Podcast: Previewing Florida Gators vs. Tennessee with Trey Wallace

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we continue to preview the Florida Gators vs. Tennessee game this Saturday in the Swamp.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by Trey Wallace from Fox Sports Knoxville to get his take on this game, plus we get his biggest keys for the game.

Andrew and Nick also breakdown their keys for the game on Saturday, plus we talk about the keys for Florida’s offense on Saturday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s Tennessee hate week. We’re going to be joined here in a few minutes by my good friend and fellow 251 companion Trey Wallace from Fox Sports Knoxville. Does a good job up there. We’ll talk about what’s going on up in rocky bottom.

Nick:                         Rocky bottom. Trey, a friend of the show, great guy, and enjoyed hanging out with him last year in Knoxville. We’ll see if he’s coming down to Gainesville this year or not. Always plugged in there at Tennessee. Does a great job up there. He’ll help break down the mess that is the program at Tennessee, as well as some of the game and how it matches up.

Andrew:                 You know, Nick, I’m going to say this before we get into talking more with Trey. Hear me out when I say this. I really, really think this is a game that Florida has to be careful with, because Florida’s so much better than Tennessee. In every shape and form, they’re so much better than Tennessee, but you’re coming off an emotional win against Kentucky with your backup quarterback. I don’t want to say it’s a trap game, because there’s no big game next week. I just think that this game has to be taken serious for the simple fact that it still is Tennessee.

Nick:                         It’s a rivalry game. I wonder though, I think it’s a rivalry growing up in the ‘90s, because Phil Fulmer and …

Andrew:                 Spurrier hated each other.

Nick:                         Spurrier hated each other. It was also more competitive. I felt growing up …

Andrew:                 Whoever won that went to the title.

Nick:                         Yeah. I felt growing up Florida-Tennessee was a more bitter rival, because growing up Florida owned Georgia. Spurrier owned Georgia. He just whooped their tails whenever he wanted to, so to me it was because of there being more losses, I think you come to hate a team more when they’re beating you, and Georgia was never beating Florida. To me, Tennessee was a bigger rival. Obviously, that has changed in recent years in terms of on the field.

Andrew:                 Right. No, I agree with you. Florida-Tennessee, whoever won that game was going to the title game for all those years. You had the cancellation game for 9-11 that year. That was a game that was controversy. You had Florida never losing to Peyton Manning. You had all those big moments there, and then it just kind of died off, because Florida has owned this series as of late. I still think there’s a little bit of a rivalry there, but it’s different.

You have Florida-Georgia. That’s the hated rivalry right now, because that’s been a back and forth series. Florida-LSU, in my opinion, is always a rivalry game, and Florida-Florida State is always a rivalry game. I’ll say this. I think Tennessee fans would say Alabama’s more of a rival than Florida is, and Alabama fans would probably say the same thing about Tennessee. They hate each other.

Nick:                         That’s a pure hate. Somebody was asking me, it was a Kentucky writer, and he was asking, do Florida fans consider Kentucky a rival? He was an older gentleman, and I think a former radio guy, so I didn’t want to laugh, but I go, no. No, they don’t. He goes, so they think Tennessee and Georgia are bigger rivals? I was like, yeah, man. Yeah.

Andrew:                 Kentucky’s a rival in basketball only.

Nick:                         Yeah. Just basketball. I explained to him, LSU is more of a respect, I feel, between Florida.

Andrew:                 It’s gotten to where they hate each other though.

Nick:                         It’s turning. It’s turning, but I think it was more of a respect thing to begin with, where like Florida-Georgia, Florida-Tennessee, that’s just hatred. There’s really no love lost there. I think with LSU, maybe changing now, but I feel like with LSU in the past it was kind of like they’re really good. It was kind of a rivalry out of respect. I think Florida-Alabama, also respect. Florida-Tennessee, Alabama-Tennessee is probably even more hatred. I don’t know if people want to hear that, but probably even more hatred between Alabama and Tennessee than Florida and Tennessee.

Andrew:                 They hate each other. They hate each other. My grandfather is a diehard Alabama fan from the Bear days and everything else. He’ll tell you straight up, you better not lose to Tennessee, because anything in orange sucks. So, there’s no love lost there.

