GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as Andrew Spivey and Seth Varnadore recap how the first Florida Gators spring scrimmage went on Friday.
Andrew and Seth breakdown how the offense looked on Friday and how the defense played with the new coaches on the field for the first time.
Andrew and Seth also talk about the Gators basketball team as they head into the SEC tournament next week.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man Andrew Spivey here with Seth. Seth, we’re back. Gators scrimmaged on Friday night. Were supposed to scrimmage on Saturday, had to move it up due to the weather on Saturday. So, they scrimmaged on Friday night. Some mixed reviews from it. Offense apparently did not look good. Defense did. Seth, I’ll ask you. It’s the age-old question. Does that mean the defense is really good, or the offense is really bad?
Seth:I think you’d be more concerned if this was like the last scrimmage of spring that the defense is so far ahead. Early on, that’s not too crazy, because a lot of times early in spring camp and stuff you’re just installing things. You’re not necessarily game planning to go against your defense necessary. Sometimes your defense can kind of be a little bit ahead of you in that regard, because you’re not really planning to play against them. You’re just installing your offense. Your defense can be doing some stuff that’s a little more complex earlier, especially with having some guys back.
It’s got to be a little concerning, but I think it’s so early that you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt. If it continues, then I think you have reason to be concerned. But if it was just kind of that first scrimmage thing, that’s going to happen on offense. These guys are probably still a little rusty getting all the timing down, going full speed, that kind of stuff. Who knows how much full speed contact they’ve actually had before the scrimmage?
Andrew:I was going to say that. A lot of people jump to conclusions and said the offense is terrible. Same old, same old. Emory Jones has got to go. Emory Jones isn’t the quarterback. The offensive line still sucks. All that may be true. It may be, but like you said, it’s scrimmage one. Obviously, you’re in to succeed, but you’re also in there to learn. Emory apparently had three to four picks in the scrimmage. It’s a scrimmage to go back and say, Emory, this is that. This is what you can do.
Again, is it concerning that he threw three picks? Yeah, it’s concerning. It’s always concerning when you throw three picks. It’s concerning if you throw three picks in practice. But it’s not the end all. You’re not talking about the scrimmage before the opening game in September. You’re talking about spring practice that you didn’t even have last year.
I think they did show some holes probably. Did show some things to work on. But again, the defense did have a decent day, from all accounts. That’s an improvement. You can look at it as saying the defense is better, which they couldn’t be worse.
Seth:No. You’re causing turnovers, which I think has been something they relied on in the past, being kind of a big play defense and causing those turnovers. It felt like last year, how many picks did they have last year? It didn’t feel like a ton, and some of them were batted ball in the air by the D lineman interceptions.
Seth:The positive side would be the defense seems like they’re playing well. The new coaches maybe injected a little bit of life. You got a couple, from what we’ve heard, maybe a couple linebackers and defensive guys with picks, so those groups are performing well, you’d think.
Interceptions sound really bad when you just hear the word interception, but there’s so many different ways it could have happened. If I tell you he threw three interceptions, you’re feeling like this is really terrible. If you go back and watch it, and one was a tipped ball in the air, one was the receiver ran the wrong route, and another was a guy made a great play, then you see it, and you’re like, those weren’t all his fault. So, we don’t really know that side of it, but three is concerning. For the offense, obviously you want to protect the ball, but on the defensive side it’s good to see them causing turnovers again and kind of creating some havoc.
Andrew:Like you said, it’s never good for that. I will say this. If Florida is relying on Emory Jones to win them the game through the air next year, they’re not going to succeed. They’re not. That’s not Emory Jones’ strength. Emory Jones’ strength is keeping the defense off balance, being a guy who can run the ball, throw the ball off of the run game. He’s not going to just sit back there and be a straight drop back passer every time. That’s not his game. There’s nothing wrong with it. Look at Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes can sit in the pocket and do it, but Patrick Mahomes is lethal because Patrick Mahomes can get out of the pocket and do things that no other human being can do. Now, Tom Brady, you get him outside the pocket, he’s not as good. Keep him inside the pocket.
