Podcast: Recapping the Florida Gators 26-16 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats

    Florida Gators defense celebrates Gervon Dexter's interception.-1280x853
    Florida Gators defense celebrates Gervon Dexter's interception.- GatorCountry photo taken by David Bowie

    Gatorcountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators 26-16 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night.

    Andrew Spivey and Nick Marcinko break down what went wrong for the Gators on Saturday night as the offense just couldn’t get anything going.

    Andrew and Nick also look ahead to the USF game on Saturday night and what the Gators need to do in order to get back on track.


    Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nick. Man, it wasn’t what we wanted. It was a tough game to watch overall. Florida fell 26-16 on Saturday night in a game that just wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t. It wasn’t pretty by either side. I don’t know that Kentucky can walk away from the game pumping their chest. Outside of winning, it was ugly.

    Nick: That’s right. It was ugly for both teams. It was a good crowd Saturday night. Close to 90,000. I think we had 89,000 and some change. Student section was there. They showed up. They showed up early. Overall, a good crowd, but just a disappointing game on the Gator’s end. Like you said, for both sides really. I don’t think either team played to their standard. Kentucky was able to find a way to win, because the Gators just could not get anything going offensively. We’ll dive into that in a little bit. It’s about finding ways to win, and the Gators just could not do that on Saturday night.

    Andrew: It was a game that Kentucky tried to give the game away. You look at it, at one point in the game Florida had 16-7 lead in the game, and you thought Florida’s going to cruise here. Kentucky had just had a snap over the punter’s head. He kicked out of bounds for a safety. Everything looked to be going the right direction for Florida. They were playing really good defense in the game. I think for the most part they played good defense. Much improved defense from 1 to now. In the first half Florida limited Kentucky to 118 total yards. That’s all they had. Negative 37 yards rushing in the first half, Kentucky did. A lot of that was due to sacks and the defensive line getting there.

    You go back, and you look at the game. After that safety where Florida went up 16, Kentucky just said, listen, we’re going to shut down the running game. You’re going to beat us through the air. Unfortunately, Anthony Richardson didn’t have an answer for the Wildcat’s defense.

    Nick: Right. You mentioned when Florida jumped out to that early lead, after the safety. Kentucky marched on the field, and they scored, and then they botched the extra point. Florida, for some reason, even with the lead and all these screwups from Kentucky, they couldn’t get in a groove offensively. I thought they let them go down and score, but they botched the extra point. Let’s go score right here before half. Like we’re saying, Richardson just could not get into a groove.

    I will say, I thought the defense played an excellent game. They got pushed around there in the fourth quarter, I would say, a little bit, but that was due to zero favors from the offense. The offense couldn’t get a 1st down. We were getting smoked in time of possession the entire game. I thought, when you look at the game as a whole, Gators gave up 26 points. We threw a pick six, another interception down to the six-yard line, and then also went for it on a 4th and 6 from our own 24-yard line, which we did not get, giving them another three points.

    When you look at it that way, the Gators defense played pretty tough all night long. I know in the fourth quarter they got a little tired there, started getting pushed around on the line of scrimmage. I thought, if you’re going to take away something from this game, it’s that at the very least we saw the Gators defense play with at least a little bit of confidence in Week 2, which I didn’t think we saw a lot of confidence out of our defense in Week 1. Saw some more confidence. Like I said, they bullied that Kentucky offensive line all night long.

    Andrew: It’s tough to get on the defense in a game like this too much, because the offense wasn’t doing anything to help them out, like you said. The 26 points, again, Florida gives a pick six up there. They had their moments where they just didn’t get any help. I know people were questioning Billy Napier in the fourth quarter for going for two 4th down conversions. I think he noticed at that point in time that my defense is exhausted. They’re getting tired. You could tell they were.

    Again, that is not any, way, shape, or form talking bad about the defense. It’s simple. Kentucky was dominating the time of possession and everything else in the second half. They had 17.5 minutes of time in possession in that second half to Florida’s 12 minutes. I was okay with Billy Napier going for it on 4th down there. I know it didn’t work out, and we’re going to get into that in a minute. I don’t think it was a bad play call. I don’t think either one of them was a bad play call.

