Podcast: Previewing Florida Gators vs Miami with David Furones

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we continue to preview the Florida Gators vs. Miami game on Saturday in Orlando.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel to get his take on how the Canes match-up with the Gators on Saturday.

Andrew and Nick also update what Dan Mullen had to say on Monday at his press conference about the Gators heading into the Miami game.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:​What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, three days and counting and we’ll be living from Camping World Stadium watching the Gators and ‘Canes.

Nick:​Hey, we don’t often say this, but thank you, NCAA. You shortened our off season by seven days, and I’m ready for some football now.

Andrew:​I’ll say this, Nick. At first, I was like I don’t know about this, moving it up, having a bye week right afterwards. But the more I get to think about it, and the more as we get closer to time, I’m pretty cool with it. You get a week here. Then next week we kind of get to watch some games. Then you get to go back out the cupcakes.

Nick:​Yeah. Shoot. I’ve been so wrapped up in Miami I haven’t even seen. It’s not like a fan experience for us. We don’t really get to watch a ton of games, especially when Florida plays at 3:30.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​I maybe get to watch the first half of those noon games before I’m at the stadium, and I’m working. Then I’m writing pretty much all the way through until Hawaii kicks off at midnight. It’ll be interesting to see, get to watch everyone in those first week games. I’ll be a fan, drinking some beer and watching ESPN and CBS like the rest of you guys. I’m looking forward to being a fan for Week 1, after working Week 0.

Andrew:​Get to watch that Auburn-Oregon game. That should be a good one.

Nick:​Yeah. That’ll be a fun one. I’m interested to see Auburn, because I don’t know what the heck they got at quarterback, but I want to see that defensive line.

Andrew:​You want to see Gus go and get that one loss closer to being …

Nick:​I’m not discrediting you, but yeah, I mean, you know what you’re talking about over there in the state of Alabama, and you don’t think Gus makes it through the year.

Andrew:​No, I just don’t. Who’s playing quarterback? You know what I’m saying? He fired his OC to be the guy to call the offense. Let’s face it. His offense probably isn’t going to be good this year. He’s not going to beat Alabama. I mean, if he starts off bad, they’re going to fire him. They wanted to fire him last year. I’m not sold on it. That’s all I’m saying. I just don’t think that he makes it very far. I mean, you look at this, Nick. Oregon. If they lose to Oregon, and then they lose to Mississippi State and Texas A&M, they could very well have three loses before they get to Gainesville.

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, that would get it. I anticipate Florida being undefeated, not to ruin my Friday pick. I anticipate Florida being undefeated going into that Homecoming game against Auburn. I mean, if you’ve got three loses heading into Gainesville, and then lose to Florida, I see what you’re saying.

Andrew:​I mean, the schedule for them is not easy, and there’s so many question marks. Yes, you’re right, the defensive line is sick. It’s nasty, but you and I experienced the Will Muschamp era. The defense only does so much. You better score points. Oregon and Texas A&M are going to score points, and lots of them.

​Nick, you got a guest from Miami that’s going to join us here in a second. We’re going to talk about that, get more into this rivalry game. It does need to be noted, we’re taping this on Tuesday. You’re listening to this on Wednesday. On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Home-and-Home series will be taking place in 2024 and 2025. Gators get the first home game against Miami at home, and then they’ll travel down to Coral Gables to take on Miami.

Nick:​I love it. For me, I’m 30 years old. Florida and Miami have only played six times. My dad and my grandpa, my grandpa was a huge ‘Canes fan, and my dad went to Florida, so converted my grandpa. They grew up in the rivalry and going to the old Orange Bowl and watching Florida and Miami play. For people of that era that remember that, my dad’s age, your parents’ age, this is a game that should be played.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​I love it. I understand why maybe it doesn’t make sense for Florida with the way the schedule breaks out, and you’ve got that game in Georgia, against Georgia in Jacksonville, that you kind of always lose a home game, and you want to have a certain number of home games. I understand it, but I love this. I mean, the smack talk between the two teams, or not between the teams, between the fanbase on social media, has been incredible. I think that just goes to show how much this game means to the fans. If you can find a way to make it happen, do it.

