GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators lost to Georgia on Saturday in Jacksonville.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown what went wrong for the Gators on Saturday on both offense and defense.
Andrew and Nick also talk about what’s left for the Florida Gators for the 2019 season and how the Gators can overcome Saturday’s loss.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we lied. We’re not talking about a win after the game on Saturday. Florida got outplayed.
Nick: Yeah. Shoot, my predication was 34-17 Florida, and I remember at one point looking at the scoreboard, and it’s 16-3 and thinking can they get 31 unanswered and make me look smart? I don’t know. I felt confident. We’ll get into it a little bit later, I think a lot of my confidence was I felt Georgia was reeling coming in, and Florida would have a game plan. I want to get into that probably first, because you and I talked about it. I was still in the press box, and we talked about it. I think there was a game plan, but there was only a Plan A, and once Plan A got taken out of the window, I think there was no Plan B. Dan Mullen offensively never got into a rhythm or a flow, and it was just a weird game in the sense of it was like commercial timeout, review, coach calls a timeout, review. There was really no flow to the game.
Andrew: Right. The reason I picked Florida was I thought Dan Mullen would outcoach Kirby Smart, and he didn’t. He got outcoached. This coaching staff got outcoached. Todd Grantham got outcoached again. I didn’t expect that. I think Kirby Smart’s a really good recruiter. I have my doubts on Kirby Smart as a game day coach, but Kirby outcoached Dan Mullen.
For me, Nick, what’s concerning is this is the second time Dan Mullen’s been outcoached in this game. You look at Dan Mullen as a coach and as a play caller, different things. Dan Mullen always has a wrinkle, always has something that is different to get the offense going. Let’s face it. On Saturday he didn’t. On Saturday he looked like a coach and a play caller that was lost a little bit.
Nick: Yeah. One credit to Kirby. I mean, Kirby’s a great defensive coach, I think. He’s a great defensive mind. I almost wonder, just based on obviously a coach is going to be upset after the game, but I’ve covered a couple losses for Dan Mullen, and normally he’s pretty okay. No coach wants to lose, but Will Muschamp would act like a family member had just died after a loss.
Nick: Everyone handles it differently. Dan Mullen, for the most part, I think is able to kind of compartmentalize things. Losses don’t ruin everything for him. He can kind of just look at it analytically. I think there’s something personal. I don’t know if it’s Georgia. I don’t know if it’s Kirby. Maybe it’s causing him in the leadup to the game to get more tight, to game plan tight, to coach tight. Last night he was not in the mood for conversation, was not in the mood for questions. I mean, that’s good. I’m sure people listening to this like to hear that. They don’t want a coach that’s okay with losing to Georgia. It just made me wonder.
I don’t have any inside information on Dan and Kirby hate each other or stuff like this. I’m just wondering if maybe it’s something where he doesn’t like Georgia, doesn’t like somebody on the coaching staff, and is treating the game differently, which we think he should, but instead of using it as motivation just kind of getting too tight, because like you said, we didn’t see that creative Dan Mullen when it comes to play call and play design.
Andrew: I mean, let’s face it. There’s no love lost between Kirby and Dan. Dan spent most of the off season and the spring game mocking Kirby, mocking those guys at Georgia. Listen, I’m here for it. Give that to me. I want my head coach to do that. If I’m a fan, that’s what I want. You want your coach to take it personal and to take all that. Let’s face it too though. Kirby’s whipped Dan in some recruiting battles. He’s set Dan up in some recruiting battles to where he made Dan look bad.
I don’t know, Nick. I want to get into this, and I guess go ahead. Here it is. Is there a talent gap between Florida and Georgia? Yes. Okay. Some people said to me, and I’ll ask you this question, Florida had to play a perfect game to win this game. I said no. Florida didn’t have to play a perfect game. Florida just had to play good. Would you agree?
Nick: Yeah. I don’t think they had to play perfect at all. I don’t think, in years past you and I have said, listen, Florida needs to be perfect, and Georgia needs to be on their C- game. I didn’t think that coming into the game. Even after the loss and after watching it, I don’t think that now.
But I want to get into this. This is going to be a little bit long-winded. The talent gap doesn’t get better. I thought this would be the best year for Florida, because these are some of the guys you’re losing for Florida that you have to replace. Jon Greenard, Adam Shuler, Van Jefferson, Tommy Townsend, Nick Buchanan, Luke Ancrum’s gone. Lamical Perine’s gone. Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, Jeawon Taylor, David Reese, Tyrie Cleveland. Who knows, Feleipe Franks has been kind of weird when asked about what’s going on with him.