    Some good things from the defense was Gervon Dexter. I don’t know if he listened to the podcast or not, but the man was flying all over the field on Saturday night. Looked like a completely different guy overall. Had seven tackles, including a half a sack, and also had the interception on Brenton Cox’s quarterback hurry there. He looked really good.

    I thought Princely and Tyreak Sapp looked really good. Justus Boone, Will Levis is still having nightmares about him right now. It wasn’t targeting. Let’s forget that.

    Nick: I think Gervon Dexter definitely heard you on the podcast last week, Andrew. I think the entire defensive line heard you. I do think that that plays a part, honestly, in all of this. They heard. These guys look at social media. They say they don’t, but they all look at social media. They see what everyone’s saying about them, and they were hungry. They wanted to get after Kentucky. Like I said, I thought they played a really good game. Lot of pressure on the quarterback.

    I said this before the game, Kentucky’s offensive line is not good. They’re not good anywhere. Not in the run game, not in the pass block. They’re just not a very cohesive unit this year. Credit to the Gators, they took advantage of that, and the Gators defense put the Gators in a position to win, and the offense just couldn’t get it done.

    Andrew: People say Will Levis is one of the best in the country. Get out of here.

    Nick: Not true.

    Andrew: You’re crazy if you tell me Will Levis is one of the best in the country. 13 and 24 for 202 yards. Touchdown, interception. His numbers were worse than that even shows. He’s not good.

    Nick: That’s true. You said he had 202 yards. I think 50 of it was on that long Dane Key touchdown.

    Andrew: Yes.

    Nick: In which he said after the game that they ran that a bunch of times in practice, and it never once worked.

    Andrew: Right. That was a play that Jalen Kimber should have made.

    Nick: He should. It wasn’t terrible coverage. He was right there with him the whole step of the way. He just didn’t know where the ball was, and he didn’t have the inside, and the receiver beat him.

    Andrew: Right. That can’t happen.

    Nick: That can’t. No.

    Andrew: He’s got to fight for the ball when that happens. It just did not seem like he even went for the strip of the ball there or anything else. I will say this. I’m a little down on Jalen Kimber and his play so far this year. Maybe that’s fair, maybe that’s not fair. I don’t know. For me, he hasn’t played really well this year, especially last night against Kentucky.

    We talked about the linebackers. Ventrell Miller I thought played a really good game defensively. I thought Shemar James played a really good game. Shemar ended up second on the team with seven tackles in the game. Thought Trey Dean had an up and down night. I thought he had a few plays where it was really good, and then he had a few plays that was just like here we go again with him. I thought Rashad Torrence was up and down. I thought Kemari Wilson played much better than Rashad Torrence. That’s just me.

    Again, I thought the defense played well enough to win. They stopped the run for the most part in the game. Granted, Kentucky was without their top three running backs, but you can only play against who you can play against. I thought they made Levis at times look bad. That throw he made on 3rd and goal, where they missed the field goal, where it was a wide receiver screen, he looked like he threw it five yards ahead of the line.

    Nick: He did.

    Andrew: That was awful.

    Nick: He makes that throw, I’m pretty sure it’s a touchdown, but he missed the throw. He’s not a top quarterback in the country.

    Andrew: Let me say this. If he’s the top quarterback, keep him away from my Falcons, who lost on Sunday.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: Keep him away.

    Nick: We talk about the Gator defense. I think it’s exciting when you look at a lot of these young players that are contributing. You got Devin Moore, who I’m a big Devin Moore fan. I know you know that, Andrew. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that he should be a starting cornerback for this team, if not he is the best cornerback on this team. I know he’s kind of played limited a little bit. In the first two games, he hasn’t played every down. Every time he’s in there, he’s a great open field tackler. He stopped a 3rd down slant, because I texted you right away, Andrew, and said, Devin Moore is that guy. He impresses me.

    Then you got Shemar James, who in the next two weeks Shemar James could end up playing a lot more. I know we don’t know a lot about the Ventrell Miller injury right now, but if ends up missing time, Shemar James is going to step in there and be in a much bigger role. Then you got Kamari Wilson, who, like we said, is playing a lot better. He could see an uptick in playing time as well.

    Then, of course, on the offensive side of the ball, Trevor Etienne. That guy, I don’t even need to say anything about him. You guys watch. You watch what he can do.

    Andrew: First down.

