlook a USF team that, if we play poorly and our offense is not moving the ball, it could be an upset. Napier’s really trying to push this message in the locker room of we need to get back on the right track. We need to focus week by week. The team’s trying to go 1-0 every week, and they have to start this weekend.
Andrew: They’ll be without Ventrell Miller, Michael Tarquin this week. Billy Napier doesn’t get very much into injuries. You and I have confirmed from multiple people that there is a worry that this will be a multiple week injury for both guys. It’ll be interesting. I know Scooby is listed as the guy who’s going to start for Ventrell. I personally think when we look back at the snap count at the end of the game that it’ll be Shemar and Amari Burney with the two most snaps accounted for in the game at linebacker. I could be completely wrong in that.
Let’s just say Ventrell doesn’t play against Tennessee. Do you want Shemar and Amari out there, or do you want Amari and Scooby out there? I’m going with the freshman, even though he’s a freshman.
Nick: Right. I was a little bit surprised to see Scooby Williams out there instead of Shemar, but like you said, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve seen Nay’Quan Wright lead the running back depth chart two weeks in a row, three weeks in a row now, and Montrell Johnson leads the team in carries. That shows you that really the staff and Billy Napier aren’t looking too much into these depth chart guys. They’re just putting it out so that the media has something to go with. We have something to talk about.
I think it’s a general outline. It’s a general focus of what we can expect. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter we’ve seen. Kamryn Waites is listed as the backup left tackle. He’s not playing in the game.
Andrew: He didn’t. When Richard went out Game 1, right? The Utah game, or was it the Kentucky game?
Nick: Kamryn Waites played in the Utah game?
Andrew: No. Gouraige. When Richard went out at left tackle for a snap or two in the Utah game, Austin Barber came in.
Nick: Right. Yes.
Andrew: Barber is your second tackle.
Nick: Now that Barber is starting, like we’ve mentioned, Kamryn Waites is listed as the backup left tackle, and Braun is the right, but Braun is going to be the first off the bench at either position. They’re going to shuffle around this line before we see the Waites and the Jake Slaughter play.
Andrew: Right. That’s the thing for me, Nick, is the question. I don’t want to say the offense changed when Tarquin went out, because it did, but it didn’t. The offense wasn’t exactly exploding against Kentucky with Michael in the game, but the offense definitely declined, especially the running game declined, when he went out. Billy Napier kind of talked about that a little bit throughout the week. While Anthony, and rightfully so, got a lot of blame for his bad play overall, the offensive line was allowing a lot more pressure in the game. The receivers weren’t running the right route.
I think that’s a big thing is getting Barber adjusted to this and getting him ready. Obviously, what he’s going to face against USF is not what he’s going to face against Tennessee. Obviously, Tennessee crowd’s going to be rocking as well. If Michael’s not able to come back for the Tennessee game, you need Austin Barber ready. Now, I think Austin Barber’s a physical nasty offensive lineman, but can he physically do it? I think that’s a big key.
That kind of leads me where I want to go, and that is get back to running the ball this week. Forget trying to get Anthony in a rhythm and everything else. Do what you do. Run that football. Florida’s 31st in the country with 209 yards a game rushing. Continue to do that. That’s what this team is. This team is going to be a run first team. Do it. Pound the ball. Just let Montrell, let Nay’Quan, let Trevor, let them eat this week. I know that you look at this game, and you say, maybe this is a game to get AR’s confidence. Screw that. Run the rock. Get the confidence of the offense up in general.
Nick: That’s where the offense starts. Richardson can’t just get his confidence back without the offense scoring points. How do the Gators score points? They run the football. I think no doubt you’re going to see the Gators start off the game running the football. I think in the first half you won’t really see Richardson try to do too much in the air. I think they’re going to try to slowly get his confidence back. In the second half, early third quarter, I think you might see Richardson try to air it out and make some plays, just to kind of tune up before Tennessee. We’re not beating Tennessee if Richardson is not throwing the football. Sorry, guys.
Andrew: Let me interrupt you here for a second.
Nick: Go for it.
