Podcast: Midweek previewing Florida Gators vs. FSU

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we continue to preview the Florida Gators big rivalry game against Florida State on Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre give the keys for the Gators to have a big week against Florida on Saturday.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the rivalry and the latest around the Gators program.


Andrew:​What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s Wednesday, getting ready for Florida State. It’s rivalry week. Time for the Gators to take down the Noles again. I don’t know if it’s a question of if they will. It’s maybe how bad they will.

Nick:​Yeah. A couple years ago, Florida had an interim head coach, and they were going into this game not feeling good about themselves. Some of the players, even yesterday when we talked to them, said we were just hoping it would end, or just waiting for it to end. I think that’s kind of where FSU sits. It’s rivalry week, so you’re not really feeling bad for them. Like you said, you’re just how many can we put on them? How bad can it get?

Andrew:​Exactly. Let me just tell you this. The Gators, they’re not feeling bad for them at all. They don’t care how bad they are. They just don’t care. They want to beat Florida State and beat them bad. As someone told me, don’t think Dan Mullen’s going to take mercy on them.

Nick:​No. No, no. I think, Dan Mullen doesn’t talk about it publicly, especially during the week, but he knows it’s a rivalry week. No love lost for the Seminoles. I think if he has the opportunity, he’ll take advantage of it. It’ll be interesting to see what Florida State team shows up, because they’re going through a bunch right now. By the time they get to Gainesville, has the playing and rallying around Odell Haggins, has that kind of worn off? What has it been, three games now, four?

Andrew:​Yeah. Three, right?

Nick:​Yeah. So, has that worn off? I mean, honestly, the talent level is not the same.

Andrew:​Let me ask you this. Is this a situation, let me turn it back. Let me go a different way. Is this a situation kind of like what we saw with Florida with Randy Shannon, where some of the players came out voicing support for Randy Shannon, or is it deeper for Odell Haggins? Obviously, Haggins is a Nole through and through, been there forever. He’s definitely not a Cane like Shannon was. So, is it different, Nick, as far as this goes? In my opinion, and let me just say, they may, but in my opinion they can’t hire this guy as the had coach for long term.

Nick:​I was actually talking to a friend about that. He played baseball at Florida State. We always talk this week. He always asks me what I think about the game, and he said his score prediction was 41-31. I was like, hey boss, Florida State ain’t scoring 31.

Andrew:​I thought you was about to say 41-3, and I was going to say he might be smart.

Nick:​He said 41-31. I said, hey boss. He goes, why, is Florida’s defense good? I was like, they’ve given up 69 points in the second half of games this year. They’re pretty good.


Nick:​He was like, oh, never mind. But he was asking what I thought about the coach, and I said, I don’t know. I thought Mark Stoops would be probably the guy that I would go after if I was in charge over at Florida State. I thought what Mark Stoops has done and built at Kentucky, he’s probably won as much as anyone at Kentucky can, so I thought his decision would come down to have I reached my peak? Have I reached the ceiling at Kentucky? Then the other part is I’ve been up to Lexington, and they have built so much in the way of facilities and renovating the football stadium. He’s got his fingerprints. It’s all him. He’s built all that. So, I thought, do you leave what you’ve built to go to this other school, because there’s a better chance of winning? Apparently, he took his name out of the running.

Andrew:​I think it has to answer to this too, Nick. If you’re Mark Stoops, let’s just say what it is. He has a long leash up there before his name’s going to be on the hot seat. This might be crazy, Nick, but I’ll throw this out at you. The talent at Kentucky is probably better than Florida State right now.

Nick:​Right. But that’s a credit to him.

Andrew:​Right. I’m just saying. Do you want to go back through the whole rebuilding process again? I mean, we’ve talked about it. Whoever gets this job at FSU has got a long process to go. The talent differential at Florida State than Clemson right now, who they got to compete with, is miles apart. We joke about Florida being behind Georgia. Florida State to Clemson is like Vanderbilt to Alabama.

Nick:​That’s where I was trying to get at. You’ve built something, and you’re really comfortable, and they’ve built a bunch of stuff in the way of facilities around you. I mean, Mark Stoops would crush it recruiting at Florida State, I think. The talent he gets, at least early on, and then can’t hold onto because it’s Kentucky, that wouldn’t happen at Florida State.