Andrew: Who knows about Trevon Grimes.
Nick: Who knows about Trevon Grimes. I mean, there’s a lot of older players on this team that Florida’s really counting on. Damien Pierce will be back. Malik Davis, Nay’Quan Wright. There’s a good crop of young players. It’s just next year they’re coming in, and there’s a lot of guys that will be green and inexperienced. I thought this is probably Dan Mullen, this is a harder schedule, but I thought–Oh, I didn’t mention CJ Henderson, Marco Wilson. I thought this was going to be Florida’s best team, of 2019 versus 2020 I thought this would be the best team roster wise. Obviously, the schedule much more difficult this year than it will be next year. So, the team might not be there in terms of depth and talent next year, but the schedule is easier.
Andrew: Yeah. This is where I’m at, Nick. I caused a little bit of fire on Twitter and different things, because I expressed my opinion. That is I think Dan is a great X’s and O’s coach. I do, even though he got outcoached on Saturday. I consider myself to be a knowledgeable football fan, Nick, and I think that for the most part Dan Mullen can get a game plan ready to go that wins a lot of football games. I think Dan Mullen’s one of the better offensive minds in the game. That’s not going to change. It won’t change off of Saturday’s loss at all. Listen, Todd Grantham, for all of his downfalls, and he’s had two very tough games this year. I do think Todd Grantham is a good defensive coordinator. Does he lack some 3rd downs? Sure.
Nick, the problem that I have, and I’ll say it again. This is not me saying Dan Mullen’s not the guy at Florida, by any means. The recruiting hasn’t gotten better. People on Twitter said to me, these aren’t Dan Mullen’s guys. No, they’re not, not a lot of them are. Okay. But what are you replacing these guys with? Let’s just go through the receivers. Let’s go worst case scenario, Nick. Trevon leaves, Van leaves, Hammond, Swain. Let’s just say Kadarius Toney leaves as well. Name a receiver that’s going to play, besides Jacob Copeland. Name one.
Andrew: That’s it. We don’t know what Ja’makis Weston is going to do. We don’t know what Dionte Marks is going to do. I mean, I guess you could put Rick Wells in there, but who knows? He may get in trouble again. Who knows? I’m not being mean, but I’m just saying. Then I’m very tough on John Hevesy. I’ve had enough of it. I’ve had enough of offensive line play that’s not tough, Nick. I’m sorry to get fired up, but I’m tired of it. You get to the point, Nick, where this is a football game on Saturday that was won and lost in the trenches. Period. End of discussion. It was won and lost in the trenches. Florida’s inability to be able to run the ball, to allow Dan Mullen to be able to run the ball at all was the reason Florida lost the football game on Saturday. Florida’s inability to get to the pass rusher and Jake Fromm was a big reason they lost.
You can blame CJ and Marco for missed tackles, yada, yada, yada. They shouldn’t cover for five seconds. You can blame Lamical Perine for not breaking 100-yard run, but he can’t get past the first tackle when he gets in the backfield. Kyle Trask made some dumb decisions and gets sacked. He’s got seven guys running after him, because Stone and his guys are saying it’s a watch out block, get out the way.
Nick: Yeah. We knew Georgia’s offensive line was going to be tough.
Nick: 100% knew that going into the game. I thought Florida did a really good job, especially early on. Hats off to guys like Adam Shuler, and Zach Carter played a bunch as well. Hats off. Shoot, forgetting his name right now. 55.
Andrew: Kyree Campbell.
Nick: Kyree Campbell. They did a really good job neutralizing Georgia’s running game and D’Andre Swift. I thought that was the thing. I even went into the game thinking, D’Andre Swift’s going to get his 100 yards probably, just make him earn it. Finishes the game with 25 carries for 86 yards, with one 30-yard run. If you take away that 30-yard run, that’s 24 carries for 50 yards, 56 yards. You take that all day. I think if you told somebody, if I told Todd Grantham, you’re going to hold Georgia to 119 yards rushing, he probably would have felt good about it.
I think what really, Jake Fromm has gotten a lot of crap, I think, even from Georgia fans, especially when you see what Justin Fields is doing at Ohio State, when you see what Jacob Eason is doing at Washington. I thought he did a really good job, and what impressed me most is even when Florida was able to get into the backfield, he was just kind of …
Andrew: Never panics.
