Podcast: Previewing Florida Gators spring football practice

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview spring football for the Florida Gators that starts on Tuesday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown what Dan Mullen had to say on Monday about spring practice for the Gators.

Andrew and Nick breakdown the position battles that they’re looking forward to seeing, plus we preview the guys we’re looking forward to seeing.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:​What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back, and spring football is ready to roll. Everyone will be listening to it on the first day of practice.

Nick:​Yeah. That’s how we timed it out. Thanks, internet.

Andrew:​Yeah. That’ll be good. Get back to talking a little bit of that. We’ve been covering the stick sports and recruiting a little bit, but always good for football. Don’t look now, but baseball is right around the corner for the big leagues.

Nick:​Baseball’s right around the corner. Nice to see Bryce and Manny Machado finally find homes. Took Bryce a little while. Much to your nightmares, Bryce is staying in the division.

Andrew:​Unfortunately. But Nick, I mean, we missed our calling, my man. 13 years, $330 million. Man. Missed our calling, man.

Nick:​Yeah. No. We’re not making $30.

Andrew:​We just need to somehow work out a contract for like 10 years, $10 million. I’ll settle for one a year. I mean, I could be a bullpen catcher.

Nick:​Yeah. I’ll catch all the bullpens. Hated it when I was playing baseball, but I’ll catch all the bullpens right now.

Andrew:​I’ll catch them all. Dan Mullen talked on Monday, Nick. Seemed like he’s excited. I think you and I hit on this back in January, after the bowl game, but there’s a reason to be optimistic. You do what you do last year. You end on a high note. You knock off your instate rival, Florida State, for the first time in a few years, and you beat Michigan, finally. I think there was. Outside of offensive line, I think you bring back pretty much your whole team. I mean, you have a few holes with Jachai Polite and Chauncey Gardner leaving, but I think you can look at this team, Nick, and say, outside of the offensive line, you should feel pretty comfortable with the way things are going.

Nick:​Big question marks in the offensive line, but you hit the nail on the head. You built a lot of momentum going into the off season, and that’s kind of what we talked about. It’s big to beat FSU for momentum standpoint, and it was certainly big based on the season you were having and the season they were having, but you’re really seeing that. My goodness, those last couple games against Michigan were bad, but you saw how that played into Signing Day.

Shoot, I wouldn’t want to be one of those two other teams right now. I mean, FSU’s got two guys coaching receivers, and Miami had to go through a whole coaching change. So, yeah. It’s always cyclical the way kind of the power spreads through college football and through the state of Florida. Right now you wouldn’t want to be one of those two other schools.

Andrew:​I was talking to someone. I won’t name names, but I was talking to someone who used to be around the state of Florida a good bit, and is a guy who’s now in the recruiting department at another SEC school. He said, you know, outside of Jimbo, you usually go into 4-5 year increments where your school does really well, and you’re able to be on top. Jimbo was able to sustain that a little longer than a lot of coaches before, but he kinds of said that Florida was sitting in the prime position right now. You talk about what’s going on at Miami, that was a disaster the way it went. Anybody with a pulse is getting on the team there. Like you said, FSU’s really going to coach with nine coaches next year, because one guy they wanted to completely move to off the field, but he can’t right now. If you’re Florida, you’re in prime position.

​I know Dan Mullen said on Monday, no position is set, but I think you feel a lot better with your quarterback situation now than you did last year, whether you want to name Feleipe the starter or not. You pretty much have an idea that you’re going to go in with a proven guy at quarterback when you play Miami in August.

Nick:​I cleared that up a little bit in my story that I wrote about it. Listen, Feleipe Franks is your starter at quarterback. What Dan Mullen is saying is that, listen, it might be his job, but there’s four other guys in that room that don’t want to hear it and don’t care if it’s his job. They’re going to push him every single day, because they believe it’s their job.

Andrew:​Right. Listen, if Feleipe Franks isn’t the starter …

Nick:​Yeah. Can Feleipe Franks play his way out of the starter? Yeah. But he hasn’t done that yet.