Andrew:​I wonder how he would do though. He’s done well because of where he’s recruited. He’s recruited the second guys in Ohio that maybe Ohio State doesn’t want. I’ve always wondered, and I said this to someone when the whole thing was pretty out there that Mark Stoops may be interested in the job, I’ve always said I don’t know how he’ll do recruiting. Can he go down to Miami and recruit? I don’t know. I have my pros and cons there. Would he bring Eddie Gran with him? Eddie Gran’s dirty, so he could do that, but it would depend there. I guess this is the thing too, Nick. You’re already on three. You’ve been turned down by Bob Stoops. You’ve been turned down by Mark Stoops. You’re on #3.

Nick:​Any other Stoops brothers?

Andrew:​Yeah. Do you just settle? Do you just settle on Odell now? Is that the process? Listen, I have no love lost for Florida State. If they want to hire Odell and lose every game for the next 30 years, more power to you. You owe the world a lot from what Jameis Winston did. I just don’t know. Listen, do I think you should appreciate what he’s done? Sure, but being the head coach at Florida State’s a big job.

Nick:​Huge. I think, and let’s see what you think, I think it would almost be like a placeholder job, kind of like sure, we’ll give it to you, but we might get rid of you in a little bit.

Andrew:​Maybe just until we find someone better.

Nick:​Right. Just a placeholder. I mean, he’s been there 26 years.

Andrew:​Right. That’s what I’m saying. Does he deserve the opportunity to be interviewed? Yes. I get that. But at the end of the day, there’s a reason why he hasn’t been promoted before.

Nick:​Yeah. I don’t know where they go. To me, Mark Stoops was the guy. I don’t know why you even, I guess I can see why you go after Bob Stoops, but he retired for a reason. People say he’s not retired, he’s coaching the XFL. That’s completely different.

Andrew:​Three months out of the year and not recruiting.

Nick:​Yeah. You’re not recruiting. You’re not dealing with boosters and crazy fanbases.

Andrew:​Let’s be honest. Vince McMahon cares about one thing, money.

Nick:​Yeah. Coaching the XFL is like a hobby. Bob Stoops was not coming back. Certainly, I thought when it first came, Steve Spurrier’s been a mentor for Bob Stoops. I think he would probably call Steve and be like, what do you think about this? Not getting a vote of confidence there.

Andrew:​Yeah. Not getting a vote of confidence there. Looks like Auburn’s also kind of reached out to Bob Stoops, and Bob Stoops calls that a rumor. Nick, I might end up being smart here. I said at the beginning of the year I didn’t think Gus lasted this year. Looks like I might have been pretty smart.

Nick:​You think he’s gone?

Andrew:​I do. I think if he doesn’t beat Alabama he’s gone. I think he goes to Arkansas and makes it seem like a going home party. At the end of the day, Auburn boosters, they’re begging him to leave.

Nick:​I was just about to say. That wouldn’t make you right. That means he left, not fired.

Andrew:​Well, did Jim McElwain get fired or did he leave? Yeah. Exactly.

Nick:​Probably depends on what the lawyers say when it came down to figuring out the buyout.

Andrew:​Right. You know what I’m saying. Nobody wants that word fired coming across the ticker, so resigning I think is what he’ll do, and then go to Arkansas. We’ll see how that goes down the stretch. That’s an interesting game to watch this weekend. Let’s get into this Florida-Florida State game. Not a ton to break down there, as I think Florida is a much better team in every facet of the game here. Nick, it has been interesting to see just how the quarterback play has went. I don’t want to say Blackman’s played bad. He’s 16 touchdowns, 7 picks, and then he’s got a 64% pass already, but it just seems like that big moment for him is too much.

Nick:​Yeah. Also, the offensive line has been bad.

Andrew:​Are they worse than Florida’s offensive line?

Nick:​I don’t know. They’ve been bad for a little bit though.

Andrew:​That’s true.

Nick:​They’ve been bad for four years. I mean, the lines that like Jameis Winston had, those were some big beefy really good offensive lines, and it went downhill quick.


Nick:​I can’t put it all on Blackman. I never really thought, Hornibrook had only played five games when he transferred in from Wisconsin. I never really thought he’d be the guy.

Andrew:​Right. I mean, they haven’t recruited a high school quarterback in, what, three years now?

Nick:​That’s wild. Yeah. That’s gross incompetence.

Andrew:​Willie Taggert left his tenure at Florida State never signing a high school quarterback.