I will say that Anthony Richardson looked really good, but I don’t think there’s a quarterback battle. I think this is Emory Jones’ job. Dan Mullen did say he plans to play two quarterbacks next year. That’s kind of always the case. Is that saying that Anthony is going to be more involved than past #2 quarterbacks, like Emory was last year? Emory wasn’t too involved last year with Kyle Trask. Maybe. Maybe that is the case. But it was good to see Anthony Richardson continue to improve.
We were talking about this off the air a little bit before we got on. Anthony Richardson’s continued to improve his throwing game. When he was a sophomore, he had a big arm, in high school. He’s continued to polish that throwing motion to now where he’s pretty good as a thrower. He still has some room to grow, sure, but he has improved a ton, and it is good to see that he continues to show that his passing game is catching up to his running game. I mean, he’s a big dude anyway. You throw a lethal passing game for him, and that’s a dangerous quarterback.
Seth:Yeah. What we were kind of talking about before we jumped on was I think he’s a better passer than a lot of people gave him credit for coming into college. He was better in high school than people give him credit for. Just in the little snippets we’ve seen of him this spring, kind of the one-on-ones and stuff, he’s made some really good throws, some really accurate throws. So, he seems to be improving as well. You’re seeing good stuff from Emory too, so that’s not just to say that he’s the only one playing well. But I think he is a better passer than people give him credit for, and he’s going to push Emory.
The piece I did for the site, the video about Emory Jones, like what to expect from him next year, I kind of ended it saying I think Emory is talented, but that doesn’t guarantee him to be the starter. If one of these guys comes in, if Anthony Richardson comes in and has an unbelievable spring and fall camp, and he ends up somewhere down the line becoming the guy, I think you feel pretty good, because that means he’s really talented too, and he’s playing well. Because Emory is a talented guy, and they can do a lot of stuff with him. So, I think whatever happens, you have to feel pretty good at the quarterback position, but Emory does seem to be the #1 guy, and it’s his job until he loses it.
Andrew:Go to the running back position, apparently Lorenzo Lingard had a big run in the game. The one thing missing is Demarkcus Bowman is out with a minor injury. Doesn’t seem to be severe, but he’s out with a minor injury and should be back soon. He didn’t go through the scrimmage, but the duo of Lingard and Wright had good scrimmages. Dameon Pierce did what Dameon Pierce does, and that is grind out the tough yards. When you look up at the end of the day, he’s got 15 carries for 70 yards, or whatever it may be. That’s Dameon Pierce’s game. That just is what Dameon Pierce’s game is. I think that’ll continue.
The one thing that I will say that kind of concerns me, and I say it concerns me, and it may be because the defensive line has gotten better, and the defensive line from all accounts has gotten better. Daquan Newkirk, Valentine Shelton, Des Watson.
Seth:Big Des in there.
Andrew:Big Des. Did you see that video?
Seth:Yes. He’s got to play.
Andrew:At 420+, that boy is moving.
Seth:He’s arm overing, swim moving people. He’s got to play. He’s got to play next year.
Andrew:He just puts people on rollerblades. Whoever’s in front of him is going backwards.
Seth:He’s so strong. We were talking previously about playing him like a short yardage package, but you could put him on a passing down and just tell him to push the center back into the quarterback, and from the looks of it he can do it. He’s got to play. They seem to be a little bit more stout in the middle there.
Andrew:That’s what I was going to say. The offensive line apparently struggled to get holes open in between tackles for running game. That could be because of Des. Des closes the hole in a hurry.
Seth:He closed up a couple of them. There’s one hole he doesn’t close enough apparently, but I think they’re working on that, his mouth.
Andrew:If you can move that big, besides being unhealthy, it’s okay.
Seth:He’s been maybe my favorite thing to watch this spring. I think a lot of people, just when they heard his size, but watching him move, he’s a special guy. If he can get that weight under control, which I’m sure he will, being there, he might have an impact a little bit next year, which would be good to see.
Andrew:I don’t know if it’ll be a little impact.
Seth:It could be more. There might not be anything little with him. You can definitely see why Mullen was so involved with him and wanted him so badly. He’s a guy that can totally change things up there, if he’s in the middle, because you got to commit multiple people to blocking him.