Andrew:​I mean, we’ll talk about this more here in a minute with our guest, but I was doing a radio show with Chuck Oliver on Monday, and he asked me did I think this game was going to be scrappy. I said, I can really see the first half being scrappy. I could. I could see maybe some personal fouls, taunting, that kind of stuff, in this game, because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of guys that are going to be playing in this game that are from Miami or were recruited by Miami, or from Miami who were recruited by Florida. It’s going to be a scrappy game. Don’t tell me CJ Henderson or Marco Wilson, when they deflect a pass from Mark Pope, who they know very well and played 7-on-7 ball, ain’t going to talk a little extra smack.

Nick:​There will be smack talk.

Andrew:​I mean, that stuff is going to happen. Ventrell Miller, when he hits someone, don’t tell me he’s not going to talk a little smack. He was down to Miami and Florida.

Nick:​There’s so many relationships, whether it’s guys that played together or guys that played against each other. Blood is going to run hot. Emotions will run high. You got to manage that. You have to figure out some kind of way to manage it. You get too hot like that, they talk about it with fighters a lot, you can’t go in and fight with emotion. That’s when you get caught. You got to stay cool, calm, and relaxed. Which team can handle those, because emotions will run high, which team can handle that early on?

Andrew:​Tell Brandon Spikes that.

Nick:​Oh my God.

Andrew:​He’s still got a headache from it. This is a quote I wanted to throw out here before we go too far and bring in your guest here, Nick. It was a quote from Scott Strickland on the schedule. He said, “It’s a great rivalry with two storied programs, and in line with our current philosophy of trying to schedule a minimum of 10 Power Five opponents annually.” Wanted to hit this with you real quick, and we got to make this short. I think it’s good. We’re in a day and age now where if you play Northwest City of Arkansas of the State you’re not going to get 80,000 people there. People are going to stay at home and turn it on ESPN 2 and watch it with their family. They’re not spending a couple hundred bucks to bring their family of four to the game.

​I think what Scott Strickland and every AD has to do is they do have to start scheduling some more of these games in order to get the attendance up, you know what I mean? Nowadays. 10 years ago you weren’t finding Florida-UT Martin on tv. That wasn’t happening. Nowadays, it’s on SEC Network. I guess, my question to you is do you agree with that, that this is something they have to do? I mean, I know you personally like it, because we don’t like watching them play UT Martin.

Nick:​Yeah. It will be interesting to see. You have to try it, because it’s not a Florida thing. I got heat last year sometimes tweeting pictures of kickoff. Hey, it’s kickoff. People are mad. Why you showing the stands? It’s like, it’s just a picture of the field as the game is being kicked off. I can’t put people in the stands. I get it. There’s other things you can do sitting on your own couch in front of your own 70-inch tv with a beer that doesn’t cost $40. Sounds a lot better than going out and sitting in 98-degree heat, 70% humidity, to watch Florida play North Southwestern Easterly State.

So, will it work? Maybe. I think it will work when it’s new and when it’s a novelty, but people want to see good games. I remember going to Florida-Florida State games when I was in college. I remember going to LSU games and watching Florida play LSU when they were both ranked in the Top 5, and those are the games you want to see. Those are the games that are hard tickets. Then I remember turning down tickets to go see Florida play Townsend. No, I’m good. I’m going to watch it, but I’ll watch it at home.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly.

Nick:​You got to try it, because attendance is dwindling everywhere. It’s a Florida thing specifically. It’s across the country, and it’s professional, college. It’s all over the place. Try it. If that doesn’t work, then put La-Z-Boys in the seats.

Andrew:​There you go. Our guest is, give me his name?

Nick:​David Furones. He’s the new Miami Herald beat reporter for the Miami Hurricanes. We actually met, and I’ll see if he remembers. We met when I was down in Miami covering a Florida-Miami baseball series. That must have been like five years ago. That’s when Pete Alonzo was still playing.