Nick:​Gross incompetence. You have to. You take one, no matter what.

Andrew:​No matter if it’s John Doe down the street. You take him to sign one.

Nick:​Right. Someone.

Andrew:​Yeah. Anyone. For me, Nick, when you look at this game in general here, I think obviously having Jabari back, it looks like he’s going to be good to go, even though I’ll believe it when I see it. We’ve heard that one before. I just don’t know where Florida State gets anything going. I mean, obviously, Florida’s going to center their game plan around stopping Cam Akers, as he’s their best player by far. If you’re Florida State, where do you go in a passing game here? Me personally, I just don’t know how you have enough time. When you look at Jabari and Greenard coming, they’re going to hurt whoever is playing quarterback.

Nick:​That’s the problem with FSU right now, if you’re looking at them offensively. You’re not really scared by Blackman at all. You’re not really scared by the passing game. They’re just one-dimensional.


Nick:​Stopping Cam Akers, much easier said than done, but if you’re a team and a defense as good as Florida’s, if you’re able to just focus in on one thing, that makes the entire game and the whole game plan easier.

Andrew:​Right. Yeah. This is surprisingly enough though, I was looking at some stats here while you were talking, Florida State actually has more yards per carry than Florida. That’s wild.

Nick:​I mean, Florida’s the worst rushing offense in the SEC.

Andrew:​Worst in the country.

Nick:​Statistically they’re worst in the SEC.

Andrew:​Yeah. I mean, I think that it’s a situation where it’s like what do you do if you’re Florida State? Do you come out and try to do some screen game there? What do you come out and try to do in this game? I don’t know. I don’t know where you go. I’ll be honest. I don’t know where you go if you’re Florida State, because I just don’t personally see them being able to throw the ball against this Florida team.

Nick:​Yeah. I don’t think so. To me, you mentioned Zuniga, and if you get Zuniga back, and you’ve got Greenard. You’ll have Amari Burney back. This is probably the healthiest Florida’s defense has been since Week 1, if they’re all back, and they can all play, like Mullen said on Monday. To me, that’s just bad news for Florida State. I would expect Florida’s defense to play really well. It’s always interesting to see how guys handle Senior Day, last day in the Swamp, stuff like that. There’s a whole lot of pageantry.

This week is kind of weird. It’s always the same thing with Florida State, because it’s always Thanksgiving weekend. There’s just a lot to handle, a lot of emotions. I think that guys like John Greenard, guys like Jabari Zuniga, Lamcial Perine, will rise to that occasion of last game in the Swamp and all of that. Also, for the last decade this hasn’t been a good game for Florida. This is the year, like we said earlier, this is the year to take that frustration out.

Andrew:​It’s like we talked about. This series goes back and forth where a team dominates this series for a while. Then the other team comes back and starts to dominate. We thought this, we didn’t think. We knew it would happen, but it seemed like this would never happen, that Florida would finally get back. We went through the Muschamp years and the McElwain years. It seemed like when’s Florida going to get back, but they are now. For me, this game is about continuing to show your dominance. You beat Miami. You beat Florida State. You win the state. Obviously, FIU can now make a claim that they’re up there, because they beat Miami. They beat Miami, and Miami beat Florida State, so they beat Florida State too. Still, you go out and say you won the state in anybody’s living room, that carries weight.

Nick:​It does. I think Dan said he doesn’t really buy into the one game is huge for recruiting. Listen, if a kid decides to go to your school based on one game in one year, then …

Andrew:​I agree with him. We talk about this all the time. I don’t think one game decides anything at all, but it is much better to win the game than to lose the game. If you’re Florida, and let’s just say they come out and win 42-3 or 42-10. Pretty happy environment after the game that these guys get to see. Now, is that going to say push Brian Robinson to commit to Florida immediately? No. It’s not. I said that. I’ve said that a lot. I don’t think, fans may react and say, let’s just say Florida was to get upset here. Fans may react and be like, oh my God, the sky’s falling. At the end of the day, it’s not going to really hurt or help recruiting.

​Now, there is, and, Nick, I haven’t looked at this lately. I need to. Last year, heading into last year, the team who won this game finished higher in recruiting seven straight years. So, while I think we say it doesn’t, it does. The numbers say it does help to win the game.

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, it’s never good to lose to a rival, but I think, as the determining factor, I don’t think it is. It should be a great environment. That’s what you want to show recruits.