    Nick: Yeah. You watch what he can do. He’s an incredible playmaker. His stops and cuts are insane. He’s a guy that is going to have a really good Gator career.

    Andrew: He and Montrell played really well overall in the game. Like you said on Devin Moore, big fan of Devin. Maybe this will get him going. I need to see Jason Marshall step up to be that elite guy that everyone thought he was going to be. That’s a lock down kind of guy. He seems to get picked on a good bit in games. You want to see him get going.

    I do think Devin Moore is a little ahead of Avery Helm, even though Avery Helm has the experience. I think that’s probably what’s keeping Devin Moore from starting right now is that Avery Helm has that experience. Technically, it really doesn’t even matter who starts. They end up playing about the same, because they rotate guys so much.

    Like you said with Ventrell, we’re taping this Sunday afternoon. Not 100% on his status going forward. You play a USF team that you hope you can get up on and play some young guys. You hope you can get Shemar James going there. Shemar’s a guy that can cover. Listen, I know people are up and down on Amari Burney. I thought Amari played okay at times during the game on Saturday. Shemar James is a guy that can cover. Right now, that’s where teams are going with the ball. They’re going to tight ends with the ball, because they know Ventrell Miller, and they know Amari Burney simply can’t cover, so that’s where they’re going.

    Good for them, because that’s where the weakness of this defense is. You get Shemar out there to play a little bit, and you take away some of that weakness there. Hope to see, as Florida has been the victim of playing two really good teams early on. They haven’t had that opportunity to get some of the guys playing time that you normally would in two games early in the season that are just practice, scrimmage games basically.

    Nick: I think, Andrew, if I talked to you two weeks ago, just before the season started, and I said Gators start 1-1, I’m pretty sure you’re shaking my hand.

    Andrew: Yeah. Absolutely.

    Nick: You’re taking the 1-1 start. I understand where all the fans are coming from, because the Gators did upset the #12 team in the country, or the 7th at the time, right off the rip. That’s a huge swing. We moved all the way up to the 12th spot in the AP Poll. I do understand looking at it like that. After Week 1, coming off this big victory, it’s expected that we take care of business against Kentucky. I get that, but looking at it long-term, throughout the season, if I offer any of you guys a 1-1 start to the Gators football season this season two weeks ago, you all would have taken it.

    I think when you look at it like that, the Gators are still in a good spot. They can still have a successful season. I think me and Andrew, we predicted 8-4. I think that’s still very much in the cards. There’s a lot of teams on the schedule that the Gators can beat, but there’s also a lot of teams that, if the offense doesn’t move the ball like they did on Saturday, or if they move the ball like they did on Saturday, the Gators could be in some trouble this season. The season’s still very much up in the air. There’s still a lot to look forward to.

    Andrew: Yeah. I think you look at it, and it kind of tells a tale of what the season was going to be. There was going to be a lot of highs and a lot of lows.

    Nick: Yup.

    Andrew: You better never get too high, and you better never get too low. That’s the way this team’s going to be. They’re a team that is very inexperienced in a lot of ways, including at quarterback with Anthony Richardson. You look at it on the offensive line, and we can start talking a little bit about this on the offensive, but Michael Tarquin goes out, and still not sure of his status going forward. Once he went out, it was a totally different gameplan, because Austin Barber doesn’t have the experience there, hasn’t played as much or as well at that right tackle spot. You see those depth issues sneaking up on you in several spots.

    Again, it’s what we expected. It’s what we expected of this team going forward this year. It was going to be ups and downs. I know, and we can get on into this now, but people were pissed about the play calling from Billy Napier and screaming need an OC, you need a quarterback coach. The play calling wasn’t as bad as it looked. Obviously, execution of everything makes things look better or worse.

    I was talking to you about this. There was a play, the 4th down play late in the fourth quarter, where Florida didn’t get it. It was when they had it on like the 24, 25-yard line, whatever it may be. Where Kentucky made the field goal. They had Anthony on a scramble, a roll out to the right. He had Justin Shorter wide open. He just threw it in the dirt. If you’re a play caller, that’s what you want. There were several throws in the game that were open. He just missed them. Several deep shots across the middle, he just missed them.