Andrew:​Lord. He’s crushing the ball right now. Let’s go to David. We’ll talk to him, get his thoughts on Miami, and then you and I will come back. We’ll talk about what Dan Mullen had to say on Monday and give our take on this game as well.

Nick:​We’re joined by David Furones. He is the new Hurricanes beat reporter for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. That’s a paper that I get at my parent’s house. David, thanks for joining us.

David:​Absolutely. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.

Andrew:​I guess, David, the first thing is when you first heard that this was going to be a Week 0 game, we’ve been told it has to be Week 0, there’s no Week 1, what did you think of it? What was your overall first impression? Were you excited that it’s a week ahead of time, off season’s a week less? What was kind of your thoughts?

David:​I think it’s great. To get a matchup like this, I mean, Miami is going in unranked, but you get #8 Florida and just reopen a rivalry here, one that’s been ever since it was an annual one, going back to ending in 1987, it’s few and far between in matchups. I mean, kind of really gives it an opportunity to shine, to showcase a great instate rivalry in a great state where it once was whoever was winning that State Championship, as you would say, they were the frontrunners to win a national title. Then going on in to the ‘90s and early 2000s, and then mid-2000s to late 2000s with the Gators, and then even into Jameis Winston with the Seminoles. Manny Diaz brought up the stat the other day that the past 40 national championships 11 of them have come between the big three in Florida. For one state to have more than a quarter of the last 40 is pretty significant, so great showcase.

Andrew:​How have Miami fans reacted to the news of the Home-and-Home series?

David:​I think there’s excitement, of course. Miami fans are always chomping at the bit to play the Gators. They always say that it was Florida that ended the rivalry back in the ‘80s.

Nick:​Florida’s scared.

David:​Yeah. I mean, it’s always welcome down in here in South Florida from the Hurricanes fans.

Andrew:​Just so you know, Nick and I have been ripped, because we agree with you. We’ve been ripped by Florida fans that they see no reason to play Miami. Nick and I think it’s good. I don’t think it’s a good thing for Florida to play it every year, because of the Jacksonville game, but every few years, maybe every four years play it. Do a home-and-home and go at it. There’s too much rivalry on and off the field in this game. Let’s face it, you need to recruit Miami. What better way for Florida or Florida State to do that than to beat Miami?

David:​Absolutely. I mean, South Florida is where a lot of these instate recruits come from, and even outside of the state that’s where everyone is trying to go, from all the way to the Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12. They’re trying to come down to South Florida. It’s funny, when Miami coaches are at Miami International Airport flying out to recruit some kids, and they see other coaches coming in. Those are coaches are kind of like, where are going? All the recruits are down here. You’re leaving them. You’re right about that. Absolutely.

Nick:​They’re probably waving goodbye. Please, please get out of here. Let us be alone in your backyard.

Andrew:​For real. Let’s move on a little bit here. I think a lot of people were shocked about the quarterback news. How shocked were you by the quarterback news? I guess, overall, what’s the fanbase been like? What’s the team been like since Jarren Williams has been named the guy?

David:​I would early in camp if this news would have broken, I would have been surprised. I kind of, like a lot of people, saw Jarren Williams as the #3 guy in this race, because N’Kosi Perry, albeit completely 50% of passes last year, was the player with experience from last season, along with Malik Rosier for his fifth-year senior season, and then Tate Martell was coming in from Ohio State specifically to win this job and was even granted that eligibility that a lot of people didn’t think he’d get. So, when you combine those factors, you felt like Jarren Williams was the #3 horse in this race.

Then as time went on, those first two weeks of camp, I think I kind of opened up to the idea, because you would see that I think a lot of the things with N’Kosi Perry still weren’t fixed, inaccuracy. Even though we can’t watch a lot of practice, but the limited time that we do get you would see some inaccurate passes. You would see Tate Martell, his height disadvantage. At first practice of training camp he had a ball batted down back up near the goal line by defensive end Scott Patchan. You guys know that last name over there. It went for a touchdown for the defense, so you kind of saw that. You saw a lot of his wobbly passes, balls not coming out of his hand right.