Andrew:​That’s what I was going to say. If Feleipe Franks is not your starter for the Miami game, that tells you a ton about whoever wins the job. Obviously, it’s probably Emory if it’s not Feleipe, but if Feleipe’s not your starter, that tells you everything you need to know about Emory. I’ll say this. Maybe it’s getting ahead of myself a little bit, but I think Emory will make the job a little interesting. I don’t think Emory’s a guy that’s going to go quietly and say, you were the guy last year, you took us to win 10 games, I’ll sit behind you. I don’t think that’s the way Emory Jones operates, and I don’t think that’s the way Dan Mullen operates his quarterback room, or Brian Johnson or any of those guys. But I agree with you, Feleipe would have to lose the job, more so than have to win the job.

Nick:​There’s no quarterback controversy here.

Andrew:​I would say that Feleipe, Lamical, and Van, I guess you could throw Trevon in that, but I still think Trevon has some work to do, but I think Van, Lamical, and Feleipe are three guys that will not per se be named the starters, but they would have to lose the job not to be the guy against Miami.

Nick:​Right. That’s just a thing with competition for Mullen. He wasn’t going to go and name anyone. He went out there and said, Tim Tebow won the Heisman his sophomore year, and he goes [No Audio] He goes, that was an Urban thing. Urban would have told me, hey, you want to go out there and talk to the media and hold a press conference and say Tim Tebow’s not Quarterback 1? Go ahead.

​But then, Mullen also said that’s kind of the quarterback we’re looking for, because if I would have said that about Tim Tebow, he would have said, okay, great. I’m going to show these guys why I’m Quarterback 1, and I’ll make those guys play to my level. That’s just kind of what Mullen is looking for. He wants a guy that doesn’t want to be named Quarterback 1, because he wants to always have that edge and that chip on his shoulder. Maybe he wants Feleipe to read stories or see tweets about Dan Mullen says there’s no Quarterback 1. He wants Feleipe to get pissed off and say, I’ll show you that there’s aquarterback.

Andrew:​Listen, I’m going to try this year to be very positive towards Feleipe. I think he earned that from us, but if there’s one thing that we know Feleipe has to do and that’s be pushed. That’s a lot of guys. It’s not a bad thing for him to be pushed. Again, I think it would take a lot for him not to be QB1 when it comes to that Miami game, but it’s not a bad thing.

​I want to move off the quarterback situation though, Nick, and get with you. Just the offensive line. When I look at this line, I guess I have a feel for how the five could be, but realistically I think you could go through about eight guys that really could make up that starting five.

Nick:​There’s two questions to me. The first is who are your five? But probably even more important than who are your five are who are your 10? Who are you finding to get behind those guys? Obviously, listen, finding your five starting offensive linemen is hugely important.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​But you don’t stop there. We’ve seen what not having depth at that position can do, and they’re going to be looking as hard to find numbers 6-10 as they are finding probably 2-5, because you’re not looking for 1. You know Nick Buchanan is going to be starting. He’s the only returning starter.

Andrew:​Right. I think, me personally, and maybe I’m wrong here, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Sure won’t be the last. I’ll ask you this, Nick. I think a question mark is where does Nick Buchanan play? Is he a guy that is your starting center, or is he your starting guard? I think that you have to kind of look at that and say, I think he could be either/or. There’ssome guys that I think could possibly make a push for center, and maybe you move Nick Buchanan to right guard. I’ll say this, I think outside of Buchanan, for me, Brett Heggie’s the next guy that I think is all but assured of a starting five spot, and probably at left guard.

Nick:​I would say Brett Heggie’s pretty safe probably there.

Andrew:​Let me ask you this then. Going in, knowing what we know, seeing those guys, who would be your starting five today, you’re listening to this on Tuesday, on Tuesday for the starting five in spring practice?

Nick:​I think Bleich is a guy that, I think he played in four games last year, so played in as many as he could, while still being able to redshirt. I think he’s a guy.

Andrew:​Okay. Where at?

Nick:​[No Audio] Stone Forsythe is also a guy that I know John Hevesy is very high on. To me, we got four right there.

Andrew:​So, Stone’s at left tackle. Who’s at left guard? Heggie?

Nick:​It would be Heggie. I know Gouraige has played tackle and guard. They were trying to get him some reps at guard last year, just in case they needed him. Would you slide him over to right tackle with Stone at left tackle?