Nick: Yeah. He doesn’t panic. Loose was not the right word. Maybe it’s, Jon Greenard said that their offensive linemen are so big. If get around one, Jake Fromm kind of goes under. He goes, if I use a pass rush move, and I got under, he just went around. It’s like, you’ve got these 6’7” 340-pound offensive linemen. He says, it’s not an excuse. He’s like, credit to Georgia. He’s like, the offensive line just knew where Fromm was in the pocket. Fromm is so aware in the pocket that even on plays where I thought–Listen, we don’t need to go into it again. The refereeing was atrocious. I mean, Adam Shuler almost had his–
Andrew: We’re going to get into it.
Nick: Adam Shuler almost had his jersey ripped off the entire first half. Didn’t get a single holding call. I was just really impressed with Jake Fromm, because he was able to do little things in the pocket. Sometimes all you need is one step or two steps in the pocket, and you’ve neutralized a pass rush. Florida did not get a pass rush. Second game this year where they didn’t get a sack. The other one was LSU.
Andrew: Guess what they have in common? Both losses.
Nick: Yup. Like you said as well, talk about Trey Dean, CJ Henderson, Shawn Davis, Brad Stewart, anyone in the secondary all you want. If you’re being asked to cover for five, six, seven seconds, you’re not going to be successful.
Andrew: The best DB is the one who has a great pass rush. Period. I mean, we can joke about it, and we can say whatever we want to. You look at some of the best in the League. When Richard Sherman was a monster for the Seahawks, guess what he had? Great pass rushers. When Champ Bailey was with the Broncos and had a great season, guess what he had? Great pass rush. It just goes hand in hand.
Again, people said, and some people said on Twitter to me, you’re blaming the offense, but the offense didn’t have the ball. Whose fault’s that? Whose fault is that that they couldn’t keep a drive alive and was going three and out, and on 4th and short Dan Mullen’s forced to throw the ball, because his offense can’t get a half an inch? Whose fault is that?
Nick: Let me get into that. Dan Mullen was asked about it, and I think this is frustration literally boiling over. He said, basically, by design we didn’t run the ball. Which to me says, we admitted defeat in the game planning process. Hey, we’re not going to be able to run the ball against Georgia, so that wasn’t even in the plan on Saturday.
Andrew: Right. Again, let me ask you this. Do you blame him?
Nick: No, no. I don’t blame him. I mean, it’s like you said just earlier, even if you’re not a good running team, you have to continue to at least try to be balanced.
Nick: At least make them think about the run. Even if they’re not going to respect it, at least make them think about it.
Andrew: Right. Again, like I said, and I’m not trying to be rude to anyone or anything else, but this is on John Hevesy too. This is on John Hevesy too. I’ve said in the past I thought John Hevesy was a really good offensive line coach, but, buddy, you can be the greatest offensive line coach, but if you don’t recruit players, it don’t matter. It don’t matter. Guess what? You could be the worst football coach in America, but if you get players, they make you look good. I mean, period. That just is what it is. Look at Jimbo Fisher. Is Jimbo Fisher a different football coach than he was when he was winning with Jameis Winston? No.
Nick: Same guy.
Andrew: Same guy. Difference is he had good players. People have said, Stone’s not his guy. Delance isn’t his guy. Heggie isn’t his guy. Buchanan ain’t his guy. Okay. Where’s his guys? Bleich is his guy. I can make the argument Bleich and Stone are the two weak links.
Nick: Yeah. Bleich again pulled from another game. Just makes you wonder why does he continue to start if by the third quarter he’s not playing anymore in these games.
Andrew: Like it or not, Gouraige is his guy. He signed with him. He’s had two-plus years to develop him. That’s your guy.
Andrew: Like it or not, that’s your guy. Here’s the problem, Nick. It’s been noted before. John Hevesy is a weak recruiter. In the past, Urban has helped him, and Mullen’s helped him, land the Pouncey twins, some of his big-name guys. It’s got to be fixed. You have to get tough. Nick Savage is an excellent strength and conditioning coach, one of the best in the country, but this team is soft.
Nick: Yeah. I think the offensive line plays, as we’ve said all year, with a lack of urgency. They play, maybe like you say. I don’t think the whole team is soft.
Andrew: No. The whole team’s not soft. I shouldn’t say that. His line is soft. In my opinion, your football team is judged by your offensive line. I’m sorry. It is what it is. You’re judged by your offensive line. If you have a nasty SOBs of linemen, 9 times out of 10 you’re going to be a very good football team.
Nick: Yeah. Florida’s offensive line does not set the tone. If they do set the tone, it’s not the right tone.
Andrew: It’s called watch out blocks. Yeah. Let’s move on though a little bit, Nick. Officiating is atrocious. What are they doing? We talk about this all the time. Okay, you have instant replay to get things right, and you’re still failing to do that. Let’s start with the first one. Lamical Perine, what did they see that said he didn’t get a 1st down?