Andrew:​Yeah. Let’s get this out of the way. I don’t know if it is, and we haven’t heard for sure, but there is the talk of the blackout, and that would be cool. We’ll see. It may be out by the time you guys are listening to this podcast, whether it is or not. I think that when you see the environment, blackout or no blackout. First of all, Percy Harvin’s Mr. Two Bits. That place is going to be absolutely freaking electric when he walks out in the middle of the field. Fans love Percy Harvin. When those seniors go out, it’s going to be electric. Not that it needs any more juice at all, but it’s a rivalry game.

Nick:​Yeah. You don’t want to have 30 recruits in for a 12:30 kick against UT Martin. You want to have a big recruiting environment for a 3:30 CBS game against Auburn or a 7:30 kickoff against FSU. That’s when the fans are going to go. That’s the kind of environment you want to show a recruit that you’re trying to woo and trying to get to come to your school.

​Getting back, I guess, to a little bit of the game, this is an opportunity for Florida. Like I said earlier, they’ve won just twice this decade. So, an opportunity to start kind of getting right. Like you said, it’s cyclical. Florida had a great four years with Tim Tebow and when Urban Meyer was here, and then Florida State had Jameis Winston, and they kind of went through it. I think the stat that really jumps out to me is that Florida hasn’t won at home versus FSU since 2009. Tebow and Spikes Senior Day.

Andrew:​Right. Been a long time.

Nick:​If you think about it, it makes sense. Because you look at those teams, and you look at the coaches and what was going on at Florida, but still. Just to say it, it sounds crazy, right?

Andrew:​Oh yeah. It does. It sounds nuts. Again, it’s a rivalry game that you got to win. Listen, I’ve been the world’s worst about saying this, and at times I feel like I’m wrong, but I’ll continue to say it, because in my opinion I think it’s right. This is a podcast, and you and I get to throw our opinions, right or wrong. You did not reach your goal of getting to Atlanta. I know some people say that wasn’t the goal this year. Well, in my opinion it’s always the goal. To get the goal of winning 10 games in the regular season, a possibility to win 11 in the bowl game, is crazy. Only two coaches at Florida have done that, Urban and Steve have won back to back 10-win seasons. To do that, to win 10 games, is great. To be able to go out and say that.

​Listen, if Florida wins the FSU game then wins a bowl game, they’re going to be a team that’s right outside the top five or maybe even squeak into the top five at the end of the rankings. To say that after just two short years after being 4-8 is a huge change.

Nick:​Yeah. A couple of numbers. Dan Mullen would be, I think, the first head coach in Gator history to win 10 games in his first two seasons.


Nick:​He would also, it would be the second straight 10-win season. First time since 2008 and 2009 that Florida would have 10 wins back to back years, and they can finish undefeated at home for the 14th time since 1990.

Andrew:​That’s huge.

Nick:​Third time since 2010. That’s gigantic.

Andrew:​In my opinion, taking back the Swamp was one of the biggest things that had to happen. The Swamp was not a homefield advantage for the Gators since Urban left. Just what it is. To have that back. Nick, you and I talk about it all the time. We’re a little younger than some people that have been following Florida. They’ve seen the bad days, but for you and I growing up the Swamp was not a place you wanted to play.

Nick:​No. I mean, that started probably right around when we started watching Florida football, with Spurrier in the ‘90s. It had fallen off. I mean, it’s important, winning your home games. Dan Mullen says it’s important. He kind of plays it down, just saying it’s important for the conference. You’re not going to win the SEC if you’re losing games at home.

Andrew:​Right. There was a recruit, Nick, and I don’t remember who it was now. I wish I’d have looked it up beforehand. One of the recruits said he was at the LSU-Alabama game and was also at the Florida-Auburn game, and he said the atmosphere at Florida was better than at Alabama. In my opinion, to say that is great, because you and I have seen the Swamp be dead. The Vanderbilt game, when Florida won the SEC Championship, when Austin Hardin made the kick, you thought your grandpa just died.

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, it’s been bad. It’s so important. For way more than even just, it’s important for the fans. It’s important for boosters. It’s important for recruiting. I think Dan Mullen is really bringing that sense of pride back to the football team. This is your house. You don’t let people come in here and beat you. You don’t let people come in here and disrespect you in your house.