Andrew:If not, you’re asking for disaster. Ethan White’s a big old boy. That’s a big old boy, and he just puts him on roller-skates backwards. That’s just what it is. Here’s the thing, and I know I’m going completely off topic that I wanted to get on here, but that is the thing with these recruiting services. They can’t measure Des Watson. They can’t. Here’s the thing, they say he’s a big guy, is he going to play? He’s overweight. It doesn’t matter. At defensive tackle, it doesn’t matter. If you can do two things, clog up the gap and move people, that’s the only thing you’re asking a defensive tackle. It does not matter if he has 30 sacks for the entire year or five sacks for the entire year. It does not matter. If he creates problems in the middle, his linebackers are going to be really good. His defensive ends are going to be really good, and the secondary is going to be really good, because he’s causing problems up the middle. That is what you look at.
You go back and look at Vince Wilford’s stats in the NFL. They’re not astonishing, by any means, but guess what? He’s going to be a hall of famer, because he was an absolute terror to opposing offenses. Like you said, the center guard has to double-team you every play, or you got problems.
Seth:My brother was a head coach, a defensive coach, and a defensive line coach, and the only job he gave his nose tackle, he said here’s all you need to do every play, destroy the center. He’s like, if you do that, we’re good. Des is going to destroy anybody you put in front of him. It appears. Obviously, we’re seeing highlights and stuff, but he’s just so big and moves so well. You’d imagine he’d be able to do that job. Then you got some other guys that have come in, and then you add it to the young guys of last year, and now you got a ton of depth up the middle there. Which I think coming into spring you were kind of feeling is this the weak point of the defense, and now it might be the strength.
Andrew:Again, that strength turns into linebackers being really good and the secondary being really good. We talk about Diabate and Ty’Ron Hopper and those guys. I call them undersized for middle linebacker, and it’s not a knock on them. It’s kind of what football is going to. You’re not having your 235, 240-pound monster middle linebackers that just come in there smashing heads. You got to be able to cover and everything else. But it helps those guys a ton, and it helps your secondary.
To go to my point a minute ago, and that is the offensive line struggle. Is it concerning? Yes. Because this team’s got to be able to run between the tackles. Emory Jones has got to be able to run between the tackles. Anthony Richardson has got to be able to run between the tackles. That is going to be the focus of this offense is running the ball. If your offensive line is struggling, that would be a killer. I said that at the beginning of the spring that this team is going to go as far as its offensive line goes. It just is. You don’t have a Kyle Trask on the roster.
Seth:No. I’m not as concerned yet, because especially interior, they’re moving. It seems to be those are the spots that they’re moving so many guys around. They’re still trying to decide who’s the center. That’s an important position, because that guy makes a lot of the calls. They’re still trying to decide who’s the center, who are the two guards, and that does take some time to get that familiarity with the other two guys. Florida’s going to be running a lot of inside zone schemes, where these guys got to double-team, and they got to work together up to a linebacker, or understand when do I take over this block, when do I stay on the double-team, when can I leave?
All that kind of stuff, it kind of takes a little bit of time, so I’m not too concerned yet with not being able to run the ball inside, especially with we’ve just talked about the talent the Florida defense seems to have inside, but hopefully you see that improve, because they’re going to need to be able to run the ball, like you said, this year, to set up some other stuff. They’re not going to be able to just go out empty, I don’t think. They’re not as good at the quarterback position, and they’re not as good at receiver, so you’re not going to be able to just empty people out, spread people out and pick them apart, I don’t think. You’re going to need those guys to play well.
I’m not concerned yet, just because of all the familiarity and time you need to get those together, and then how important center is with calling out. The center’s got to do a lot. Even on pass protections a lot of times, the center’s helping identify. The quarterback’s identifying, but the center can kind of help the linemen out. Then in run play stuff, if you’re running inside zone, for example, the center kind of identifies which linebacker is kind of part of the blocking scheme, pointing out the Mike and stuff like that. So, it’s going to take a little bit of time, I think, with those interior guys, to get that chemistry and kind of get used to their job, because you got a couple guys that I don’t think have played center before kind of in that mix.