Andrew:​For me, this is strictly me seeing what I’ve seen. I’ve seen Stone play left tackle more, so I would say you would probably want him at left to start and Gouraige at right. My question mark, and maybe this is the biggest key, is who’s your right guard? If we got Stone, Heggie, Buchanan, and Gouraigeat right tackle, who’s your right guard? Is it a Griffin McDowell? Is it a Bleich? Is it possibly a Noah Banks, who is now a redshirt senior? Is it one of the freshmen? I think that one of those guys. Then does a Griffin McDowell slide in and play center, and then Buchanan move to right guard?

Nick:​Right. Mullen came out today and said that Griffin McDowell will be out for the spring.

Andrew:​Right. That’s what I meant.

Nick:​But, yeah, he’s a guy. Right now, I would say my five is probably Stone, Bleich, Heggie, who’s the one I’m missing that we were just talking about? Gouraige and then the fifth, I really see the fifth as being kind of up in the air, but the freshman are getting a ton of reps, that’s for sure. It might be a guy, like you said, like Noah Banks, who’s going into his last year.

Andrew:​Right. When I said McDowell, that would be my five today. That’s before spring practice. Obviously, him missing spring practice is going to set him back. If I was kind of before his injury circling my five, I would have probably said Griffin was in my five.

Nick:​Yeah. Big to miss most of or the entirety of spring practice for him.

Andrew:​One thing, Nick, that I took from Dan Mullen’s press conference on Monday was his comment, and it wasn’t a comment that was slighted towards C’yontai Lewis or Morel Stephens. I didn’t take it as that at all, but I took it that he was impressed with the young guys at the tight end spot. I don’t have the quote right in front of me, Nick, but the quote was something along …

Nick:​I got it right here.

Andrew:​That it wasn’t going to be a big letdown.

Nick:​Well, he said, it’s such a unique position. It might not be a huge talent dropoff from the guys that left, he goes, but there’s an enormous experience dropoff and performance dropoff.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Where the young guys now have an opportunity. But Morel Stephens and C’yontai Lewis, I mean, C’yontai Lewis had, what, one touchdown? One catch. Experience wise, and he was a very well liked player, so experience wise, leadership wise, yes, you’re losing something, but the production, it’s not like you’re replacing a guy that caught 50 balls for you last year.

Andrew:​Right. I would say Morel was a guy who surprised us all. I think the biggest thing with Morel was he was consistent. Who’s that guy that’s going to be that consistent guy this year? I could easily see Lucas Krull being that guy. I’ve personally been high on Kemore Gamble for a while. It just seems like he’s never, I don’t know what the word would be. It’s not consistent, but it just seems like he’s up and down, I guess is the best way to say it, Nick. Is a guy who I think you, as well as I, have thought he was going to be a guy that was going to play a lot. Just hasn’t really taken it from the practice field to the game.

​Krull’s a guy who came on late. Kyle Pitts is a guy that came on late. Which one of those guys? It might be Kyle Pitts that ends up being the guy who is that consistent guy that when you throw his way you feel pretty good he’s going to make that catch.

Nick:​I’m interested to see what position they’ll have him play.

Andrew:​I think tight end. I don’t buy into that whole he’s moved to receiver. At this day and age, Nick, I mean, maybe we’re breaking apples to oranges here, but at the end of the day, he’s a guy, Rob Gronkowski, is he a tight end? I mean, yeah, by position he is, but he mainly plays receiver. He’s mainly split out wide, but he’s a tight end. That’s kind of how I feel with Kyle Pitts. He’s a tight end. He’s going to be split out wide a lot, but he’s still a tight end.

Nick:​Yeah.

Andrew:​I mean, that’s a big old boy.

Nick:​I’m on the same page as you, and I think if anything you’re getting him playing tight end just so you can get him running routes and get him some looks at different positions, because I, like, believe he is a tight end.

