GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview the Florida Gators road game against Texas A&M on Saturday.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by Ryan Brauninger of TexAgs as he tells us what to expect from Texas A&M on Saturday.
Andrew and Nick also breakdown what Dan Mullen had to say on Monday about the Gators performance last Saturday.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re here and getting ready for Florida-Texas A&M out at Kyle Field, or should we call it the Kyle Trask field?
Nick:Kyle Trask-Pitts Field. Good story. Good story to come out on a Monday. College football is just crazy. If you missed the story on Monday, Kyle Trask told us that his parents named him Kyle after Kyle Field, because both of him parents went to Texas A&M.
Andrew:Interesting. When you think about all the storylines in the game, and that’s a good one. Texas kid. It has tobe special for Trask, and to be the star quarterback and the guy who is coming in with one of the top teams in the country. Then Texas and Texas A&M both passed on him, didn’t even show interest in him. Has to be a special moment for Trask on Saturday, when he goes out to Aggie land.
Nick:I’m sure Ryan Brauninger, who we’ll have on in a minute will tell you. He’s an Aggie. I don’t think Kyle’s parents would have allowed him to go to Texas, even if they had offered.
Andrew:Yeah. We’ll be joined by Ryan Brauninger here in a minute from TexAgs to get his thoughts on the game. We got to ask him about what’s going on with Jimbo and how that contract’s working out. We’ll get his thoughts on that, and then you and I will come back, and we’ll talk about what Dan Mullen had to say on Monday. He is still very coy on injuries.
Andrew:But he did say he will announce breaking long season-ending injuries. I guess we got somewhere, right?
Nick:Yeah. That was kind of unprompted too. No one even asked him about it.
Andrew:Somebody get on his case behind the scenes and say, listen, you got to be nice to these guys?
Nick:Maybe. Maybe that was Megan. Saban always does that. He snaps at the media, and then he comes back the next day and is like, Miss Terry told me I need to be nicer to you guys, so I’m apologizing for yelling and that.
Andrew:Miss Megan is the one that’s, let’s do this and be nice.
Andrew:She’s the, what’s the word I’m looking for? She’sthe voice of reason. There we go. That’s it. She’s the voice of reason behind all the commotion. Let’s go to Brauninger here. We’ll talk to him, get his thoughts on this game, get his breakdown. I’ll be honest. I know a little bit about Texas A&M, but not a ton. We’ll get his thoughts on this game, and then you and I will come back, and we’ll finish it up and talk about what Dan Mullen had to say.
Nick:Let’s do it.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? We’re back. We’rewith our man, Ryan Brauninger, of TexAgs. Ryan, what’s up? How are things going out in Aggie land?
Ryan:What’s up? I feel like I haven’t talked to you guys about actual football stuff on a podcast in, I guess since Kevin Sumlin was the head coach in College Station, and A&M was getting ready to go down to Gainesville, and y’all wore those heinous jerseys, all green jerseys. There’s been quite a few changes, I think, on both sides of this deal, but it’s always good to talk to you guys, outside of National Signing Day and recruiting stuff. Welcoming the Gators back to College Station.
Andrew:We have to ask you, last week we were talking to our good friend Chris Clark about everything going on with Will Muschamp, how are things going with Jimbo? Is everything all hunky-dory out there? Are people getting a little upset about things?
Ryan:I don’t think anybody’s worried. I think the general consensus that I’ve been able to gather from the fans is they still believe that Jimbo’s the right guy. He’s the right coach to get this thing where the A&M fanbase and the A&M donors and that kind of stuff expect it. A&M, it’s been widely written that they’re setup just as good as anybody to be successful in college football, when you look at the recruiting base, the money that runs through there, the investment that the fans make and the donors make. Then you look at the facilities, upgraded, new locker room, new weight room. When you walk around College Station, and really for the town, because it’s been growing like crazy, everything just seems kind of new here. That doesn’t give you the right to win things, but it does raise expectations.
So, I do think people, in Year 3 you come off a big lose to Alabama, and you’re thinking in Year 3 it should probably be closer, and I think that’s a valid argument the fanbase has, but in terms of long-term, I don’t think anybody’s given up on Jimboyet. You look at how they are recruiting and the classes they are bringing in, and then kind of how that young talent is starting to emerge and push some of the guys that have been here for four years. It’s really an interesting dynamic, and it does kind of give you some hope for the future.