But if it continues, then I think you have to be worried, because like you said, they’re going to need those guys this year. At the first scrimmage, I’m not too worried, but hopefully they can clean some of that stuff up, because they will be needed, like you said.
Andrew:Stewart Reese is starting at center. Ethan White’s starting at left guard, and Josh Braun is starting at right guard. Delance is at right tackle, and Gouraige is at left tackle. Reese is a guy who we all thought was going to probably play center last year, just didn’t turn out that way, because they didn’t really have a guard they trusted. That’s not to say Braun wasn’t good enough. Braun just needed to catch up to college speed. No fall practice, no spring, kind of hurt that ability for him to start at right guard. When he did play, he looked good though.
Yes. With the learning of that, I agree with that. I do think the curve should be a little less. You’ve got a sixth year guy in Stewart Reese. He should be ready to go, and he made a lot of the calls last year at his right guard spot. It takes a lot to play center. Not only are you making the calls, but you have to snap the ball and be ready to block a guy like Desmond Watson, who is in your face at the snap of the ball. Does it end up being a situation where Stewart Reese just doesn’t work out at center? I don’t know. Maybe it’s Ethan White that goes back to center and is your guy there. I don’t know. We’ll see.
To me, there is a lot of questions there. Is it time to be concerned? No. A lot of questions that can be answered. Apparently Delance struggled, which we all knew was going to happen. The guy’s in his seventh year of college, or sixth year of college. No offense to the guy, but you kind of are what you are. But Florida has to be stout up the middle. Braun, White, and Stewart Reese, the three of them have got to figure out where they fit the best. Maybe it’s Braun going to left guard and Ethan back to center and Reese back to right guard. I don’t know. We’ll see. But as a sixth year senior in Stewart Reese, you’ve got to figure it out quick.
That is going to be the issue with the offense is how good they are up front will determine how good they are. They cannot get away with it like they did last year. They were able to get away with it last year with quick throws with Kyle Trask, because of how good Kyle Trask was.
Seth:You’re 100% right. I don’t think there’s any band-aids this year, and Trask covered up a lot of issues in other places. I don’t think that’s going to be the case. They’re going to need those guys. Just kind of looking at those three guys, this looks like a pretty powerful group. We should be able to move the ball and move people off the ball inside. But hopefully, we hear more reports of that and see some of it. If they can give a goal line period where they’re not shooting with like a 1930s camera, if they could get us a nice clear picture of the goal line period next time, maybe we’ll see it later on in spring.
Andrew:Well, I doubt it. It is what it is. I don’t get too frustrated by it, because I understand it, but I do get frustrated, because I do want to see it. That’s just the old coach in me. I love to see goal line drills. You don’t have to give me seven on seven. Just give me some goal line drills.
Seth:I was hoping. I was like, can we get a clear picture? I just want to see it. I just want to see. You could kind of see it. It’s cool that they’re showing us even that. I was surprised they were showing us that on Instagram there. It was tough. We didn’t have a clear picture, so it was a little tough to see exactly what was going on, but hopefully we get another one down the line that’s in crystal clear HD, and we can see those guys in the middle getting some movement off the ball.
Andrew:Give me inside run, goal line. I’m cool.
Seth:I’d be all right with that.
Andrew:I’m cool. I don’t need seven on seven, because seven on seven is what it is. Give me some inside run. Give me some goal line. That’s all I care about. I’d be good with anything else. If they did the spring scrimmage, and that’s what we got, a lot of people would gripe and bitch. I wouldn’t. I’d be happy.
Seth:I think that would tell you a lot of what you need to know about the team really. If you watch that, you can pretty tell they’re going to be all right this year, or they’re in trouble. You could look at those two periods and get a lot of information.
Andrew:That’s probably why we won’t get it.
Seth:There you go.
Andrew:It’s probably why we will not get that. Moving on a little bit, Elksnis still having a good spring. You and I taped the podcast last Sunday right before the news broke of Eric Gilbert not coming to Florida. We cannot get into why. There is a lot of off the field concerns, and not just academics. Is there academic concern? Sure. There’s a little bit. Not just academic concerns. A lot of things that are further than that. So, a guy like Elksnisstepping up is big. To see another guy really get into the mix to help this team is huge. We’ve talked about Gamble and Zippererbeing guys that do their things well. Elksnis kind of does a little bit of both well. I think going forward having a guy like that ready to go is going to be huge for this team. He continues to have a good spring.