Andrew:​Again, does it really matter? I don’t think so. I personally though, Nick, and I’ll say this, and again, maybe you disagree here with me, but I think a guy like Lucas Krull is a guy who I think you could see the biggest jump. You know as well as anyone, going from the baseball field to the football field after you’ve taken, what, three years off, wasn’t easy jump for him. Now that he’s been able to be around it and have a full season, have a full season in the weight room, maybe that light switch kind of slowly but surely comes back, and he’s able to show, because at times last year he showed what we all thought he could be, and that’s that big dual threat kind of guy in the red zone that can not only block for you, but is also a guy who can just go up and get it.

Nick:​I don’t know if I was surprised, because, I mean, at some point you start talking yourself into this guy can make an impact, and you forget that he hasn’t played football in how long.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​When he got his scholarship offer, I mean, they went and saw him play baseball.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​They didn’t even see him play football. But yeah, certainly there was going to be a period where he had to adjust, but he’s a guy. I think Kyle Pitts is one I’m probably most excited about. Like you said, Kemore Gamble. I mean, we got to a point with C’yontai we were just like, I’ve seen what I’m going to see. I’m almost getting to that point with Gamble. I need to see something from him in the spring. I’m most excited about Pitts, and I think Krull, like you said, could absolutely have a role and do something.

Andrew:​With Kemore, it just seems like it’s got to be a consistency thing. I think that kind of leads me into my next point a little bit, Nick, and that is what do we see out of Trevon? Trevon was a guy who kind of had a two-part season last year. At the beginning of the years was like, where’s Trevon? Then at the end of the year it was, this is the guy we all thought we could kind of see a little bit. Can he put that consistency together from spring and kind of have that lead into, really from bowl to the spring now, and then can he have that lead from spring to summer and summer into fall? Not that I will say that receiver is bad or good if Trevon’s not good, but I think we all see what Trevon Grimes can do, and that’s make an impact.

Nick:​Yeah. That position is loaded, man. You’ve got guys up and down. I mean, 12 receivers, I think. That’s a position that you’re going to be fighting for reps, so no time, no chance, no second to take off there, if you’re Trevon Grimes, or even if you’re Van Jefferson.

Andrew:​You know, you got guys like Jacob Copeland coming on. You still have the Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain. You still have those guys that are there and are pushing. Josh Hammond is not going away. Josh Hammond is going to be that dirty grind it out receiver that does all the dirty work and then gets his touchdowns. I think we know what Van’s going to do there. You got a guy like Kadarius Toney. I mean, it’s pay year.

Nick:​Toney, Cleveland, Jefferson, Grimes, Swain, Wells, Copeland. There’s just guys. It’s a really, really deep position for Florida, and a lot of guys. You got to figure out a way to get balls in some guy’s hands.

Andrew:​You look at Hammond, and you look at Van, and you look at Freddie, it’s their senior years. Tyrie as well, his senior year. Then you have a guy, like I said with Toney, it’s payday year. I mean, this is the year. If you want to decide to jump to the League, better make something happen now, if you want to go early. You got those guys before the incoming freshmen even get on campus.

Nick:​Yeah. Once you get the incoming freshmen I think you’re adding, what, three more?

Andrew:​Yeah. Well, it depends on where Trent Whittemore.

Nick:​Depends on Trent, right.

Andrew:​But you have Weston and Dionte Marks for sure, and then depending on if Whittemore goes to safety or goes to receiver. You could have three more. You could have two more there.

​Final thoughts on the offense though, Nick? For me, it’s all about the offensive line. If the offensive line is serviceable, this offense has a chance to be pretty good.

Nick:​Absolutely. That’s probably every team every year, certainly starts up front.

Andrew:​Hey, we’ve talked for years about Florida needing a quarterback. If Florida had a quarterback, Florida would be good. We said that, Nick. Now that we don’t have to talk about the quarterback situation here.

Nick:​Well, you needed the offensive line. Listen, I mean, without the offensive line we’re just playing 7-on-7. Florida just has a lot of question marks on that offensive line. We’re not going to know the answers right away. I mean, it happens every year. We all get really excited for spring football, and then people forget the first two practices are in helmets and no pads. The next two practices are in just helmets and uppers. It’s really practice either four or five that you really get actual football.

Andrew:​Then it’s always the question mark of is the defensive line that bad, or is the offensive line that good?

