Recapping the Florida Gators 38-33 loss to Tennessee

    Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier as the Gators take the field to take on the #6 ranked University of Utah Utes to kick off the 2022 season at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in on September 3rd, 2022. (Photo by David Bowie/Gatorcountry)

    GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators’ 38-33 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.

    Andrew Spivey and Nick Marcinko break down how the Gators’ offense played on Saturday and what went wrong for the defense during the game.

    Andrew and Nick also discuss the coaching staff and why they believe the future is bright for the Gators going forward.


    Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nick. Nick, wasn’t the result on Saturday up in Rocky Flop. 38-33, Tennessee wins. It wasn’t for a lack of fight. It wasn’t for the lack of big moments in the game, and it wasn’t for the lack of Tennessee holding their breath as the Gators rebounded. Were down 17 with about five minutes to go in the game. They lost on a Hail Mary that was intercepted as the time expired.

    It was a game that was a really good football game. There’s no moral victories in sports, in my opinion. Nick, you may have a different opinion on that. For me, there’s no moral victories, but I take some positives from this loss by the Gators on Saturday.

    Nick: I think any time you can come back from a 17-point lead with just five minutes to go, and you can make it a ballgame, that in itself deserves a little bit of props. Like you said, there’s no moral victories. Florida lost this game, and ultimately it came down to the redzone numbers. When you look at it, each team had six redzone trips. Tennessee was six for six in the redzone, and Florida was four for six. Ultimately, that’s the stat that stands out to me the most when you’re looking at the two teams.

    They were similar in total yards. Tennessee had a little bit of a rush game that Florida did, but Florida did a good job of adapting to that and Napier calling plays according. He knew that the run game wasn’t going to be there, and Richardson balled out last night. Richardson gave the Gators a chance to win that football game, which I think is another takeaway from the game.

    Andrew: Unbelievable performance by Anthony Richardson. Unbelievable performance. I said on Friday, I said all last week, I wanted Anthony Richardson to be Anthony Richardson and not care. Go into this game, there’d been some comments where he said he was trying to be more professional and be more of a leader. I said I want to see Anthony Richardson just be the fun-loving Anthony Richardson it was, and on Saturday that’s what it was. 24 of 44 passing. A lot of those were throwaways. A couple of them were drops, including a big drop by Justin Shorter late in the game, as Florida was going to take the Hail Mary. Man, that was bad.

    Anyway, overall, 453 yards through the air, two touchdowns, an interception. Then on the ground he had 62 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Anthony Richardson is the reason this team was in the position they were. You can take a lot of positives from that. Anthony Richardson was back. He looked good throwing the ball. He threw some balls. I think he had some of his passes in his Gators career on Saturday, and I think his best pass of his career was a strike to Ricky Pearsall late in the game that really set them up to score their last touchdown.

    Nick: I agree. There were three or four passes that were jaw dropping passes. I remember texting you, Andrew, during the game, about one where he fit it through a window that I don’t think many college quarterbacks can make it through. It should be noted that his feet weren’t set, because he was getting pressured, and he threw an absolute strike.

    It’s clear as day. The guy has the arm talent to make this a profession. I don’t think that he was as accurate with the football as maybe I would have liked, but he was good enough. Like you said, a lot of his incompletions were throwaways, which I wanted to comment on today, because that was something we were not seeing from Richardson prior, especially against Kentucky and USF. We’ve talked about it on this podcast. He was kind of just taking sacks or running out of bounds for -3, -4 yards. He did it once against Kentucky, and he did it again against USF. He did an excellent job of getting rid of the football. He escaped several sacks just by throwing it away, which was an awesome job by him.

    I thought this was an incredible performance from him, definitely his best in the Gator uniform. He wasn’t always accurate with the football, but he didn’t have a ton of turnover worthy plays. He did throw the interception there at the end, but you have to throw that football. You have to get it in the air.

    Andrew: Yeah. That’s a throwaway, in my opinion. Yes, it counts on the stat sheet, everything else, but I’m not stressed about that play.

    Nick: Absolutely not. When you look at his performance, there wasn’t many throws that- when he missed, he missed where no one else could get the ball. Do you agree, Andrew?

    Andrew: 100%. I think the biggest thing for him was he didn’t miss a lot of open receivers.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: High or even low. He threw the ball where he had to throw the ball, and he did a good job of really stepping up in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield, while also understanding that I may have to take off and run. I think that was the biggest difference in this game was his ability to keep his eyes downfield, while also keeping that internal clock. It’s tough to keep looking downfield, keep the open mind to throw the ball, but also understanding that the clock is ticking. I only have three seconds before Tennessee is going to be on me, that kind of stuff. I thought he did a really, really good job of that.