Andrew:When you look at this A&M team, you get a little bit caught up in watching the Alabama game and looking at that score. Alabama’s kind of head and shoulders above everybody here, but what’s been the major struggle this year for A&M? You would think that offensively they would be pretty good with Kellen Mond returning, but then they only score 17 points against Alabama. Doesn’t look great.
Ryan:They scored 24 against Bama, and only 17 the week before against Vanderbilt. The offense has been a concern, and really it’s the slow starts that have been the most concerning. But in contrast to that, that’s kind of been the long-going issue, but they came out in the opening drive, got the ball first against Bama, and you looked at the script that Jimbo and Darrell Dickey put together for that first quarter or so, and it was really good. A&M moved the football well against Alabama. They go right down the field, throw two back shoulder fades into the endzone on 2nd and 3rd down, which were probably the only questionable calls on the drive. I like throwing one of them, but maybe not back to back. Then they miss a short field goal, inside 40 yards, and Bama gets the ball, and A&M, two negative plays to put Bama in 3rd and long, and then Bama runs by the A&M secondary.
That was kind of the common theme all afternoon in Tuscaloosa was A&M DBs letting guys like Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie and Devonta Smith get behind the secondary. Now, the defense since Mike Elko has taken over has typically not been an issue at all. I think he’s still widely regarded across the country and amongst the A&M fanbase as one of the premier defensive minds, at least in this conference. So, I think people are going to give him the benefit of the doubt and kind of see how it goes from here forward. They’ve got a lot of really talented players in that secondary, especially at safety. So, I think the jury’s out on the secondary. Obviously, when you get torched like that in a game against Alabama, but I think most people are more concerned with the offense and how it’s going to get going.
Nick:I definitely said it on our podcast, trying to walk some Gator fans back off the ledge. I was like, Ole Miss is a good offense. They’re going to make teams look like that. I think some of the guys you just named, I think Jaylen Waddle will be playing on Sundays soon. He’s going to make a bunch of people look bad. Might not be as big of an indictment on Texas A&M’s defense as it is Alabama’s just really good.
Ryan:Sure. You’re right about Waddle and Devonta Smith. I think what makes Alabama go this year, I think this is the best offensive line they’ve had. Even Mac Jones, who’s kind of been an afterthought for his career, when you give a guy that much time and he’s got those weapons outside, it makes it really tough to defend.
Nick:It’s a weird season, for multiple reasons, but Florida’s not going to be much easier on offense. I think we’ve talked about it. They still need to get the running game going, but Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, I think if I was Florida’s quarterback, I would just be forcing the ball to Kyle Pitts, but Florida really spreads the ball around. I think that’s probably their biggest advantage. You can’t really key in on one guy. You have to kind of key in on Kyle Pitts, but they’ve shown that there’s, 11 guys catch a pass in Week 1, 9 guys catch a pass in Week 2. I think it’ll be interesting to see.
Great story. I don’t know if you saw it, but Kyle Trask told us, he’s down there from Manvel, and I know you’re down there watching Friday Night Lights all the time, told us he’s named after Kyle Field.
Ryan:That was pretty cool. I didn’t actually know that. I knew the Manvel football program is one of the best in the state of Texas, and I’ve gotten to know that coaching staff very well and spent a lot of time at Manvel High School. They always talked about what kind of leader Kyle was, kind of how he was wired, even though he was the backup to D’Eriq King, and they felt like they were kind of spoiled for choice there. There were some games in high school where they felt like Kyle may have given them the better chance to throw the ball down the field, but when you had D’Eriq’s legs and the combination of the two, but Kyle never gave up on it. Kyle just kept coming to practice and being a good teammate and being ready to go if they needed him.
He was rewarded for that with a scholarship to the University of Florida, and he’s kind of done the same thing in Gainesville, it sounds like. Just bide his time, be a good teammate, be a good human being, and then all of a sudden, guys like that have been rewarded in an offensive system in Dan Mullen, who we saw do that kind of with Dak Prescott. I’ve been really impressed with Trask, and he’s an easy kid to root for. It’s always cool to see these Texas kids go out of state, especially a guy like Trask who didn’t have a lot of opportunities in state. I think Florida was probably his only Power Five offer?