Nick:​Whenever you’re playing against yourself, it’s that. Does the offense suck or does the defense suck? That’s always the question.

Andrew:​Yeah. Florida did get that little bit of bad news, and we talked about this a couple weeks ago. Jeremiah Moon with the fractured foot is out. That hurts. I don’t think you can sugarcoat that one at all, Nick. That one hurts a little bit, because you were expecting him to be the guy that really took that next step. He’s a guy that’s gotten bigger and really fits what Todd Grantham wants to do. I will say this, and that is there’s not a guy that’s going to work harder than Jeremiah Moon. He’s going to be fine.

For the spring, if this was fall, we’d be talking about something totally different, but for the spring I think it works out okay, because you get Mohamoud Diabate. You get some of those freshmen. Jesiah Pierre. Potentially even a guy like David Reese, the younger David Reese. Some of those guys to get in there and get some action.

Nick:​David Reese is another guy. Young David Reese, another guy that I probably wonder where you’re going to play him.

Andrew:​Right. Safety? D-end? Linebacker?

Nick:​Yeah. Where is his home eventually going to be? To me, that’s a big question, and one that we’ll find out. Amari Burney, where does he play?

Andrew:​Jonathan Greenard, where does he fit in?

Nick:​I think Jonathan Greenard is, well, to me the familiarity that he has with Todd Grantham’s offense, or with Todd Grantham’s defense, and his proven ability to get sacks, to me it means, listen, Jeremiah Moon or no Jeremiah Moon, he was going to get his opportunity to play. He knows the defense. He’s played in the defense already. He’s a senior, knows how to prepare himself and get ready, as a graduate transfer. To me, it’s a no-brainer that he’s going to play.

Andrew:​Right. I agree completely. I just think that’s more reps. Not that he needs reps. Not that you need all 11 practicing together in the spring, but him having the opportunity with Jabari or him having the opportunity with David Reese, the older David Reese, just to be able to communicate with those guys, learn how they communicate, that kind of stuff, is big. I mean, knowing Todd Grantham’s defense is one thing, but being able to communicate with other guys is another thing.

​Another guy, Nick, for me, with Moon out, is Chatfield, like you said. Where is Chatfield? Does he take that next step? Does Zach Carter take that next step? I think there is so many question marks at that outside linebacker, D-end spot, and it’sgood question marks. I think you have multiple guys that can play there. Who’s going to be that guy that shows they can? I personally, Nick, there’s not a guy on defense that I’m more excited about seeing this spring that Diabate.

Nick:​Mohamoud. Yeah. He fits in right into that role where that’s Moon would have been playing. So, whatever reps Moon was going to take, those are being divvied up. Those are more for you now.

Andrew:​I mean, for me personally, on defense, there’s not another guy that I’m more excited to see play than Mohamoud Diabate. I just, from talking to people in the state of Alabama about him, talking to people at Auburn about him, and just other coaches, the sky’s the limit for him. Multiple people will tell you, they would not be surprised at all to see Diabate be a guy who is an All-Freshman team SEC guy next year, just because of his freak ability to get off the edge.

Nick:​He’s a guy too, there’s a lot of guys that when they get out of high school and get to college don’t know how to handle it well.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​It’s a lot of pressure to do the right things when mom and dad aren’t sitting over there making sure you’re doing the right things. He’s a guy that is very strong in his faith, mature. Way more mature than his age. Strong in his faith. He’s not someone I don’t think I’m ever going to have to worry about getting in trouble off the field, and somebody who’s going to do everything he can in the weight room with Nick Savage to put on the weight, to get himself ready to face SEC offensive linemen. Interesting.

​There’s a lot of new players that I’m very, very excited to see. I think the one that I forget about, and this is on me, is I forget about Jaydon Hill. With all the excitement over Chris Steele and Chris Steele being on campus, I think I forget about Jaydon Hill, and he’s another one that I’m excited to see.

Andrew:​Me personally, I forget about Steele. Just simply because, and I say this, I know Marco is going to be slow, but I feel like you go into next year, and you’re okay with your corners, but I quickly forget what happened last year when Marco went down, when CJ went down in the Georgia game and you know who got out there. Who’s going to be that fourth corner out there?

