GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators 23-6 win over Missouri on Saturday on the road.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown how the Gators went on the road and ended their losing streak to Missouri on Saturday.
Andrew and Nick also talk about the Gators basketball team as they fail on the road to UConn on Saturday.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back, and get to finally talk about a Missouri win. Been almost three years.
Andrew: Yeah. So, we’re talking about it. It happens. It can happen.
Nick: Yeah. We’re taping this on Monday. It was a long travel day for me. I was, I think, left my hotel at 7:00 Central time, 7:30 Central time, and didn’t get back into Gainesville until about 6:30, almost 7:00 p.m. So, it was like a 12-hour travel day for me, so taping this it’ll be a day late, but it’s a bye week, so we can get away with it. It allows us to talk about some basketball as well.
We’ll get into Missouri first, because I don’t know about you, but it kind of felt almost therapeutic to go in, and it looked like so many other games. It’s early. It’s 3-3. It’s 6-3 at halftime. Just shooting yourself in the foot with penalties, dumb penalties. It just looked like that game that we’d seen in the past where Missouri’s going to turn it on and win this game. That’s just what happens when Florida plays Missouri.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, it was. When you went into the half 6-3, it was like what team’s about to come out in the second half? I say this for every team, but you expect every team to come out in the second half with some adjustments. For the most part, Missouri didn’t come out in the second half with adjustments, and that was kind of where it was. I say this, and, Nick, I don’t know if you watched this or not, but I watched the Bears and Rams game last night. You look at Aaron Donald, and he was just unblockable. That’s what it was on Saturday with Jonathan Greenard. Missouri did not game plan around stopping him at all. You look now at the all honors he’s picked up.
Nick: Hey, they might have game planned to stop him, and I think a lot of teams have tried. He’s just not letting you. He’s like, what’s your game plan? Cool. I’m just going to do what I do anyway.
Andrew: Well, one on one blocking against Greenard probably ain’t going to work.
Nick: I would like to chip him at least.
Nick: At minimum, have a running back chip him.
Andrew: Yes. Then that was the case. That’s what it was. There was one play, Nick, and I believe it was in the first half. You’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong here. Greenard literally forced Kelly Bryant to keep the ball, because he was in between him and Larry Roundtree in the backfield.
Nick: I thought the play was designed to hand the ball off to Jon Greenard. Was I wrong?
Andrew: It was close. Six tackles for Greenard. Two sacks. Five tackles for loss in the game. It was just a defensive game.
Nick: That’s a win for me.
Andrew: Absolutely. I think, Nick, and again, correct me if I’m wrong here, but you could tell if Florida wins or losses by these two stats. Missouri was 5 of 18 on 3rd down, and they gave up, let’s see here, three sacks. When Florida doesn’t sack the quarterback, and they give up a ton on 3rd downs, they lose.
Nick: I think the stats were wrong, and we asked Florida about it. Greenard forced an intentional grounding.
Nick: They didn’t call it as a sack. I thought that was supposed to be credited as a sack.
Andrew: I think technically yes.
Nick: Especially in that situation. It was literally Greenard in Kelly Bryant’s face, nobody else around, nobody to help. Bryant just threw it into the ground, and it was immediately called an intentional grounding. That should be a sack.
Andrew: Right. Yes. I believe in technical terms, yes, it is a sack. But yeah, overall the game plan for Florida was take away the run game, make Kelly Bryant beat you. Kelly Bryant was decent. 25 of 39, 204. It was just an overall really good game plan, I thought, by Todd Grantham and this Gators defensive coaching staff. Let’s just be honest. Up front and really in the receiving corps, Missouri was so much worse than Florida.
Nick: Yeah. I never really thought, it’s kind of what I said. Not to disrespect Missouri, and I had a conversation with a friend who he always writes. He says, I don’t think Missouri gets a lot of credit, or as much credit as they should. They’ve been good teams in the past, and Florida’s lost to good Missouri teams. I think they listened to our podcast when I said, if Florida is what Dan Mullen says they’re building towards and what we think that they’re building towards, then this is a Missouri team you don’t lose to. He said, I think Missouri is better than that. I thought Missouri’s defense was good. We probably deserve to give Missouri’s defense a little more credit than we gave them, but that offense was atrocious.
