Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre bring you a special episode of the Florida Gators podcast to preview the matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats. Today they’re joined by Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio to talk all things Kentucky Wildcats vs. Florida Gators football.
Jones breaks down how confident the Wildcats program is heading into the Florida Gators game plus his thoughts on the Gators program under first year head coach Jim McElwain.
Nick and Andrew also give you a quick injury update on all of the injured Florida Gators football players, plus give you an update on who should be playing this week and more.
Andrew: Hello, Gator Country. Andrew Spivey, I’m back. My boy, Nick de la Torre, he’s back. It’s Kentucky Wildcat week. You’re getting us on Wednesday, because we’ve got a special guest coming up in just a few minutes, Matt Jones. Who? Matt Jones. Not the Redskins Matt Jones, but Mr. Matt Jones, who is Kentucky Sports Radio, and he’s a passionate fellow. He loves them Wildcats. Go blue nation. He says Coach Calipari doesn’t pay him, but I don’t know if he’s lying or not. Nick, what’s up, buddy?
Nick: Nothing. Glad to be back here. You always kick me out to do your own podcast, but I’m always grateful when you open the doors and allow me back in to join you.
Andrew: If you would get up to my level a little bit. I’m just messing with you. Somebody did say that I was the Tom Brady and you were the Tim Tebow when it came to fashion. I think they’re messing up, because I’m the Tim Tebow, and you’re the Tom Brady when it comes to fashion.
Nick: I will just say that I am the goat when it comes to fashion.
Andrew: You’re the goat. I’m just the Under Armor, Polo, khaki shorts kind of fellow. I’m just your normal chill guy. Nick is Mr. GQ. Nick, today, excuse me, on Tuesday, we’re taping this on Tuesday, you guys are listening on Wednesday. Tuesday some big news, Vernon Hargreaves back at practice. McElwain still said he was questionable on Monday. I think if he’s back in practice on Tuesday, and after what we saw in warmups on Saturday, I think there’s not a chance in hell he misses the game on Saturday. Agree or disagree?
Nick: Right now, as you said, we’re doing this on Tuesday. Obviously things could change. We could be told something different by the time Friday comes around, but right now, as of Tuesday night, I believe Vernon Hargreaves will play this week. It looks like, to me, also, which may be even a bigger impact than Vernon Hargreaves, is Martez Ivey was back at practice. I got on Periscope today, put the video up on GatorCountry.com. Make sure you are signed in, logged up, and on the message boards. Martez Ivey going through drills in full pads. Getting him back might even be bigger than getting Vernon Hargreaves back, based on the opponent this week and what Florida’s going to try to do offensively.
Andrew: Yeah. Someone commented on the message boards and said, “His arms are long.” He’s a big boy, and I say he’s a big boy, he’s not a fat offensive lineman. If you were drawing up an offensive tackle you want him to look like Martez Ivey, long, strong as an ox. I watched a little bit of that video. He looked good going through drills. I’m sure he’s a little rusty, but I think it’s going to be big. For me, the biggest thing for me is I do think he plays right tackle. What do you do at right guard? I said this, and I mean no disrespect to Antonio Riles, Fred Johnson, those guys, but the right side of the line has been the weakness of the offense so far. Shore up the offensive line on the right side. What do you think they do at right guard? Real quick, what do you think they’re doing there?
Nick: I’m a broken record. If you’re on our message board, I’m a broken record. From left to right, I think you leave David Sharpe at left, leave Trip Thurman at left guard. Cam Dillard, Tyler Jordan, both have kind of struggled at times. That’s your center though, got to figure something out there. Right guard, I would put Mason Halter. At times he’s looked good. At times he’s struggled. When he’s struggled it’s, in my opinion, been his footwork and how quick his feet are, or aren’t. I think moving him inside takes some of that away. As you saw, Tyler Moore played much better inside than he ever did at tackle for Florida, and then you put Ivey at right tackle. Then again that gives you the two older veteran players mixed in with the redshirt freshman, sophomores, freshman there on the line.
Andrew: Yeah. Here’s my thing, and I am trying not to speculate. I don’t want anybody to speculate and say, “Andrew said this.” Andrew’s not saying this is what’s going to happen. I could tell you right now I have no damn clue of what the starting lineup’s going to be on the offensive line come Saturday. We’re taping this on Tuesday. I have no clue.
Nick: That’s why you’ve got to tune in for our Friday podcast when we have more updates.