Andrew:I think it was Florida and then SMU maybe.
Nick:No. Dallas Baptist, who’s better known for their baseball team than the football program. Lamar, Dallas Baptist, and McNeese State were the other offers.
Nick:Houston Baptist. Sorry, yeah.
Ryan:Yeah. Those are Southland Conference schools. That’s the conference I played baseball in, so I’m very well aware of kind of what goes on there. I mean, just a super cool story.
Nick:We keep saying it. One that Hollywood would reject. They’re like, what? No, that’s crazy. That doesn’t make any sense. We can’t sell that. You guys got some gunslingers out there. We might produce the skill position players in the state of Florida, but not a ton of Florida-born quarterbacks. Interesting to see Florida go out. I just posted a story about how they found Kyle Trask, so that was fun. I guess, quarterbacks aren’t going to play each other. Kyle Trask has been talked about.
Kellen Mond kind of came into the year as a guy, maybe not dark horse Heisman, but a lot of buzz around him, and probably some deserved because of him, but also just Jimbo’s past with quarterbacks and what he’s been able to do. How is Kellen this year? I guess it’s probably going to be an easier defense the way it’s look this week than you had to face last week against Alabama.
Ryan:I think with Kellen he played pretty well against Bama. The bad mistake he made was a late ball to the sideline that he threw inside, and it got picked and run back for a touchdown. That was kind of during that part of the game where Bama does what Bama does. It’s like they just keep putting their foot on your neck. You’re in the game. A&M scored in the second quarter to tie it up on a beautifully designed play to a backup tight end, and Kellen threw a great ball. There was a lot of momentum on the A&M sideline. Then kind of Bama does what Bama does. You look up, and it’s 35-14, and you’re like, how’d this happen? We were just in this football game.
Kellen played much better against Alabama than he did against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt it was lethargic and choppy and not on target. If Kellen is able to make in rhythm throws with his feet underneath him, he’s shown that he can hit just about any ball. The arm strength is there. The ball comes out of his hand. It pops. Especially over the middles, he’s great over the middle, throwing to the tight end. I know Kyle Pitts is probably the front runner for the Mackey, and maybe even some bigger awards this year, but A&M’s got a good one in their own right in Jalen Wydermyer, and Kellen likes him a lot over the middle. He throws the dig route to the wide receivers, the slants. He throws all the stuff over the middle where he can really rip it. That’s his best ball.
So, if he’s able to get easy access throws, and that’s what I liked about the game plan early on against Bama is they were able to get him in rhythm with some easy access throws that he likes to make, and I thought he played much better. There’s no question he played much better against Alabama than he did against Vanderbilt.
Now, there’s some people in the A&M fanbase that saw the true freshman come in at the end of that game, and it got them fired up. I don’t know if you got some Florida fans that keep up with recruiting. His name’s Haynes King, and he is the prototype Texas quarterback. He’s from a big high school in deep East Texas whose daddy is the head football coach there, and his daddy’s also the head of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. So, there’s a lot of people fired up about the kind of intangibles of that kid coming off the bench, but Kellen’s job is safe. He’ll be the guy going on Saturday against a Florida defense that, I’ll ask you guys, I was actually surprised from the yardage they gave up. Not Ole Miss. I figured Ole Miss was going to be a good offense, but I thought South Carolina hung around longer than I was expecting them to.
Nick:I said all week that South Carolina and Will Muschamp, that’s what the doctor prescribed after having to face Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss, and that was a tough pill to swallow. That’s not what I thought was going to happen last week.
Andrew:Florida has the opposite problem of Alabama in that Florida doesn’t never put the foot on the throat, kind of choke them out, I guess, mindset, and that’s been the problem, if you look at it. When Florida was going in the Ole Miss game, they had opportunities to kind of shut them out and be done with the game. They didn’t. Then they had opportunities in the South Carolina game and didn’t. It was kind of a tale of four quarters there in a way, in that Florida in the 4th quarter offensively just looked terrible, and then defensively Florida just are not able to tackle.