Andrew: Were you surprised to see the opening drive of the game, I want to say five of the first six or seven plays against Kentucky were throwing, were you surprised by that?
Nick: I was. I was. I watched the breakdown of the game, and Kentucky had a really aggressive gameplan. They threw a bunch of different formations at Richardson. They blitzed from the corner. The made him roll out of the pocket. Yes. I was surprised. They asked Richardson about that after the game, and he said basically he was just trying to do what they were giving him. Kentucky was trying to block the run, and he had open. He had guys one on one, just the receivers weren’t making plays. There was a few drops in the game. Richardson wasn’t accurate with the football when they were open. It was just a poorly executed game for the Gators all the way around.
To answer your question, I was surprised. I thought they would have tried to set the momentum right off the rip and push the rock. I think you’ll see that ultimately this week. Like I said, I think in the first half of this game it’s going to be primarily running the football. They’re really just going to try to gain the offense’s confidence back as a whole. Guys, Richardson, his confidence was shot, but so was the entire offense.
Nick: Like you said, when Barber came in the game, there were some things that happened that weren’t really happening when the starting unit was in there. I thought Barber played a pretty good game. I said that a couple days ago. He just needs to clean up some things offensively. When we get into our players to watch later in the podcast here, Austin Barber is one of mine, Andrew. That’s why. If Michael Tarquin is to miss against Tennessee, Barber’s going to have to be a dominant force, if the Gators have a chance to go to Knoxville and upset Tennessee.
Andrew: Yeah. Napier was asked a little bit about this, getting the deep ball, the explosive plays. The explosive play, every coach defines it different. Some say 15 and above. Some say 20 and above. I’m a guy who I think it’s 20 and above. Explosive play is 20 and above for me. Again, that’s a preference per coach and everything else. Billy was asked that. He said, why is there not any explosive plays in the passing game? He broke that down. He said, I think it’s a little bit of Anthony. I think it’s a little bit of the offensive line, and I think it’s a little bit of the receiver.
I think he’s exactly right there. The offensive line definitely allowed more pressure in the game against Kentucky. A lot of was Kentucky was daring them to throw the ball. Also, the receivers are getting no separation. No separation. When they are getting separation, Richardson isn’t hitting them. Part of me in this USF game wants to see some play action shots off the running game, but, again, it all goes back to when you’re running the ball successfully, everything opens up. Everything.
Andrew: The screens to Henderson. We hate them, but if you’re running the ball better, guess what? They’re going to be there.
Andrew: Go ahead.
Nick: I was just going to say, to add onto what you’re saying. Florida was running the ball excellent in Week 1 against Utah, and guess what was working? The play action.
Nick: They go hand in hand. If you’re running the football well, you’re going to be able to throw the ball. You’re going to be able to do a couple different things offensively than you were if it wasn’t working at all. I think that’s important to know going forward. Andrew started off the podcast by saying, run the football. This is the bread and butter. Me and Andrew have said it all off season. The offensive line and the running backs are the heart and soul of this team. If the Gators are going to be successful this season, by however you define successful, it’s through the running game.
Richardson’s a big part of the running game too, guys. We don’t just mean hand off the ball and watch the O line work. RPOs, designed quarterback runs, these are all things that need to be in the wrinkle for the Gators offensive unit this year.
Andrew: Him running the ball goes hand in hand of getting him in some rhythm and getting his confidence there.
Andrew: I don’t know why he didn’t run more in the Kentucky game. I don’t buy the whole Kentucky wasn’t giving it to him, because they were. At times, if he’d have kept it, he had plenty of yards. I don’t buy that. I’m going to chalk up the Kentucky game as just a bad night for Anthony. Obviously, another bad night and we’re going to say, there’s some serious issues there.
Offensively, run the damn ball. I hate to just be that way, but run the ball. Get everything going. USF is terrible against the run. They’re terrible against stopping the run. They’re allowing 240 yards a game on the ground. That’s 126th in the country.