Nick: I don’t know.
Andrew: That’s a game changer. That’s a game changer. Florida then is forced to throw the ball. Listen, I don’t have a problem with the throw, or the play call, Nick. I have a problem with trying to throw an out route into the short side of the field to Kyle Pitts, when you were there. It was one of the few times that I thought Kyle Trask telegraphed his play there. I would have liked an end around or something like that, maybe even an option play, something there, but it didn’t happen.
Then the other killer was Lawrence Cager. There is no way you saw enough on that video to say that was a catch. That ball clearly was on the ground and helped him catch the ball. Zero way you’re going to tell me that that was a catch.
Nick: That is a decision that is made not by the referees on the field.
Nick: That’s made by the referee who’s sitting in a nice airconditioned room in Birmingham watching the same game you are.
Nick: I don’t know. I don’t know how either of those calls were made. I’ve called the SEC office to ask to speak with Steve Shaw, who’s the head director, multiple times, and I’ve gotten no answers back. And it’s not just Florida’s games. Whenever I get a chance to watch other SEC games, it seems like those calls are terrible. Following the writers that I follow that cover other teams, it seems like they’re tweeting the same things that you and I are tweeting during games. I don’t know. I’m guessing that being an SEC official is not a full-time job, because it’s a seasonal thing, but maybe you need to find some guys that are full-time football referees, because it’s been terrible. There’s so much money being made in college football. I think it’s unacceptable to have this level of officiating on a week in and week out basis.
Andrew: How in the hell, excuse my language, do you rule Trevon Grimes didn’t have a catch? Luckily, review came back and said it was a catch. What were you watching? I’ll be honest. I tweeted it, said it was a catch, because I wasn’t even, never did I even think for a minute it wasn’t a catch. It was clear. He had two foot [in].
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that was bad.
Andrew: Like you said, Adam Shuler was held every time in the first half. Every time.
Nick: Someone tweeted me a screengrab, and it’s not even like a sneaky block. Guy had his hands on top of Shuler’s shoulders, holding his jersey, to the point where you couldn’t see Shuler’s neck. There was no skin between jersey and helmet. It was just jersey into helmet, jersey overlapping helmet. I’m like, he is literally picking up a defensive tackle by his jersey. Holding him in front of a ref, and it’s like, nah, I think we’re good there. Looks clean to me.
Andrew: Then when Shuler got past him, he was horse-collaring him.
Andrew: I tweeted during the game, Nick.
Nick: I saw Jon Greenard. Jon Greenard was grabbing his jersey in front of a referee, trying to let people know. It was just bad. It wasn’t only, Florida’s offensive line didn’t play a clean game. There were holding calls that were missed on Florida’s offensive line, and they hold a bunch, because they’re not blocking people very well.
Nick: I mean, it’s just bad officiating all around. It did not help Florida yesterday. At times it helped Georgia, but we’re not saying it’s a conspiracy against Florida. They’re just bad. They’re just bad officials. They’re not good at their job.
Andrew: No. I tweeted during the game. I said, Dan, just go ahead and load your team up. Just go ahead and load your team up. It’s not happening today. Didn’t matter. I’m not going to say it was a fix or anything like that. People are saying Vegas, whatever. I don’t believe all that, but it’s just a situation where it’s like what in the world is going on? You can’t get a call.
I will say this though. This is what bothers me a little bit about Mullen. He was asked at halftime about the calls and what he told the team, and he said, I told the team the refs aren’t going to help you today. For me, Nick, you can’t do that. You can’t allow your frustration with the refs to bull into your team, to where your team starts to blame that. To me, that’s very Will Muschamp like. When you allow that to happen, you allow your team to get off focus. To me, that says you’re not focused as well.
You and I are big baseball guys. The sayings always if an umpire misses a strike, you got to move on. If he misses a call, you got to move on. Like it or not, we’re all pissed off. You can cuss them in the press or after the game or whatever, but in the heat of the moment of the game, you cannot allow that to affect your mindset and allow that to affect the message you preach to your guys at halftime, because it didn’t work. Would you agree?
Nick: I think I took it differently. I just took it more as almost like a motivation, because I’ve had baseball coaches in the past say, listen, the umpire’s not helping you today. You’re going to have to beat the umpire too, and it fires me up. So, when you’re a football coach you’ve got 80-something players, so you might say something meaning it to be one thing, and it turns out to have an inverse effect, the wrong effect. I took it as more of a you’re going to have to beat Georgia, and you’re going to have to beat the refs too, so let’s get it going. That’s how I kind of took it.