I feel like you have three, and I know Trey Dean is going to play some of that star role, but he’s a cramp or whatever, an injury away from going back out to corner. Who’s that fourth guy? Is it Jaydon Hill? Is it Chris Steele? Who is it? Jaydon Hill was a guy who Will Muschamp loved. If Will Muschamp likes you at DB, you’re pretty good. So, how does that fit in? Then where does Amari Burney fit in?

Nick:​Yeah. Burney safety? Star? Linebacker?

Andrew:​You got to find a place for Amari Burney. That’s just me.

Nick:​I think so. I think they started to try do that towards the end of last year. Yeah. There will certainly be a spot for Amari Burney.

Andrew:​If it’s safety, fine. If it’s star, okay. Where do you put Trey Dean? Trey Dean earned his stripes last year to play, where is it? Outside of offensive line, safety’s probably the biggest question mark heading into the year. Brad Stewart played well at times. Jeawon Taylor had an up and down year. Shawn Davis was injured for a lot of time. Who is that guy at safety? Is it a guy like a younger David Reese? Is it Amari Burney? Who is it at safety? Outside of offensive line, I think that might be your biggest question mark.

Nick:​Yeah. I’m like you. I don’t care where Amari Burney is playing. He’s playing.

Andrew:​I’ll say this too, Nick, and that is who is your other linebacker? Who takes Vosean’s place? Is it James Houston? Is it Ventrell Miller? That’s a position that has some guys that can play there. You got a guy like Tyron Hopper who will be in in the summer. Is it a spot that nobody steps up, and he potentially gain that role in the fall? Wouldn’t rule it out at all. I think Ventrell and James have showed me enough to say they’re at least in consideration.

Nick:​Right. You’ve got, obviously, David Reese holding his spot. Kylan Johnson would have been able to potentially have a spot there, but he’ll be not with the team. He’s going to graduate in the spring, or if everything goes well in the spring. If not, then in the summer, and then look to grad transfer somewhere else. James Houston would probably be my pick. I think he was ready to play over Vosean at times last year. To me, James Houston would be that pick.

But you’ve got Jesiah Pierre, who’s in. I forgot that he’s on the team sometimes, Lacedrick Brunson’s still here. He’ll be there. Like you said, Jesiah Pierre. I’m excited about him. There’s only one other kid, I think, on the roster from Mount Dora, and Brett Heggie’s a nasty football player. Maybe there’s something in the water down there in Mount Dora, because Jesiah Pierre is a nasty football player too.

Andrew:​I would agree with you though, on James there. I think Ventrell is more of the Mike backer, per se. I would agree with you there on James. Interested to see there. Again, I’m really looking forward to seeing Hopper get on campus. If he was a guy who early enrolled, I think you could potentially see him battling there, but since he didn’t, it kind of puts him a little behind the 8-ball there.

​As far as defense goes, you got your defensive line. Who will take Jachai’s spot? I think there’s a number of guys that can take that. The biggest question mark will be on the defensive line is do those defensive tackles take that next step? I mean, I feel like you and I have been raving about those guys on the defensive tackle being nasty players in practice and stuff, but it never seems to really translate to the game. Is it finally the time that TJ Slaton’s light comes on? Is this the year?

​We lost you for a second. Go ahead.

Nick:​I said, I hope so. I hope it’s the year for him, because to me, I thought last year was the year, and it wasn’t. Another year in the program. Another year with Savage. You got to start putting it together, because time is running out.

Andrew:​That’s a position that, Nick, they didn’t sign but one guy in Jaelin Humphries there, so you kind of need those older guys to step up and kind of push themselves there because of that. Marlin Dunlap being out will factor in a little bit. I think we saw enough of Marlin Dunlap last year to know what you’re going to get out of him in the fall.

Nick:​Yes. TJ Slaton is a guy that I, I mean, I called out and thought was going to be a starter, and the bam-bam boys and him and Zach Carter. Zach Carter’s one we haven’t even mentioned yet, but it’s Zach Carter’s time too.

Andrew:​I mentioned him. I said he was one of those guys at that outside linebacker D-end spot that could really benefit from just being able to go get the passer with Moon out. I do, I think Zach Carter makes that jump. You got Conliffe too, Elijah Conliffe. What does he do there as well?