Andrew: Yeah. Florida did not do, I would say, much offensively. Had 386 on the day. Here we go. You’re going to piss me off early, Nick. How many minutes did we even get into this podcast? We got into this podcast five minutes, and I’m already pissed off. I’m so sick of this offensive line, Nick. I hate to say this, but I’m ready for the year to be over with, so I don’t have to watch this offensive line anymore.
Nick: Here’s what I think. I think we praised them last week, and maybe what it was last week was just fool’s gold. That was just a really terrible Vanderbilt team, and that’s why they looked better. Then you get a Missouri team. I mean, Florida gave up four sacks in the first half. I tweeted at some point, Florida’s been getting Missouri defensive linemen drafted since 2013, since they got in the SEC.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, Nick, I’m going to harp on John Hevesy again. I’m harping on him for a couple things. A, his offensive line, Nick, it is Week 12, and you still don’t have hat on hat. Okay. At some point, yes, it is the players. I will say that. At some point, it is the player’s fault, but it also at some point, Nick, it’s your turn to game plan around that. It’s your turn as an offensive line coach to fix some of that problem. I’ll carry that on to this, and that is Larry Scott and John Hevesy worked together on run blocking and pass blocking for tight ends, and, Nick, the tight end blocking is awful. 3rd and 1, and Dante Lang just gets blown up out there. Can’t happen. Can’t happen.
I don’t know. I’m so sick of watching this offensive line and this team block. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. You go back, and you look at the LSU game. Ole Miss ran up and down the field on this Ole Miss team, and Florida couldn’t even sniff a running game against Ole Miss, or LSU.
Nick: Didn’t even really try to run. To me, that’s the indictment. The indictment on the play calling. If you look at the play calls, obviously, once you’re up 23-6 in the fourth quarter, you’re going to start running the ball. If I break down the comparison, and then you take away the four sacks, because four sacks, those aren’t running plays. They go down in the stat book as a running play after.
Nick: But those aren’t running plays. Through three quarters, Florida had thrown the ball 35 times to 13 rush attempts. 35 to 13. To me, that’s just we’re going to run, because we have to, but we don’t feel good about running. We don’t feel confident that we can run the ball.
Nick: That’s not because, just like you said, it’s not because we’re facing a really good defensive team that is going to stop the run. They’re very good against the pass. It’s not because we’re facing a team that’s good against stopping the run. It’s because we don’t feel confident that we can run the ball, even against a bad rush defense.
Andrew: 23 yards rushing by Florida running backs.
Nick: I mean, Lamical Perine’s still finding ways. He’s got a team high, eight touchdowns this year and 25 in the last three years. It’s just sad, and it’s not him. Early on in the year, when people are like it’s Lamical, it’s Perine, and if Malik Davis was carrying the ball, he’d find yards. If Damien Pierce was carrying the ball, he’d find yards. It’s the offensive line. It’s not the running backs. It didn’t matter if Bo Jackson, well, maybe if Bo Jackson was back there, back in his prime, he would have found some yards. It hasn’t been the running backs. It’s not Lamical Perine’s fault. I’m happy that he’s finding other ways to be effective though.
Andrew: Found a way to have an unbelievable catch in the endzone for a touchdown. Trevon Grimes, it’s a simple jet sweep, Nick, and the right side of the offensive line, Stone and Dante Lang, get driven in the backfield to cause a four-yard loss. Driven in the backfield. I’ll pose this question to you, Nick. Heading into the Missouri game, could you name me one Missouri defensive lineman that was going to be a top pick?
Andrew: They dominated.
Nick: Couldn’t do it.
Andrew: They dominated. This is a player and a coaching thing, and I don’t care what anybody tells me about John Hevesy’s past, this, that, and the other. I don’t care. I don’t care, Nick. I don’t care. I don’t care. Don’t care.
Nick: Does Isaiah Walker start immediately?
Andrew: Do what now?
Nick: I said, does Isaiah Walker start immediately?
Andrew: He’s light. He needs to gain weight.
Andrew: This is a recruiting problem too, Nick. I mean, it’s a bye week. We got time. It’s a recruiting problem. No offense, but you don’t win at the University of Florida recruiting three stars on the offensive line.