Andrew: Okay. I mean, maybe. Maybe so. Maybe I’m looking at it from a negative light. I can see it. I’m with you. You say that, and a lot of times it does. You can use it as motivational factors. I just, I don’t know. I just got to the point where I was just like, enough with the excuses with that.
One thing, Nick, though, and we’re bouncing around here a lot. There’s just a lot to recap here. Dan Mullen was not happy with Billy Gonzales.
Nick: He went nuclear. That gets into a thing that, what were you doing.
Andrew: That’s not the first time.
Nick: No. It’s happened a couple times. What were you doing during the bye week? There is absolutely no excuse. When we talk about the first drive of the game, sometimes the first two drives of the game, those plays are scripted. The first 14, 15 plays of the game are scripted. Everyone, you’ve run through them. You’ve walked through them before the game on Saturday. You walked through them on Friday. Everyone should know what they’re doing. What was Florida doing? They had to call two timeouts on the first drive of the game.
And then, when he went crazy on Billy, the wrong play was signaled into the receiver. So, when people are lining up, Van Jefferson looks around, because he’s a smart football player, and goes, we’re not lined up in the play that I’m running. What is going on? He turns to the sideline and puts his hands up. That’s a 3rd down play, backed in your own zone, down two scores. You can’t be unprepared in that situation, and you have to burn a timeout.
Three burned timeouts from miscommunications on procedural things. That’s unacceptable, especially in a game this big, and especially ninth game of the year. To me, it’s just that’s why I was as frustrated as Dan Mullen, because I’m thinking that’s inexcusable. We’re not talking about he got a pass interference call, because he was trying to go out there and make a play. This is just not knowing what you’re doing.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. It’s happened a lot with Billy. You start to come into question what he’s doing there. I’ll take it a step further. That last drive where they scored drove me absolutely nuts. Six minutes and 50 seconds, and you’re down by two scores. I know Mullen said, you got to get the first score to be able to go. To be honest with you, Nick, and I don’t know about you, but I could give a damn if I lose by 7 or if I lose by 14. A loss is a loss, in my opinion. If you’re not playing to win the game, what are you doing? What are you doing?
I’m not saying you got to rush, but a sense of urgency. Kyle Trask is running a quarterback sneak, and he’s taking 15 seconds to get up. Get up! Go. Get ready. Get the play call in. Let’s go. That’s the thing that’s got to be preached to these guys. Six minutes and 50 seconds. You got the ball with 10 minutes to go in the game, and you scored with a little over three minutes left in the game, and you had to burn a timeout. Who knows what happens if Florida gives the ball back to Georgia with six minutes to go? Maybe they get the ball back.
Nick: Dan Mullen, we asked him about it after the game, and he said, you’re down two scores, so you got to score once. He’s like, I thought our execution on that drive was probably the best of the game. I’m with you. If there’s 10 minutes left in the game, sure, if you’re down 14, you got to score twice.
Nick: If there’s 10 minutes left in the game, and your drive takes six and a half minutes, cool. You made it a seven-point game. Now you got 30 seconds. Realistically, they took that long to score, to go down and score, and like you said, there was no sense of urgency. There wasn’t a hurry up. It was we picked up six, let’s walk to the line, stare at the sideline, get the play call. Okay. Call the play in. Make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. Eight seconds left on the clock. Okay. Ready.
There’s got to be a sense of urgency. You got to be running up to the line. If you’re making substitutions, those guys need to be in a dead sprint on and off the field. It just wasn’t there. Then by the time Florida scores, you’re thinking, they only have two timeouts. You’ve got to have, absolutely have to have a three and out to get a chance to score. Also, after they score the touchdown, the little squib kick. Just kick it out of the endzone. Put it on the 25.
Andrew: I mean, I can understand the squib kick a little bit.
Nick: You’re hoping that the ball takes a weird bounce?
Andrew: Right. I mean, I can understand that. I’m wasn’t so upset about that. It’s just play with a sense of urgency. Play that you know what the score is, because in my opinion, part of me was wondering if the guys knew what the score was. I’ll take it a step further on the kick though, Nick. Whoever’s calling special teams outsmarted themselves. The new rule in college football, kick the son of a gun out of the endzone. Just kick it out of the endzone. There’s no reason at the end of the half Georgia gets the ball at their own 42-yard line. Kick it out of the endzone.
Andrew: Don’t outthink yourself.
Nick: Yeah. I think there was probably a bunch of that. Just overthinking. And it goes back to the point I made, one of my first points that I made, just felt like they were tight. Felt like Florida was tight. They came out really well.