I think just Jarren Williams, I mean, you knew he had arm talent going into the race. You found out that he slimmed down. He became a more mobile quarterback, even hitting 20 miles per hour at times, because you know how they track guys in practice for how fast they run. He’s even hit 20 miles per hour in practice, scrambling. Then what ultimately won it was his decision-making. The coaches said that would be a very important factor in determining the starting quarterback. In the two scrimmages, especially the second one, although we couldn’t watch it, that seemed to be what really won it for Jarren Williams.

Nick:​Now, I mean, Jarren Williams is obviously a couple things here. One, very talented. Florida tried to recruit him when Jim McElwain was here. Dan Mullen recruited him at Mississippi State. Is a freshman, redshirt freshman, but first time he’s going to get game experience in a new system with a new coach. What are reasonable expectations for him going up against a defense like Florida that returns most of their guys on a stage, like you said earlier, it’s a big stage? No one else is playing. The entire eyes of college football nation is watching you.

David:​Not only that, him making his first start against that defense, but he has two freshman tackles trying to protect him. I just wrote about this today in South Florida Sun Sentinel. You can see that article online. He has a true freshman in Zion Nelson protecting his blindside at left tackle, and redshirt freshman John Campbell, who just played in four games last season, at right tackle. So, that’s going to be a huge challenge for those two guys.

​Then for him, I think early on you’re going to see Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos try to really just make him feel comfortable. A lot of short passes. I imagine Florida is going to be pressing and trying to prevent so that, so he gets out of any comfort level in the first half. Handing it off a lot, screen passes. Just get him into a rhythm before you really start letting him loose. We’ll just have to see how he responds. Obviously, it’s going to be a challenge [INDISTINCT]

Andrew:​I’ve told Nick, I had the opportunity to watch Jarren as a recruit, and I think people underestimate how good of a quarterback Jarren Williams is. Everyone says, he’s a good athlete. He has a rocket of an arm. I think once the training wheels come off of Jarren Williams you’re going to see a guy that is potentially the quarterback for Manny Diaz for two years, three years down the road, before he makes that next step.

David:​Yeah. That’s what you would hope for. If he wins the race this season, then you certainly hope he doesn’t take a step back. You kind of saw what N’Kosi Perry is last year, not to say he can’t improve upon that. Then Tate Martell, now we’ve even reported, along with other media outlets, that he’s been experimenting at wide receiver, because obviously he’s still a very exceptional athlete, and it’s worth finding different ways to get him involved in the offense. Actually, I think it’s telling that Miami has been closing practice this whole week, and then the end of last week as well, and that’s when reports started coming out about Martell working out at wide receiver. I think there’s certainly some wrinkles in the offense that they’re trying to hide from the media, so word doesn’t get out.

For Jarren Williams, if he a successful season, he’s a redshirt freshman. He’ll have plenty of eligibility left. Then there’s a lot of talent at quarterback. One they have committed next year in Tyler Van Dyke that would eventually want to supplant him. They have their eyes on a few of the top 2021 quarterbacks as well, but for now, obviously, the focus is on Jarren Williams.

Andrew:​I wanted to ask you this. Down here in Gainesville, we get the same coach-speak and that kind of stuff, but there has been rumors of potentially some guys not playing on Saturday. Have you heard that? What do you care to say on that? Do you fully believe that when Manny Diaz says he expects everyone to play, do you think that’s the case? Where are you at in that?

David:​I’m not sure. I mean, you hear that, and then you remain skeptical. That’s what the case is today, right? But then when it comes time to Friday or maybe right before the game on Saturday, that’s when maybe you get released from the University of Miami or suspended. I’ve heard some rumors. I don’t want to throw names out there based on rumors, but it’ll be interesting to see if that is indeed the case. The famous saying that Week 1, or Week 0 in this case, there’s always suspensions, because players had the whole off season to [pass] the team rules, and it’s the first game [INDISTINCT] We’ll see what happens. It’ll be interesting.