A lot of question marks, but I would say good question marks, Nick. I don’t think that, outside of that offensive line position, and I say outside offensive line, you’re going to have really good battles there. The question mark is are there good enough players there to make the push? Everywhere else, I think there is. When we talk about safety, I think there’s some guys that can make that push there. When we talk about that outside linebacker buck role, I think there’s players there. It’s just who’s going to step up and make that. At defensive tackle, I think the same thing there. I think there’s going to be healthy competition everywhere. The biggest question mark for me goes back to that offensive line.

Nick:​Yeah. It’s going to be the offensive line. You know where there isn’t really a competition?

Andrew:​Kicker.

Nick:​Kicker.

Andrew:​That was funny.

Nick:​There’s K1. You’ve got K1. Dan Mullen’s not ready to name QB1, but they’ve got K1 for sure. He’ll name K1, and P1.

Andrew:​I think his quote was something like, I’m not going to stress over placekicking this year, or this spring. Yeah. I guess, Nick, anything in particular you’re looking forward to early on? We haven’t seen anything, so I think we’ve talked about everything on that that can be talked about. Obviously, you want to see the new coaches out there, see Torrian Gray again and the defensive line coach in David Turner. I think for me, Nick, that’s kind of it for me.

Nick:​That’s it for me. I’m excited to get out there and have football going. Tomorrow’s a huge day as well. I’ll be going straight from the football fields over to the baseball field, as Mike Martin makes his last trip to Gainesville. Congratulations to him. I know we don’t …

Andrew:​2,000 wins. Wow.

Nick:​The people that listen to us and read us don’t like to hear about FSU, but you got to tip your cap. 2,000 wins in anything. I don’t care if you’re playing tiddlywinks, 2,000 wins is a lot of wins.

Andrew:​Him and I do have something in common though, Nick.

Nick:​What’s that?

Andrew:​Neither one of us have a ring.

Nick:​Yeah. It’ll be Mike Martin’s last trip to Gainesville, so that will be a fun night. I’ll be in the baseball press box updating baseball numbers while writing football stories. It’ll be a busy night for me tomorrow.

Andrew:​That Florida-Florida State series is special in baseball. I know Florida’s dominated that, but that always seems to be a good three-game set. For me, Nick, I thought Florida’s bats have come alive. Do they stay alive against a very good pitching staff at Florida State? How does that go? You get a chance to kind of see some of those midweek starters as well. Thought the new pitching rotation worked well though this past weekend against Yale.

Nick:​Yeah. I said that, I think, before the year. I expected that to be the case. I wasn’t sure about Dyson, and then Dyson kind of proved me right, unfortunately.

Andrew:​That guy, Nick, and you and I talk about this off the air a ton, but, man, that guy has regressed more than anyone I’ve seen on the diamond lately, especially at pitching. I mean, I just don’t know what has changed. I mean, went from having a spectacular freshman year to many people saying he had a chance to be better than Brady and Jackson, and then just last year the injury, but this year no injury to complain about.

Nick:​I forget who it was, but multiple people after his freshman year, after 2017, multiple people told both of us that Brady and Jackson aren’t even the best pitchers on their team, that it’s Tyler Dyson. It’s unfortunate to see that for him, because this is his year to be drafted and to become a professional baseball player. He did better on Sunday. He limited his pitch count. There were a couple times, I think three separate times, where he got 0-2 immediately, or got two outs immediately, and then you walk a guy, you give up a hit, and all of a sudden your eight-pitching inning, your nine-pitch inning, turns into a 15-pitch inning. Then those add up. Got to be better on finishing inning out, but got the old pitch count figure that out.

Andrew:​I’m glad Sully hasn’t been fired. Tim Walton’s been fired over in the new Katie Seashole Stadium. He got fired, Nick.

Nick:​Yeah. Rest in peace to Tim Walton’s softball coaching career.

Andrew:​I mean, it was, Nick, it was rough. It was the worst I’ve seen Florida play in SEC play in a long time. Had a chance to be the first time they got swept at home since 2012, and the first time they got swept period since 2014, but guess what happened in 2014, Nick? They won a National Championship after being swept. This softball team is a team that we all know how good Kelly Barnhill is. She is vulnerable to giving up bombs, homeruns. That’s been a weakness for her.