Nick: Yeah. When I went back and watched the Kentucky-Florida game, immediately before I had watched I was extremely critical of Richardson. I still am. Obviously, he did not play a very good game at all. But when I went back and watched, it almost seemed like when Richardson would make the right play, the receivers would not be getting separation and/or drop the football, and then when the receivers were open, Richardson either glazed over them or completely missed the throw. It almost seemed like a game where nothing went right. On a play you need all three units. You need the offensive line, the quarterback, and the wide receivers to all do their jobs on the play. You need all 11 players on the field in order to execute a play sometimes. It just seemed like there was always one unit that wasn’t executing on a given particular play.
One play that comes to mind is there was a 3rd and 5, and protection was good. Richardson threw a strike to Henderson, and it just went right through Henderson’s hands. It hit him right in the facemask. You can’t throw off a better pass. You got to catch that football. Some of you said Richardson needs to develop a changeup, which is true. He does, but on that particular play, on a 3rd and 5, there was three defenders around Henderson. He had not choice but to rifle that ball in there.
Andrew, you actually told me that. I think I texted you during the game, and I was like, Richardson needs to slow it down. You said, on that play I’m fine with it, because if he had lobbed it in there it could get picked off. It’s getting batted down. Richardson’s getting crunched or Henderson’s getting crunched. On that particular 3rd down, Richardson had to throw it, had to throw a bullet in there, but Henderson couldn’t catch it. It just seems like in that game, and we can move onto USF, but it just seemed in that game that nothing went right. When two units were doing their job, the other one wasn’t. In football, every unit on the field has to do their job.
Andrew: Right. Like you said, it was just a game that you hope you can chalk up and say, just wasn’t our day.
Andrew: Again, USF is really bad against stopping the run, so run the rock. That’s what I say. Run the rock. Get it going. Defensively, USF, they’re averaging 30, 31.5 points a game. That’s okay. 75th in the country. Florida’s only averaging 22.5. You look at this USF team, and they like to run the ball as well. They have 163 yards per game on the ground, led by Brian Battie overall. This week defensively I think is a lot about getting some bodies some playing time. Scooby, he’s got to get more playing time. While I do think Burney and Shemar are going to be your two main guys at linebacker going forward while Ventrell’s out, Scooby’s got to play. You’ve got to have three to four guys playing. Diwun Black’s go to go, or Derek Wingo. One of those guys got to go.
Defensive line wise, need Chris McClellan to get some more snaps. In my opinion, like it or not, McClellan’s probably your second-best defensive tackle after Gervon. I’m not sold on Jalen Lee. Right now Des Watson can’t stay low and play enough snaps. For me, that’s what it is is just continuing to get more guys in there. Obviously, you need to get a pass rush against USF, and you hope that Justus Boone and Princely and Tyreak Sapp and Brenton Cox, those guys, continue to improve.
We’ve seen a big improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 on the defensive line, and Billy said that as well. Let’s see it again. Continue to do that. This is a game where you hope to iron out some kinks, and you hope in the second half you’re playing a lot of young guys as well.
One guy I am interested to see too is see if Jaydon Hill plays. He’s listed as questionable. You and I have both been told it’s unlikely he plays this week, but then there is some thought that if we can get him 5-10 snaps in this game, and get his feet back wet, that’d be good for Tennessee. That’s one to watch as well.
Nick: I agree. I think it would be extremely tough to throw Jaydon Hill kind of into the fire against a tough Tennessee team that’s going to throw the football all over the field. They’re an air raid. I think that would be a tough task for Jaydon Hill. Not saying he can’t do it, but I would like to see him get at least a few reps. It doesn’t even have to be in a significant time in the game, but get him in there and just get a feel for how he’s feeling. At the end of the day, his health comes first. They’re not going to rush him out there if they feel like he’s not ready. No problem there.
Andrew, I want to talk to you about something, and I want to see if you agree with me. I almost like these kind of games, and I just said that Napier hates saying that, but I almost like these games where Florida’s heavily favored, and we get to see a lot of these younger guys in the game, simply because I’m an avid football fan. I followed Gator’s recruiting for a long time. Seeing some of these guys that I watched in high school, and seeing them get a chance to play possibly for the first time, that’s super exciting to me. I love these games.