Nick:​You have to protect this. I think that’s something that maybe got lost. Just the whole mantra of every game is the same as the next, and it’s the most important game because it’s the next one. Some games are more important than others. Home games are more important than others. A home game against Florida State is more important than a home game against UT Martin. It just is.

Andrew:​Yup. Absolutely. Let’s go a little deeper into this game here, Nick, a little bit and start to talk about and get into the rivalry game just a little bit more. It looks like FSU will still be without Marvin Wilson this weekend. In my opinion, Florida State’s biggest advantage on defense is their run stopping, and that’s Florida’s weakness. So, they struggle with the passing game.

Nick:​Florida might not even try to run, so go ahead.

Andrew:​Yeah. Who cares? They’ve allowed 116 pass plays of 10 yards or more this year. That’s 113th in the country.

Nick:​Is that good? How many teams are there in the country?

Andrew:​Is it 120? Is that right?

Nick:​Something around there. Yeah. Not good.

Andrew:​It’s not good at all. Florida’s, they don’t care about running the ball. They could care less about it. They’re going to come in and throw. They may throw all day. Kyle may throw 400 yards.

Nick:​He’s had such a good year. I mean, we really saw it probably for the first time two weeks ago, last game against Missouri. I mean, I think I even wrote it, that they kind of just abandoned the running game, which was fine, because they’re throwing the ball. They’re passing it.

I thought Dan Mullen had like a very Steve Spurrier comment. I think one of the reporters asked him, how hard is it to call plays when you can’t run the ball? He said, it’s not. You just call other plays. They said, you’d like to be balanced, and a lot of coaches will say that you need to be balanced. He goes, I think we’re very balanced. We spread the ball out to a bunch of different receivers. It’s funny, and it’s getting Florida by. I think Dan knows that, yes, you do need to be balanced. They’re making do with what they have this year. Like you said, Florida State, they can stop the run. Cool. Florida’s going to throw the ball.

Andrew:​Yeah. Florida could care less about running the ball. I mean, yeah, Dan can say we don’t care about running the ball, this, that, and the other. He does care about running the ball. Deep down he knows that if he wants to take Florida to where they want to be and where he expects them to be, next year they’ve got to find a way to run the ball. They’ve got to find a way to get better up front. That’s something you and I have been critical of and talked about. They’ve got to find a way to do all that. I think they will. I don’t think Mullen’s dumb for that or doesn’t see that. I don’t think it’s none of that at all. I think he will figure it out, but it’s just a situation where you’ve got what you got. Florida don’t have a running game, so why do it?

Nick:​I mean, we talked about it for probably the first, what do you think, the first month of the season? Probably through the Tennessee game. You and I probably texting back and forth during the game like why do they keep trying to run the ball? They’re not running the ball right now. They just keep trying. They were trying to force it, and at some point Dan probably said, shoot, we’re not going to be able to do it, so let’s just stop banging our head against the wall trying to make it work. It doesn’t work.

Andrew:​I’m just glad they got out from under center trying to run the ball, because, Nick, that was driving me up the wall. You probably have 50,000 text messages from me saying, why are they under center?

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, they were trying anything.


Nick:​They were trying anything to make it work. It just doesn’t work. We’ll get more into it after the season and leading up to the bowl game, talking about what the offensive line will look like next year and stuff like that. It’s just not what Florida is right now. They’ve got to fix it.


Nick:​Not going to dance around it. They’ve got to fix it. They’re going to have to be able to run the ball. Just not what they do right now. Good for the coaching staff to realize it.

Andrew:​It’s not going to be fixed this week.

Nick:​Not going to be fixed this week. Luckily, you’ve got an FSU team that’ll let you throw the ball on them a little bit.

Andrew:​Right. I mean, it’s not going to get better this week, and it’s not going to get better in the bowl game. It’s something that’s going to have to be fixed in the offseason. I have my doubts on John Hevesy a little bit, been down on him, but I do believe that Mullen himself will get it fixed and will be ready to go and have things fixed by next year. It’s just a situation that I think that this is a game where you throw the ball, and you do what’s best. If you’re in the Super Bowl, and you know you can’t run the ball, who cares? If you win the game, you win the game.

Nick:​Right. To me, this is a game that Florida should win. We’ve talked about that for a little bit the past couple weeks. Vanderbilt, Missouri, Florida State. A game that they should win. We have a couple more, one more podcast to do this week, and we’ll break down the game more. I want to talk a little bit about the senior class though.