Seth:If there was a spot where you could almost afford to have a guy like Eric Gilbert decide he’s not coming, it was probably that tight end group. There’s some talented guys and some depth. Obviously, you’d love to add a guy like Gilbert into it. He really ruined my plans there for a little piece on him. He was a good player, but I think this group is pretty talented and has some depth. Then you’re seeing these young guys step up and seem like they’re going to get some chances to play early, so you feel pretty good about that group, even without the five-star transfer coming in, which is pretty rare.
Andrew:The thing is, and I said this on the site and a couple other places, but are you upset you lost one of the best players in college football? Yes. You are. Again, he was a guy who had limited action as a freshman. We talked about he does have some off the field things bothering him. Not legal trouble or anything like that. So, how would he even be ready? That’s a question mark.
Again, is he Kyle Pitts? No. There’s no Kyle Pitts. Was he going to be good? Sure. We think he is. There’s no Kyle Pitts walking through the door. There’s no Kadarius Toney walking through the door. It was good to hear that Copeland and DaejonReynolds both had good scrimmages. I like to hear that. Continued to do well. When Copeland puts it all together, Copeland’s a really good football player.
Seth:I’ve seen some stuff from him, the limited stuff we’ve seen this spring. Some good routes, and then some of the open field tackle stuff they’ve done he’s looked really good carrying the ball. He put a nasty stiff arm on somebody the other day. He’s a guy that it seems like they’re going to try to get the ball in his hands a bunch, I’d imagine, because he seems like a good run after catch guy, and he’s solid. He’s a solid built guy too. He can take some of those hits. I’d imagine you see him get the ball a ton, but it’s good to see him having that good spring with all the hype that surrounded his recruitment, and you’ve seen flashes of it, but he seems to be putting it together a little bit, which is great to see.
Andrew:Really good to see. You want to continue to see that. You need somebody to step up. Fraziers and Xzavier Henderson, they’re going to be good players. Xzavier Henderson may be Wide Receiver 1, but you need somebody to step up. Seeing a guy like Copeland step up, especially if he can play that slot, like Kadarius Toney did, and he’s a different player than Kadarius Toney. You like that. You need that. I don’t know that there’s a guy on the team that you trust to really run the jet sweep like Kadarius Toney did, besides Jacob Copeland. Jacob Copeland’s fast. People may forget fast. Jacob Copeland is a fast kid.
Seth:Like I said, he’s well put together too. He’s not frail. He looks like a running back a little bit. He’s a guy that I wouldn’t think twice about giving him the jet sweep stuff and letting him get out there in the open field, because he seems to be a pretty good run after catch guy. Last year sometimes the catch was a problem for him, but once he got it he was pretty good with it. That seems to be improved too. You see them doing drills with the JUGS machine and stuff like that, and those guys seem to be catching the ball pretty well this spring.
Andrew:Stop catching balls with your chest. That’s the biggest thing.
Seth:No. You got to use those hands. That’s why they got them on that JUGS machine. You can’t catch that with your chest. You’ll get bruised up.
Andrew:I know you did it where you put the diamond in front of your face, and you had to put your nose right between the diamond and catch the nose of the ball with your nose. That was always the drill with the JUGS machine. Trust me, they’ll learn one way or the other.
Seth:That face mask gets rocked a couple times, you’ll learn.
Andrew:Or hit in the chest and look like you’ve been in a paintball war, or look like you got abused by the football. You’ll learn one way or the other. It’ll happen. I always say, you may have bad hands, but you can learn to catch. You can learn to catch. It ain’t basketball, where you got to have soft hands. You just got to go get the ball. I always say, like with baseball, just go catch the ball. That’s it.
Seth:If you master the techniques, you should be able to catch the football.