For example, if the Gators are up by 30 or whatever the case may be, seeing some of these younger guys that maybe we haven’t seen before. Seeing Corey Collier go out there and play. Seeing some of the younger guys that we either haven’t seen yet or haven’t seen much of, that’s super exciting to me. I love watching the younger guys get their change to play.
This isn’t Sam Houston College or Howard. This is USF. Gators are favored by 24.5, but this is not some team that doesn’t have athletes. They can play ball. It’s good competition. It’s good reps for these younger guys. To me, that’s almost as exciting as watching the Gators play against another SEC team, simply because I love football. I love the entire roster up and down, and I love watching these younger guys get their chance to shine.
Andrew: I agree. I think it’s good. I think it’s critical to the success of programs in general. When you see these games, and you look back, every year you look back at these games, whether it’s Florida or Alabama or whoever it may be, and you see, man, I saw so-and-so have a really good game against USF, or Sam Houston State or Eastern Washington whatever. Then you see him continue to get more and more playing time as the season goes. Then you look back at the end of the year, and you say, he had a great year. He had a really good year.
I happens every year. I go back to Nay’Quan, when he was a freshman. It happened early on for him. The light bulb was there, and you see it. I’m with you. I love opportunities to play the young guys. I think it’s key too for Florida, especially in this game, because of what they had. They just had two slobber knocker tough physical football games, and guess what? It doesn’t get any easier. Next week’s just as bad. Actually worse, because you’re on the road. You need to be able to count on some young guys and let some of the vets get fresh.
You would love to let Gervon get some rest late in the game. You would love O’Cyrus Torrence to get some rest late in the game. Those guys get rest and see what the young guys can do. I think it’s critical to come out and start early and put the game away. Not only from a standpoint of you don’t want to give USF any confidence that they can stay in this game, but also because you would love for at halftime you say, Gervon, take the pads off. You’re done.
Nick: Right. Not only does it create depth for this year, but it’s creating depth for next year.
Nick: To me, that’s what’s most important. This is Napier’s first year. This isn’t his entire roster. In fact, there’s not many players on this roster that are “his”. I said this in my offensive line article that I released yesterday. I want to see some of the younger guys on the offensive line. We mentioned Kam Waites, Jake Slaughter. I want to see Josh Braun in there. Every single starter on the offensive line for Florida, now minus Austin Barber, but every single starter for the Kentucky and Utah games is in their fourth year or later. It’s a very experienced and a very veteran group, but that also means that the Gators may lose a few of those pieces this off season.
When you look at the offensive line going into next year, you want Richie Leonard. You want Josh Braun. You want these guys to go in. You want Austin Barber. You want these guys to go and get playing time, because these are the guys that the Gators are going to be leaning on next year. If they can play a critical role off the bench this season, that’s going to be good news heading into next season for the Gators offensive line.
Andrew: Next year’s the year that you need to see more improvement. Obviously, you’re not giving up on this year, by any means at all, but next year is the year that the pressure’s going to be a little bit more mounted on Billy to succeed and do things. It’ll be interesting. Again, USF comes to town for a night game in the Swamp. It’s a big game. As Billy Napier says, it’s another opportunity. Whether or not it’s an SEC opponent or not, it's an opportunity to get right. It’s an opportunity to get better before Tennessee comes to town.
Let’s pick some players here. We forgot to do it last week. Since you haven’t got to pick one, I’ll let you go first. Who’s your top guy that you think is going to have a big game against USF?
Nick: I’m going to go with my first pick. I’ll go Scooby Williams. He’s getting his first start in a Gator uniform. I thought he played extremely well last week in limited snaps. Guys, Scooby Williams has some serious speed to him. That guy can absolutely fly. I know the Gators in fall camp were trying to figure out what position they wanted to play him in. He’s a linebacker, but he has some serious speed, but he’s a little small to be coming off the edge quite yet. Andrew, do you think they’ll eventually move Scooby to an edge rusher kind of position, or do you think that he’s going to stay at the linebacker spot?
Andrew: They would love for him to take Brenton Cox’s role.