Andrew:​I want to say one more thing about this game real quick.

Nick:​Go ahead.

Andrew:​What happened to the Aguayo brothers? Older brother gone out of the NFL, and little Ricky down there, he ain’t been doing too hot.

Nick:​I’m pulling up his numbers right now.

Andrew:​He has made his last two attempts, but had missed 5 of 6 prior to that.

Nick:​Wow. He’s 6 of 11 this year?

Andrew:​54.5% this year.

Nick:​That’s not good.

Andrew:​That’s not good at all. What’s happened to the little Aguayo brothers?

Nick:​I don’t know. He was 0 of 3 against Louisville on field goals. 1 of 2. Like you said, missed a bunch. Geez.

Andrew:​What’s going on down there? The uprights move or something?


Andrew:​Go ahead, Nick. Let’s talk about the senior class. I love this senior class.

Nick:​Yeah. So, I asked Josh about it.

Andrew:​Hot Sauce.

Nick:​Yeah. We were actually talking to Josh about Frankie and stuff like that. Asked him about it. I think a lot of the recruiting pitch to these guys, to Lamical Perine, to Josh, to Freddie, was Florida football has fallen off, specifically Florida’s offense has fallen off. It’s not what it needs to be. It’s not what it was. We need you guys to come and help rebuild that. Granted, it’s not the same coach, not the same coaching staff, but I think they’ve done that.

Andrew:​Yeah. I mean, I said this last week maybe, whatever, that I thought that this team, or this senior class, has built the program back. I think if you ask me is this senior class leaving this program better than they found it, I think the overwhelming opinion and thought is yes. I do. I mean, does Florida win 10 games last year, does Florida win 10 games, possibly 11 this year? No. Not without these seniors. We just talk about the offensive guys. You talk about Perine. You talk about Freddie. You talk about Josh. Florida don’t make it to the SEC Championship game that year without Tyrie Cleveland’s 99-yard touchdown against LSU. What Nick Buchanan, and I know people have gotten on Nick a lot, but what he did to stabilize that center position, Nick. He’s a, what, now going on 24 straight starts at center? I’m cool with it.

Nick:​Yeah. There’s a lot of guys. I mean, shoot, get Swain to the Swamp seems like it was yesterday. Lamical Perine, Jeawon Taylor. This senior class, if you just even think about how much they’ve been through.


Nick:​With coaching staff changes. I mean, some of them, you look at a guy like Nick Buchanan, I think Nick Buchanan was recruited by Muschamp’s staff.


Nick:​Was recruited by, shoot, Summers?


Nick:​They’ve been through a lot.

Andrew:​Think about a guy like David Reese, Nick. He’s went from one style of defense under Randy Shannon to a whole new style in defense under Todd Grantham. You look at a guy like Jabari as well, what he’s went through. What, three defensive line coaches? For me, Nick, and I know you can say this about every senior class, and I know every senior class deserves their props, but this senior class, I think, deserves to be recognized and applauded by the fanbase because of what they’ve been through. They’ve been through a lot of stuff. Their first two years they were SEC East champs. Excuse me, their first year they were SEC East champs. Then they go to a situation where they don’t even go to a bowl game.

Nick:​Yeah. Obviously, you still have to play the game, but I think when you’re looking at it this should be the sendoff that I think these guys deserve. They’re not going to be the winningest seniors in school history. They’re not going to have an SEC Championship or a National Championship, but I think the work that this senior class has done to change the program, and I think the hardest thing to do in college football is to change a culture, and I think that this senior class has been a huge part, or has had a huge part in changing the culture.

Andrew:​Absolutely. You think about, let’s focus a little bit on Jeawon Taylor here. Everyone gets on him for his play on the field. The guy’s battled through some shoulder surgeries. Most guys would have quit. I’m not making excuses for him. I’m telling you the man has played through some pain. The man has gone through some shoulder injuries that most people would have quit. Here’s the thing. He didn’t cry about it. He was one of Florida’s biggest recruiters. He was recruiting his butt off. Went five for five Mullen’s first year.


Andrew:​So, okay, maybe he didn’t become an All-American on the field, but what he did off the field, man. I mean, applaud the guy. There’s several guys who maybe haven’t had the best of on field production, but when you turn around and look at what they’ve been able to do off the field, leading their team, going through the transition, you have to applaud the guys.