    I thought he did a really good job of commanding the offense. Nick, you’ll have to correct me here. I don’t think Florida had a false start penalty in this game, right?

    Nick: I don’t believe so. They did have 10 penalties.

    Andrew: Right. We’ll get into that in a minute. That was not pretty. Again, a lot of them on special teams, unfortunately. We’ll get into some Tennessee penalties that were not called. We’ll get into that again in a minute. Still, the crowd noise did not affect Anthony Richardson on Saturday. I think it fueled him a little bit. This was a team that they’re #1 thing was to run the ball. That’s what they had been great at all year. Tennessee came into this game, and they said, not going to happen. You’re going to throw the ball. From start to finish, Anthony Richardson was able to do that.

    It seemed like for the first time all year, and you and I said it, we were like, Florida cannot go in a boat race with Tennessee and win this game. Well, they almost did, and they were really good. Billy Napier deserves a ton of credit. We’re going to give him some credit here in a minute. We’re going to talk about it, because the man has some gigantic you-know-what’s for a man. We’ll talk about that in a second.

    I just think that everyone harped on Anthony, and rightfully so. He deserved it. But Anthony Richardson finally was Anthony Richardson. Again, I don’t know. I hope he goes back and watches this tape and says, I can do this. Obviously, the 500 yards, you’re not going to do that week in and week out, but he just seemed to have fun. Again, some guys are just that fun-loving guy that has to go out and have fun in order to be that way. Some guys have to be dead serious. I don’t know that you see Tom Brady laughing and cutting up and feel good about that. Same way with Tim Tebow. Would you be upset? Would you feel differently if Tebow didn’t come out with a fire? Yeah. You would be like, something’s wrong with him. That’s how I feel with Anthony Richardson.

    Nick: Right. It was incredibly fun to watch last night, and it was obvious that Richardson was having a good time. When you just look at what he did, 515 yards of offense. That is insane. Like I said, he made some throws that not many quarterbacks in the country are making. Guess what? He ran the ball 17 times. I know the run lanes weren’t always there, and he only totaled 62 yards on that, but he did have two rushing touchdowns. We’ll get into Napier.

    Andrew: More importantly, I thought he made good decisions when he ran.

    Nick: Right. I agree.

    Andrew: Pulling it down and running. There was several times too where he was outside the pocket, and he could have ran for five, but he found open receivers and hit them deep. I thought he read the zone reads really well in the game, where it was time to keep it he kept it. I don’t know that I could say that about the last few weeks. I thought there were several times where the D end crashed, or the outside linebacker crashed, and he should have kept it, and he didn’t. I think in this game he did.

    Nick: Right. Before we get into the defense and the special teams areas, and you just mentioned we were going to talk about it, and I want to. How about Billy Napier’s gameplan? He came out of the gate and showed Tennessee how aggressive he was going to be, and he stuck by it for four quarters. It almost is the reason why Florida came back and won the game. Five of six on 4th downs. I knew right away it was going to be one of those days when he was going for it on 4th and 1 from our own 39 or whatever the yardage was on that opening drive. Incredibly gutsy performance. He trusted Richardson, and Richardson executed. It was almost enough for the Gators to pull off a comeback, but the Gators just couldn’t get a stop defensively.

    Andrew: I’m so sick and tired of hearing, Nick, about how Billy Napier is not a good play caller. About how Billy Napier is not cut out for the SEC. Shut up.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: That’s what I said. You heard what I said. If you have a problem with it, cool. Tweet at me. I don’t care. I’m going to tell you what, Billy Napier is a good play caller. Name a play on Saturday that wasn’t good.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: The play calls were good. Obviously, some on 3rd down he was running the ball, because he knew he was in 4th down territory. Why not? I thought the play on 3rd and 10 on his own four-yard line where he called a run for Trevor Etienne, and he got 18, that’s a gutsy call. Billy Napier went into this game knowing I cannot put the game on my defense’s shoulders, because Tennessee’s offense is too good for that. I need to score every single time I get the ball, and I need to score touchdowns not field goals.

    Now, the field goal in the first quarter, you’d love to have that back. Cool. Whatever. That wasn’t the gameplan. The gameplan was that, and it was simply that. If you have an issue with that, I don’t know what to tell you. Now, next year is that Billy Napier’s gameplan to go for it as many times, six times on 4th down? Probably not, because his defense is probably better. Guess what? That’s the gameplan that it called for on Saturday. That’s what gave the Gators the best chance to win the football game on Saturday was to go for it six times on 4th down and to gamble.