Andrew:Yeah. I’m not concerned about receiver. That group’s done well enough. I’m not concerned about receiver. It’ll be fine there. Move to defense though. Trey Dean continues to be that leader of the defense. Listen, the old saying is the linebacker is the quarterback of the team, and I think that’s changing. I’ll ask you this. I may be stupid. I don’t know. I’ve been called that a few times in my life, so I may be. I think that now with the game of football moving to more of nickel and dime coverages that the safety being more of the quarterback of your defense is becoming a real reality. You don’t see the linebackers playing three and four downs at a time, but you always have that safety on the field.
So, I say having Trey Dean really stepping up to be that guy and leading and quarterbacking the defense is a huge thing to me. I may be wrong. You may be telling me that Ventrell Miller better be able to do it, and Ventrell should. You need him to get the front seven lined up, for sure, but having Trey Dean, a guy who’s going to be on the field pretty much every play, is huge.
Seth:I think the safety is really important, especially getting guys in the right position. If guys are lined up wrong, getting guys pushed to the correct spots. I think we saw that last year. You didn’t really have that real vocal guy back there, and there was all these busts and guys kind of looking around. If you got somebody back there that knows exactly what’s going on, and they can say, bump out a little bit, or shade outside, that kind of stuff I think is really important. Like you said, I think nowadays you need that guy to help with the front. You need that linebacker kind of close, but you need a guy in the backend kind of setting it too and kind of communicating out what the call is. There’s really nobody that’s holding up a fist and saying, cover two or cover three. It’s not that simple.
Andrew:It’s the coach on the sideline now.
Seth:Yeah. They’re not just calling we’re running two. It could be a combo coverage. It could be three different things coming in, so it’s not as simple as everyone can look over and see how many fingers the coach is holding up, and that tells me is it cover one, cover two, or cover three. It’s not quite that simple. It’s a little more complicated, so I think you do need that guy in the backend kind of helping orchestrate things. You saw you lost that guy from the year before with Jeawon Taylor. He’s kind of back there helping setting people up, and you saw the drop off last year without that guy in the backend really setting things up. I think that will be important, and Trey Dean has had a really good spring. You see him flash in every single drill they do. You see somebody coming up and making a hit, and then the camera pulls out. It’s 0. He’s had a really good spring.
Andrew:Like you said, you don’t have that one guy. Everybody’s wearing a wristband now. But the one thing I will say is this. I don’t need to see no more Brad Stewart and Marco Wilson looking at each other and chewing each other out, because they don’t know where to go. Trey Dean’s going to need to be that guy. I’m glad to see that.
Another guy who’s standing out a little bit is Donovan McMillon. You start to see a freshman playing really well. He’s, what, less than three months on campus now, or maybe three months on campus now, so that’s good to see. Jason Marshall’s another guy who, I said it before, I think by the end of the year, by the middle of the year you’re probably looking at Cornerback 2, beside Kaiir Elam. I don’t know that’s a bad thing. I don’t know that you believe in anyone opposite of Kaiir Elam right now. If Jason Marshall’s that guy, that’s cool. I said it on, I think, Thursday, Donovan McMillon and Jason Marshall have been the two smoothest freshmen for me. When you watch them go through their backpedal drills, Seth, they’re elite.
Seth:They get in and out of it quick. They make quick turns. They’re doing some drills where they got to run at a 45-degree angle and turn on a dime and go, and those guys have shown some kind of elite quickness turning and going and attacking the ball. I think you’re going to see some young guys play. Which I think one of the knocks last year was they only played the old guys. Mullen, he’s just going to play the old guys. I think you’re going to see a different look this year. These young guys are going to play.
Andrew:They got to play. I mean, is Rashad Torrence ready to go? He’s got that safety spot on lockdown right now, as far as being the starter, but I don’t know that he’s the best player there. We’ll see. He was last year, because the safety position last year was trash. We’ll see. Does Donovan McMillon push him for spots there? Does he push to be the starter star? I don’t know. We’ll see. Go ahead.
Seth:What’s great is these guys are coming in and putting pressure on those guys. Nobody’s locked down. You never want to have a bad season, obviously, but the one good thing that can come out of it is that next year, if you got guys with talent, which I think we agree Florida has talented guys on defense, there’s a lot of competition now. Nobody’s got a spot locked in. It’s not like I shut everyone down last year. There might be one guy. Elam, he’s locked in. That’s it. Nobody else has a spot.