Nick: Maybe at Mississippi State you do.
Andrew: You win a few games, but you don’t win championships.
Andrew: I go back to what I said a couple weeks ago, Nick. Urban and Dan were responsible for the Pouncey’s and some of those big-time offensive line recruits when Urban was here. It’s time to call Hevesy what he is, and that’s a bad recruiter.
Nick: Great coach. Great developer.
Andrew: I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s a great coach, Nick. I don’t know, because I’m telling you this, great coaches find a way to scheme around the problems. This is a bad Missouri defensive line, and you were dominated. Dominated up front.
Nick: I’m pulling up.
Andrew: Outside of Emory Jones’ 39 yards of running and Kadarius’ 25 yards of long run, Florida would have a grand total of 1 yard rushing. One yard.
Nick: Is that good?
Andrew: If you’re playing the ’85 Bears.
Nick: I can confirm, after being there on the field, that was not the ’85 Bears.
Andrew: Yes. So can I. I’m just saying, it’s a problem. It is a problem. Florida will not, can not, everything you want to say. They will not go to where they want to be with an offensive line play as bad as this. You look, Nick, at the Georgia-Auburn game. Florida’s offensive line ain’t blocking either one of those teams. That’s the upper echelons. They’re not blocking LSU. If you want to win what you want to win, and that’s to get to Atlanta, to win in Atlanta, and then go to the College Football Playoff and win in the College Football Playoff, that’s your goal at the University of Florida, you’re not doing it with offensive line play as soft and shitty as this.
Nick: Not to get you even more fired up, and you and I don’t really subscribe into the rankings and the stars as much as a lot of people do, but just looking at the top 50 offensive linemen in the country. Florida’s got 1 in Isaiah Walker. Probably trailing for Marcus Dumervil.
Nick: But that’s really the only other one that you’re in on.
Nick: Why aren’t you even in on more, I guess would be my question. I think the first recruiting class, that abbreviated really rushed recruiting class, I think we even said on our podcast, we thought the previous coaching staff, Mac’s coaching staff was just afraid to get a no, and we thought these guys, this coaching staff, at least they’re throwing stuff at the wall. Listen, what’s the worst thing that happens? The players tells us no. Cool. At least we tried.
Nick: When you look at the offensive line, you’ve got a bunch of young players, but you’re going to need to keep refilling. Shoot. I just wrote the story about, the recruiting’s got to get better everywhere. I just wrote, let me pull this up real quick. I was looking at Florida’s roster. Just from kids that, there’s 22 seniors that are going to be honored during Senior Day. Here’s just the starters, and I’ll take out Tommy Townsend and Jacob Tillman. They’re both seniors. But just starters, Lamical Perine, Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland, Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, Jon Greenard, Adam Shuler, Nick Buchanan, David Reese, Jeawon Taylor. That’s 10 seniors who are starters that are gone. That’s not even including a junior that could leave, a guy like CJ Henderson, if a junior leaves. Those are just 10 seniors that are starting.
Andrew: Who’s your starting center next year, Nick?
Nick: Kingsley’s the guy you’ve got on right now. He’s redshirting. You got to figure that out. Do you move Brett Heggie over there? What do you do?
Andrew: Who plays any of the tackle spots? None of them’s looked good.
Nick: I don’t know. We’ve got feet of Stone Forsythe out there at left tackle.
Andrew: Yeah. Move Gouraige out there, and he got whipped.
Nick: Yeah. A long way to go on the offensive line.
Andrew: Here’s the problem too, Nick, and I will go back and say this again. I know we’re talking about a win, and it’s nice. 23-6. You found a way to win. You got a chance to win 10 ballgames this year. There’s no leadership on this football team. I don’t care. I don’t care what nobody says. There ain’t no leadership on this football team.
Nick: I think there is leadership, but I think it’s coming from the same place. I think it’s all those wide receivers that I just named, Van, Freddie, Josh. I think those are leaders, but, for the most part, you need a leader like in every room.
Andrew: I need a leader who can look at somebody in the face and say, go block these guys.
Andrew: Hear what Dwayne Haskins told his offensive line? He asked them. He said, what can I do to help you block? Kyle Trask needs to do the same thing. Maybe.