Let’s go to Trey, Nick. We’ll talk with Trey, see what Trey has to say and get his thoughts on this rivalry. Then you and I will come back, and we’ll get some more in depth in this game.

Guys, we’re back. We’re joined by my man Trey Wallace. Trey, first of all, how’s things going up in Knoxville? How’s things treating you?

Trey:                         Everything’s good, man. Really looking forward to basketball season. It’s going swell. No, we’re here, man. Tennessee is 1-2. Just got done listening to Jarrett Guarantano and Jauan Jennings. Look, they seem excited about going to play in Gainesville.

Nick:                         Trey, you’re telling us that Tennessee is the new Kentucky, where sometime in September they start counting down to basketball season now.

Trey:                         Dude, it’s so weird. They’ve got two five-stars already signed. If they land Jaden Springer, that will be three. I mean, how can you not be excited about Tennessee basketball?

Nick:                         All right, Trey, thanks for coming on. That’s all the time we have for you today.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s all the time we got.

Trey:                         Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it.

Andrew:                 We want to talk football, Trey. I got a question for you though. This is what I was talking ot Nick about before in our intro. To me, this game, I don’t want to say it’s a trap game, but this is a game Florida has to be careful with. I don’t want to say this is the biggest game of the year for Tennessee, but it’s a huge game. I just feel like Florida’s coming off an emotional win. Kyle Trask is playing, your backup quarterback. You think he’ll do well in this game. Listen, I would say Tennessee is not as good talent wise as Florida is. That’s pretty known. Do you feel like this is a case Florida has to be careful with as well?

Trey:                         Yeah. I actually do agree. Look, Kyle Trask came into that game Saturday night, and you would think he was a Heisman contender the way he came out and played, especially on that first drive and leading Florida back for the win. I look at Tennessee, and a lot of people might laugh at this, but I kind of feel this is true. Tennessee is not 1-2 bad. They are, if anything, a 2-1 type team that got ahead of themselves in that Georgia State game.

Here’s the problem that Tennessee did. They planned for so long for BYU and Florida but didn’t take the time to really go over Georgia State. Then what happens is when you bring in a bunch of offensive line, and you’re rotating them like a hockey substitution, you’re not going to get any kind of consistency. They got into a trap with a bunch of young players where you get down against a team, and the other team has all the momentum. It’s hard to dig out of. I’m not making excuse whatsoever. If anything, I’m putting it on the coaching staff for not having this team ready to go for Georgia State. Then you look at the BYU game, and they’d have won the game if Alontae Taylor doesn’t press off and look like he’s running man coverage and gets beat down the field.

So, it’s weird looking at this Tennessee team. I’ll say this. Over the last two games, I think they’ve found their offensive line that they’re going to roll with for the rest of the season, unless something happens to Trey Smith, or they get an injury. This game, to me, I know Florida fans laugh about it, and it’s funny, Tennessee coming in 1-2 to Gainesville. I think it’s something where Florida fans don’t need to overlook it, because if the one thing Tennessee does have, they’ve got playmakers. They’ve got them on the outside at wide receiver. You’ve got the emergence of Eric Gray at running back, along with Ty Chandler. You’ve got Daniel Bituli back now on defense, who pretty much runs that defense. He’s the playcaller. He gets everything in.

Then you kind of look at the secondary where Tennessee is actually pretty strong in the secondary. I think that’s why you’ve seen Alontae Taylor not play as much lately, as Kenneth George, Jr. has gotten a lot of playing time, is because Pruitt’s always said, you don’t bring it at practice, you’re not going to play on game day. I find it interesting how Tennessee’s gone about this with the approach of this year so far, but I would say, yeah, Florida fans, don’t overlook this team. Don’t come in and think you’re just going to beat Tennessee, because they lost to Georgia State. I think this is actually a ballclub that does have some playmakers and that could give problems to Florida in some aspects of their game.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this, Trey. You and I have had the opportunity to know Jeremy Pruitt for a long time, growing up where we did. The one thing I’ll say about Jeremy Pruitt is Jeremy Pruitt is a hardnosed very focused on the fundamentals and effort. To me, that was what shocked me the first two games, more importantly the first game, is it did not seem like a Jeremy Pruitt coached football team of balls to the wall, that kind of stuff. Did that improve? Is that improving? Is that something you noticed as well?