Ryan:What’s interesting about Jimbo’s tenure, outside of Alabama and LSU last year, who was just a buzzsaw by the time A&M got to them at the end of the year, Jimbo plays close games. It’s kind of a methodical offense. He eats a lot of play clock. They want to run the football. They’ve got two really good backs. I think this is a much better matchup for the Aggies than Alabama was, and I know Kadarius Toney’s a fantastic player, and we talked about Kyle Pitts. Florida’s always got super talented guys on the defensive side of the ball, and some of them were head-to-head wins even over A&M. So, I know Florida’s going to bring a really talented squad in here, but if I’m looking at it as just a neutral fan of college football and the matchup, I think A&M matches up much better with Florida than they did Bama. I think it’ll be close on Saturday.
Andrew:Here’s the thing for me, Ryan. I can’t say that Florida’s ever going to blow anybody out right now, and I can’t say that Florida’s going to just walk over anybody right now defensively, or with the defense going the way it is, so I kind of agree with you there. When you look at what A&M’s been able to do offensively, and Florida’s not been able to do defensively, I have to agree with you there, because I think that A&M has the playmakers that if you don’t tackle, they can break these long runs, and they can have big gains. You look at you guys’ tight ends in Whittemore– or, excuse me.
Nick:I knew you weren’t going to get that one, Spivey.
Andrew:I’m thinking of Whittemore here from Trent and going through that. Anyway, Florida hasn’t been able to cover tight ends. That was something that has been a problem for three years now at Florida, and it’s continued to be a problem. Linebackers cannot cover at the University of Florida. If you’rea linebacker at Florida, you don’t have to cover. That’s checked off the box.
Ryan:I think too, one of the things that will help A&M offensively, and it’s been a growing swell of support in the fanbase, would be a little bit more tempo on offense, snap the ball a little bit quicker. They did that early in the Bama game. Then, listen, Jimbo’s got guys that haven’t played much on offense that were high four-star and five-star players that will add another element to this offense. We saw Demond Demas, who was nationally famous for all the stuff he did coming out of high school, with his just insane athleticism and leaping ability. We didn’t see him in Game 1 against Vanderbilt. I think he got about 10 snaps against Alabama. He had a target but no receptions. There’s a running back that got some time late that is a 200-meter runner who’s going to run track here at A&M.
There’s some real weapons offensively at A&M. That’s kind of the hope, I think, for the A&M fanbase, is that if the production starts matching the talent, then you’re going to get the offense that everybody expected in the offseason.
Nick:Our listeners are probably hoping that that is a couple weeks down the road and not this week. That’s just the kind of case of what the season is this year. You’ve got those guys. I think I said it back in 2012, when Florida made their first trip down there to College Station. I think that was Johnny Manziel’s first game, and I think if Florida catches A&M in November instead of catching them right after a hurricane cancelled their first game, it goes a different way.
Ryan:There’s a lot of people in this town that will tell that that 2012 team was the best team in college football by the end of the year. It’s kind of hard to argue it when they go into the Cotton Bowl and they beat Oklahoma 41-13, or whatever it was.
Nick:Right. I think it’s just with the way that the offseason went. I mean, the first week of football, granted it wasn’t SEC football, but the first week of football these teams looked like they hadn’t tackled since their bowl game. I think you’re going to continue seeing guys get better and better. Then when you start talking about younger players, and Florida’s got a bunch of younger guys that are starting to get reps, those guys are going to get better and better as the year goes on and the game starts to slow down, and they find their footing.
Andrew:Ryan, give me your take on you guys’ defense and how you think that the plan will be to stop this passing attack of Florida. Do you feel like it’ll just be a ton of pressure put on, or how do you expect A&M to attack this Florida offense?
Ryan:One thing I do know about Mike Elko is that he’s not stubborn. He’s very willing to adapt and change, and I’m sure what happened last week in Tuscaloosa is going to scare him a little bit. So, he may play some deeper cloud stuff, not let anything over the top, and rely on, probably the best position group on this Texas A&M team is the defensive line. You’relooking at a couple of maybe as many as three or four high round Draft picks on the defensive line. That’s a spot where they’ve recruited at an insanely high level for multiple years. Last year going out and getting a kid like McKinley Jackson out of Mississippi, who’s made his impact early on. Andrew, youand I spoke a lot about the recruitment of Donell Harris. He’sseeing some action on 3rd downs as a pass rusher.