    That’s what it is. Again, you can always second guess everything. You can second guess everything that happens in a football game. If it goes a certain way, it’s great. If I doesn’t go a certain way, it’s great too. I heard some people griping because he called a timeout in the second quarter with a minute to go, and Tennessee ends up going down and scoring a touchdown. Guess what? If he doesn’t call a timeout there, and Florida gets a stop, the fanbase is pissed off because Florida wasted that much time on the clock, when they had a chance to score. He thought at that time his defense was going to make a stop.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: Get over it. The two-point conversion late in the game, where they were down by 17, and he went for two. I coached for 10 years. I understand. The book says and the analytics say that if you’re driving, and you’re down by 17, and you score a touchdown, you feel like you can get one of the two-point conversions if you miss the first one. You can get the second one, because you feel like you have momentum there. Then you’re on the road, so you want to kick a field goal to be able to win the game late in the game.

    Again, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, but it’s one of those plays, Nick, where if it works you’re calling the man a genius. You can’t have it both ways. To say he needs an OC is just absolutely ridiculous. Give the man props and give the man credit. He put up 594 yards against an SEC opponent. Give him credit for it.

    Nick: The 11th ranked team in the country, by the way.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: It’s not a slouch of a defense. I know Tennessee hasn’t had the defense that they’ve wanted in the last few years, but let’s be honest with ourselves. The reason why Tennessee’s defense isn’t as good as maybe it should be, Tennessee’s offense scores so quickly. They put up 576 yards on just 25 minutes of offense. That is insane. That is hyper speed.

    Andrew: They ran, let’s see here, 70 plays in 25 minutes of time in possession. I will say probably eight of those minutes were in the fourth quarter, when they were just trying to run the clock out.

    Nick: Yeah. Back to this whole Napier play calling thing. Look, I saw so many people on Twitter and just in general mention, they were saying, I love Napier’s decisions to go for it on 4th down, but I just didn’t like the two-point conversion calls. Napier was five of six on 4th downs and did not get either of the conversions. Come on. That’s why you don’t like the two-point conversions, because he didn’t get it. If he had gotten the two-point conversion, and Florida goes and wins that football game on that late second field goal, Napier is praised as the coach of the year. Let’s be honest.

    The other side is instead of being the coach of the year, because he’s the most gutsy playcaller in the country, now he needs an offensive coordinator and needs a playcaller. Come on, guys. It’s, quite frankly, ridiculous. Napier has called a good enough gameplan to be 4-0 to start this season. That’s a fact. That’s not even arguable at this point. Also, I thought this game against Tennessee in particular was his best game call yet. I thought there were several plays that we hadn’t seen yet, which I really loved.

    Andrew, me and you talked about one of them. The Richardson power run to the outside. We ran it three times, and I believe it worked for more than five yards every single time and worked for a touchdown one of the times. That’s the play call where you’re just taking your numbers. Every time that play was ran, the offensive line was out in front. We had the numbers on the play, and so it was obviously going to work for at least five yards every time. It was a great play call. Tennessee was not ready for it.

    It's just those little things that you pick up on in the game. We hadn’t quite seen that play call before, and it worked. I just can’t. I’m at a loss for words at this point. I can’t even.

    Andrew: The thing is he didn’t call any more of a different game than he did in the other games. The difference in the game is this. Anthony executed. Again, I’m not being harsh on Anthony. I think Anthony played a wonderful football game this game, and I think he’ll tell you he played an awful two games against Kentucky and USF. That’s the truth. I think he’ll tell you he played a great game against Utah. Guess what? The Utah gameplan was set up great for the Utah game.

    There’s some calls in the game. You and I talked about it a little bit. Not to call you out. You and I can’t stand the wide receiver screen to Xzavier Henderson. In this game, there was the play, and Xzavier dropped it. You were like, I don’t like that play there. I’m like, I know you don’t like that play there, and I don’t like that play there, but the numbers suggested it. You had three on two over there. You had two blockers with two guys to block and Xzavier to catch the ball. What is Billy supposed to do when Zander and Ricky do not get the block? The play was there. They didn’t execute it.

    Nick: You’re right.