Trey:                         No, I did. I did. Like you said, we’ve both watched Jeremy Pruitt come up through the ranks, and that was not his type of team in that first game of the year. They just weren’t excited. They just thought they could come out on that field, put that T on their helmet, and they were going to go beat Georgia State. Shawn Elliott, who everybody knows in the SEC, he had other plans as the head coach of Georgia State. They knew that they could come in there and run the ball on Tennessee the way Tennessee’s front four, and front seven even, have played, or the way they looked last year, especially with Emmit Gooden going down and Aubrey Solomon’s first game with Tennessee. They took advantage of them, and I give them a lot of credit.

I will say this. It seems like Jeremy Pruitt’s team is finally starting to come together, starting even with the BYU game. You saw more fight out of them. You saw more intensity when it came to getting to the football. Problem is you had Jarrett Guarantano, who’s taken a step back from last year, who’s throwing in the three man, four man coverage and not reading the defenses correctly, and it put them in a bad situation. With a defense that was missing Bituli and a defense where your starting three or four are true freshmen, that’s tough. It’s a learning game. I think we all understand that, but the problem is when you play for a school like Tennessee, and you play in the Southeastern Conference, these freshmen don’t have a lot of time to learn. They’ve got to do this thing on the fly.

With Jeremy Pruitt and his, the best way to put it, his aggressive attitude towards football and fundamentals, I agree. It caught me off guard. I will say this. I saw a lot more fight in them at BYU. You take what you can get from UT Chattanooga. You’re not going to get much out of that, but I think the fact that you saw a bunch of players flying around making plays, they didn’t take them lightly. They came out. They handled business. Maybe Jeremy Pruitt’s finally gotten into the heads of these kids, and maybe it’ll show up come Saturday. First big test of the year.

To put it bluntly, Jeremy Pruitt is a maniac, and we know that on defense. The way that he calls plays, and the way that he coached. Look, every single day we’re out there, he’s either with the defensive backs or the defensive line. That’s just who Jeremy Pruitt is. I think you’ll see a team a lot more motivated come Saturday, and one that’s looking to go in there and upset the Gators.

Nick:                         It’s always interesting to me, and my first time covering football was Will Muschamp’s Gators, and it’s always interesting to me to see that kind of defensive, fiery defensive coach as the head coach when it comes to trying to talk to or handle quarterbacks. Like you said, they don’t have the softest of touch, and sometimes you need to have a soft touch when dealing with a quarterback. My question about him is is there a short leash? Is there somebody else? If he comes out, and Florida’s been able to take the ball away, didn’t get one against Miami, but have gotten interceptions of fumbles in their last three games, including three interceptions last game and a fumble recovery. Is there a short leash? Is there another quarterback that they would go to, or is it Jarrett’s team and through thick or thin they’d stick with him on the road at Florida?

Trey:                         Look, Pruitt’s made it clear that Jarrett Guarantano is his quarterback. He’s not moving away from him as quarterback. He continues to say he’s the best quarterback we have on the roster. Here’s the problem. If Jeremy Pruitt yanks Jarrett Guarantano, he’s going to lose him for the season mentally, in my opinion. Tennessee’s got a quarterback in Brian Maurer. He reminds me a little bit of Trask. He can throw the football. He can also run the football, get the RPOs down. He kind of reminds me of Trask a little bit, but the problem is he hasn’t really gotten any playing time. We saw him last weekend. He took a hit. Now, he did run for a 15-yard touchdown stretch at the end. It was a nice play. But he got hit on one play, and then they stopped throwing the football with him. So, you really don’t know what you’re getting when it comes to Brian Maurer.

Now, here’s the thing about Guarantano. Florida is going to blitz him every which way but loose. They are going to try to put him on the ground every single play. They are going to try to be in his face. They’re going to hit him. Tennessee is going to give up some sacks. It is what it is. Tennessee has got a young offensive line on the right side, and even at certain positions on the left. I think that what Guarantano has to do is step up, be the quarterback that he thinks he can be, which is near perfect. Those are Jeremy Pruitt’s words. Also, here’s the thing too. We know Guarantano can take a hit. If there’s one thing about Guarantano, we know that he can take a hit, and he’s going to get back up. I actually applaud him for that. He looks like a roller derby car out there the last couple weeks, bumper cars, and the last year too.