Really, it starts with DeMarvin Leal at defensive end, defensive tackle. He may go down as one of the better defensive linemen in A&M history. He’s just a freak of an athlete. Had an interception last week against Alabama. Returned it into the red zone. A&M scores a play later. That would be the name that I would circle if I were a Florida fan or a Florida analyst as we got to keep this guy quiet. He’s just a sensational player, runs all over the field, gives great effort, has great qualities and traits as a human being but also as a football player and has really emerged as one of the leaders of the A&M defense.
The A&M front seven is pretty solid, when you look at what they’ve got going on across the line of scrimmage, and then at linebacker with a four-year veteran in Buddy Johnson and a guy like Aaron Hansford, who was highly recruited out of high school next to him.
Andrew:Only Texas could have a kid named Buddy Johnson. What a name.
Ryan:He’s a cool story. He was an inner-city Dallas high school. He played quarterback, wide receiver, running back, kick return, punt return, and then he gets to A&M and they stick him on defense. Really the first time he started making any plays at a significant level was in Gainesville as a freshman. He was running around and playing against that offense with Feleipe Franks and made some nice plays in space.
Andrew:That was offensive. Offense and Feleipe Franks do not go together, Ryan.
Ryan:I’m not going to hate on them after what they did to the Pirates in Week 2.
Andrew:That’s true. Did y’all see that? Just completely off topic, him bringing a phone out saying he was going to start giving this to his grandkids.
Ryan:Mike Leach is Mike Leach. I don’t know. I grew up an A&M fan, and so I watched him at Texas Tech, and he’s only gotten more and more eccentric since he’s been in Starkville. The stuff he pulled in the press conference was wild, but only Leach could do it.
Nick:That is audio terrorist. We had Dan Mullen blow a whistle one time. Somebody asked him if he can flow his whistle under his gaiter when he’s out on the field, and he blew a whistle. I’m thinking, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard, because we’re doing all these calls on Zoom, so I just have headphones in, and now I got a whistle. I can’t imagine that bomb warning sound that he’s playing coming through. I’d be off the Mike Leach bandwagon right there.
Ryan:If they lose to Arkansas anymore a lot of people will be off that bandwagon.
Nick:That’s true. I want to get your thoughts on the game first, but, just in case, this is not a normal trip for Gator fans. I know some on planning on going. What is there to do? What’sstill open? What’s going on in College Station? What should I be doing Friday night or Saturday after the game?
Ryan:Texas is kind of similar to Florida in the fact that we’re opening large swaths in the state and getting back to some sense of normalcy. I think all of the bars in the Northgate district, which is the most famous bar district in town, it’s going to be about half a mile, three-quarters of a mile, from Kyle Field. You can definitely walk. It’s full of places like the Dixie Chicken or Dudley’s Draw, places that have been around for 40, 50 years. The Dixie Chicken is the most famous spot probably on Northgate. You can take a walk up and down those streets and hit any kind of bar with any kind of mood that you’d like. Obviously, Texas is known for barbeque and Tex Mex food, so you want to make sure you get out and find some of that. I encourage, if you’re staying in town for a night or two, if you want Tex Mex, go into Bryan. That’s kind of the sister city of College Station. They’ve got tons of great locally owned TexMex spots that are just fantastic.
It won’t be normal. It won’t be your typical Saturday in College Station, but if you want to get out and go to restaurants and bars and all that kind of stuff, just have a mask with you, and you should be able to get around pretty easily.
Andrew:Go find a place to watch the Marlins lose.
Nick:Here we go. Don’t even humor him.
Ryan:Or the Astros win.
Nick:Don’t even humor him.
Andrew:Do they have garbage cans out there?
Nick:I was just about to say I was going to stop giving him crap for his Astros, and there goes Spivey.
Ryan:Spivey can’t help himself.
Nick:The Braves win their first playoff series in a decade, and he’s on his high horse.
Ryan:He thinks it’s 1992 again.
Andrew:Least we didn’t have to cheat.
Nick:I’m upset, because this will be my first trip to College Station, my first trip to Kyle Field, and I wanted to feel the press box shake. I was hoping to go to the, it’s call the Midnight Yell?