Nick:​Yeah. To me, like you said, love this senior class. Don’t have enough nice things to say about them. I think their perseverance and what they’ve done has probably set a foundation for what I think will be some really successful years to come for Florida.

Andrew:​Yeah. You know, I think Dan Mullen, to be honest I did not catch Monday’s press conference, so I don’t know what he said about this, but I think if you go ask him about this senior class, he’ll say the same thing, nothing but good things. Because these guys have to buy in. If these guys don’t buy in, guess what? The rest of the guys don’t buy in. You’ll have another situation where you did with the Urban years where the upperclassmen and senior classes hated each other.

Nick:​Yeah. That’s another thing. We talk about it when new coaches come in. The seniors are kind of stuck. The guys going into their junior year are kind of stuck, because where are you going to go? You could leave, but young guys, whether you like it or not, they’re going to follow what the older guys are doing. New coach comes in. That’s not the guy that recruited me. That’s not the guy that I wanted to play for. I don’t know who he is. I’m pissed off that the guy that told me XYZ during recruiting isn’t here anymore.


Nick:​It takes a big person to buy in.


Nick:​This senior class did that.

Andrew:​You talk about a guy like Lamical Perine. He told Dan Mullen no. He didn’t want to go to Mississippi State, and Mullen follows him to Florida, and he plays for him. I will say I’m very close to Lamical. That’s not a secret on this podcast. I know he’s very grateful for what Knox and those guys have done for him and helped him prepare, so he wouldn’t change a thing. It’s funny the way things work out in that. You tell a guy no, and then, guess what? He comes and coaches you. It’s just the way things go and everything else.

​Again, I’ll repeat everything you just said. There’s not enough nice things you can say about this senior class. I don’t know of any negative things about these guys. To my knowledge, none of these guys have been in trouble off the field. I guess Tyrie had the BB gun incident, but none of these guys were in trouble off the field. None of these guys involved in the credit card schemes or anything like that that went around. So, for the most part, none of these guys gave a black eye to the university.

Nick:​My goodness. I don’t know why you’re going to bring that up again.

Andrew:​You know why I brought it up. I mean, it’s just you have to think about what all guys were involved. There might have been, but to my knowledge none of these guys were even involved in none of that stuff.

Nick:​Rick Wells I think was that class, wasn’t he? He’s redshirt.

Andrew:​He was that class, but he’s not walking on the field.

Nick:​We’ll keep him out of that conversation.

Andrew:​You’re not making my point, Nick. You’re ruining my point.

Nick:​Not helping your point there. Sorry.

Andrew:​Yeah. Again, I love this senior class, like you do. It’s been a pleasure to cover. We’ll give them a final sendoff on Friday, and then we’ll continue on in the bowl game. I think there’s a lot of NFL football players that are going to graduate and walk across the field on Saturday.

Nick:​We haven’t been able to say that. Not to down any of the guys, but we haven’t been able to say that as much as I think we will this week.

Andrew:​Yeah. Let me ask you this, Nick. This is a question that we’ve talked about some in the past. Do you think Florida should allow juniors to walk like Alabama does and some other schools do?

Nick:​No. No. I think it’s a Senior Day. If you stayed for your senior year, that’s an honor that you get as a senior.

Andrew:​See, I agree with that.

Nick:​I get it. Somebody’s going to come in. Jerry Jeudywas never going to be a four-year player at Alabama.


Nick:​Nick Saban knows that, so let him do that. To me, it’s a senior thing. If you stay for four years, or you stay for five years, that’s something that you get to do as a senior. It’s not Junior Day. It should be an honor that is specifically, and it is an honor. It’s literally in the name. I think that no, I wouldn’t let juniors do it. I think it takes away from a senior class. It’s not the same at it was. I mean, even looking at Florida’s class. Tommy Townsend’s a transfer. John Greenard’s a transfer. It used to be Senior Day, these are the guys that we’ve all been here the exact same amount of time. Maybe a couple redshirts in there. It’s not that, but still I think that doesn’t take away from it’s Senior Day. It’s an honor for a specific class of guys, and that’s not juniors.

Andrew:​Do you think that guys, one of the guys that’s going to walk at Alabama, or walked at Alabama last week was redshirt junior Terrell Lewis, a guy that’s graduated and going to head to the NFL. Are you okay with redshirt juniors who have graduated walking?