Andrew: I wonder though if they don’t try Trip Thurman at center. I continue to think he’s your best option. I love Cam Dillard. I love Tyler Jordan. They’re both great people, but they’re just struggling blocking for me right now, and I don’t know. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, but the right side of the line is bad. I just wonder if maybe Thurman going to center, and then putting Riles at left guard. I’m not sure. Riles and Halter both had their up and down moments of looking good. I think you’re struggling right now after Ivey, Thurman and Sharpe of who your next best two guys are. Right now I couldn’t tell you and be 100% of who those two guys are.
Nick: Yeah. That’s the struggle. Getting Ivey back is a good thing. You’d rather have more guys to choose from than less guys to choose from. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out this Saturday, and then how it plays out in the game this Saturday will give us some insight as to what to expect the rest of the season as well.
Andrew: That is right. Absolutely. Quick thing real quick, before we get Matt on here. Alex Anzalone was at practice on Tuesday. Wasn’t there on Monday, but was there on Tuesday. Did not dress at all. You and I have talked about this. You can read into this thing as far as you want to. I’ve talked to as many people as I possibly can. I know you’ve talked to as many people as you possibly can. I honestly think I can sit here with certainty and say that nobody has an idea of what the next step for Anzalone is. I really and truly believe they’re still trying to figure out what the best step next going forward is.
Nick: Right. The only thing to me that is really concerning is Jim McElwain has said, if a guy is injured and getting treatment is going to be more beneficial than him coming out and watching practice, then he’s going to go in and get treatment. That’s Jim McElwain saying we want a guy to get the best medical care he can get. If he’s going to get more from stem work or icing or a massage or anything like that then he will from just sitting there watching practice, we’re going to let him do that. Monday Anzalone and Vernon Hargreaves missed practice. To me, that doesn’t say, they missed Monday practice, they’re definitely out Saturday. It says to me, it’s better for them, two guys who have been in the defense for a while, better for them to get treatment on some injuries than to go stand around and watch practice for two hours.
To see Anzalone dressed out, not in pads, but a jersey on, watching practice that tells me maybe there’s nothing they can do right now for that shoulder. Is it more serious? To me, I would have felt better about Anzalone playing on Saturday if he wasn’t at practice today, as weird as that sounds. If he wasn’t at practice today, rather than if he was, like he was today, not participating.
Andrew: Yeah. Here’s my way of looking at it. I have talked to a couple people about this. One person told me that it’s the labrum in his shoulder, and it’s the same shoulder he hurt. You and I have talked about this.
Nick: Right. That’s what McElwain has said. He enrolled early and then missed that entire spring that he enrolled early because of the labrum issue, and he does already wear a brace still on that shoulder.
Andrew: I talked to a couple people. One of my best friends is a physical therapist. We were talking about this, and he was telling me there’s several options you can do with a torn labrum. If you’re a pitcher, you’re done, completely done. You’re done. If you’ve got to throw a baseball, you’re done. If you’ve got to play quarterback, you’re done. If you’re shooting basketball, you’re done. If you’re playing linebacker, there is the potential, it’s not going to get worse. A torn labrum is torn. It’s done. It’s history. The only way it’s getting better is if you have surgery. I was told that there is a particular new brace that they’ve made to lock the arm from moving more than, I think you said 45 degrees is what you were told. Anyway, I’ve heard that there’s a possibly he can play with the brace on his shoulder. So maybe they’re waiting on the brace to come in, and that’s why he didn’t play. You and I are just speculating right now, but there’s so many different things that right now I really couldn’t tell you what’s going on with Alex Anzalone.
Nick: We’ll get a definitive update from Jim McElwain on Wednesday. As we tape this, right now I would be surprised if Alex Anzalone played, which puts an emphasis on Jarrad Davis. A big thing, real quick, because we’re making Matt wait on us now. A big thing is getting Keanu Neal back at safety.
Nick: Keanu Neal is ready.
Andrew: I heard he had a quote today.
Nick: Keanu Neal is like a wild animal right now that hasn’t been fed for a week, for two weeks. He’s missed two games. He is ready to go.
Andrew: That’s kind of interesting, though. He’s going to play the Wildcats. He wants to eat the Wildcats.
Nick: Let me read you this quote, and then I have a question. Keanu Neal, today we asked him, what’s going through you? What are the emotions going through you being able to come back and play this week, getting a chance to return for SEC play? Here’s Keanu Neal, “I’ve got so much built up in me. I was telling Brian Poole this earlier. I can’t wait until Saturday. I’ve got so much anger and just energy built up in me. I’m ready to go. I can’t wait.” My question is, do you want to go across the middle and catch a pass with a safety who hits as hard, and who is as big as Keanu Neal, when he’s playing with that mentality?