    Andrew: Again, you can look at that, and you can go through several things throughout the game, but it’s there. I want to change real quick and go to the defensive side of the ball and talk about the same thing. People gripe saying Patrick Toney’s is not an SEC defensive coordinator. Okay. The gameplan was what it was. They gave up 576 yards, yes. The depth on this defense is awful. It’s awful. Not only that, you were let down by seniors. Seniors. Fifth year seniors at that. You were let down by guys like Trey Dean, Amari Burney, Rashad Torrence, Brenton Cox. You were let down by those guys, because those guys didn’t make plays.

    Patrick Toney can only tell Trey Dean what to do, and if Trey Dean doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do and cover who he’s supposed to cover, Amari Burney doesn’t cover who he’s supposed to cover, Brenton Cox doesn’t line up onsides, what’s he supposed to do? It’s man to man coverage, and Trey Dean lets the guy fly across. It’s man to man coverage, and Amari Burney takes the wrong guy and leaves his running back wide open. What’s he supposed to do? The depth isn’t there to replace those guys right now, so what is he supposed to do?

    I’m tired of the whole this staff can’t coach. These are the same guys that lost football games last year under Dan Mullen. I don’t know what else to say. It’s not like he has a new roster. These are not new guys. There’s nothing they can do about it. Depth is that bad right now.

    Nick: I think it’s very telling when you look at the defense, and you kind of look at who’s made plays this year for the Gators, who has kind of stood out to us. For me, it’s Shemar James, who recorded his first career sack, by the way. It’s Shemar James. It’s Devin Moore. It’s Jalen Kimber. What do all these guys have in common? It’s their first year with the program.

    Andrew: Chris McClellan.

    Nick: Chris McClellan’s another one. He played a great game. There was one play in particular he took on two Tennessee offensive linemen and still got the QB pressure.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: I mentioned this in my takeaway. Patrick Toney can’t play defensive back for Trey Dean. That’s not allowed. He can’t go out there and play. He can’t go out there and tell him in his ear, this is your man.

    Andrew: Did Corey Raymond forget how to coach?

    Nick: Exactly.

    Andrew: Did Corey Raymond forget how to coach too? Corey Raymond might be the best defensive back coach in college football history. He didn’t forget.

    Nick: Yeah. Guys, it was a frustrating performance, obviously. Tennessee has a great offense, and if you give them blown coverages, if you give them the free plays, they’re going to tear you apart.

    Andrew: Think about it. Tennessee had, what, 70-yard gain and a 43-yard gain on busted plays. They had an 18-yard touchdown that you and I could have scored on, and we’re both years outside of our competitive game. I’m old and fat. You can’t give free stuff away in this. Late in the game, you and I talked about this, one of the most frustrating irritating pissed off moments that I’ve been in a Gator football game in a while. Brenton Cox over here barking signals. It’s 3rd and 6. Line up and go play. Go get the quarterback. Go get the running back. Don’t bark signals out and get a penalty and cost your football team five yards. That’s selfish. That’s selfish playing. I don’t know what else to say. That’s selfish. That’s selfish play.

    Nick: I don’t know if there’s been a single play since I’ve started following Gator football that has infuriated me more than that five-yard penalty. Your defense has been shredded the entire game, and you’re supposed to be the captain, the leader of the defense. You’re supposed to be. You were All-SEC preseason, all this and that. You’re supposed to be the dog. The players on the team look up to you, and it’s 3rd and 6, and it’s a must stop for the Gators. I mean, we were down two scores still. If you want a miracle at winning this football game, that stop needs to be made, and he’s out there trying to get Tennessee to mess up, instead of just going out and making the play.

    I know the game isn’t easy. I know it’s tough. I know Tennessee is a good team but come on. Line up and make the play. I don’t know if I’ve been more frustrated at a single play than that five-yard penalty. It sounds silly, but that five-yard penalty infuriated me more than the blown coverages did. They really did.

    Andrew: I agree. There’s nothing about it that’s cute. There’s nothing about it that’s funny. There’s nothing about any of that. It’s dumb. It’s selfish. That’s just what it is. Make a play, man. Hush. Shut your mouth and make a play. That’s what I tell a lot of these guys on this team. Shut your mouth and make a play. Don’t be over here flexing. Make a play.

    Again, what’s Patrick Toney supposed to do there? What’s Sean Spencer supposed to do there? I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s supposed to do. You can only tell your guys what to do, teach them what to do. I can guarantee you Sean Spencer ain’t tell him to bark out signals. That’s clown stuff.