The key for this team is getting the offense going, and it did. It came around, scored eight runs on Sunday, and took one out of three from Tennessee. Nick, I’m not telling you nothing you don’t know, but for everyone, it’s a long season. Florida has totravel way over 10,000 miles. Playing in Cali and Tempe, Arizona. Teams go through droughts. Offensively, defensively, pitching. They go through it. It’s what you do in June when they go to Oklahoma City.

Nick:​I mean, they’ve been road warriors, going out to Tempe, then back home.

Andrew:​Back to Cali.

Nick:​California, then back. It’s a lot. Listen, even more so in softball, SEC has the best baseball conference in the country, but even more so. I mean, shoot, you look at the regional hosts every year, it’s almost all SEC, if not all SEC, in softball. It’s never an easy road. The games that they play out in Arizona and the games that they play out in California and playing in the SEC makes them a better team when that time comes around.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​You take some lumps, and you might have to take some learning experiences during the season, and I still think Florida will. Listen, baseball team’s 13-5. They’ve lost three midweek games, and people were freaking out. They lost back to back midweek games, and they weren’t hitting. Now the team is hitting .360 in the month of March. It takes time. Baseball and softball, long seasons. It requires patience. It’s not like football where one loss in football ends your season.

Andrew:​Yeah. I mean, they won a National Championship two years ago in baseball, and they lost midweek games. It’s going to happen. Because guess what? When you play a midweek game, the other team is probably throwing their ace to beat your five. It’s usually what happens. That’s that.

​Nick, we’ll come on later in the week and preview some Junior Day. Florida will host Junior Day this Saturday. Chance to not only get some guys on campus, get them around the coaches, but also get them on campus, see some practice. We’ll do another podcast here on Friday, and we’ll kind of preview up that. We’ll talk baseball and softball as well. We’ll kind of get back on our regular schedule. At least two times a week here, as we’ll break all that down. Then two weeks Gators have Pro Day in the Swamp. That’s a big one. Dan Mullen’s talking about how it’s good to get your guys paid in the NFL.

Nick:​That’s a great recruiter.

Andrew:​Paid was Trent Brown, Nick. Man made some money.

Nick:​Yeah. Trent Brown is now the highest, Will Muschamp had him playing guard, now the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

Andrew:​Yeah. Paid. Guess what? There’s another one, Maurkice Pouncey. Maurkice Pouncey. Highest paid center now in the League.

Nick:​Trent Brown was actually the first recruit you had me call, I believe.

Andrew:​Yeah. Remember how Trent Brown committed?

Nick:​No. I think I talked to him, I don’t know if I was on, I don’t know if I was working before he committed, but he was up in Georgia.

Andrew:​He was partying at a bar, and 3:30 in the morning he decided he was ready to announce his commitment. Did it on Twitter at 3:30 in the morning. Still remember waking up and thinking, I had to text a kid, and I said, just wanted to make sure this wasn’t a drunken text. The guy was a junior college guy, so he was obviously old enough to drink. Had to make sure that he wasn’t under the influence when he was announcing his commitment. He said, no, it was legit. He just felt like tweeting it out. Have fun.

Nick:​He’s not even on Twitter anymore.

Andrew:​That’s right. I don’t think he is on Twitter anymore. Hey, won him a Super Bowl with the Pats.

Nick:​Got a ring, and now you’re getting paid.

Andrew:​Bill Belichick was talking about him. That’s a massive human being, by the way.

Nick:​Oh yeah.

Andrew:​Massive human being. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday, as we’ll preview Junior Day and get back to talking about some football.

Nick:​www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gators news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you decide and choose to listen to your podcast. Just search Gator Country. 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 really appreciate it. We’ll be back and be regulars on iTunes again. Check us out, andcome check us out on Gator Country. As always, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:​You stay classy, Gator Country.

Previous articleFlorida Gators navigating challenges with Miami date change
Next articleHow Gators Can Beat Arkansas While Fighting For Postseason Life
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.