Nick: You said a chance to win 10 games. Listen, Florida and Florida State are playing at 7:30. That’s going to be a public flogging.
Andrew: Oh yeah. 100%.
Nick: Florida has all but secured 10 wins. I think and would like to see half a hundred.
Andrew: Oh, 100%. Run it up. There’s going to be some boys up in that place for recruiting wise. Run it up. Put the dagger in somebody’s heart. Go ahead and tell Odell, thanks for coming, but this job interview just failed.
Nick: Yeah. Smart of Odell to be like, let’s get that job interview in before we go to Gainesville to play that team.
Andrew: Make sure he signs that contract before.
Nick: Maybe I’ll do really well in my interview before we lose by 40 to our rival.
Andrew: I beat Alabama State. Let me go interview real quick. That receiving corps though, Nick, did well on Saturday. I thought Van Jefferson had a really good game. Trevon had a really good game. Josh, of course, had a good game. Copeland’s coming along.
Nick: Yeah. I think Jacob Copeland drops too many passes. You got to put him on a JUGS machine. I think I’ve just seem him drop a bunch.
Andrew: He tries to catch in a weird way, Nick. I don’t know. You always tell your guys, get your hands up and catch it out in front of your face.
Andrew: But he just, he catches it weird. I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet.
Nick: Yeah. I think Van really kind of set the tone. His route running, I get that he’s got a dad who coached wide receivers and still coaches wide receivers in the NFL, so he’s got a great foundation, but I’m just more and more impressed with him pretty much every week the way he runs routes. He really just breaks cornerbacks down with how precise and surgical he is with his route running. I think he really set the tone with two or three, definitely two, maybe three catches, on that first drive. He put together a great game for his last SEC game.
I asked him about it after. He looked like he teared up a little bit. He’s played a long time in the SEC. Obviously, three years, one redshirt year, but three years at Ole Miss, and then two at Florida. Great game for him. Six for 82. Kyle Pitts had a good game. You just look across the board.
If you go back to, let me pull this up, so I can get it exactly right. Our players picks. We did picks before the season, our season long picks. One of the over unders was, where is it? Over-under 50 catches for any wide receiver. I think you said over. I said under. If you pull it up, Van’s not even close. I think the only one that’s close to it is Kyle Pitts, and he’s really not a receiver.
Andrew: What’s Perine at?
Nick: Pitts is 46. Van Jefferson’s at 38, and Perine’s at 32. Lamical Perine has the third most receptions on the team. He’s got more than Grimes and Swain. More than Hammond. More than Cleveland. More than Copeland.
Andrew: I’m going to go on a rant for a second, Nick, and I’m telling you. That stat you just said is why Lamical Perine will be an NFL back.
Nick: You got to be a three down back to play in the NFL.
Andrew: And be able to play special teams. That’s what he can do. What’d you think of Emory Jones?
Nick: I thought, in my 10 observations, which I think is quickly becoming the most popular thing I write on our website, which is fine. It’s easy for me to write. I get to talk my opinion. I like it. I want to see, it’s so hard for me, because I really like Kyle Trask. I think Kyle Trask’s story this year is incredible, and the fact that Florida is 9-2, going to be 10-2 in two weeks’ time, with their starting quarterback playing three quarters against SEC opponents. That’s it. What they’ve been able to do with Kyle Trask, I think that’s great. In one breath, I’m saying, yes, Kyle Trask is great. He’s the starter. He’s earned it.
In the other breath, I’m saying I want to see more from Emory Jones. I don’t need it to be a 50/50 split. I don’t even need it to be 60/40. Say, Kyle, lose your helmet. This drive is for Emory, whether that’s a three and out or whether it’s a 19-play matriculating the ball down the field drive. Give him a whole drive. Dan Mullen said after the game, he doesn’t really have the full package yet. It was the last question, and when they’re on the road they’re kind of rushed, but it was hard for me to get the question in. Bunch of people asking. I said, what do you need to see from Emory? If he hasn’t earned your trust enough to get that full package, what do you need to see from him, in practice or in a game? I didn’t really get an answer. I got, we trust Emory and this and that.
Let me see him in the whole package. People will point and say, he had a 48-yard pass to Kadarius Toney. It wasn’t a good pass. It was a great adjustment by Kadarius Toney. The ball was underthrown by probably 10 yards.