The problem is Tennessee does not have something Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, they don’t have that backup quarterback that’s the star right now that you know that you can throw in there. Maybe that comes with playing time, but as of right now it’s the Guarantano show. I don’t think they get away from it. Look, he’s going to throw an interception or two on Saturday probably, but it’s all about him bouncing back and seeing if he can reciprocate the play that he had at times against Chattanooga.

I will say this, kind of ending with Guarantano. The problem with Guarantano is he doesn’t look off. He is focused on one receiver. When they snap that football, you can take a look at it. He’s focused on Dominick Wood-Anderson, Jennings, or Callaway. Just one. He doesn’t go through the progressions. That’s the problem with Guarantano. Maybe he comes out and plays different on Saturday, but he only had eight attempts this past weekend. I’m interested to see how Jim Chaney runs this offense around him come Saturday.

Nick:                         We were joking with David Reese, one of Florida’s middle linebackers, before, shoot, what was the second game? Before the second game, if he’s ever felt bad for a quarterback. He said, no, never feel bad for a quarterback. Talking it’s the defense’s job to get to the next quarterback. Every defense probably goes into a game thinking, let’s see what the backup quarterback has. But then he stopped, and he laughed, he goes, “Except that Tennessee quarterback. I looked into his eyes. Looked like he had had enough last year.”

Andrew:                 Is Guarantano’s play the biggest key for you this weekend, Trey? What’s your biggest key?

Trey:                         First off, on that David Reese comment, we asked Jarrett Guarantano about that, somebody did today, a little bit ago. He kind of, if you go back and look at the video I posted, he was kind of messing around with his hands. It sounded like he wanted to say something, but he just gave the whole no comment type deal, which I thought was kind of weird, funny, but is what it is.

To me, this weekend, yes, it’s Guarantano. Yes, it’s completing the passes to Jennings. An area where Tennessee, I think they can get after Florida, and it’s because of injuries with Florida, is getting the ball down the field to Jennings or Callaway. You’ve got two guys that will go up and ball hawk, and I think that if you give them the opportunity, throw those 30, 40-yard fades, let’s see what happens. Let Jennings go up and make a play. Let Callaway go make a play. I think Tennessee right now at the running back position is in a pretty good spot. I think Eric Gray is a great running back. He’s going to be good over the next three to four years. I think Ty Chandler has shown that he’s a good running back in space, and especially getting up the middle.

I think my biggest takeaway this weekend is going to be how Daniel Bituli and the linebackers play. Can Daniel Bituli set up that defensive line? Can he get the play calls in to Henry To’o To’o? Does Jeremy Banks see the playing field at linebacker? How do they reciprocate what they had last year at times when it comes to their defensive set at the linebacker spot? Look, we all know that Tennessee is pretty thin at defensive line. They’ve got Aubrey Solomon, Savion Williams, Greg Emerson, Darel Middleton, but these are the guys that this is going to be their first big game, when it comes to going to the Swamp, and you want to see how they respond. They haven’t had the best of times trying to stop the run.

That part will be interesting to me, but I think the biggest playmaker is having Daniel Bituli back and seeing how much they get Will Ignont on the field, because what that does is Florida’s got, we all know Perine, especially me and Andrew, and seeing him grow and the speed that he has, the ability to get to the outside. I think Bituli and Ignont are two type of players that can go out there and make the tackle happen. If Tennessee’s going to win the game, they’ve got to stop the run.

Andrew:                 Don’t worry. Florida’s offensive line is trash.

Trey:                         I’ve heard. Yeah.

Andrew:                 Something is going to have to break here. Tennessee is either going to stop the run and pump their chest, or Florida is going to run the ball and pump their chest. Something’s got to change here. We’ll see which one it is.

Trey:                         I agree.

Andrew:                 We’ll see which one it is. Let me just tell you, me and you could block better than these guys on this Florida offensive line could.