    Nick: Yeah. He’s not. I don’t know. I had a conversation with my buddy last night, and we were talking. We have our seniors out here making mistakes that we’re worried that our freshmen would make, and that’s why our freshmen aren’t playing. Right? At what point do you just start Tyreak Sapp over Brenton Cox? I’ve seen enough. It’s a frustrating defense to watch. The seniors, they don’t lead by example. They have not all year. Gervon Dexter doesn’t run his mouth quite like the rest of them, but where was he last night?

    Andrew: Yeah. Des Watson, McClellan. Those guys played really good ball. I thought Devin Moore played pretty good ball in the game. I thought Kimber played good ball in the game. Avery Helm and Jason Marshall were beat a little bit, but overall I thought they played okay. On the Jason Marshall play, what’s Corey Raymond supposed to do? You’re man to man with a guy who doesn’t even start for Tennessee, and you can’t make a play? I don’t know what else to say, Nick, except for tell me you don’t know football without telling me you don’t know football.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: Sorry. Sorry if that hurts your feelings.

    Nick: Yeah. It’s just as ridiculous as saying Napier can’t call plays, which I cannot believe I still saw people say that after last night. That’s extremely shocking to me.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    Nick: It’s become obvious to me that we’re just going to have to give Billy Napier time. I know how hard that is. As a Gator fan myself, I know how hard that is. You always want the Gators to go out and win football games. No questions. But when you look at this team, you look at the players that are making the mistakes, they’re seniors. They were recruited by Dan Mullen, not recruited by Billy Napier. You have to give this defense time.

    I’m a fan of Patrick Toney. I like what he’s done so far. The one thing he’s fixed and turned around, which we’ve seen, is the turnovers. Gators have created at least one, and in most games, I believe, two turnovers. That’s already an improvement from last year. The Grantham defense from last year couldn’t get a stop. They couldn’t create a turnover. I think already you’re seeing improvements there, but I just think with the overall depth of the current roster it’s going to be a while. It’s going to be a while, guys.

    The Gators have a pretty good recruiting class right now, pretty good defensive line class. Got to hope that can stay through. This is going to get better as time goes, guys. I think as the season goes on, you’ll see improvements in certain positions. But again, this is one of the best offenses Florida’s going to face all year long.

    Andrew: 100%.

    Nick: Guys, Hendon Hooker just launched himself into Heisman level conversation. That isn’t a joke. He’s playing incredible this year. He had a great year last year, but this year he’s playing even better. They got wide receivers that can really play ball. Bru McCoy was one of my players to watch, and I know a large chunk of his yards were on a busted play by Trey Dean. They got a load of wide receivers. They got a really good offense, guys, and it’s incredibly hard to stop.

    But with that being said, if Richardson has 515 total yards, and the Gators score 33 points, and our time of possession is 34 minutes and 56 seconds, I expect to beat most teams in the country. I do. I expect to beat most teams in the country with 594 yards of offense, 33 points, and 34 minutes of possession. You beat most teams in the country playing like that, if your defense gets one stop.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: But the Gators could not get one stop. They had no stops. The Tennessee team did not punt. I know we had a sack on a 4th down, and we got a fumble, so we had the two turnovers there. Guys, if the defense makes a single stop, if Tennessee punts one time, this is a different ballgame. There’s a different energy on this podcast right now, because Florida probably wins the football game.

    Andrew: Yeah. By the way, what a freaking performance by Ventrell.

    Nick: Yeah. He’s a dog.

    Andrew: He’s the captain. I tweeted it. Dude played balls to the wall, played great ball. Had the forced fumble and recovered a fumble. He was hurrying the quarterback. Unbelievable gutsy performance on basically one foot by Ventrell in the game. Just great, great game by Ventrell overall. I can’t say enough about the gutsy effort of Ventrell Miller and how much he means to this football team.

    Another guy I thought played well in the game, besides Chris McClellan. I thought McClellan played his best game yet, but I thought Des Watson played pretty good, even though he was gassed at times. I thought Des was getting a little bit of a push in the game. I saw that. Nick, I need to see these D ends get a rush. Boone, Princely, Brenton, I need to see those guys start getting a push up front.

    And then kickoff return, they just need to let the ball go in the endzone. Because when they bring it out, it’s just a flag fest. That just is.

    Nick: I could talk for an hour on this, and this is one of the notes that I did want to talk about. It is, again, one of the most frustrating things to watch. This is a good way to start it out. Let me start it out by saying this. Under no circumstance should your offense, when being kicked off to, start at the four-yard line, your own four-yard line. That should never happen. I don’t even know how that’s possible. It is so frustrating to watch, and it’s not like it’s a one-time thing or it rarely happens. It happens every single game. The Gators have averaged more than one kickoff penalty per game. That’s ridiculous. Just knee the ball, fair catch it. Start at the 25, guys. Start at the 25. That would be a breath of fresh air. I said it in my game takeaways last night. Just take it at the 25-yard line.