Andrew: I think the coaching staff was tight.
Nick: That’s what I mean. Campbell came out of the game playing with his hair on fire. He came right out. Jabari Zuniga came right out playing with hair on fire. We’ll have to see what the status of his ankle is, because he really was limited to only 3rd downs after hobbling off the field. I think it was the second quarter. Limited to only playing on the 3rd down packages.
It’s a tough loss, and it stings, because it’s Georgia. It stings because, listen, I don’t know if Florida was a playoff team this year, but if you win this game, and you win out, you’re talking playoffs. Now you’re in a situation where you need Georgia to lose two of their last three, and you need to win out. It’s a tough loss, because it’s the compounding factors of it’s Georgia. I don’t think the game, because of what Florida was unable to do, getting off the field on 3rd down on defense, unable to extend drives on 3rd down on offense, because of the way the game went, and it was kind of weird flow, and because of what it meant in terms of the SEC East and the rest of the season. It’s just a really hard loss when you bring all those compounding factors in.
Andrew: It ends your season, for the most part. I mean, we can talk about, and Florida has still something to play for. They got a chance to go to a good bowl game. If you win out, win your bowl game, you went 11 wins. That’s all great. At the end of the day, Nick, I’ll ask you this. Does it mean anything if you win 11 games and consider yourself Outback Bowl champions or Citrus Bowl champions? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the goal every year is to win the SEC, and if you don’t, your season’s a failure.
Nick: I don’t agree with that. I think every year, I mean, at Florida you have maybe different goals than Vanderbilt, but that’s not Vanderbilt’s goal.
Andrew: So, let me ask you this. Dan Mullen should be happy if he goes 11-2 and wins the Citrus Bowl?
Nick: I think if they got 10-2 in the regular season, they could end up in the Orange Bowl. If you go 11-2 and win the Orange Bowl, I think that’s a very good year.
Nick: I mean, every season is not in a vacuum. Listen, if Dan Mullen goes 11-2 every single year and goes to the Orange Bowl, I think that’s great. If you do that five straight years, and you’re 0-5 against Georgia, I think people are going to start saying what the hell? You have to beat your rivals at some point. He’s 0-2 against Georgia now. You can’t run away from those numbers. Those are black and white.
Nick: They’re not going away. You got to beat Georgia. You’ve got to beat Tennessee. You’ve got to beat LSU. You’ve got to beat these teams more times than you lose to them. You don’t have to beat them every year, but you got to beat them more times than you lose to them right now, and Dan Mullen right now is barely doing that, thanks Tennessee. 1-1 versus LSU, 0-2 versus Georgia, 2-0 versus Tennessee. You’re going to be 2-0 versus FSU as well, but they’re a disaster.
Andrew: We’ll get into that in a second here. Listen, do I think every year you have to go to the SEC or the playoffs to be a successful year? No, I don’t. But, and it’s weird to say this, and I don’t know, I think the program is on the right track. I think Dan Mullen is the guy.
Nick: Got to get the recruiting right, but I agree with you.
Andrew: Yes. Recruiting’s got to get better. I’ll say this, and I don’t think it happens, but I do think there is some coaching changes that need to be made on his staff. I don’t think it’ll happen. Dan Mullen’s a very loyal guy to his guys, and they’ve been with him for a long time. I do think he is there. What I’m saying to you, Nick, and I don’t know how to say it correctly, and maybe you can help me here. In my opinion, you play for championships. You don’t play for participation trophies. Your goals of being the best team in the country is gone.
Nick: Yeah. That’s gone. I mean, in my nine things one of them was goodbye playoff. I literally didn’t write anything about it. I was like, that’s it. That’s the statement right there. It’s gone.
Andrew: Right. You know what I’m saying. At the University of Florida, and did anybody heading into the year expect them to go to the playoff win the SEC? No. I didn’t predict them. I had Georgia. Can they have a better year than expected? Sure. I’m not saying that. I’m saying when you start off as good as they did this year, have as good of a year as they had, when you lose to Georgia it takes a little bit of air out of your sail.
Nick: How do you respond? Last year you responded by compounding it and losing to Missouri.
Andrew: They ain’t going to lose to Vandy.
Andrew: Vandy’s a bad football team, Nick.
Nick: I made myself laugh.
Andrew: Vandy’s a bad football team.
Nick: Here you go. If you come out and you let loss turn into two this week against Vandy, then you are an Outback Bowl team, and that’s what you were.