Andrew:​Good stuff with David, Nick. Everything he says, we’ll see. I mean, that’s his side with the Hurricanes. Again, I think this will be a good game for the first half. But how does Miami score?

Nick:​I was just talking with Cole Cubelic on their show, 3 Man Front, and that’s what I said. I think it’ll be interesting to see the chess match, because of the familiarity with Manny Diazand Dan Mullen. Of course, some people thought Dan Mullen had taken slight jabs, because Dan Mullen’s known to take some jabs, but I don’t think when he brings up, I hired Manny, I don’t think that’s a jab. I think Middle Tennessee is not a team that’s going to compete with Mississippi State, but when Dan Mullen went against them, and he saw that Manny Diaz was clearly overmatched from the skill of the players, but not afraid to think outside the box and to do some things and to try to limit what Dan Mullen was doing on offense with this Mississippi State team, he instantly put Manny’s name down. If we have an opening, this is a guy. What I just saw, this is a guy that I want in my room on my team. They made that happen.

​I think Manny Diaz is the right guy for Miami. I just don’t think, right now they’re a team that is filled with JUCO players and transfers, because they’re just trying to get a team to get through this season. They’re building a culture. Feleipe Franks said it on Monday when he was talking to the media. He said, “I think Coach Mullen was still learning some of our names when we played our first game last year.” That’s where Miami is right now.

Andrew:​Right. I mean, I’m with you. I think that he’s the right guy. I think he’s the right guy for a couple reasons. I think he does a good job of energizing the local community. Listen, you and I have talked about this for countless times. The University of Miami should be 60% local kids, easy.

Nick:​Yeah.

Andrew:​No reason. There should not be a wide receiver outside the city of Miami, at least out of the state of Florida. Should not be a DB. They’re loaded every year. It don’t matter. 2035 there will be some DBs down there that are four-stars, and they’re not even born yet, are they? Let’s see. No. They’re not even born yet. They will be. Just is what it is. Nature of the business down there.

​Diaz is good. Diaz is a very good DC. I think he did some good things last year with Mark Richt and those guys. I’m not sure that defense is going to be the problem for this team against Florida. I think they’ll do okay. I don’t think they’re going to have the turnovers that a lot of people are thinking. You and I have talked about this. I don’t see Dan Mullen saying, Feleipe, throw the ball deep every play and get yourself into turnover problems. I just don’t see that. My thing is where do they score points?

Nick:​I was home for a buddy’s birthday and for my mom’s birthday this weekend, and I run into my friends in South Florida, and they’re Miami fans. They’re saying this and that, and you’re crazy that you think Florida’s going to win. I’m the same as you. I said, how does Miami score? Our defense is this and that. That’s cool. The defense, Miami’s defense is going to outscore Florida’s offense? No. They’re going to get turnovers. I mean, unless the turnover chain is bouncing from one player’s shoulder pads to the next player’s shoulder pads, and they’re forcing Florida and Florida’s defense to stay on the field and to defend short fields, and they’re able to get scores on defense and then create scores for their offense by the defense, then, yeah.

I don’t see Miami’s offense outscoring with a redshirt freshman quarterback, two freshmen starting tackles. I don’t see how Miami is going to outscore offensively, how Miami’s offense outscores Florida’s offense. Is Miami’s defense good enough to score on their own and create enough opportunities for their offense to score? I don’t think so. Not in Year 2 of Mullen’s offense with a quarterback who knows the system now, and basically, other than the offensive line, just everyone is back.

Andrew:​I mean, that’s my whole thing. I’ll be honest. I don’t know where Miami gets pressure.

Nick:​I hate blowing my pick before I make picks on Friday, but I see this as 2017 Florida-Michigan, and Florida’s playing the role of Michigan this time. I don’t see this as a close game. Like you said, maybe early when the teams are trying to figure things out, stuff like that. I think Florida’s deeper. Florida’s more experienced, and I think Florida runs away with this. If I was putting a bet down, I see 7, 7.5 points. I say thank you. That’s a gift.