Ryan:Yeah. Midnight Yell.
Nick:I was hoping to go to all that kind of stuff, but I guess technically I get to cross it off my list of having been there. It is what it is this year.
Ryan:What you’ll get to see around town, and like when I went to Gainesville last year, it’s kind of hard to get a sense of what’s really going on if you’re just there, because we were in and out. We were staying in Jacksonville last time I went to Gainesville, so we were driving on a bus into town and out of town, so I didn’t really get a feel for the town of Gainesville very much, outside of the tailgating that we did.
If you’re around for a couple of days, Nick, this place is growing like crazy. I’ve lived in College Station for going on 10 years now. I came here to get my master’s degree and just never left. There are people that went to school at A&M back in the day that when they come back in town, they don’t even recognize half the city. There’s over 130,000 people in College Station without students. You add another 100,000 in Bryan. It’s like a little small kind of metropolitan area, and it still feels very homey. Like I said, everything’s kind of new, and you’ll get to see all the stuff and kind of get a little sense of what it would be like on a normal game day.
Nick:Got you. You’re paying your coach just in gold bars, so I guess they saved some money for the rest of the town.
Andrew:It’s oil money. What you talking about?
Ryan:If the price of oil is doing well, the Aggies are doing well. That’s the old saying.
Nick:It’s early in the week. We always do this. It’s early in the week, but we always ask if you want to give a prediction. If you don’t want to give a prediction, tell us how you think the Aggies win. If this, this, and this happen, Texas A&M wins on Saturday, if you don’t want to just give a flat out win or loss prediction.
Ryan:Actually, I haven’t decided which way I’m going to go. I’d give Florida the edge, if I’m making a prediction on the game right now, just because we haven’t seen A&M play close to their full potential, and I think Florida has played exceptionally well offensively, and I think that they’ve got more playmakers than I even gave them credit for coming into the season.
Now, like I said earlier, I do think this game is close. I think it’s a four-quarter football game. A&M wins if Kellen Mond takes care of the football, they run the football, and they don’t have to stop Kyle Pitts or Kyle Trask, but when they get down into scoring areas, can you force Florida to kick field goals instead of score touchdowns? I think that’ll be a huge deal in the game.
I think the biggest matchup, and I don’t know much about Florida’s offensive line, but I think the biggest matchup is the A&M defensive line against the Florida offensive line, because if A&M can exert its will on the Florida offensive line, then it takes some pressure off of that backend. It takes some pressure off those guys having to cover Kyle Pitts, and I think Kyle Trask is not what I would call a mobile guy. I think he’s kind of got some functional mobility, but I think you can corral him if you have a good pass rush. I think you can corral him and force him to either make some off-schedule throws or off platform throws. So, if A&M can control the line of scrimmage on defense, I think that’d go a long way in terms of the Aggies winning the game.
Andrew:Perfect. Ryan, we appreciate it, man. Tell everybody where they can find your work this week and every week.
Ryan:Just follow TexAgs on Twitter. We do kind of the same thing that you guys do with press conferences and guests, special pieces. We also have a radio show every day, Monday through Friday, from 8:00-11:00, where we have guests on to break down the upcoming game and do highlight packages and break down A&M’s performances of the previous week. We try to do it all, just like you guys do. TexAgs. If you want to follow me on Twitter, it’s @R_Brauninger.
Andrew:And he is a stupid hash for his fans. Ryan, listen, we appreciate it, buddy.
Nick:Antagonizing the guests. What a great business model there, Spivey.
Ryan:Yeah. We’ll settle this in Orlando later this year.
Andrew:There you go. Ryan, listen, we appreciate it, as always. We’ll catch up with you soon.
Ryan:Take care. God bless, guys.
Andrew:Nick, good stuff from our man Ryan. Always appreciate that. Good friend of the show and just a good guy overall, even though he is an Astros fan. Can’t choose our friends.
Nick:I think he might have muted me on Twitter with all my Astros cheaters stuff.
Andrew:Yeah. First of all, what a name for a defensive lineman, Buddy.
Nick:Buddy. Hey, Buddy.