Trey:                         Look, man, I think Tennessee’s in the same spot. You’re starting two true freshmen in Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris. You got Trey Smith out there, Brandon Kennedy. Here’s the thing, Tennessee has experience at certain spots when it comes to the offensive line, and I can actually say for the first time in five to six years that Tennessee can go two deep on the offensive line and be okay, but the problem is their defensive line. It’s going to be interesting Saturday in the trenches. See who can get off the ball first. I don’t really know who favors in a 12:00 kickoff.

Andrew:                 Not the Gators. The Gators don’t play well at noon.

Trey:                         See, I’m thinking maybe Tennessee slightly, because all they have to do is fly into Florida on Friday, wake up and go play football. I’ve watched the Gators at noon a good amount of times. I don’t know. All I know is it’s going to be hotter than the Devil’s hand down there on Saturday. I look forward to being down there, but it’s going to be miserable. Both teams are going to have to deal with it. We’ll see who is hydrated the most, right?

Nick:                         That’s an FSU problem.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s an FSU problem.

Trey:                         No kidding. That’s a dumpster fire. That’s a dumpster fire over there in Tallahassee.

Nick:                         Speaking of dumpster fires. What was this Titanic quote from a couple weeks back?

Trey:                         Man.

Nick:                         UT, the University of Titanic?

Trey:                         I don’t know what he was getting at.

Andrew:                 Jeremy Pruitt is not the smartest human being.

Nick:                         Does Jeremy Pruitt know, I mean, the people that left the Titanic first were the ones that lived?

Trey:                         I know, guys. You have to remember this …

Nick:                         The rats that stayed on the boat and climbed to the top ultimately went under with the boat?

Trey:                         Damn it, Nick. You have to understand this is a guy from Graysville, Alabama.

Nick:                         He didn’t stay for the end of a great movie, Trey. He didn’t see Rose let go of Jack’s hand.

Andrew:                 He was a PE teacher. Jeremy Pruitt’s goal in life is to coach football, not anything else.

Nick:                         Listen, I know it’s a three-hour movie, but it’s a classic. You can sit through three hours once.

Trey:                         Can you imagine Jeremy Pruitt actually, he said he sat down in college and watched The Titanic. I went back and thought. I was like, wait a minute.

Andrew:                 He’s lying.

Trey:                         When did he go to college? What year was he in college? That didn’t really make sense. Then he put the whole mice are running to the top while others are leaving. I was like, you could have just came out and said, some players are leaving. We’re going to run off the ones that don’t want to be here, and the ones that are going to stay, that’s what we’re going to flourish with. I don’t know what he was thinking, man. Hell, I can barely understand what he’s saying some days. But God love him. God love him.

He’s a good football coach. I think he’s a good position coach. He’s learning. Guys, we all know this. When it comes to the SEC or anywhere in college football, when you’re a first-time head coach, and you’ve been a position coach and a coordinator at certain spots, you’re going to have your learning curves. I think he’s getting there. It takes some time, but he’s getting there. We’ve seen this all around the country with different, you know. Look at Will Muschamp, whenever he took the job when he left Texas. It took time to become a head coach. He had some ups and downs.

Andrew:                 He still hasn’t become a head coach. What you talking about?

Trey:                         I know he hasn’t. I know. I’m just to make a damn reference in the SEC. Man, we’ll see. If he can get his players motivated on Saturday, which I don’t think will be a problem with the senior leadership, I think it’ll be a ballgame. I’m still picking Florida. I think it’s somewhere around 27-14, 27-17, the Gators.

Andrew:                 That’s what we wanted to hear. Trey, tell everybody where they can find you real quick. We’ll get you out of here, and we will see you this weekend and look forward to a good ballgame.

Trey:                         Absolutely, guys. You can follow me @TreyWallace_ I’m on every day from 3:00-6:00 on Fox Sports Knoxville. We’re not just talking Tennessee football. We’re talking SEC every single day. I think you two guys can attest to that. Love you guys to death. Can’t wait to see you this weekend. This has always been fun. You know that.

Andrew:                 Absolutely, Trey.

Nick:                         Yes, sir.

Andrew:                 We appreciate it. We will talk to you soon. Thank you.