Andrew: Right. We’ll see. Again, for the seniors, you want to end strong. I laugh about Citrus Bowl or Orange Bowl, whatever it may be. Whatever. You want to go play at big bowls and enjoy the moment and everything else. There is a lot to accomplish, and there’s nothing to be down about winning 11 games. I mean, you got to think about just a couple years ago they were a four-win team. 11 wins is much better for that. So, there is a lot to play for. I’ll ask you this though. Do you start to see some young guys play more?
Nick: I mean, we’re at that point in the season. Some of the guys, we’re redshirting. We talked about it extensively last year, because it was the first year of the play four games rule.
Nick: Start to ask. Not necessarily Nay’Quan Wright or Deonte Marks, but there’s some guys. Here’s one. Mohamoud Diabate. Jeremiah Moon got hurt. I thought he played very well. To me, he had some tackles. I’m pulling up how many tackles. He was patient. I think he set the edge. There was one play I recall. He had four tackles. There’s one play I recall where I thought a little bit more effort. He kind of set the edge and just was happy to like stay there, when he could have disengaged and made a tackle on Swift and probably saved Florida three yards on the play.
I think you start to see some younger guys, especially if you get into a game with Vandy where you think you can get up and have a little bit of a lead. I think, yes, that’s a game where you can do it. I think you’ll be able to certainly do it against Florida State. Then you got an entire two weeks, 15 practices, bowl practices and a bowl game. Yeah. I think we start seeing some young guys for sure.
Andrew: Especially on the offensive line.
Andrew: See what you got.
Nick: Let me see Ethan White. You’ve played one game this year. Put him in. See what you got.
Andrew: Griffin McDowell, those guys who are supposed to be the guys that everybody’s telling me that John Hevesy’s recruiting. Okay. Let me see them. Florida State though, Nick, they’re atrocious. I’ll be honest. Heading into the year I said there was no way Willie Taggert got fired, but if you’re the FSU fanbase, or not fanbase, if you’re the FSU boosters, you might be thinking long and hard about it.
Nick: I was talking to somebody that covers Florida State, and they were making the case of you fire Willie, and it’s very expensive, because you’re not only paying Willie whatever his buyout is. The other thing is he doesn’t have a real contract. He has like an agreement on terms, and part of that is Florida State doesn’t have to pay him if he gets another job. What’s the other job? Is the other job head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or is the other job fry cook at McDonalds? It doesn’t specify.
Then you have to pay, let’s say you want to go buy out Mark Stoops. You pay like $4 million to buy Mark Stoops out of his contract. Then you pay him probably $6 million on top of that. Then you’re paying a whole new staff. What they said is that’s a lot of money up front, but right now FSU, seven of the worst attended games of the last 20 years are in the last seven home games. You don’t think the team’s going to get better next year, so you don’t think the winning is going to happen. You don’t think the attendance gets better. If you’re talking about how much does each seat cost, how much are you losing per game because there’s no momentum around the fanbase? Do the numbers start making sense to go ahead and pay up front? I mean, I don’t think they’re doing well financially, Florida State. I don’t know if they can even front it. You might need a small business loan.
Andrew: Right. I don’t know. You’re losing money by the day with Willie Taggert. Listen, the more he continues to be your football coach, the further behind you’re going to get, because he’s not going to start recruiting any better. I mean, Miami is not good, and Miami is a better program by far than Florida State. Would you agree?
Nick: Yeah. I know we’ve been very critical. At least you’re not Florida State. No, I’m kidding, but only kind of kidding. Thank God.
Andrew: Better watch out. They’ll be calling you a racist.
Nick: Yeah. I think it’s obviously everyone’s pissed off. Nobody in Gator Nation wants to lose to Georgia. There was so much riding on the game, as there seems to be every year, and that makes it worse. Are there deficiencies? Yes. Have they shown themselves? Yes. Is this a perfect football team? No. Do chances need to be made? Yeah. But I think for the most part, like you said, the program’s going in the right direction. I think if Florida wins out, has a 10-2 regular season, I think that’s successful. I agree with you. Yeah. Is the goal a national championship? Sure, but only one team gets to win that every year. I don’t know if I would say Florida was a contender for it this year.
Andrew: No way. No way.
Nick: Even though if they would have beat Georgia, if Florida would have won out, they would have been in the playoff. So, then you’re saying you’re a national contender, because you’re one of the four teams that’s playing for it, and only four teams are. But I just think that overall, like I agree with you that the program’s going in the right direction. So, I think it’s fine to be mad. It’s a fan’s right to be mad, but I think that there’s still a lot of things that are going well and going right. Be mad. Be angry about it, but also have a little bit of perspective, because I think this is a good football team, at the end of the day.