Andrew: Absolutely not. You and I have both been told he’s been okay to play the last two weeks. Macs made him sit for precautionary reasons. He’s like a caged dog that Mac is like, okay, hunting season’s on Saturday, boys. Hunting season’s on Saturday. I’m opening the cage. Go catch the deer, or in this one it’s the Wildcats. Again, I don’t want to give anything away for Friday, but your boy right here has been okay the last two times on predictions, and Kiki, listen up, buddy, because you may be my pick on Friday. Nick, Matt is buzzing us both. He’s ready to come in. Let’s get Matt Jones from Kentucky Sports Radio.
Andrew: Matt Jones. Here we go. We’re welcoming in Matt Jones from Kentucky Sports Radio.
Nick: Gator fans, we are being joined by Matt Jones, not former Florida running back Matt Jones, who is now playing on Sundays for the Washington Redskins. We’re being joined by Matt Jones who’s the founder of KentuckySportsRadio.com. Matt, thank you for joining us.
Matt: I’m glad to do it. I have to tell you, that Matt Jones has infuriated me, because he has made it impossible for me to do something that I used to do. I used to always search my name on Twitter to get people who said they hated me, so that I could make fun of them on Twitter, especially Louisville fans. Now I can’t search my name. Everything’s about him, and it really does annoy me. I don’t know him at all, but I don’t like him solely for that reason.
Nick: We’ll see if we can get both of you on the podcast, and maybe we can hash out your differences.
Matt: He has such a good preseason. I would search my name, and it would just be, “My sleeper fantasy pick is Matt Jones.” I was like, get over it. He’s everybody’s sleeper. We got it. Move on.
Nick: He’s on my fantasy team. He rode the bench Week 1, but he might sneak in there at some point.
Matt: He’s on mine too. I picked him because of that. I’d read about him so much, why not?
Andrew: Nick, before we get started a little bit, he’s saying he’s searching because Louisville fans hate him. I guess he and I should be friends, because Tennessee fans can’t stand me right now.
Nick: Andrew’s been waging a personal war on the entire Vol nation, since before the season.
Matt: They’re an easy group. There’s nothing better than making fans of teams who aren’t as good as they think they are get angry. Tennessee football’s right at the top. They still believe this is like Peyton Manning, Tee Martin era. Now, granted, they’re better this year, but they’ve been irrelevant for a decade. They’re like Indiana basketball in a lot of ways. People still clinging onto a past that has left.
Andrew: I like this man already. I’ve only known him for roughly five minutes, and he’s my new best friend.
Nick: Matt, the first thing I wanted to talk about was the stadium renovations. It seems like when Stoops was hired it brought this change in culture maybe a little bit to Kentucky where, I don’t know if Kentucky football will ever surpass basketball, but it seemed like more people were excited about the football team. The stadium renovations showed that there’s really a concerted effort into putting more emphasis into the football program. I guess my first question is will there be a record attendance, an attendance record set this week with Florida coming in, and what is the fans’ perception of the football team this season?
Matt: I think there’s no doubt that there is a new emphasis on football. It really started when Rich Brooks was hired. People don’t realize this, but Kentucky nearly hired Bill Parcells. You tell that to people, and they go, “No they didn’t.” Then you read Bill Parcells’ book, and he talks about it. He almost came to Kentucky. He was on a plane on the way to Lexington, and then his agent got a call from Jerry Jones with the Cowboys, and so he went and did that. That was the start of this notion of we’re going to try to really invest in fooball. It couldn’t happen for boring reasons, and then they got the legislature passed with the stadium, and it’s different now.
They pay Mark Stoops a pretty good salary. More importantly, they pay the coordinators now with top level SEC schools. They hired the Offensive Coordinator from West Virginia, left West Virginia to come to Kentucky. I think that’s a pretty big step, and now there’s a notion of maybe finally they can compete. The biggest reason is this. They used to go south and recruit. They’d go to Georgia, Alabama, Florida and try to take the guys that you all didn’t get. Mark Stoops changed it. He said, “I’m going to go to Ohio and just take the guys from Ohio that Ohio State doesn’t want. We’ll come in second place in Ohio instead of seventh place in Florida.” It’s worked. He’s loaded with talent. It’s more talent then has ever been here. If you look at this roster right now, top to bottom it’s more talent than any time in my lifetime. They’re all like freshmen and sophomores, but I think in a year or two they’re going to be loaded.