Andrew:​Here’s the thing, and we always talk about this. There’s some rumored suspensions and that kind of stuff for Miami, and some of those guys that are being talked about being suspended, if those are true, where do they really score points from?

Nick:​Yeah. Then you get into we don’t need to get into speculation, but if you’re listening to this you probably have heard the rumors and stuff about players that Miami will be missing. It’s Week 1, so everyone across the country has somebody missing for something that happened in the off season. Florida will have at least one guy that didn’t live up to the Gator standard is how they’ll say it, you know what I’m saying? It’ll be interesting to see, but I’m with you. I really don’t know where or how Miami scores on offense. Not to say that they’re going to get shut out, but scores enough to keep up with Florida.

Andrew:​Right. We’ve talked about the injuries and stuff Florida has. Dan Mullen said on Monday he doesn’t expect anyone to miss the game on Saturday due to injury. Now, whether that’s Dan Mullen with his coach-speak or not, we’ve heard Jean Delance is questionable but is going to try his best to play. We have also heard that Richard Gouraige has had a really good fall camp replacing Delance and getting in there at right tackle and showing what he’s got. I mean, he’s a good player. There’s no doubt about that. It was just whether or not he was ready to go. Everything we’ve heard is he’ll be ready. I think for the most part Florida should be pretty healthy going into that game. I mean, you have CJ McWilliams, who’s out for the year. We already know about those injuries. As far as the tic-tac injuries that happen every fall camp, it looks like Florida came out pretty good.

Nick:​You said it. You said it, not me. I tweeted that after the first scrimmage that Florida didn’t have any injuries, and then McWilliams got hurt, and I got yelled at.

Andrew:​Fall camp’s over with.

Nick:​They’re yelling at you now. Spivey said it. Remember that Spivey said it, not Nick.

Andrew:​Hey, fall camp’s over with, so they did technically come out pretty good. I didn’t say with no injuries. I said pretty good.

Nick:​They’re pretty good. They’re probably as healthy to start a season as they have been in quite some time.

Andrew:​Yeah. That’s a big thing. We talk about this offensive line, and you and I have said from the get-go, this team will go and fall as the offensive line goes. That’s just the nature of the business this year with it. This offensive line will take this offense as far as it can go and will hurt it as much as it can. I mean, that’s just the way it’s going to be. If this offensive line is good, this offense is going to score some points. If this offensive line has a bad day, this offense ain’t going to score points.

Nick:​I think you fall into the camp, same as me, if John Hevesy is comfortable, I’m comfortable.

Andrew:​I’m not doubting Hevesy.

Nick:​He’s forgotten more about offensive line than you and I will ever know combined. So, if he says he likes the starting five, then who the hell am I to say, no, you’re wrong?

Andrew:​Yeah.

Nick:​To me, it gets into a weird area, and, again, John Hevesy says you don’t need 10 guys. You don’t need a backup at every position. You’re really looking for eight guys, and you want one backup tackle, a guy that can play left or right. You want one backup guard, and then you want a couple guys that you feel comfortable with snapping. Brett Heggie, they feel comfortable with him snapping. I think Tanner Rowell is listed as the backup center, but if Nick Buchanan goes down, I think Brett Heggie slides over. So, I think you do get into an interesting spot where Jean Delance got banged up. I think he’ll be fine for Saturday, but if he goes down, then I think are you moving Stone Forsythe over? Are you moving Richard Gouraige over? Then you start mixing and matching.

Then, we talk about it all the time, especially with the injuries that Florida’s had on the offensive line since you and I have been doing this podcast, offensive line is cohesion and chemistry and playing with. You need to know who’s to your left, who’s to your right. That, to me, is then when you start worry about the offensive line. I’m not worried with the starting five. I’m worried if you start having to mix and match and move pieces around.