    I get it. Napier doesn’t trust another returner. He doesn’t trust another guy not to fumble the ball. Xzavier Henderson’s done it before. I get that. I get not wanting to turn the ball over. Trust me. But what I don’t get is still having him return it, because our best return to date was last night. We returned it. It was the return before half to the 27-yard line. That’s our best return, to the 27. It’s beyond frustrating.

    We even had former players. Ahmad Black last night tweeting out how ridiculous it is. He was tweeting out how ridiculous it is that Xzavier Henderson’s the one returning kicks. When you have former players, and Ahmad Black would ride or die for the Gators. He would die for the Gators. He bleeds blue and orange. So, when you have former players out here tweeting obvious things that need to be fixed, then something’s got to change. The special teams unit has to be better. If we have to start another drive at the four-yard line, I’m going to lose it. I’m going to lose it.

    Andrew: The thing about it is, so there’s certain penalties, Nick, and I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t know. There are certain penalties, and there’s certain parts of the game that the penalties are lack of effort and a lack of awareness. Obviously, holding call on offense sometimes can be that way, but most of the time not. Personal fouls are one of them. Late hits are one of them. That kind of stuff is one of them. Special teams penalties are that.

    When you see the back of a guy, and you can look at the back of his jersey and see his name and his number, don’t hit him. Period. End of discussion. Don’t hit him. Guy beats you, you better go figure out a way to get back in front of him. Don’t hit him. It’s as simple and easy as that right there. I don’t know any other way to say it. It is as simple and easy as that. Don’t hit that person. It continues to happen over and over and over again, and it is absolutely killing this team’s drives at times.

    We talk about it. Florida scored on a lot of those possessions. Guess what? It’s time taken off the clock that could have been used at the end of the game. You needed all of that. It’s all that stuff that adds together. You think it didn’t matter, because we scored. Okay. Yes, it didn’t in a way, but, yes, it did in a way. That stuff’s got to get fixed and got to get fixed in a big way.

    Now, special teams also made a big play. Diwun Black, huge recovery there on the onside kick. Looked unbelievably good there. Then you had a missed field goal. That hurt. That could have been used late in the game. Special teams has got to get better. It’s special for a reason, and it’s got to get better.

    Overall, you just have to improve that portion of the football game. While the penalties were there, Tennessee, man, they could have had an MMA fight. It wouldn’t have mattered. They didn’t care. Referees didn’t care. Hendon Hooker threw more elbows in that game than you’ll see in some UFC fights. The late hits and stuff by Tennessee, ridiculous. Ridiculous.

    Nick: I’ve watched a lot of football games, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player throw an elbow, multiple elbows in a row, to a player’s head and not get called for it.

    Andrew: In front of the referee.

    Nick: I’ve watched a lot of football in my life, and, seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that not called. I’m not one to sit here and say Gators lost because of penalties, because that isn’t true.

    Andrew: They didn’t lose because of that.

    Nick: But it is infuriating that that’s called in every other game I’ve ever watched and not against Florida. That’s infuriating. Before we wrap this up, Andrew, there’s still two more things I want to bring up.

    Andrew: Okay.

    Nick: The first one being, and we’ve seen it twice this year, when the offensive line believes that there’s an offsides, they freeze. We saw it against Kentucky, and then we just saw it against Tennessee. That, to me, makes absolutely zero sense. I mean zero sense. I would love to sit in a room, and I love Billy Napier, I support almost everything he’s done. This one, and it’s a very small detail, but it’s one in particular that I don’t get behind. I understand why it’s done. It’s not that I don’t understand why it’s done. It’s that I still don’t get why they do it.

    The particular play is when the offensive line believes that the defense is offsides, they freeze. Now, the reason they do that is because they want to get the penalty, right? They want the refs to see who the one that was jumping was. They want it to be on the defense. But what you’re doing is you’re giving up a free play. I feel like most of the times the refs do get it right, and then you get a free play, if your offensive line is playing. You get a free play. You get to throw it 50 yards downfield and hope for a completion, or you get to get 20 yards instead of five. You’re giving up a free play.

    Then the worst part of that situation is if it’s not called, you’re throwing away a play. You have to throw it away. We saw it last night. It was 1st and 10 too. Do you know how much harder it is to pick up a 1st down when it’s 2nd and 10 instead of 1st and 10? The odds say it’s very difficult.