Nick: That’s interesting that you mention that, because we always talk about there’s too much talent in the state of Florida for the big 3 to take everybody, and why aren’t these other schools like UCF and USF better, but it’s interesting to say that you’d rather be second place in Ohio than, like you said, seventh place in Florida. That actually kind of makes sense to me.
Matt: Ohio produces a ton of kids, and Ohio State is the only school that recruits there. Right now, for instance the run to Michigan State has been on these last couple years. How’d that happen? They were second place in Ohio. Then Kentucky has beaten Michigan State consistently over the last two years for players. I think, this is just my prediction, you’re going to see Michigan State go down in the next two or three years, because bizarrely Kentucky has taken the players that Michigan State was getting, and Kentucky’s selling point is, you’re in Ohio. We know you love Ohio, but wouldn’t you like to play in the best conference in football? We’re the state that’s closest to you. Your family can drive to the games, and it’s worked. The school that has suffered the most, Michigan State, although they’re still winning, but I tell you the school that’s really suffered is South Carolina. Kentucky has beaten Spurrier for 15 recruits over the last two years, and that never happened before. That really is the difference.
Nick: That’s pretty unheard of.
Andrew: I look at your commit list right now. Twenty-two commits, 12 of those are from Ohio. Interesting you say that, because you don’t see Kentucky mentioned as much with the Florida guys. Now it makes sense that you guys are there. I kind of agree with your point though, it’s tough for Kentucky to come to Florida, because Florida kids have to then pass by Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee. There’s a lot of schools that they have to pass by to get to Kentucky, and it is a lot easier for you guys to recruit Ohio. As you say, Ohio is probably one of the best, if not the best, northern state for high school football, really outside of the SEC.
Matt: You’re exactly right. Vince Marrow, who’s the Recruiting Coordinator, he kills in Ohio. Michigan, when Harbaugh got there his first coach he tried to hire was Marrow, and Kentucky ended up paying him $500,000 a year to be a Recruiting Coordinator, something that they would have never paid in years past, and he turned Michigan down. It was all because of his Ohio connection. Right now Kentucky, if you look at their freshmen/sophomore class, over half the players are from Ohio. They’ve also benefited from, and you’re going to see that in that commit list, the state of Kentucky is producing more talent than it ever has in years past. Kentucky’s got like five guys that are four star players in the state. That, again, never happened in years past. Now they have them. Stoops has gotten them to stay home, and you see some of that in the talent, Patrick Towles, the quarterback, the backup Drew Barker. Next year they’ve got three All-American offensive linemen coming, all from the state of Kentucky.
Andrew: That’s a big step up. Mark Stoops, in my opinion, is one of the better recruiters in the SEC, but to move away a little bit from recruiting. I always like to ask this question when Nick and I talk to opposing teams. What is your perspective of Florida right now as a program, as an offense, as a defense? What do you expect from Florida coming into this game as a program and as a team in general?
Matt: I think those are two different questions, as a team and a program. As a team I think, just from afar, the most vulnerable Florida’s ever been to Kentucky. You all have had years where you weren’t great, but Kentucky was worse. I was thinking about this 28 game losing streak, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a year that Kentucky was better than Florida. Sometimes the better team doesn’t win, right, but I’m not sure that there was ever a year that Kentucky was the better team. Even when we were good, like Tim Couch, you were just better. When Kentucky had Andrew Woodson, you all had Tebow. I’m not sure Kentucky’s ever been better. I think they might be better this year, and if they’re not better, they’re really close. It’s the probably the closest the two programs have ever been.
What I don’t understand about Florida is there’s no reason Florida shouldn’t always be great, in my view. With the players you all can get, and how beautiful everything is down there, including the student body, I don’t understand how Florida is ever not good. So the run of the last few years, and it’s really surprised me. Obviously Urban was great, but how did Ron Zook not succeed? How does Will Muschamp not succeed? Who knows about this new guy, but I just don’t understand it. To me, Florida should be like, well I don’t understand why Texas hasn’t been good for a while. There’s just some schools that should never be bad, and I would think Florida is one of them.
Andrew: Do you think that the program at Kentucky, you see Patrick Towles say different things about that. I guess, of course they’re going to say they’re going to go into this game feeling like they should beat Florida, or are capable of beating Florida, but do you think that they finally feel like they’ve caught up to talent in Florida? Is that a perception?
Matt: I do think that. I think they thought that last year too. First of all, again, go back to recruiting. It’s a different mentality. They’ve got kids that are high level talent. This team talks trash. You all will either love Kentucky or hate them as the year goes. They talk more trash than any Kentucky team ever has.