    Was the play calling excellent? No. But it was good. It was good enough to win. You have to remember, Billy Napier is playing with his hands kind of tied a little bit, because of the fact that he has an offense that’s limited in playmakers, limited with the offensive line depth. Again, I know everyone wants to get on him and say about how his gameplan sucked. It wasn’t as bad as it looked. I would challenge you to go back and watch some of the game, for the people who say that, and I think you’ll coming away thinking that Anthony Richardson just missed a lot.

    Nick: I agree. I think you made a lot of good points there, Andrew. I also agree that Billy Napier’s play calling was not nearly as bad as a lot of people are making it seem. I don’t think it was perfect. I think it was a far from perfect game from Billy Napier, and he admitted that in the press conference. He said, “I made mistakes. There was things I could have done better.” I agree.

    I think if you go back and watch the film, and I get on the Florida Gator receivers a lot. I’m pretty harsh on them. I’ve been a critic of them thus far, but I thought that the receivers played a pretty good game. They were open a lot. Richardson just for some reason couldn’t find them. There’s one play in particular. Well, there’s a lot of plays, but there’s one play that’s coming to mind right now. It ended up not mattering, but I think it was just kind of the theme of the entire game.

    It was when we were down 10 points with a minute left, right? Our final possession of the game. It was like a 2nd and 10, and Pearsall was crossing wide open in the middle of the field. It was actually the first play of the drive. It was the very first play of the drive. Pearsall was crossing over the middle of the field, and he just looked right over him. His eyes went from left to right, completely passing over Pearsall, who was crossing right down the middle of the field, and he threw it 50 yards incomplete, whatever the play was.

    I think that was just kind of the theme of the game. He just wasn’t seeing some of these guys. You could go back in the film and find five, six plays where if Richardson just sees the guy, I don’t think we’re sitting here talking about Billy Napier’s play calling.

    Andrew: Yeah. That’s exactly right. I will say this. For me, my biggest harp on Napier’s play calling was they didn’t run the ball a lot early in the game. He tried to get the passing game going. Also, you’re going to agree with me here, because you and I texted about it, but throw the damn wide receiver screen to Xzavier Henderson. Throw that play in the garbage for a while.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: A, Henderson can’t do anything with it, and, B, Justin Shorter cannot block that play to save his life. Please, just throw that play in the garbage for a little while. Throw it in the garbage.

    Nick: If you’re going to run that exact play, run it with two different receivers, please. Henderson, when he catches the ball, he’s not quick enough. He’s not quick enough to explode for four or five yards a clip. He takes too long. He has long strides. He takes too long to get to the point where he needs to be. Shorter can’t hold the block long enough either. If you’re going to run that play, please run it with two different guys.

    They ran it like five times in Week 1, and they ran it a few times yesterday. Every single time I texted Andrew. Even when it goes for six yards, I don’t understand it. I really don’t. Put that play in the garbage.

    The other thing with Napier’s play calling that I would have like to see, but, again, this is on Richardson as well. Andrew, you’ll agree with me, because we texted on this as well. I would have liked to see Richardson keep a couple of those RPOs. He seemed to hand it off, hand it off. Yeah, they were going for two, three yards a clip, sometimes more. Even if Richardson is not going to explode for 40 yards off a keeper, at least you’re keeping that defensive line honest. There was a point in that game where they knew that Anthony Richardson was not going to run the football.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: So, they keyed in on everything else. The key to Richardson’s success is that he runs the football. That’s what he’s really good at. I hate to break it to you guys, but Richardson has never been a super accurate passer. He’s not always been bad, like he was last night, but he’s never been a super accurate passer. He’s great because he has the option to run. He can throw it 70 yards downfield and these kind of things, but he’s never been a super accurate passer. So, he needs to rely on that run game to be super successful.

    Andrew: The thing is Anthony is a guy that is a rhythm passer. When I say that, meaning he’s a guy who when things are going bad, things are going bad. When things are going good, things are going good for him. I know that sounds kind of cliché to say, but that’s what it is. When things are going good for him, you’re able to see him get pass after pass after pass completed. When things are going bad, you’re seeing incomplete pass after incomplete pass after incomplete pass. He kind of said that in his press conference Saturday night. He said, “I kind of got in my own head.” That’s exactly what he did. He got in his own head. Things went from bad to really bad, and he looked like a guy that just had absolutely no confidence in the game for pretty much the entire second half of the game.