Seth:Yeah. Then I think Trey, at this point. I think Trey Dean’s probably locked his in, but every other spot, it’s open competition. Whoever is coming in every day and competing, and you’re seeing these young guys come in and push the older guys. They’re going to play the best guys, so these young guys may come up and take it, or they may push those older guys to get a little bit better and hold them off for a little longer, which is what you’d like to see. You’d like to see the older guys get pushed, and then win the job, but if the young guys win it, then more time with them as a starter.
Andrew:You hear that about the older guys. That may be true. Me personally, I think the best guys usually play.
Seth:I had a coach tell me, my year coach in college, the guy was like, “How is this kid doing?” I was like, “He’s doing all right.” He’s like, “All right. Now, how is this kid doing? Remember, would you put your family on this kid? Because if he sucks and we get fired, how are you going to feed your family?”
Seth:I was like, “He’s not doing that good. He’s not that great, when I think about it those terms.” That’s how these guys think about it. They’re not playing guys because they like them. If they suck, especially on defense this year, if they’re terrible, they’re going to get fired.
Seth:There’s no favoritism. It’s whoever can help me keep my job that pays me a lot of money.
Andrew:That’s exactly it. You can say whatever you want, but you’re not playing guys just to play guys. You’re not. You’re crazy to think that Todd Grantham wants to look silly on the field. You’re just crazy. I say that, Todd Grantham may be the worst football coach in America, and I’m not saying he is. He’s a good coach. He’s been here for a reason. But even the worst coach in America doesn’t want to look silly. They want to succeed. Not only does that paycheck look good, but I’m sure Todd Grantham doesn’t like seeing in the grocery store people talking about him. I’m sure he don’t like looking at Twitter, and we all talking about 3rd and Grantham.
So, the best players are going to play. The old saying is competition breeds success. That’s true. If you have to compete every day for your spot, when you win that job, you won that job because you were the best player. You come out there every day refining your technique.
I said this last weekend. I didn’t mean to pick on Trey Dean when I said it, but McGriff’s been hard as hell on Trey Dean. Every little thing that he does wrong, McGriff’s been on him and making him repeat stuff. That’s how you become great.
Seth:The other side of that is if you’re not doing that, if you’re not playing the guy that is the best, you’re going to have big culture problem in your program. Because now you disincentivize guys trying. If I think I’m better than this guy, and I’m showing it on the field, and I’m still not going to play, why do I even try?
Seth:If you’re trying to create a culture of winning, you have to be playing the best guys. Then to that point, like you’re talking about Coach McGriff, then you have to coach those guys the hardest. Because if I’m a young guy, and I see he’s letting Trey Dean go through the motions, this guy’s our leader. He’s letting him go through the motions. I understand how it is. But when you see he’s not letting our best player make a foot wrong. He’s on him. You’re going to kind of get yourself up a little bit too. I can’t be making those mistakes either. I got to get right. I think that’s been good to see.
Then I see that early on with McGriff not letting Trey Dean take a step wrong, and then you see when they’re going to some of these drills where they’re bringing people together, Trey Dean is going hard, and he is making plays, and he is doing really well. I think you’re seeing it pay off already, which is really good and what you were hoping to see from the defense this spring.
Andrew:Like you said, that really hurts you if you don’t. To see that is really good. I’m glad to see that. Again, Jason Marshall’s looked good at times. I think he’s smooth enough to play. I think he is going to play and probably going to play a lot.
To move, not back to the defensive line totally, but we’ll go back to the defensive line to say Des Watson, he looked good. Newkirk and those guys are starting to look good. GervonDexter’s another guy who I’ve heard just nothing but good things about. I’m pumped to see it, because I think of lot of people last year were, not exactly upset by him, but were a little confused at the lack of playing time he got towards the end of the year. I will say this. I think you have to remember that was only Year 3 to 4 of him actually playing football. He’s going to be really good. He has the body to be really good.
Seth:That’s probably the toughest spot to make a transition is defensive tackle and interior offensive linemen, for young guys. If you’re an edge player, you can kind of make it. You’ll see some offensive tackles that are young come in and play and do all right, and you’ll see edge rushers, like Alabama had a couple young guys that are edge rushers that can just come in and rush the passer and do pretty well. But interior, it’s tough for a young guy to come in and play right away. Those guys are really rare and really special.