Matt: Part of that is just because they’re young, but also it’s because that’s part of the mentality Stoops has wanted to instill. What folks don’t understand is Kentucky has not only had a losing team, they’ve had a losing mentality. Kentucky fans assume we’re going to lose every game in the most heartbreaking way possible. Really it started with when Chris Doering got that catch in Lexington. That might have been before your time.
Nick: Doering got a touchdown.
Matt: Yeah, for Kentucky, and that started a string of 10 years where we lost crazy, heartbreaking games. You remember the Bluegrass Miracle, the LSU game. They lost every way they could lose. Mark Stoops has brought these guys in that are just like, we don’t care. When they won at South Carolina I was in that locker room, and there was a sense of see? That history is now past. If you went on the practice field this week, I know the Kentucky guys think that they are as good as better than Florida. That’s a mindset that I’m not sure anyone has ever had. I’m good friends with Jeremy Lorenzen, who was a former quarterback, the Hefty Lefty, and he used to say that going to those Florida games just hoping a couple things happened to give them a chance. These are going into Florida, and I bet you they go into almost every game this year, thinking we will win.
Nick: Almost a we’ll talk the talk before we walk the walk, because you need to have talking a little bit of trash, just to maybe change your mindset. Florida, Antonio Morrison today talked about guys around here are so used to losing these past couple years that we didn’t know how to react after beating New Mexico State, and then we came out flat all week in practice. We’re talking about a program like Florida losing for a couple years, and guys getting used to losing. Where a program like Kentucky there was decades of losing that you have to change the mentality.
Matt: The fan expectation is huge, and these kids see it. Every time there’s a bad play, groaning, etc. If I had come on here last week, before they beat South Carolina, I would have said I think Kentucky would win, but I’m not sure I’d have predicted it. I now am going to predict Kentucky will win, because I do think that South Carolina game was a program changing game. Whatever happens this week, even if they lose to Florida, they’re going to most likely now make a bowl game. I think next year they’re going to be really, really good. They’re not really good yet, because they’re so young, and they make a lot of stupid mistakes, but they have a talent level that they just haven’t had before.
Andrew: To go back, I’m sure you’ve already started to look a little bit at Florida, have probably watched a couple Florida games. Going in, what matchups do you see being favorable for Florida and favorable for Kentucky in this game?
Matt: I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t gotten to watch Florida much this year. I watched them last year, obviously, a decent amount, but that’s completely different. To be quite frank with you, I don’t really know Florida very well. I can tell you what Kentucky does well. Kentucky’s going to score points. They run the ball fairly effectively. They have great running backs. They have really good but very young wide receivers. You saw some of them at Florida last year, Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker both played well against the Gators. They have probably the best offensive line they’ve had in a decade. They can actually block. Patrick Towles can be really good. He was really good at Florida last year. He can also be really bad. He was really bad in some games last year. The offense is a strength.
I think the defense is a weakness. They cannot stop the run. So I don’t know how good Florida is running football, but if they are good they should be able to run on Kentucky. South Carolina ran well on Kentucky, but then they’d make penalties and get in passing situations, and they can’t pass at all. So that’s how Kentucky was able to stop them. If Florida can run, Kentucky just struggles with running. Again, back to what I was saying, they’ve got a lot of young guys on defense, and they’re not always in the right place. They’re super athletic, but they can be sort of fooled with misdirection. Lafayette did that. Lafayette destroyed Kentucky in the second half of the game Kentucky won by just running misdirection plays and confusing UK’s young players. I think Florida can exploit them at that if they get in front of the ball.
Nick: Florida’s got a true sophomore quarterback and a redshirt freshman quarterback that they’re still trying to work into the mix. They have had great production from two freshmen, Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite, and then Kelvin Taylor. I would say right now Florida’s strength is probably running the ball, even though the offensive line got pushed around a little bit against an Eastern Carolina team that probably shouldn’t have been able to push the offensive line around. It’s kind of a mixed bag with Florida, but I would expect them to try to exploit that deficiency in Kentucky and be able to run the ball, control the clock, this year.
Matt: I think they’ll have success at that. The question, though, is what can they do on the other side? Is Vernon Hargreaves going to play? I know they said probably. What does that mean in coach speak down there? Is he going to play?
Nick: We expect Vernon Hargreaves to play. The issue on the defense is Alex Anzalone, who is a junior linebacker, had really taken control and is the quarterback of this defense, hurt his shoulder last week. He’s very questionable for the game Saturday, and that would be your big missing piece, because he’s the most athletic linebacker, the best cover linebacker that Florida has. Antonio Morrison’s a great guy against the run. Jarrad Davis is good against the run, kind of a wild player, runs 110 miles an hour wherever he can. That can lead him to get out of position at times. Florida will miss Alex Anzalone if he can’t play.