    Nick: Yeah. I started to get the feeling that the Gators were in trouble somewhere in the third quarter, because I was just watching Richardson, and he just seemed so uncomfortable back there. Even when he was scrambling for three, four yards a clip, he never seemed to get into a rhythm. It’s funny, because I mentioned something to Gentry. We had picked up about two, three 1st downs, Richardson was starting to try to run the ball a little bit more. I think he had two straight carries of three, four yards a pop, whatever it was. I looked at Gentry, and I go, “It looks to me like he’s starting to get into a little bit of a rhythm here,” and guess what the next play was? Pick six.

    He just never got going. As soon as I thought he was going to get something going, pick six. It was an unfortunate night for Richardson. If you were sitting in that press conference, I don’t know if they posted the videos.

    Andrew: Yeah, they did.

    Nick: They did? Okay. I want everyone to go and watch that, because that was tough to be there in person. It was the point where the media wasn’t even asking him questions. Nobody wanted to ask him questions, because we were surprised to see him out there, and we could tell how awful he felt. He sat there and took all the blame, which he did not play well, and if he would have played well, the Gators probably would have won, but there were things on both sides of the ball and on special teams that the Gators still need to work on.

    He’s a good kid, and it was tough to sit there and listen to him kind of stumble across his words and hold back some emotions trying to be the tough guy. He’s 21-years-old. He doesn’t owe the media anything. He doesn’t owe us anything to come out and say that, but he did, and I think that takes a lot of guts. That wasn’t easy. I don’t know if a lot of QBs do that. I do ultimately think that Richardson will bounce back from this. He’s a warrior. He’s going to get through it. He has USF next week. He can do his thing. He did his thing last year against USF. Let’s do it again.

    Andrew: As bad as he played, I think you have to give him some props for coming into the interview room, standing up for the team, and taking the blame. I think everyone kind of noticed a little bit that Anthony’s a guy who plays with his emotions on his sleeve. He’s a guy that he takes the burden always. Listen, you want that out of your quarterback. I’m not saying you don’t want that out of your quarterback, because you absolutely do want that out of your quarterback. You have to understand that at some point you kind of have to say, the heck with it, I’m going to let it air out and let it rip and get out of your feelings a little bit. It’s tough.

    Again, you’re talking about a quarterback who just made his fourth start. It’s tough. It really is tough. You hope that the rest of the team could have rallied around him, but it just didn’t happen. The running game didn’t get going in the second half for the most part. A lot of that has to do with Kentucky knowing that Florida couldn’t throw the ball. They only 32 yards rushing in the second half. That’s not a recipe for success with this team right now. It just isn’t. I think that 32 yards rushing also leads to why the defense was a little tired in this game.

    Again, I think losing Tarquin hurt. Need to figure out his status going forward. If he’s not there, then you got to get Austin Barber up to speed and ready to go, because this team has got to have Anthony Richardson playing really well though. You seen it on Saturday. This team goes as Anthony goes. People were saying they should have benched him. For who?

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: Kitna? Engel?

    Nick: No. I think you made a lot of good points there, Andrew, but most importantly, Richardson isn’t the only young and inexperienced player on this team.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: We’ve sat here for 30 minutes and named four or five freshmen that are out here making a serious impact that have not been in that position before. They have not seen Anthony Richardson struggle like that. Obviously, you would like your team to kind of rally around Richardson and get him going, but when he’s playing with a bunch of guys that haven’t been there before, particularly on the offensive side. Some of our veterans are on defense. Ventrell Miller, Trey Dean. I think it was difficult for the team as a whole. The team hasn’t been there. The team hasn’t seen Richardson go through what he went through last night.

    So, I think that’s an important point to make as well. Not that they didn’t know what to do, but you just said it yourself, Andrew, the team goes as Anthony Richardson goes. The Gators will be as good as Anthony Richardson is this year. I think that is a perfect analogy. Week 1, Anthony Richardson was awesome. He didn’t pass the ball incredibly, but he was obviously the best player on the field. Gators win. Wasn’t so great in Week 2, and Gators lose. You could say that about any quarterback for any team. It is the most important position on the field, but it’s different with Anthony Richardson. He’s the leader on this team, and we’ll see in the coming weeks how he rallies up the team and how the team rallies around him.