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, I guess that kind of goes back to what I just said about he’s walking with the guys he came in with, you know what I mean?

Andrew:​Right. See, I’m okay with it being a redshirt junior. The Senior Bowl has now allowed redshirt juniors to go, if they’ve graduated. I think if you’re graduated, you fulfilled your commitment to the university, so I’m okay with redshirt juniors walking, like if a Rick Wells wanted to walk, and he’s graduated. I don’t think Rick has, but if he did, I’m okay with that. Because I think if you stayed your four years you’ve fulfilled your commitment to the university.

Nick:​Yeah. Would you say that you have to graduate?

Andrew:​Absolutely. You have to graduate.


Andrew:​Most of these guys do, because of the workload they have to take, but I think if you’re graduate. For me, Senior Day means you’ve graduated. You’re done. If you’ve graduated, I think then it’s okay. If you’re just a redshirt junior who has flunked classes or whatever, and you’re not serious about it, then no, but if you’ve graduated, and you’re going to go to the NFL, then yes. Like a Kyle Trask, for instance. He’s paid his dues. If he was going to go to the NFL after this year, and he’s graduated, I’m cool with him walking.

Nick:​By the time he’s done with his eligibility.

Andrew:​He’s going to be a doctor.

Nick:​By the time he’s done with his eligibility he might be a double Gator. He’s already working on his Master’s degree. Yeah. So, I think I can get on board with that. I was a very hard stance of no, that’s a senior thing, but I think I can get on board with that. If you’ve graduated, you can walk.

Andrew:​I just think for me, Nick, and I’m not trying to shortchange anyone or say that it’s good or bad, but let’s just say, I’m just going to throw this out there. Derek Wingo’s a guy, for instance. He’s a big name prospect coming to Florida. Let’s just say he comes on campus, plays just in four games, and then plays three straight years and is ready to go to the NFL and be a first-round pick. If he’s graduated and fulfilled all of his duties to the university, he shouldn’t be punished because he took one for the team and redshirted.

Nick:​Yeah. I’m behind that. What about guys, I forgot to ask John Greenard. I don’t remember if he walked at Louisville last year.

Andrew:​See, I’m still okay with it, because to me if you’re a senior, and you’ve come and you did your one year, and you did everything right, then you can. I’m okay with it. Maybe not in all cases. What was it, Malik Zaire, or not Zaire. Who was the one, the linebacker that came and never went to school and got kicked out? You know who I’m talking about. James Harrell, was that it?

Nick:​The linebacker that came.

Andrew:​That didn’t even get to play in the bowl game, because he flunked classes.

Nick:​From Georgia Tech.

Andrew:​Was it James Harrell? Was that his name? Something like that, right?

Nick:​I can’t remember his name.

Andrew:​But you know who I’m talking about.

Nick:​Yeah. Linebacker from Georgia Tech. I’m just blanking on his name right now.

Andrew:​In that case, I’m okay with him not walking.



Nick:​He came as a grad transfer and didn’t go to his classes.

Andrew:​I mean, I don’t blame the guy, but whatever. Real quick, Nick, before we get out of here. Got to talk about our Black Friday special. Always a big thing for the annual subscription. Check us out on Gator Country. Check out the Black Friday special. Be running through the weekend. Really good stuff. Really good stuff to get in a membership at a discounted price. This is the time to do it. Basketball’s on the way up. Football, in my opinion, is on the way up. Recruiting’s doing much better than it was. I expect the diamond sports, baseball and softball, to both do really well this year. You and I tag team that coverage on those. I think we’re the only ones that really do that. Our man, Eric, can’t forget what he does. If you haven’t checked us out, and you need a Gator site, come check us out and get that Black Friday special.

Nick:​No better time to do it, right?


Nick:​Save yourself some dollar, dollar bills.

Andrew:​Everybody wants to save that dollar bill. I know you and I will probably hit up Cyber Monday deals some way or another.


Andrew:​There you go. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday. You won’t listen to us until Friday, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone that listens to us. We can’t say thank you enough. You guys are the reason we do it.

Nick:​www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Hit subscribe. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:​There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. Don’t miss Friday’s episode, as we’ll be talking this game and getting some recruiting. The visitors list is loaded, Nick. Seven big official visitors coming into town. Check us out on Friday. Hope you guys have a good holiday. Don’t eat too much. As always, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:​You stay classy, Gator Country.

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.