    I don’t really know, Andrew, how you feel about it, but that is to me one of the most frustrating parts of what I’ve seen so far. It’s a very simple detail, which is saying something, because I do support a lot of what Napier has done here. In fact, almost all of it. But that one particular thing, and it’s something I’ve seen a few teams do this year, I don’t get it. I really don’t.

    Andrew: Yeah. I don’t either. I understand the logic, per se, behind it. You hope the defense just freezes, and you get a free play there. I don’t like it. That simple.

    Nick: Let me just say this. The best case scenario when you do that is that you’re right, and this is if the offensive line reacts to the play.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: The best case is you’re right, and it’s a free play. But if the offensive line isn’t moving, it’s not a free play anymore. You just have to throw it away. I understand you get five yards. That’s great, but you would get five yards anyway. I guess their thought process is it increases the chances of it being called, which may be true, but guess what? That’s happened twice this year, and neither time has it been called. I don’t even know if that’s true. The worst case is you’re wrong, and then you’re throwing away an actual play.

    Andrew: Yeah, no. I get it. I don’t like it.

    Nick: I just think it’s a chance to make a big-time play, and instead they’re just taking the five yards. When, in reality, I feel like most of the time it’s called anyways. We’ve seen them do it twice this year, and neither time was it even called, so they just threw it away both times. It was a drive killer both times. To me, that’s frustrating.

    Andrew: Again, I agree with you. I don’t like it. Again, I understand their logic behind wanting to do that, but I don’t like it.

    Nick: The one other thing I wanted to bring up, and this kinds of ties it all together with what we’ve been talking about, and I know me and you, Andrew, talked about it. On the last drive of the game, when the Gators are hoping for a miracle. They’re trying to get into the endzone. We saw two particular plays where the receivers did not go out of bounds. I know the clock stopped momentarily, but when you’re dealing with that kind of situation, where seriously every second is crucial, we saw Justin Shorter take five yards, take five extra yards instead of get out of bounds and save three, four seconds maybe. Do you know how crucial that three, four seconds would have been if we had it on the clock? We would not have had to throw a Hail Mary there. We could have done a quick slant out of bounds and then throw. Then we saw Bowman do it as well.

    My point is I expect that from Bowman. He’s a young receiver. I expect him to maybe make that mistake, but Shorter, you got to know to get out of bounds there. Not only does it allow your team to get set and really get the play call you want, but it saves you three to four seconds. I know they got on it and hiked it pretty quickly, but still. Three to four seconds, guess what? That adds up. The Gators could have used that four seconds. Bowman too. Bowman did the same thing. He took the extra five, ten yards instead of getting out of bounds. Normally, I would say that’s fine, but in this particular situation, the Gators needed those seconds.

    Andrew: Right. I’m with you. I’m with you for sure. Again, I think there was some little mistakes. I think for the most part Billy Napier took credit for it, or took responsibility for it, and said, listen, we didn’t play a clean game, and we need to clean it up. We didn’t make enough plays to win the game, and we need to clean it up.

    Again, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Not just defensively. Offensively, special teams, coaching. You can say the same thing about coaching. It’s all of it. It’s all of it that has to improve on game day. I will say this though. If you don’t believe things are headed in the right direction for this program, I don’t know what to tell you.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: I don’t know what to tell you.

    Nick: I agree. One of the main takeaways last night was that the team didn’t give up. They fought until the clock hit 0. Andrew, are we seeing that from last year’s team?

    Andrew: Hell no.

    Nick: No. We’re not seeing that. We’re not seeing that comeback, that kind of last second feeling. I think most of us thought the game was over, and then, all of a sudden, we have 39 yards, and we’ve seen Richardson do that before. It gave us hope, and that’s the kind of vibe that I want from this football team. I know the depth isn’t there, the talent, per se, isn’t there yet. That’s going to come. Napier knows what he’s doing. I think the biggest takeaway was just that the team did not roll over and die. In the last two, three years, that team’s not making a comeback. That team isn’t giving you a chance to win the football game. I think that’s what stood out to me the most.

    Napier stood in the paint in his press conference and took responsibility. I think he said 12-15 plays were on him, and that’s a lot. I respected that as well. It’s just one of those games where the Gators just couldn’t get a stop defensively, and that’s ultimately what it comes down to. It is frustrating, but there are positives to take away from what we saw last night, multiple.