    Andrew: Going forward, and Napier tried. He tried throughout the game to get him going with the screen passes, the underneath stuff. They tried to get him going. It just didn’t happen. It didn’t matter. I tweeted this during the game. I said, I don’t know that there’s a play call that Billy Napier can make right now that is going to work. Just because it was a team that was so down on itself. Again, I think that goes back a little bit to that this is still a team that is very fresh off of devastating loss after devastating loss last year. Did doubt creep in their mind in the fourth quarter, when Kentucky was going? Maybe. I don’t know the answer there.

    Like I said, they’ve got to figure out a way offensively to move the ball. You can’t go scoreless in the second half in an SEC game and expect to win. That’s exactly what they were. They were outscored 10-0 in the second half, or 13-0 in the second half. You lost the ballgame.

    Nick: Bottom line is you got to find a way to score. The defense did give them opportunities to. I know they got a little tired there in the fourth, but them gave them a lot of opportunities to score the ball. That’s something that Richardson, after the game he said, I looked at my defense there in the third quarter and said, I’m going to score you some points. I’m going to help you all out. He goes, I didn’t do that. He didn’t. That’s the bottom line.

    The good news is the defense played well. Bad news we saw some inconsistencies from our offense that maybe we did not see coming. I knew that Richardson was as an elite passer as many thought, but I did not expect the run game to kind of fizzle out there at the end like it did. That was kind of news to me too. Gators got to get better offensively. They have to get into rhythms, kind of like they did during the Utah game. During that first game, in the second half it felt like the Gators were going to score every drive. To me, it felt like Kyle Trask era, where it could be 3rd and 15, and I didn’t even have to worry, because I knew it was going to be a 1st down.

    Andrew: I think that’s a key. With this team, you’ve got to be 3rd and medium to short. You can’t have 3rd and longs. This team faced it a lot on Saturday night. You can’t have that. This team needs to be 3rd and 5 or less, so that both the running and passing attack have to be feared there.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: If they’re able to just focus on the pass, that’s going to hurt. If it’s a situation where they can just bring the house, that’s where Anthony struggles is when he has to make that quick, quick decision. Again, that’s a young quarterback, so you understand it a little bit. It’s why it’s so key to have successful 1st and 2nd downs. Again, stop throwing the wide receiver screen to Xzavier Henderson.

    Nick: That brings me to another point. The Gators 4th down and 6 there, at the very end. It was originally a 3rd and 5, and Napier ran the football. Now, he ran the football because he was 100% planning on going for it again. I’m a huge believer in 3rd and 5s, if you’re going to run the ball, run it twice. Just run it again.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: I do believe that that’s what Napier was going to do, however he did not expect Etienne, I believe it was, to lose a yard there. So, it put the Gators in a tough situation, but Napier did not change his mind. He went for it anyways, but he was going to go for that anyways. You don’t run the ball on 3rd and 5 in your own territory at the 24-yard line if you plan on punting.

    Andrew: Right. Again, last week the running game was there. You were able to run. This week you weren’t. Again, it was a lot of that penetration from that right side with Tarquin being out in the game hurt. It was just one of those games where nothing went right for you. I know, as a fanbase, you want to point fingers at somebody. That’s fine. I’m sure Billy Napier says my pants are big enough, and I get paid enough that you can criticize me, but it wasn’t all on Billy Napier. It just wasn’t. The play calling wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. I thought he had some good calls in the game. Sometimes a great call and a play being there just isn’t executed, and it fails. That’s what it is multiple times throughout the game.

    I’ll say this too. I want to see going forward, maybe I’m different here, and you can get on me if you think different there, Nick. I want to see more Whittemore and Daejon Reynolds and less on Justin Shorter and Xzavier Henderson.

    Nick: I’m with you. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been pretty hard on Henderson and Shorter, in specific, with this wide receiver room. At this point, I thought Shorter there was two or three key blocks. There was a screen on the left side that he didn’t hold long enough, and if he would’ve it was probably a long play. I know you tweeted about the exact play, Andrew, so I know that you saw this too. If he holds that block on the left side there for a little bit longer, it could have been six. There was a few plays like that during the game. There was two to three blocks I thought he missed. Then he had the chop block call, which was crucial.