Matt: I think the linebacker position is key playing against Kentucky, for two reasons. One, they’re going to have a lot of sets with a lot of running backs, excuse me, wide receivers, and they have a four star tight end that they really haven’t used a lot, a true freshman, CJ Conrad, who has a chance to be an All-American. He’s actually an Ohio kid. He won’t be an All-American this year, but before he’s done. He’s an Ohio kid who picked Kentucky over Ohio State, which is kind of insane if you think about it, but he did. The linebackers, Kentucky’s done a really good job of getting past the line of scrimmage with their running backs, and then against Lafayette their linebackers struggled, and a 7 yard run would turn into a 35 yard run. Same thing happened against South Carolina. That will a position Kentucky will try to exploit.
Ben Williams is maybe the best running back that’s been at Kentucky since maybe Mowry. He has a chance to be a real star, sophomore, and he’s kind of gone off. Actually, the Florida game last year was kind of the game where he had his breakout. By the way, we still got screwed last year. That clock was at 0 when they ran that last play. They should have called a penalty. They might have still gotten it on the next play, but I still can’t get over them not calling the delay game.
Nick: Speaking of last year’s game, does Kentucky have an answer on defense for Demarcus Robinson? Demarcus Robinson is just a sophomore last year, broke records.
Matt: No. Not really. Here’s what they’ll do. They have a true freshman corner back. He got the game winning interception against South Carolina, named Chris Westry. He’s 6’4”, and again another guy that I think in the future has a chance to be a star.
Andrew: From the state of Florida.
Matt: From the state of Florida. Committed to Kentucky, he got an offer from Florida. I don’t know how serious that was, but he did pick Kentucky over Auburn, which surprised me, to be honest. He’s good. He’s a good player. He’s already starting. They’ll probably put him on that guy and then see what happens. I expect him to get beaned some. He’s gotten beaned in every game so far, but he also is really talented and can make the big play. He made the game winning interception last week.
Nick: Okay. Shifting away a little bit from football. This will be my first trip to Lexington. A lot of our members at our site have talked about making the trip to Lexington. Where am I going to get the best meal in Lexington while I’m there this weekend?
Matt: That’s a great question. First of all, do you like southern Kentucky-esque food? Do you like that?
Nick: I don’t know what southern Kentucky-esque food means, but if it means barbeque.
Matt: Not really. It’s sort of, I don’t know. It’s kind of soul foody a little bit. I would say to you, if you have on decent clothes, there’s a place downtown called Dudley’s that’s probably one of the signature Lexington restaurants. You can’t go in with all sports gear. You’ve be kind of out of place. Beyond that I would say the thing to do in Lexington is to drink bourbon. It’s not really so much what you eat. You’re in the bourbon capital of the world. So if you don’t have bourbon while you’re there, you’re making a mistake. You’ll never find it cheaper, so if you know any people that like bourbon, bourbon that costs you all $50 a bottle is like $15 a bottle in Lexington. Come and get it. Woodford Reserve, you may not be bourbon heads, but you can get really good bourbon for a good price. That’s what I would do if I was visiting Lexington. It’s unfortunate for you guys, because October is when Keeneland, the horse track, is open in Lexington. It’s one of the most beautiful horseracing tracks in the country. You’re going to miss that. That’s what our road fans do when they come up here.
Nick: I might have to bring an empty suitcase and fill it with bourbon for the flight back on Sunday.
Matt: I’m telling you, that is the thing to do. Real close to the stadium there’s a couple specialty bourbon stores, and if I were you that’s the play.
Nick: There here we go. We’ll jump into a little prediction, getting back into football. You’ve already said you’re going to pick Kentucky to win. Can you give me Kentucky wins this game if they do what?
Matt: First of all, it’s going to be the rowdiest game in Lexington in a decade.
Nick: Getting back to the stadium real quick, do you expect it to be a record attendance for a football game?
Matt: Could be. Usually that’s Kentucky vs. Louisville that does that, but it’s already sold out, and for Kentucky games they’re not usually sold out on the Monday before. I think it’s going to be rowdy. I think it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be at night. Kentucky fans have been waiting for this. Even though Florida’s not a rival, because you all beat us so much, the 28 or 27 game losing streak weighs on Kentucky fans. They had a long Tennessee streak that they final broke. They had a long road game streak that they broke last week. This is the last embarrassing streak that Kentucky has, and it’s real important to the psyche of the program to end it. So fans are going to be out there. I think there’s going to be fans out there starting in the morning. It’s going to be, for Kentucky, a wild scene.