Andrew:​Yeah. Like you said, if John Hevesy is comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it. I do think the pieces are there, as far as the starting five goes, to be successful. I really like Brett Heggie, and that’s nothing that we’ve hidden. I liked him last year. He’s got that bulldog mentality. Nick Buchanan seems to be, and I don’t mean this to be disrespectful to Nick Buchanan, he just seems to be a gamer. When the lights come on, he seems to be at his best. That’s not to say he’s not a good practice player or anything else, but when the lights come on, he seems to be a player.

Nick:​Yeah. I’ve said it a bunch of times on the podcast. In my opinion, it’s harder to play center than guard. He kind of couldn’t find a spot at guard, and they just try him at center. There’s so much more responsibility, and then now you’ve got even bigger guys playing nose tackle lined up close enough that you can smell their breath and what they ate for breakfast. You got to worry about making a call, snapping, and then blocking, so it’s tougher, but he’s really excelled, like you said, on game day playing center.

Andrew:​It is, it’s tough. A lot of times centers get in a rush, and they forget that Step 1 is to get the snap off, and then Step 2 is you better be ready to get punched in the mouth. That’s exactly what has to be done. You have to do it simultaneously. I think that it’s a good thing that you have a guy who, at a group that is inexperienced, at the position the most you have an experienced guy. To have Nick Buchanan be able to come back and Brett Heggie, to be able to anchor that line at the most important position on the line, I think is huge.

Nick:​Just keep him. I mean, man, I feel like we’ve been talking about Brett. Is this his twelfth year on campus?

Andrew:​It feels like it. Poor guy just needs to stay healthy.

Nick:​Been a long time. Yeah. I’ve been so excited about Brett Heggie for so long. You just can’t keep him on the field. He’s an old-school offensive lineman, just nasty, road grader. He’s the kind of guy that you’re walking at night, and you cross the street if he’s walking on the sidewalk. You’re just like, I’d rather just get away. That’s kind of just that old-school mean, nasty. I’m just excited to see him play. Just want to see him stay healthy, and I want to see him play for a full year.

Andrew:​Yeah. I agree. I’ll be honest though, Nick. I’m excited to see Delance and Gouraige as well. Just to see where they’re at. Gouraige is a guy that I said after he got a year in the system and got bigger and stronger that I thought would be really good, and to see that. Listen, there was a lot of positive reports about Jean Delance at Texas before he transferred. Let’s see that as well. Then I think we have to give props to the old man on the group, and that’s Stone Forsythe. He’s paid his dues. Paid his dues.

Nick:​He’s a big boy too. He’s a mountain of a man.

Andrew:​He’s definitely a stone. That’s for sure. No pun intended.

Nick:​Stone mountain.

Andrew:​There you go. Anything else, Nick, that we didn’t kind of hit on here? We’re on our Wednesday. We talked to David, and we’ll be back on Friday. We’ll do our picks, and we’ll get into this a little bit deeper. We’ll talk about our three keys to the game and all that good stuff, as we get ready for Week 0. Better not call it Week 1, I was told.

Nick:​Yeah. Week 0. Get yelled at.

Andrew:​How is it Week 0?

Nick:​Because Week 1 is next week.

Andrew:​So, Florida didn’t play this week? I mean, is this a preseason game? I just didn’t get the memo.

Nick:​You’re just going to give me a headache. Just drop it. You’re going to give me a headache.

Andrew:​It’s Week 1. It’s Week 1, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. It’s Week 1. I think that’s it though, Nick.

Nick:​A couple things I wanted to bring up on the depth chart and get your opinion. Some ors on Florida’s depth chart. Do you read into the or between Kyle Trask and Emory Jones at all?

Andrew:​No. No. Because I think that it’s one of those things like we talked about last year, Nick, where it depends on when he’s needed. If Feleipe has a screw pop out in his helmet, is it 3rd and 1 or is it 3rd and 10?

Nick:​Right.

Andrew:​If it’s 3rd and 10, you’re probably going Kyle. Go ahead.

Nick:​I think that’s a lot of the ors on the depth chart. There’s ors all throughout, like at slot receiver. Josh Hammond or Freddy Swain or Kadarius Toney.