    Andrew: Right. Which was BS though.

    Nick: I didn’t see it, because it was on the other side of the field.

    Andrew: He called it a blindside block. They were literally eye to eye, and they called it a blindside block, which was freaking BS. That referee crew, my God. The Dean hit on Levis was stupid, absolutely stupid. Levis is still trying to run. He’s got him wrapped up. I mean, he hits him in the thigh and slides down, because you’re going to slide down there. That was stupid. They threw the flag. Luckily, they waved it off on Boone’s hit against Levis. This was a good football play. He hit him right square in the chest. Then Justin Shorter hits him in the shoulder, in the front part of the shoulder, the chest and the shoulder area, and they call it a blindside block. What are you trying to play here? Stupid.

    Nick: One thing I don’t understand is why can you review targeting but not blindside blocks or roughing the passer?

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: If you were to review the Trey Dean roughing the passer, they would have saw that it wasn’t forceable contact, right? Even if he was in the pocket, it wasn’t forceable contact. The replay I saw it looked like he grazed him. I said it on the message boards. You’re not allowed to dive at the quarterback’s legs, which I think is a stupid rule, because you can’t hit him up high, you can’t hit him down low. There’s only one spot you can hit him.

    Guys, that’s not how football works. Andrew can speak more on this than I can, but it’s very difficult to tackle when you’re limiting a defensive player to only one spot of the body that he can hit him in. That’s pretty tough to do. You’re moving so fast. I know that he was out of the pocket and should have been considered a runner with this particular play, which is why it was BS.

    Andrew: Here’s the thing. It’s one thing. I get it, and it’s one thing if you’re diving at the knees to take out their knees.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: Everybody calls it the Tom Brady rule, where Brady was taken out because somebody dove at his knees. You’re intentionally going after their knees. That’s one thing. But when you’re trying to make a football play, and you hit him in the thigh, because he literally hit him in the thigh, above the knee, and slid down, and he’s trying to pull him by his legs and ankles and knee area to get him down, because Levis is still working outside the pocket there. What do you want him to do? It’s not like he was set up, planned it a throw, and Trey launched himself into his knee to tear his ACL. It was nothing like that at all, and you’re going to call a stupid penalty there.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: That’s the thing that just pisses me off with refereeing crew in general in football. It’s why it’s becoming a soft sport. It just is what it is. That’s BS.

    Nick: The frustrating part about these penalties that have changed over the last five, ten years, is we’re now penalizing players, and even ejecting them from games, for hits that are just unintentional.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    Nick: Like you said, it’s one thing if you lead with the crown of your helmet, and you just smoke someone completely intentional, or you dive at their knees five seconds after they threw the ball. That’s one thing, and that I agree. You need to protect the quarterback in that situation. But we see so many plays, and it’s not just for the Gators, it’s across the country, that are just BS calls. They’re penalizing these kids for trying to make a play for their team, and they’re not trying to hurt the quarterback or do anything of this nature. It’s unfortunate, because a 15-yard penalty is a gamechanger.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    Nick: It not only gives you an automatic 1st down, but it gives you 15 yards. The Gators could have used a lot of 15-yard penalties. That can help you.

    Andrew: It’s like the blindside block there. That was a momentum killer.

    Nick: Absolutely.

    Andrew: Because, again, we just talked about it, Florida can’t be in 2nd, 3rd, and longs. They’re not built for that. You were in a position where I believe it was going to be like 2nd and 7, 2nd and 6, somewhere around in there.

    Nick: It was manageable.

    Andrew: Yeah. It was manageable. 2nd and medium. Again, I hate that call, because as a receiver, first of all, I am a big fan of blindside blocks. That may be just me being ugly and old-school. There’s nothing better than a blindside block when that defender doesn’t see it coming, and you just can deck him and lay him out. But I get it from a health standpoint. Still there, what do you expect him to do when he hits you in the chest and shoulder area? Where else is he supposed to block you at? I don’t get that. It’s not like he was standing there, and he shoved him in the back. It wasn’t like that.

    I think the thing that threw the flag was he hurt his leg. Okay. Well, I’m sorry that he got hurt, and I’m sure Justin Shorter is sorry he got hurt, but that play didn’t result in him getting hurt. That blindside block they called did not result in him getting hurt. Sorry. It just didn’t.