Because of all that, that’s why I think Kentucky has an advantage. I think they win if Patrick Towles plays well. If Patrick is just okay or really good, sometimes he can be really good, I think they win. If he doesn’t, then I don’t know, because Kentucky’s going to have to score. To beat Florida they’re going to have to score at least 31, because they’re going to give up points. I expect a rowdy environment. I think Patrick plays well. I think Kentucky wins 35-31. Saturday’s game was the notion of, this program has turned a corner. Beating Florida would be the, now we have a chance to really be at a level that Kentucky hasn’t been in 30 years.
Andrew: I think the man has spoken. He is going with the Wildcats on Saturday. My last thing for you is, for Kentucky, how big is a win over Florida going to help recruiting wise? At Florida right now recruits are waiting to see McElwain. Are recruits waiting on this big game from Stoops before totally buying in?
Matt: I think South Carolina did that, to be honest. I’ve thought all year, in order for Kentucky to keep that 22 person class together that you were just talking about they need to make a bowl game. The way their schedule sets up, they play Charlotte, Eastern Kentucky, and Vandy. I think they win all those. They’re one game away from basically locking up a bowl game. That could be this one, but it also could be next week against Missouri. I don’t think losing to Florida ends the season, but I do think the stigma of the streak over people’s heads, I don’t think you can overstate how much Kentucky fans hate that there’s a 28 game losing streak. It’s embarrassing. I mean, how do you lose 28 straight games to anybody? I think ending that is the thing. This Florida team’s probably not good enough to storm the field over, but it’s ending that 28 game streak, which is why if they win you’ll see it happen.
Nick: Ending a 28 year streak is a good reason to write a check to the SEC for storming the field.
Matt: No doubt. Here’s an interesting subplot, for people who care about SEC football. I think Kentucky has passed South Carolina in the conference. If you think about it, Kentucky’s been the second worst team in the conference for a long time, and when James Franklin was at Vandy they were the worst team in the conference. I think they just passed South Carolina, beating them two years in a row. Beat them for 15 recruits in the past two seasons, and if you watch that game, not only did Kentucky win, they were objectively better.
Matt: This game, I don’t think Kentucky’s going to pass Florida. They can recruit too well for Kentucky to pass them, but they can get a W on them to stay competitive with them right now, and I think that would be big.
Nick: It’s also, like you’ve mentioned, you’ve knocked those monkeys off your back getting the road losing streak, the Tennessee losing streak, and this is the last one, the longest of the streaks, the boss at the end of a game that you’ve been playing.
Matt: If you come up here, I know you want Florida to win, as you should, but if Kentucky wins, if you’re covering it in the press, it will be a neat scene, if you can get over the fact that your team lost, if you did. It will be an emotional scene there. It really is. Kentucky fans love football. We’ve sucked at it for 30 years, but they love it. They get 50,000, 60,000 people to see 2-10 teams. If they can do this there’s going to be like the emotion of having sucked for a decade straight come out, if they win. It has a chance to be, if you’re a Kentucky fan, a really neat time.
Nick: Sounds like it might be a riot.
Matt: It could be. It could be something like that. Here’s the other thing. If they win this game, they got Missouri next week. They could beat them. Then they have Eastern, and then they’ll have a Thursday night against Auburn on national television. Who knows? Fans are starting to dream, but it doesn’t happen unless they win this game Saturday.
Andrew: Matt, I think I speak for Nick, we really appreciate you coming on.
Andrew: Talking about Wildcat football, and maybe we’ll get you on when it’s basketball season, because Florida does suck in basketball this year.
Matt: They’re not going to be as bad as you think, but I think the glory days, who did you all hire again?
Nick: I think it was Florida and Louisiana Tech, they made a trade for Jeff Driskel, and they got Mike White in return.
Matt: I don’t know if he’s any good or not, but Billy is one of the best to ever do it. I don’t think he ever got the national credit he deserved to win like he won, and not just national titles, but they were good year after year. I have a lot of respect for him, and the SEC is going to miss him.
Andrew: Definitely. Matt, we appreciate it so much. We will be talking to you soon. Real quick, how can Florida fans follow you on game day on Twitter?
Matt: It’s @KYSportsRadio. I will be pacing back and forth watching. I usually spit my venom on there, and then if you want to find me if we win I’ll be the guy at center field doing snow angels on the line.
Andrew: Matt, we appreciate it. Until next time, thank you again from Gator Country.