Guys, we’re back. Big thanks to our man Trey Wallace. Always a good time talking to Trey. Very, very good stuff about Tennessee. I think that what he says does have some truth to it, not to say he’s a liar or anything like that. I’m not trying to say that. I do think that there is a little bit of truth that at 1-2 is Tennessee as bad as 1-2? I think you can say maybe, maybe not. I do think they’re better than Georgia State, for sure. We’ll see how good that BYU team is. It looks a little better than that. So, maybe they’re not as bad as 1-2 goes. I still think Florida is by far a better team here. I just think that you have to go into this game and not overlook Tennessee or anyone else.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t think there’s any way Florida is overlooking Tennessee. I don’t think they look at a 1-2 record. I don’t think they look at Georgia State. At the end of the day, it’s an SEC team.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I think Florida overlooked Kentucky last year.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         In Week 2. And learned a lesson. So, I don’t think you’re going to see, listen, I don’t think maybe Florida overlooks a team somewhere down the line.

Andrew:                 Townsend.

Nick:                         Yeah. Like a Townsend, when you’ve got Auburn coming up. I don’t see them overlooking a team like Tennessee. It’s not this specific team. It’s the name Tennessee and the rivalry and what Tennessee-Florida is. To me, there’s no way you can overlook that.

Andrew:                 I will say this. Listen, I can’t stand Tennessee. I grew up hating Tennessee. I mean, that’s just what I was told. I was told from a very young age you don’t like anything in orange, in that burnt orange color and that kind of stuff. There is zero love lost there. I do like Jeremy Pruitt. I think Jeremy Pruitt’s a very good football coach. What Trey said to us was concerning a little bit in that they didn’t come out and play like Jeremy Pruitt football. That, to me, has Will Muschamp written all over it. You can’t get you team motivated to play ball. That’s a concerning factor for me.

Nick:                         In what aspect?

Andrew:                 Just that does he have control over his team? Does his guys respect him? What is the reasoning behind those guys not coming out ready to play? Your team is supposed to take after your coach.

Nick:                         It’s Week 1. You should be excited for Week 1.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Regardless of the opponent.

Andrew:                 Your team should have the mindset of your head coach. You always want your team to have the mindset of your head coach. Just, to me, that was the biggest thing in the Georgia State game. They just came out and got beat. I mean, it was just a team that didn’t look like they cared. It was a team that didn’t act like they wanted to be out there. Listen, Jeremy Pruitt is a crazy madman. You would think Tennessee would come out and be crazy madmen.

Nick:                         Not to bring this bad thing up again. You’re saying Florida, when they lost to Georgia Southern, at the of that year that team was beaten down and had given up. I mean, that was the end of what would be a 4-8 season, after coming into the season ranked in the top 10. That’s different than you can’t get your guys up for the first game of a season.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Regardless of opponent. We haven’t played football in eight months. If you can’t excited for getting back on the football field and punching somebody in the mouth, regardless of if it’s the ’85 Bears or if it’s Georgia State, then you’re saying then that’s a problem. That’s why you’re questioning Pruitt and, I guess, the team.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s just to me that is concerning. Listen, if Jeremy Pruitt was to coach anywhere but Florida State or Tennessee, I’d be telling you I’d root for him every Saturday, because I do. I have the utmost respect for Jeremy Pruitt. I think Jeremy Pruitt’s a good football coach and everything else. It’s just that’s concerning to me. Also, to hear Trey say he’s still learning. I understand that a little bit, but you can’t learn in the SEC.

Nick:                         It’s a tough place to learn.

Andrew:                 That’s another topic for another day, maybe at the end of the year we’ll see kind of where things are. For me, Nick, this is a game for Tennessee that I think defines their season almost. If you lose this game, you have a chance to potentially be 1-6 after the next few games.

Nick:                         I mean, look at that schedule. Tennessee is 1-2. You lose this, you’re 1-3. Then you’re Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina. And it’s at Alabama.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, you have a chance to beat Mississippi State and a chance to be South Carolina, maybe. Yeah. Where do you go from there?

Nick:                         They’re in a tough spot.

Andrew:                 They’re in a tough spot.