    Nick: I mean, Justin Shorter was a victim of getting injured on a cheap shot, which I don’t remember if it was called.

    Andrew: It wasn’t. They hit Richardson, helmet to helmet.

    Nick: That’s my point. This is what I’m getting to right now. You can believe what you want about these different rules that have changed over the last five years, but the one thing is every ref, they’re all inconsistent. I saw a video after the game, which I did not see it live. I forget which Gator player it was, but there was a Gator player on the right sideline. He got tackled clean, whatever. The Kentucky guy came in and led with his helmet, three seconds after the tackle, and just nails him right in the head. I think it was Pearsall? I can’t remember who it was. He looks up at the ref and was like, yo, and Richardson’s on the sideline pointing at him like, what is that?

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: To me, it’s the inconsistency with the refereeing that really bothers me. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand the inconsistency across the country. Not just for the Gators, but across the country in these missed calls. These targeting calls that aren’t called. Then they’re called. It frustrates me. It makes no sense. It’s a big gamechanger in the game, which is really what frustrates me.

    Andrew: The problem with it is it’s so questionable. You could have five referees look at the same targeting call.

    Nick: All subjective.

    Andrew: Right. You could have 3-2 for, 3-2 against. Again, I get it. It’s a safety standpoint. But I also think that you also have to understand that you’re turning the game around in a lot of instances there. Again, that was not the reason Florida lost. It just is BS. I don’t like it.

    Let’s go ahead, as we wind this down here, look ahead here. Florida gets UCF on Saturday night.

    Nick: USF.

    Andrew: USF. They got to get things turned around. It was a good game last year for Florida, when they traveled down and beat USF, so you hope that this is a game that can kind of get some confidence going. As they have to travel up to Rocky Top the following week against a Tennessee team that had a big come from behind win over Pitt. You just hope that you can go into this game, get some confidence about you, get some young guys some playing time, and build up some depth and go beat the Bulls.

    Nick: Yeah. I think these next two games could not come at a better time for the Gators. Anthony Richardson coming off his worst performance of his career, and he gets a chance to right the ship against a very beatable USF team, a team that he had a lot of success on last year. Both of our quarterbacks had a lot of success last year. Gators played a good game in Tampa last year. Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson both played really well.

    This is a team that Richardson’s going to be able to have opportunities to really score the ball and make these big plays that we know he’s capable of making. I think that the game comes at the right time. I just said it. Richardson coming off, he’s probably not very high on himself right now. He probably didn’t sleep last night, and he probably is feeling it this morning and all day today. I think the game comes at the right time.

    Then guess what? Let’s say the Gators get the win, he gets to go to Knoxville and try to knock off another ranked team. I really do think these next two games are a perfect time for the Gators right now. I think they have a chance to really prove some people wrong. Richardson, he’s got a chance to go get back in his groove, and then once he’s back in his groove, he gets to go play another ranked football team and really prove people wrong. I’m excited for him. I’m excited for the Gators. I think it’s a great next two games here, and we’ll see how they play.

    Andrew: Like you said, it’s a breather. If you can call it a breather in NCAA football.

    Nick: Right. After this week, I don’t know. We saw Marshall beat Notre Dame.

    Andrew: App State went to A&M. Georgia Southern got Scott Frost fired.

    Nick: Let me say this, before you guys get on me for talking down on USF. It’s not a gimme. There is no gimme in college football. Gators still have to go out, and they have to play their game. They have to dominate on the offensive line. Anthony Richardson has to be the guy that we know he can be. He’s got to play with more confidence. The defense has to play like they did last week. And if all those things happen, Gators will be fine.

    It’s not a gimme. If we go out there and Anthony Richardson performs the same way, Gators are in trouble. You got to have a little bit of hope for Richardson and Napier to get this right, to get the ship going in the right direction.

    Andrew: Absolutely. Nick, we’ll be back on Friday, as we get our preview of USF and get things going, as the Gators will return looking to get back on a winning way. Nick, appreciate it. Guys, make sure to check out our recruiting stuff, as well as lots of content previewing USF, and also still recapping a little bit of Kentucky. Stay tuned to Gator Country, and we appreciate it, as always. We’ll see you guys on Friday.

    Nick: See you guys later.

    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.