Andrew: Nick, that was a great conversation with Matt. We will have plenty more on this game, but just to kind of sum up what he said, just for a second here. He had a lot of things. It’s tough for me to believe everything he says, because I do feel his passion for Kentucky, just like our passion is for Florida. I think he may be talking a little too big for the Wildcats.
Nick: This is the thing that I agree with. A win this week for Kentucky is program changing.
Andrew: It is.
Nick: Not only getting that 28 game losing streak, that monkey off your back, but program changing in all the things that Stoops has been telling his players, and then the players don’t see it transpire onto the field. Coach said if we did X, Y, and Z we’d win this week, and we got our butts handed to us. If you get a win over Florida, and now you’ve knocked Tennessee off, you’ve knocked South Carolina off, finished that 22 game road SEC losing streak, and now you’ve knocked Florida off, I think you start to get a real true belief in the players, and there’s something to be said for that.
Andrew: Yeah, but you’re also talking about a pissed off Florida football team that’s going up there too. I think that while we talk about how bad that ECU game was, the more I sit here, and the more I think about it, the more I see Kentucky fired up for this game. If Florida would have beat ECU 60-0, Florida goes in, and they have that letdown game against Kentucky. Now I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind Florida goes in there not believing the hype of Kentucky. I think Florida goes in there knowing they’re in for a war in that game, and I expect a good football game. I expect a really good football game. I think Kentucky’s a better team, but it’s one of those deals I can’t say Kentucky’s going to beat the Gators until I actually see it. I think Florida has more talent on the field than that, and there’s nobody on that team that’s stopping Demarcus Robinson.
Nick: No. Nobody even came close last year. I don’t think anyone’s going to this year. It’ll be interesting to see if you put a 6’4” defensive back, we’ve talked about how Demarcus would like to play flag football if there was a professional league for that. He doesn’t really like contact, so if you can maybe get someone jammed at the line, someone that can play physical with him, maybe throw him off, but I don’t think there’s anybody. There’s nobody at Kentucky that can run with and stay with Demarcus Robinson consistently, and 200 receiving yards last year shows that.
Andrew: And a freshman. A freshman’s going to go against him? Come on now. This is Chris Westry, and, guys, I know he did have a so-called Florida offer from Will Muschamp, no near was a take. Auburn dropped him as well. I’m not talking crap about Chris Westry. He’s a good football player, but he is not the guy to be one on one with Demarcus Robinson on Saturday. I don’t care if it’s Treon, Will, or Clarabelle, one of them is getting the ball to Demarcus Robinson. Jim McElwain, if you’re listening to this, just throw the man the ball about 15 times, because Demarcus Robinson may win the football game for the Gators.
Nick: He did last year.
Andrew: He may do it again.
Nick: Literally, not only did he kick them in the game, but then he literally won it in overtime.
Andrew: That’s correct, and he may do it again. Now here’s the thing, here’s an interesting thing. This is probably the biggest thing I took away from the conversation we just had with Matt is their running game’s not good. Okay. Is Kentucky’s D line worse than ECU’s?
Nick: Their running defense, you said running game. Their running defense is not.
Andrew: Yeah, running defense. I wonder how big that’s going to be. If that’s the case, we’ll see, because Florida probably gets Martez Ivey back. That should help a little bit. They do have big fat boy Matt Elam inside. He’s about 350, and that’s after he lost weight.
Nick: That’s on a light day.
Andrew: That’s on a light day.
Nick: That’s without breakfast.
Andrew: That’s without breakfast, so Cam Dillard, eat your Pop Tarts and your Cheerios in the morning, because that’s going to be a big test. It will be interesting to see how it is. I think Cronkrite gets his first start. You may see some big things out there. The crowd being wild on Saturday, that’s scary for a freshman quarterback in Will Grier. Maybe that does lead to Treon starting the game, like it’s dictating where Will started last game, Treon starts this game. I don’t care how loud Kentucky will be, it won’t be anything like—
Nick: Not going to be louder than it was when Treon played in Knoxville last year.
Andrew: That is right. Definitely. Nick, let’s end this bad boy, because you and I have a lot to talk about on Thursday. I will say this, though, Matt is my new best friend, because he hates the Vols. Matt didn’t get to say it, but I will surely say it, Boomer Sooner, baby.
Nick: If you are in Lexington this weekend, find me, and we will find some bourbon.
Andrew: Definitely. Say your thing, buddy, and let’s get out of here.
Nick: Stay classy, Gator Country.
Andrew: Boomer Sooner.