    Andrew: The biggest thing is taking the lessons learned in this game and not letting them happen going forward. That’s the biggest thing that can happen. Good news is you got Eastern Washington coming to town. Hopefully, you can get some younger guys in there and maybe replace some of these veterans that can’t get the job done. I’m all for it.

    I said this to you off air. If you get beat man to man, one on one, and you’re playing your position, you just get beat, I can handle it. Am I going to be happy with it? No. But I can handle it. Completely not doing your job, there’s no excuse for it. There’s no excuse for it. Especially when you’re a senior. There’s no excuse for it. My patience with it is gone. It just is. I don’t know what else to say. You’re a fifth-year senior. You’re obviously never going to get it, because if you were, you’d would have gotten it by now.

    Again, it’s not a difficult scheme. It’s definitely not as difficult as it was with Todd Grantham. You can’t line up and know who you’re supposed to cover? You knew who you were supposed to cover, because you lined up on top of him, and then you let him go by you.

    Nick: Yeah.

    Andrew: I just don’t know what to say.

    Nick: The bottom line is we’re seeing it from the same players every week, right? It’s one of those things where it just makes you wonder. If the backups are going to make the same mistakes, because I understand that that’s the fear, just why not play them and let them learn from it? We’ll see in the coming weeks. I think you made a good point that the Gators do face Eastern Washington next week. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a lot of different players in the game, and maybe Toney sees something he likes out of the backups. Maybe he thinks the backups are going to give him a better chance to win.

    Time will tell. Like I said, I think a lot of change is going to happen with the defense over the course of even this season. I think we’ll see improvements. It’s certainly frustrating that it’s the senior players, and it’s the same players every week that are making these mistakes.

    Andrew: We got about two minutes here. At least you’re not Miami.

    Nick: Yeah. True.

    Andrew: They got blown out.

    Nick: They didn’t even lose. They got beat badly.

    Andrew: That was a beating. At least you didn’t lose to them. As all the people who were mad about the USF game, at least you won.

    Nick: Yeah. I think it says something when you find a way to win. Obviously, that game was not good, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s important that you find ways to win, because guess what? Some coaching staffs don’t find ways to win.

    Andrew: That’s exactly right. I’ll say this. I’ll say this one more time. I’ve known Billy Napier for 10+ years, followed his career. Been in coaching clinics where I’ve heard him speak. Florida’s in good shape with Billy Napier. Trust. Believe in the process. There’s a process. It just is what it is. It’s a process. I hate to say this, but certain guys adapt and are okay with losing and always revert back to those ways. Unfortunately, Billy Napier’s dealing with some of those guys on team. It just is what it is. Nothing he can do about it. Give the man a little bit of time.

    Listen, this is a football team that’s going to still win some football games this year. This is a team that’s going to scare some football teams. It’s going to be a team that’s not going to go into Jacksonville scared of Georgia. They’re not going to be. Do they win that game? Probably not, but they’re not going to be scared of them. They’re not going to be intimidated by them. Enjoy the season. Enjoy Anthony Richardson. Trust Billy Napier. Trust Patrick Toney. They’re good football coaches for a reason.

    Nick: Yeah. It’s at the point in the season, Andrew, that this team doesn’t have anything to lose. You’re 0-2 in SEC play. Your chances of having an incredible season are kind of falling out quickly. What does this team have to lose? Go out and play.

    Andrew: Not to cut you off here, but this is where Mullen lost his football team last year, where they quit.

    Nick: Right.

    Andrew: You’ll learn a lot about Billy Napier and his program going forward.

    Nick: Do you think this Gator team is going to into Doak Campbell Stadium and lay down let them run over them?

    Andrew: Hell no.

    Nick: Hell no. They’re going to give that team a run for their money, and it may be a good game this year for the first time in a while. I don’t think that FSU team is super excited to have this Gator team come into town. If I had to guess, they’re probably pretty nervous about it, and they’re nervous about it because the Gators are 2-2.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nick: We have absolutely nothing to lose. I just think it’s one of those things where go into College Station and give them a run for your money. Pull out all the tricks out of the bag. Go for it on 4th down every time. Do whatever you can to win the game.

    Andrew: That’s right.

    Nick: That’s the kind of energy that I’m looking forward to. I know the Gators played not great on defense, but the energy was there last night. That was a fun game to watch, and I think you’ll continue to see more of that down the road.

    Andrew: Agreed. Nick, we will be back on Friday to talk Eastern Washington and everything else surrounding the Gators. Again, we appreciate it. Check us out at and check us out on social media. Again, we appreciate it all, and we will talk to everyone on Friday.

    Nick: Yes, sir.

    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, 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.