Andrew:Only Texas. Anyway, good stuff from him. I’ll be honest. I mean, I knew the defensive line was good. I did not realize they had as many good players on the defensive line that were expected to go high. I mean, again, I knew they had some really good players, but still. Again, I think the key for A&M, and it’s kind of I think the key for them every game, and that is how well Kellen Mond plays on offense. No offense to Texas, but I don’t think they’re going to keep up in a track meet with Florida overall, but definitely not if Kellen Mond don’t play well.
Nick:Yeah. It’s strange. I think I wrote this on Saturday. How long during the Will Muschamp or the McElwain years were you saying, look at all those Pac-12 teams having fun. Look at Michigan scoring 45, but losing 46-45, like wouldn’t it be fun to be able to score 45? Now you’re looking at it, and you’re like, stop someone. Stop anyone. It’s what you trade for in the moment. The grass isn’t always greener. I’m not jumping off the defense yet.
Andrew:You’re not ready to fire Todd Grantham?
Nick:I’m not firing him yet. I don’t want Florida to become defensively what I was talking a whole bunch of mess about South Carolina last week. Is Florida going to turn into at some point this year the team that when we bring someone on they’re like, shoot, Vanderbilt hasn’t been doing well on offense, but they get Florida’s defense this week, so that’ll make up for it?
Andrew:Amari Burney taking some ownership of his bad play. It’s definitely not a secret, and guys are taking ownership of it. Listen, I don’t mean this as no disrespect, but you can take ownership all day of it, but you’ve got to get better, or it’s all talk. Talk is cheap. It’s what you do. Again, I don’t mean that as no disrespect to any of the guys whatsoever. I’m just saying at some point or another you have to improve, and you have to be the team that goes out there and gets better. You have to be the team that improves. This team is going to go as far as the defense allows it to go. That’s crazy to say, because usually it’s the opposite way around, but this team needs the defense to help the offense. If this defense will help this offense, this team has a chance to be really good. Would you agree?
Nick:Yeah. You don’t think that they can just outscore everyone?
Andrew:Here’s the thing for me. You may agree, and you may disagree here. I don’t think Florida’s scoring 50 against Georgia. I don’t think Florida’s scoring 50 against Alabama.
Nick:No. That’s true.
Andrew:You’ve got to get to the point where your defense can win a 35-point ballgame.
Andrew:And playing like they did against South Carolina against Alabama and Georgia they will give up points, and they will give up a lot of points. You don’t agree?
Nick:No. I agree with that. I think they faced a bad defense in Week 1. I think they faced a great defensive coach, but maybe not a great defense, per se. When you face an Alabama, if Florida beats Georgia and gets to Atlanta, on December 19th you’re facing not only a great defensive coach in Nick Saban but a great defense with great players. That’s certainly better than South Carolina’s defense.
Andrew:Right. Exactly. Will Muschamp can be the greatest defensive minded guy in the world, but does he have some good players? Yeah. He absolutely does. Does he have the talent that Nick Saban has? Absolutely not. Does he have the talent Kirby Smart has? No. Not at all. Again, I think that’s where you look at it. I think Florida’s offense is one of the best in the country. Do not get me wrong at all. I think they will score on anyone, but to expect them to score 50 points to beat Alabama in a shootout I think is asking a lot. I think you need to have your defense continue to improve. I think that this week will be a tough matchup for them because of what Texas A&M wants to do, and that is they want to spread it out, and they want to sling it around. Let’s face it. That’s where Florida has struggled.
Nick:Yeah. Look, I already forgot how Brauninger said that kid’s name. Wydmyer?
Nick:Wydermyer, the tight end. That’s an issue. That’sgoing to be an issue.
Andrew:Who’s guarding him?
Nick:Is Marco Wilson playing star? Is he physical enough and big enough to handle a tight end? Do you put Amari Burney there? What do you do?
Andrew:It goes back to what we talked about with Pitts, and I’m not comparing the kid to Pitts at all. Pitts is in a whole different category than him. You put a DB against him. Good luck. He’s not going to be strong enough. If you put a linebacker against him, good luck. It’s kind of a pick your poison kind of thing. The biggest thing that I have in my concern is do you trust the safeties to help? Because so far the safeties have been a liability in helping.
Nick:Yeah. Do you get Brad Stewart back? Does that help?