Andrew: But it’s all about getting bigger and keeping that speed. Obviously, that’s what Scooby has. I think a lot depends on this off season in the weight room for him. I don’t think it’s out of the possibility that he stays there. A little bit of it is I think it could be a good thing too, because of his speed he can help a little bit in the passing game. I don’t know that it’s a bad thing if he stays that that Mike spot.
Nick: Speed is not bad anywhere on the field. You want all your players to be fast.
Andrew: It plays.
Nick: Yeah. It’ll help one way or another. The way I’m thinking is how do we get the most out of Scooby Williams? Could that be at the edge spot? I think it’s possible. I think he does look too small right now, obviously, to play the Brenton Cox role. A year or two down the road, if he puts on weight. But like you said, he’s got to put on weight and maintain his speed. That’s the key there. He’s going to be an exciting player to watch moving forward for the Gators. He’s getting his first start. He’s going to get the most playing time probably he’s had. He’s a guy that I’m watching this week. I want to see him make a big play. What’s your first pick, Andrew?
Andrew: Scooby’s your first. I’m going to go with Montrell. We talked about running the ball. I think Billy’s going to listen to this podcast, and I think he’s going to run the rock with Montrell in the game. Montrell’s going to be my second pick. He’s going to have a big day. I think he goes over 100.
Nick: Okay. I’m going to stay in the running back room and go with Trevor Etienne. Here’s why. I think there’s room. You just said you think Montrell’s going for over 100. I think it’s a possibility that they both go for over 100. This is a USF team that has really struggled to stop the run through two games. Napier, he’s not just going to give one running back the ball the entire time. He’s going to be running back committee. Gator fans are going to have to deal with that. I know we’ve had some complaints about that in the past.
Here’s the deal with the running back committee. If it’s done right, it’s not a problem. The issue with a running back committee is when one running back is clearly better, clear cut Running Back 1, and getting six carries a game.
Andrew: Dameon Pierce says hello.
Nick: I was about to say. You guys know which coach and which player I’m talking about. I don’t even want to name the names. When one running back is clearly better than the other, they need to get more playing time. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen Napier make those adjustments. Like I mentioned earlier in the podcast, Nay’Quan Wright is listed as the Running Back 1, but Montrell Johnson is leading the team in carries. That’s because he's looked the part. He’s been the better running back. I think as the season goes on, if that keeps getting larger, the difference, the gap between Johnson, Etienne, and Wright, then I think you’ll continue to see Etienne and Johnson carry the football.
Let me say one thing on Nay’Quan Wright. Guys, it’s been two football games. Nay’Quan Wright is a really good running back. I do agree that he has kind of lacked the physical tools that Johnson and Etienne possessed, at least this year, through two games. But it’s been two games. Nay’Quan Wright is going to get his carries, and he’s going to produce for the Gators. I just wanted to point that out. It’s an extremely small sample size, but there’s no question that Johnson and Etienne have looked the part this year.
I’m going Trevor Etienne. I also think he’s going to go for 100 yards. I think he ends up ripping a long run. I think it’s possible both Johnson and Etienne go for 100 yards this game.
Andrew: I’m going to throw a wildcard out at you.
Andrew: Are you ready for it?
Nick: I’m ready.
Andrew: Daejon Reynolds is going to be my second one. You need another receiver to step up and be that speed guy. We saw it in Week 1 where he got a couple of the speed sweeps. I think you see a bigger role for Mr. Reynolds this week. You’re looking a team that, I don’t want to say lacks speed, because I don’t think they lack speed. They’re looking for speed to play. Obviously, there’s a lot of guys that are fast, but being fast and being football fast are two different things. I’m going Daejon. I think Daejon makes a couple plays and maybe gets his first score of his career.
Nick: Are we picking a third?
Andrew: We’re picking a third. You got one more.
Nick: I’m going to go with Princely. I’m not going to pronounce his last name. I’m going Princely off the edge. I love Princely. I’ve kind of followed him ever since he got to Gainesville. He’s been one of my favorite players, but that’s beside the point. I had a buddy, FSU fan actually, watching the Floirda-Kentucky game yesterday. He sends me a text and goes, #33 is really good. I obviously knew who it was, and I was like, I know. I’m just kind of waiting for his breakout game. I don’t know about you, Andrew, but I thought he’s played a really good first two games. I don’t think he’s quite filled up the stat sheet yet, but I think he gets to the quarterback this Saturday multiple times. That’s my hot prediction.