Dexter played a good bit last year, but it tails off, because it’s not easy being in there in that kind of mix, going from the high school level to all SEC football. There was nobody but SEC teams on the schedule last year. There were no breaks. I wouldn’t be too concerned with that. To hear, like you said, he’s having a good spring, I think that’s all you kind of hope for is he’s going to take that next step this year, now that he’s kind of used to the physicality and the level of play.
Andrew:Exactly. That’s exactly it. I think you’re going to look back and say, that guy had a really good year, and I think that’s going to be the case. I’m excited to see it. Pumped to see just how good of a player he’s going to be. To see that is going to be good. I think that you’re going to look back, and you’re going to say, Gervon Dexter was a big reason Florida had success this year. I’m excited.
Nay’Quan Wright also, Seth, is starting to merge kind of as that punt returner guy. I think he’s the perfect guy for the job. Quick, can move. I’m excited to see Nay’Quan Wright back there.
Seth:What I love about him, and he does have those moves. He’s quick. I love the way he finishes runs too. You never see him sit back and take it. He’s always delivering a hit at the end of the run, against guys usually bigger than him. I really enjoy watching him run, and I think he’s going to be probably a big part. You’re saying the special teams, so that’s good to hear, but I think he’ll be a big part of the offense too this year, because he’s a guy that has position flexibility we talked about last week. You can start him in the slot and throw him the ball, or move him back into the backfield and do some different stuff with him. I’d expect for him to have a pretty good year. I’ve loved what I’ve seen from him, the way he runs the ball. It’s good to hear they’re putting the ball in his hand on kick returns too.
Andrew:Last kind of thing before we get out of here, real quick, Seth. Got another week of practice here. Have another scrimmage this weekend. I believe it’s Saturday. It’s either Friday or Saturday. Again, just continue to improve. Spring is for improving. You don’t win national championships by winning the spring. It just is what it is. If I’d have come on here and told you Emory Jones was 25 of 25 for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns, no interceptions, you’d have said the defense sucked.
Seth:Yeah. It’s just about identifying strengths and weaknesses in the team, and then also individual players. It’s a really good time to identify your weaknesses. This is something I think you brought up a couple weeks back on the podcast. This early spring, the opportunity it’s giving them is now they’ll know exactly what they need, if they need anything else out of the transfer portal, and they’ll be able to go get it before anybody else, because they’ll be done with the spring. It’s a good time for each player to kind of find out where they are strength and weakness wise, and then for the coaches to kind of find out where the team overall is coming out. I think you bought it up a couple weeks ago. I don’t think I was on. I heard you say that, which I think is a really good point. This early spring lets them kind of find what they need.
Andrew:I think it’s a situation where if you look back, let’s just say they look back and they say they need an offensive lineman, which they do. I shouldn’t use that example, because that’s a bad example. We all know they need offensive linemen. They need a receiver. Let’s just say that. I think it’s a good chance for them to go back and look at that. We’ll see. Again, I think there’s the pieces there. It’s just about putting those pieces together. We’ll see. Seth, what you got coming this week?
Seth:Well, Eric Gilbert spiked me last week, so I almost don’t want to say it, just in case. I think I’m probably going to take a look at quarterback run stuff, maybe stuff that Mullen’s done in the past, what we think is going to be coming back with this group of quarterbacks. Maybe give some examples of quarterback power, maybe some inverted veer stuff, and a couple other things that he’s done in the past with the quarterback and the run game that we haven’t seen in a few years that might be coming back. I’ll probably do something with that.
Andrew:Get some wishbone.
Seth:It’ll look just like it, but it’ll be out of the shotgun, so everyone will think it’s a new age.
Andrew:I’m ready for the shovel pass to come back and get some of that going. Seth, we appreciate it. We’ll be back next Sunday. Hopefully talking about another good week of spring practice, and maybe a look ahead to some March Madness for the Gators. Should be in. We’ll talk about that. Thanks, Seth. We’ll talk to you guys next week.