Nick:                         Tennessee’s in a tough spot. I did want to touch on the rushing, because Trey mentioned Tennessee’s linebackers kind of being key. You’ve got Henry To’o To’o. I don’t know how to say it. To’o To’o and Will Ignont, the two linebackers he’s referencing. 17 tackles and 16 tackles, second and third on the team respectively. But Tennessee has given up 157 yards rushing a game.

Andrew:                 530 through three games. Let that sink in for a second.

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, obviously we’ve talked about Florida’s rushing attack and the offensive line. Florida’s twelfth in the SEC, averaging 139.67 yards per game. We said it, not last week. We said it two weeks ago about you should be able to run against UT Martin. This is a team you should be able to run against. Not to be negative, and we asked Dan about it after the game. He said, listen, we were having success in the passing game, and we were taking what the defense gave us. That meant throwing the football. We were throwing it well. I get that, but at some point, like we said on the Monday podcast, we got to be able to establish the run.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Like I said in our talks with Trey, something’s got to give here. Offensive line for Florida is going to win on Saturday, or Tennessee’s front seven is going to win on Saturday. Who’s going to win? What’s it going to be? Because this game is a lot of times decided by the rushing attack in general. This is really your last true test before Auburn, and I say true test, I mean, we all know Tennessee is better than Townsend. So, this is your last chance to really improve and show you’ve improved before you get to Auburn, who we know their defensive line is going to be the best Florida’s seen all year.

You’ve got to figure it out. I say this for Kyle Trask as well. Kyle Trask needs these guys to figure it out, because do you really want the game to be on the shoulders of Kyle Trask, the whole game against Tennessee? I mean, maybe he handles it and does well, but it’s a tough task to ask in your first start.

Nick:                         I have a lot of confidence in Kyle Trask.

Andrew:                 I do too, but that’s just a tough task.

Nick:                         Yeah. You and I have been very high on Kyle Trask. I thought he should have been the starter, probably 2016, 2017, if not for the injuries. Tennessee is not a bad pass defense though. Second in the SEC right now.

Andrew:                 Except for when they leave people wide open.

Nick:                         Yeah. I fully expect, like I wouldn’t be surprised at a 300-yard passing game from Kyle Trask.

Andrew:                 Oh no. Not at all. Here’s the thing, Nick, and this is what kind of disturbed me a little bit with Mullen’s quotes and some of the other things that come out. The passing game is so good. Yeah, that’s fine, but sooner or later teams are just going to start bringing the house and daring you to run the ball, and the passing game is not going to be there. Then what do you do?

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t think Florida, maybe you could say they’re on the verge of becoming one-dimensional. I don’t think that it’s there yet.

Andrew:                 It’s pretty close.

Nick:                         I think so highly of Lamical Perine. I think he can get it going. I think Florida’s offensive line probably started like this, and they were more of a veteran group last year, probably started like this last year and got better and got better as the year went on.

Andrew:                 It was never as bad as it was this year. This has been bad.

Nick:                         We’re getting into Week 4, or Game 4. It seems like Week 8 of the season. It’s been such a weird year. Dan Mullen keeps bringing it up. The more he says it, the more I’m like, yeah, it does feel weird. This is only the second home game, fourth week of the season, fifth week of the season for Florida. I mean, the Miami game feels like it was over a month ago.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         But I have confidence in Perine. I’m never going to give up on John Hevesy. That guy is a great fundamental football coach, and I think at some point, whether it takes changing the personnel and getting different people in or changing the scheme, I have confidence that Florida will.

Andrew:                 Okay. I mean, I have confidence in Hevesy as well, but I’m starting to lose some confidence with this group. UT Martin, couldn’t do anything against UT Martin. That was concerning, big time. You couldn’t do anything at all against Kentucky. That was concerning. The Miami game, we can scratch that off as being a game that it was against a pretty good defense. It was Game 1. We can make excuses for that, but at some point, the running game has to get going. You say they’re not one-dimensional yet, but they’re pretty darn close.

Nick:                         I’m not ready to give up yet, Spivey.

Andrew:                 I’m not ready to give up either. I’m just saying you’re getting close. You and I both know this, if you go into the Auburn game without being able to run the ball, things could get bad.