Andrew: Let me ask you this, Nick. I want your honest opinion here. Is next year’s football team a better football team than this year’s team?
Nick: I don’t think so.
Andrew: See, that’s my problem. That’s where I say there might be some issues. That’s my take. I don’t know that next year’s football team’s a better football team. Just my take. That’s where I think things have to get better.
Nick: I think this recruiting class is going better than the last recruiting class, but you need to get some true difference makers in the class, because last year I think there were some guys that maybe were brought in that, let’s face it. There’s five guys that were signed and aren’t in the class. So, you took chances on some guys last year that other teams weren’t willing to take chances on.
Nick: That’s not really you won a huge recruiting battle. It’s more of just other people passed, because there were questions, and Florida took them. I think there’s some guys. There’s definitely talent in this last recruiting class. I love the linebackers they signed. I think Kaiir Elam and the cornerbacks they signed are going to be great. I think the world of Nay’Quan Wright, whenever he gets his opportunity to run. But you’ve got to have true difference makers, guys that maybe if they’re not going to be starters as freshmen, guys that as sophomores you’re like, you sat your one year. It’s your time now. True difference makers in this class.
Andrew: You need some dudes.
Andrew: Dudes. That’s just what you need. You need some dudes. I said this, and I hate to keep harping on Hevesy. I really do, but you need some dudes on that offensive line. You need some Alex Leatherwoods, some just dudes, some Andrew Thomas for Georgia that just lean on you and beat you down. That’s just what you need. You need some dudes like that. I say this all the time but find me some dudes like Brandon Spikes. There’s not another Brandon Spikes. I’m not saying that. Some dudes that walk in and have instant respect.
Nick: Yeah. They just command it.
Andrew: Yeah. They’re dudes.
Nick: That was Jon Greenard.
Andrew: I think Derek Wingo’s got that ability to be, for sure, but I don’t know that I see one on offense.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that was Jon Greenard. Came right in and immediately demanded and commanded respect, even before the game started.
Andrew: Let me ask you this. It’s week, what? Florida’s played 9 games, so it’s Week 11 or whatever it is. I don’t even know. Who’s the offensive leader on offense?
Nick: It was Feleipe Franks, but he’s been gone.
Andrew: First of all, Feleipe Franks ain’t a leader, Nick. I’m sorry. Who’s the leader on this football team?
Nick: I mean, I think it’s Lamical Perine, but then the productivity.
Andrew: Lamical’s a quiet guy.
Nick: Yeah. There’s no rah-rah get up in your face kind of guy on offense.
Andrew: Yeah. See, on defense, David Reese is a guy that I feel like is a guy. Like you said, Greenard is a guy. You talk about Lamical. CJ Henderson is one of those quiet leaders, and I’m not saying anything bad about Lamical. Lamical’s my dude and everything else. Lamical’s not a guy who’s going to grab you up. Lamical’s a guy who’s going to lead by example. That’s Lamical Perine.
Feleipe Franks, I don’t care what anybody says, Nick, and I’m not trying to be ugly or anything else. There’s no way Feleipe Franks is the guy that’s going to get in somebody’s face and tell him to go on, because most people are going to laugh at him. I’m sorry.
Nick: I think it’s probably the receivers. If you look at Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, and Josh Hammond, the veteran receivers, probably got to be them. You’d hope eventually it would be Kyle Trask. I think maybe that’s some of what has held him out though, not being that kind of vocal leader in the past. Yeah. There’s no alpha. That’s what Dan said. Who’s the alpha dog? I think on offense you don’t really have one.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Nick, real quick, we got about three minutes here. Your boy’s taking a win for Kyle Trask. Good game. Your boy is taking a win for Jonathan Greenard, even though he said he played like an ass. I think he’s a little hard on himself. I’m taking an L for Josh Hammond.
Nick: Yeah. I didn’t even get into it, but I’m going to take a win for Pitts. Georgia didn’t double team him in the second half. You found a mismatch early on with Kyle Pitts, and then you abandon it. I don’t get it. You threw to him five times in the game. Three of those five were in the first quarter. So, to me, I screamed it from the mountaintop all year, but then all week long, and it worked. Then it didn’t work. What did David Reese do? Six tackles, one for a loss. He played okay, I guess, you know. I don’t get a win for Perine. I don’t think it was his fault, but when you only get seven touches.
Andrew: I would love to give you a win, you know I would, but I’m giving you one for three.
Andrew: Not a good game at all. Nick, we’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Wednesday, as we’ll be talking about the Commodores up in Vandy, and Derek Mason and his job status up there. Tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Wednesday.
Nick: 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 listen to podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp and go Braves.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.