Andrew: There you go. My third one is going to be Mr. 251, Shemar James. Guy who has played pretty good. I don’t think he’s played bad ball at all the first two weeks. I think he sees a bigger role on Saturday, and it’s breakout time for my 251 guy. He’s going to put on and showcase what he’s got. He’s battling, because he wants that starting job next week in Knoxville. Be a freshman getting his first start on the road in the SEC. Nothing wrong with that. That’s my pick. I think when you look at that linebacker spot, he has the chance to be your most talented linebacker on the team. Billy Napier’s not afraid to play the young guys.
Nick: We just both picked linebackers from Alabama. How does that make you feel, Andrew?
Andrew: It makes me feel amazing. Are you kidding me? We play ball in Alabama. People just don’t understand. We play some ball out there. It’s competitive ball, my friend.
Nick: What are your thoughts on the spread? Last time I checked it was 24.5 Florida.
Andrew: First of all, I hate picking against the spread. I just do. I suck at it. When my man, Nick de la Torre, was here, he used to pick on me saying he was glad I was not betting his money because of that. I am going to say Florida covers in the game. I think you have a team who is pissed off after last week. I think you have a team that rallies, and I think you have a coaching staff, Billy Napier’s not stupid. He sees. He hears the fanbase. He knows he wants to put up 50 and give the fanbase something to talk about. I think Florida covers. I’m going to say 42-10.
Nick: Okay. It’s funny you mentioned Nick de la Torre. After the game last week, he was upset because he’s 0-2 picking the Gators. Maybe you can give him a call and let him know.
Andrew: He is like me. He doesn’t like to lose. Let’s say it like that.
Nick: Yeah. After the game, he was saying that he can’t predict anything. He’s 0-2. I’m 1-1 picking the Gators against the spread this year. Obviously, I did not get it right last week against Kentucky. This week I’m actually going to say that the Gators win, but we do not cover the spread. I’m going to go 34-13. 21-point victory. I think it’s a last second touchdown by USF that kills the spread there for the Gators. Ultimately, I think the Gators play well. I think the defense has a really good game again. I think they’re going to ride the momentum here against USF and really try to focus in on stopping the run and making Gerry Bohanon throw the football.
We saw the Gators defense do a really good job last week against Kentucky. I know Andrew is not so high on his boy Will Levis. I’m not either. I don’t think he played a very good game at all. I thought he missed a couple open receivers. He did connect on a long touchdown there to Dane Key, which he said after the game was the first time that play’s ever worked. I think it’s a similar gameplan for the Gators defense. Stop the run and make the quarterback make some throws that maybe he’s not too comfortable making.
I think the Gators defense plays well, but I think the offense looks good. I think it’s a lot of running the football, like we said. Just chew a lot of clock. I think 34-13 is my prediction for the Gators. The Gators roll on Saturday.
Andrew: Let’s make a couple picks here then. Couple of top 25 matchups. Let’s see here. Let’s go with the first one. We’ll go out to Oregon for the first one. BYU travels out to Oregon. How is Oregon ranked 25 in the country, is my opinion. Whatever. BYU or Oregon?
Nick: I’m going to go BYU. BYU’s on the road there at Oregon, but I’ve watched BYU play twice this season. They played in a really exciting game last week. They’re a pretty good football team. Oregon just has not looked good, like you said. I don’t know how they’re ranked. Oregon’s favored by 3.5, if what I’m looking at is correct. I’m going to take BYU +3.5 there, and I’m also going to take BYU to win that football game.