Nick:                         Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that defensive line is impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing them in person. I’m also interested to see, we talked a little bit to Trey about heat and stuff and the noon crowd. I’m interested to see what the crowd looks like. I think that will be, Dan Mullen is never going to call the fans out, but is asking them to come. I mean, listen, I don’t the full extent. I’ve been to just about every game. I’ve been to every single home game in the Swamp, but my seats were different. They’re covered, and there’s fans in the press box. There’s an inside area as well. I mean, I can’t really speak to what it’s like to sit in the seats and be baked like that, but I imagine a 3:30 kick, from 3:30 to 4:00 to 5:00 is probably just as hot as it is at 12:00, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s going to be hot. Let me ask you this. I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not, but did you see where Alabama is now using an app to see students? When they arrive and leave they check in, and they’re starting to pull some tickets.

Nick:                         How many tickets do you think Tennessee will scoop up?

Andrew:                 I don’t know. I think it’ll be a small crowd, right? I mean, their fanbase isn’t excited, are they?

Nick:                         Versus how many Florida gives to people. I think it’s around 5,000.

Andrew:                 Like 5,000 is what the allotted number that they give away.

Nick:                         I can’t imagine Tennessee would sell out their allotment.

Andrew:                 Can’t either. That’ll be interesting to see, to see that noon, like we said. Florida hasn’t been the best of teams coming out starting a noon kickoff.

Nick:                         Yeah. I expect it to be a good crowd.

Andrew:                 No. I’m talking about the team. They haven’t been the best starting team at noon. Would you agree?

Nick:                         Say it again.

Andrew:                 I said Florida has not been the best starting team at noon.

Nick:                         Yeah. Historically.

Andrew:                 That will be a question. Which team starts better at noon? I mean, Tennessee, they’ve played all their games at noon, right?

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, I don’t read too much into that. I think Florida’s just a better football team.

Andrew:                 Oh, they’re a much better football team. Much better football team. Any final thoughts before we get out of here?

Nick:                         Grant Holloway will be Mr. Two Bits. If you want to watch it, don’t blink. It might be the fastest Mr. Two Bits ever, based on his speed. I don’t know if we’re running up against the clock but hold on one second. Grant Holloway. 110-meter hurdles collegiate recordholder. 12.98. Broke a 40-year-old record. 60-meter hurdles American and collegiate recordholder with a 7.35. That’s #3 on the world all-time list. He was the 4×1 relay collegiate recordholder. 2018, ’19 SEC Male Athlete of the Year. Two-time Bowerman Finalist in 2018 and 2019. Eight-time NCAA champion. That’s a UF record. Six-time SEC champion. He is somehow, even after hearing all that, somehow a better human and a better person than he is a runner. Congratulations to him. He’s heading off, I think, to a race in Abu Dhabi right after Mr. Two Bits.

Andrew:                 I got a question for everyone listening to the podcast. Is he top five most decorated athletes of all time at Florida?

Nick:                         He’s got to be up there.

Andrew:                 I would say he’s up there as well. You got him, Bridgett Slone, Alex McMurtry, Tebow.

Nick:                         ‘04s.

Andrew:                 The ‘04s.

Nick:                         Caeleb Dressel.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Dressel’s up there. You just got some. It’s a little bit easier. Excuse me. It’s not easier. It’s a little bit different for the smaller sports to win multiple championships. Tebow can only win four. Grant Holloway had the opportunity to win beau-coodles. Bridgett Slone did as well. When you look at what those guys and gals do, have done, that’s pretty impressive. I think he’s one of the top all around athletes of all time at Florida.

Nick:                         Yeah. Just incredible. The way he went about it every single year. Shoot, he was fun to watch.

Andrew:                 He made the right decision not playing football.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think it’ll work out for him.

Andrew:                 All right, Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday, as we make some picks and do all that good stuff.

Nick:                         Side note. Florida signed a contract with FAU. They’ll play in 2021 in the Swamp.

Andrew:                 There you go.

Nick:                         So, 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 consume your podcast. 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. Hopefully I’ll be talking about the Brave clinching the East on Friday when we talk. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Previous articleFlorida Gators volleyball sweeps Florida State
Next articleBehind the Numbers: Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats
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.