Andrew:​They could all three be on the field at the same time.

Nick:​Yeah. I don’t think that means Kadarius Toney is third. I think it just depends on the package and what you’re doing. I don’t read too much into stuff like that. I remember last year where we said Emory was going to redshirt, and so you had to pick four games you wanted to play him in. If Feleipe Franks got hurt, it would be Kyle Trask. I don’t know what you would do. Let’s say Feleipe Franks, knock on wood, gets hurt in Week 1, I don’t know how would be the starting quarterback going forward. I guess that remains to be seen. I don’t know if you would turn it over to Emory, or if you would give Kyle Trask a chance. I think that still remains to be seen. That’d be a huge question for me. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen.

Andrew:​I think it would be. I think it’d be a huge question. I think then you would definitely see more of a two-man quarterback rotation, per se, because I don’t think you would be running speed options with Kyle Trask and the quarterback designed runs with Kyle Trask that you do with Franks or Emory or any of those guys. Then at safety, we kind of knew what they were going to do at safety. It’s going to be a situation where it depends on the team. It depends on the package. It depends on a lot of things. So, at safety where are the ors are and all that back and forth, to me it was expected.

Nick:​Yeah. I didn’t really think any big news there. I do want to say congratulations to Jacob Tillman. He’s a senior getting ready for his last year. Talk about waiting your time. You got a four-year starter in Ryan Farr. Jacob Tillman will be your long snapper this year. Got to get love for my specialists. Tommy Townsend, Evan McPherson, Jacob Tillman. Then the other two that people probably want to know about, if they haven’t heard, kickoff return, I think that’s going to be interesting for Florida. Then punt return it’s Swain and Hammond. I think those are just your guys that you’re comfortable with. They’re not going to make a big mistake. I mean, Freddy surprised me last year, but those are guys you’re not going to be worried about fumbling or calling fair catches on two.

Andrew:​You’re right. I think if Kadarius Toney has understood and learned how to read whether to bring it out or not bring it out, he can be dangerous on a kickoff. He can. He can be dangerous. I will say this.

Nick:​I like him on kickoff more than punt, because kickoff you’ve got time.

Andrew:​I don’t like him at punt at all. I was shocked that Jacob Copeland doesn’t have a role in kickoff return.

Nick:​Yeah. I think you’re going to see him. I was surprised to see him second on the depth chart, but good for him. I know last year was tough for him, more mentally. Obviously, physically going through the injury, but mentally to kind of stay in it and stay engaged and stay not playing for the first time in your life. Good for him for sticking with it. I think we’re going to see more. I’ll probably see more of him than I thought we were going to.

Andrew:​Jacob Copeland is going to have a really big year for this team. You just go ahead and mark that down. He is. People are going to understand why he was one of the most sought after recruits towards the end of Signing Day. Alabama was begging him. Tennessee was begging him. Florida was begging him. Everybody was begging him, because he’s special with the ball in his hands. Most people say he’s just a receiver. No. Give him the ball. Running back. Give him jet sweeps, kickoffs. Whatever, he can make things happen.

Nick:​From your words to Gator fans’ ears.

Andrew:​I think people don’t understand it, and I say this, Nick, and I don’t mean this to be any disrespect to anyone, but some people like the game, and then you have people like Jacob Copeland who love the game. I know that makes sense to you when I say that, and I hope it makes sense to everyone. Some people like it, and some people love it. Jacob Copeland loves football, and to play this year for him is huge. Not playing last year hurt him. It hurt him not to play.

Nick:​Yeah. Well, loaded podcast today.

Andrew:​There you go. Tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday as we’ll have some predictions. Also, on Friday I’ll be running, I got about 50 different recruits who’ve responded to me with their predictions on the game, and a couple of them surprisingly picked Miami. The majority of them said Florida, and Florida runs away with the game. Be sure to check that out. Then, Nick, you and I will be in Orlando and be bringing some live action from Camping World.

Nick:​Yup. 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 get your podcasts from. 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, as always, chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:​You stay classy, Gator Country.

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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.

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