Andrew: I agree. I think so too. I don’t know how Oregon is 25, and I sure as heck don’t know how Oregon is the favorite in this game. A big one out in Aggie land. Mario Cristobal heads out to face A&M. A&M fans, boosters, are not very happy with Jimbo and his offense. It’ll be interesting to see if Haynes King starts in the game, or if they go with LSU transfer Max Johnson at quarterback. For me, Nick, this is the Utah game for Mario Cristobal. For Billy Napier it was Utah. This one is Mario Cristobal’s. He needs a big win on national TV to kind of really get the nation on notice. A&M is a 6.5-point favorite. Little surprising. What do you got?
Nick: I don’t know. That seems a little steep to me. I would have thought there was closer to a tossup game. I mean, neither of these teams have looked particularly good, in my opinion, through two weeks.
Nick: We saw Texas A&M lose. We’ve seen Miami struggle to put away a couple of bad teams. Wow. I don’t really like either of these teams at all. I’m going to go Miami +6. I don’t know if they win, but I’m going to take them covering six points. I don’t understand Texas A&M being favored 6, 6.5, whatever it is. I get they’re at home. It’s tough to play in College Station. Like you said, this game is going to mean a lot to Miami. They’re really going to be trying to win this football game. I mean, Texas A&M is going to come back angry, but I’m going to go Miami covers six. I think they cover six points.
Andrew: Okay. I think A&M wins the game, but I’m with you in that I think Miami covers.
Nick: 6.5 is just too steep for that game.
Andrew: Both teams are not very good.
Andrew: I will be interested to see how Miami plays in Aggie land. They’re used to playing in front of 5,000 fans and 50,000 empty seats. How are they going to face 100,000 screaming people?
Andrew: That will be interesting. Another big one for me, Penn State travels down to Auburn to take on Auburn in this game. I don’t know. Penn State’s a 3-point favorite, and I get that, but Penn State hasn’t looked great this year.
Nick: Yeah. I agree.
Andrew: But Auburn’s terrible.
Nick: I was going to say. I would also say that Auburn has not looked good. TJ Finley won the starting job there. He has three interceptions on the year and one touchdown. Clifford for Penn State is taking care of the football a lot better, with just one interception, almost 500 yards passing. I’m going to go Penn State. I don’t think Penn State is that good. I just think Auburn is worse. I’m going to go Penn State in the points.
Andrew: I want to see them play Robby Ashford from Hoover, the local kid at Auburn. I want to see him playing and getting going. I think Penn State wins, but I could easily see Auburn winning this game. Both teams are just not that good.
Andrew: I don’t see it. I don’t see Auburn with Finley being good, and I sure as heck don’t see Penn State being good. One pick, and it’s going to be an upset this week. My South Alabama Jaguars are going out to the LA Coliseum, and they’re going to upset UCLA this weekend. Mark it down.
Nick: Hot take.
Andrew: UCLA is a 15.5-point favorite for some reason. Some reason is beyond me. UCLA has not looked good on the year. Jags are going out to the Coliseum and bringing home a W.
Nick: I wanted to point this out. I meant to do it earlier in the week. Did you see what Utah did in Week 2?
Andrew: No. I didn’t.
Nick: They played some terrible team, but they put up 77 points or something ridiculous like that.
Andrew: Talking about what it was on the field. Did you see what happened off the field?
Nick: Oh no.
Andrew: Three chicks came to the game with their body painted.
Nick: I did see that. Yup.
Andrew: Tickets to Utah next year.
Nick: I saw that on the message boards. That’s funny. Utah could have put 100 points in that game if they wanted to. They had 70 points at the end of the third quarter.
Andrew: Man. Nick, we will be back on Monday. We’ll start talking about my favorite week of the year, hate Tennessee week. Do not wear that gaudy orange? That is a rule, especially in Alabama. You do not wear that ugly orange. We do not like Tennessee. We do not like Heupel. It’s hate week next week. Get rid of USF this week and get to 2-1 on the year. Get everybody healthy, and then let’s get ready for hate week next week.
Nick: Absolutely. If you guys either me or Gentry out at the Gator Walk this week, please come say hi. We love talking to you guys. Get ready for the game this week, and then Gators go on the road to Knoxville next week.
Andrew: Absolutely. Check us out on Gator Country, on the web and on social media. Check out Nick on social media and myself on social media as well. We will see everyone on Monday.
Nick: Yes, sir.