Andrew:I think Brad’s playing. Someone was tweeting about it yesterday, and they made a good point. They said, is Brad the savior? I don’t know if he had a great year last year.
Nick:No. Just moments.
Andrew:The one thing that I do say is this offensive line will be tested in pass pro with Buddy.
Nick:Yeah. Big old Buddy.
Nick:That’s one thing. I think they’ve done a better job in pass pro than run blocking. Obviously, their run blocking is better than it was last year. I mean, if they gain one yard it might be better than it was last year. Every week you need to continue getting better. I think you’re probably fortunate, like we were talking with Ryan about, that you’re not having to play in front of 102,000 people and not getting that true road game in College Station, which makes things easier for the offense to operate.
Andrew:100%. Again, I’m not worried about the offense. I’m not worried about the offense scoring points. I’m not worried about that at all. For me it all comes down, and I think Florida wins this ballgame by double-digits, but I do kind of agree with Ryan that I do think it might still be undecided fully in the 4th quarter, simply because of the defense and the defense allowing points here. I know it sounds cliché to say, but if Florida was to hold Texas A&M’s offense down, it easily could be a blowout, because I don’t see Texas A&M’s defense really slowing down Florida’s offense. Yes, they got a pass rush, but I trust Kyle Trask to check it down and make things happen in that situation.
Nick:Yeah. I totally agree with that assessment. I think this is a four-quarter game. I don’t see Florida running away with this. As much as we say, and I’ll have a story up on it Wednesday morning, about Florida needing to find that killer instinct that Alabama has.
Andrew:You just lead me into what I was just about to ask you, and that is is that what’s separating Florida from becoming great is that one killer instinct? Brauninger just brought it up, and I know exactly what he was talking about in that game. There was a pick by the defensive lineman, and A&M went right down the field and scored the following play, and then within literally a 20-minute regular timeframe here, it was a blowout. Is that what really separates Florida from being that great team that we all think they can be? Is that what’s separating them right now?
Nick:Yeah. I mean, what’s the saying? Good teams win. Great teams cover.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, again, I think that Florida’s had the opportunity two straight weeks to drop the hammer on those teams, especially last week against South Carolina. They had the opportunity just to drop the hammer on South Carolina, put the nail in the coffin, and they didn’t. They had that opportunity in the Ole Miss game several times to drop the hammer, and they didn’t. When you start to get playing good teams, you need to drop the hammer and kind of put them away. You look at what Georgia did last week with Auburn. Every time Auburn would score, Georgia had an answer right there to them and was ready to drop the hammer to them and say, you know what, don’t get comfortable. You’re not winning this game.
Nick:I don’t think at any point I ever thought in the last two weeks, Florida’s going to blow this game, they’re going to lose it.
Nick:But I could have gotten to the point where my dang story was done and written before the game was over, and I hadn’t gotten to that point.
Andrew:Right. I mean, it just gets to the point where you have some unsettling times, where it’s like let’s get this game done. Again, for me, and maybe this isn’t what you think here, for me it’s like this game shouldn’t even be close. Florida’s so much better than South Carolina, why is this game even close?
Nick:Yeah. I agree with you. I would love to see that kind of instinct and that we’re up 21-7, and we’ve got the ball. I thought it was going to happen right before halftime.
Nick:Because Florida got the chance, got the ball, got the chance to run down the field and score, and you were getting the ball on the 3rd. You score two touchdowns there, and ballgame. It’s over.
Nick:Then the 4th quarter with the 3 and out and a turnover. I want to see that.
Andrew:Exactly. Things kind of ran over a little bit with our man Brauninger here, so we’re out of time.
Nick:We’ll be back.
Andrew:Yeah. We’ll be back on Friday. We’ll get into this more. Real quick, Nick, we are having a Zoom call with our members on Gator Country on Thursday, so come check us out. It was a good time last time, so come check us out and let’s have a good time.
Nick:Yup. It’ll be fun. Let’s do it Thursday night. 7:00?
Andrew:Let’s do it then. We’ll have fun. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick.
Nick:www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and in transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. 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. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew:There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. We will see everyone on Friday. We’ll have our good old prediction podcast and get ready for the game.
Nick:Ready for it.