Nick: If you lead Kadarius Toney, it’s probably a gigantic touchdown.
Nick: I want to see more of that. I’m not going to say Emory Jones can’t throw, because he underthrew a pass. Kyle Trask underthrew a pass, and it was caught too. One pass is not an indictment. I want to see more opportunities of Emory in the passing game, because when he comes in it’s just running. We know that he’s an electric runner.
Andrew: Nick, I’ll be honest. Some of the times when they pull him out of the game, and some of the times they don’t put him in the game, it’s like we talk about that 3rd and 1, where Trevon Grimes gets knocked in the backfield. Why not have Emory in the game for that? Even if he hands it off to Trevon, the defense still has to respect that Emory’s in the game.
Nick: How long, I mean this season’s almost over, but can you sell out, right now, if you’re the defensive coordinator, Andrew Spivey. You’re the defensive coordinator for FSU. If Emory Jones comes in the game, are you respecting a pass?
Andrew: No. Not right now. They haven’t shown me that they will.
Andrew: Until garbage time, which it might be garbage time when the clock kicks off, so maybe I’m wrong. Yeah. No. I don’t. We talk about this. I hate to bring this up, because I hate to open this can of worms, but we talk all the time about the transfer portal and that kind of stuff. If you’re Emory, don’t you want to start showing people that you can throw the ball a little bit as well?
Nick: I sure would.
Andrew: That’s just my take on it. Any final thoughts, I guess, on this game in general?
Nick: I mean, obviously, we were a little harsh, but there’s things. Listen, we’re getting to a point where we, Florida and Dan Mullen and the coaching staff have built the program to a point where we can be critical in wins. In the past, shoot, there were some of the Mac games and some Muschamp games where we’re doing the podcast, and we get there, and we’re like, it was ugly, but they won. We weren’t critical. I think maybe us being critical is just getting to a point where we see where the program’s going, and we’re starting to expect more from it.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of where I’m at. I just expect more. I expect more. It’s Week 12 of the season. Nick, I’m sorry, I can’t continue to watch this offensive line play be so bad. That is a pet peeve of mine. If you’ve listened to this podcast for the how many ever years we’ve been doing this podcast, you know this is nothing new for me. I hate bad offensive line play. I hated it under Mac. I hated it under Muschamp, and I’ll hate it under Mullen. I’ll probably hate it under the next coach. That’s just me. I don’t like bad offensive line play. This not the identity of this football team. You can’t make me believe that this is the identity of this football team. Just me.
Nick: All right. Moving on to basketball?
Andrew: You want to start something bad, don’t you?
Nick: I just had a Twitter account follow me called HasMikeWhiteBeenFiredYet.
Andrew: Has Mike White been fired yet?
Nick: I think it’s one of those, you know, those DidTheBravesWinToday. It’s a Twitter account that just says yes or no.
Andrew: Nick, the Twitter warriors are out. They are ready to fire Mike White. Neither you nor I will sit here and say we’re basketball gurus or geniuses or anything else. This team is so lost offensively that I don’t know where you go from here. I don’t. I don’t know what you do. We were talking to our basketball expert, Eric, about it, and he said, this is kind of what Mike White is. This is his offense. I just don’t think, Nick, that it’s going to work for these guys. You’ve got some talented dudes. I won’t sit here and say it’s all Mike White either. Listen, Noah Locke’s got to find the bottom of the bucket when he’s wide open from three, and Nembhard can’t have the turnovers he had in the game. That kind of stuff. It just seems like this offense is stagnant.
Nick: I think, when you watch some of Mike White’s offenses at Louisiana Tech, you see the run and gun and playing press on defense and that forcing turnovers, and then running in transition. Florida’s not getting a lot of steals, not getting a lot of those transition opportunities. Then I don’t think that’s Andrew Nembhard, I don’t think that’s the best part of his game. I don’t think he can play very well fast. So, they’ve tried to play a half court defense.
I even asked Mike White after the loss, or after the win over Towson, if he’s happy with the offensive flow. He said, we’re still trying to find an identity. He said, I don’t think we play fast very well. People didn’t like to hear that, but that’s the coach who’s seen the team every day in practice. That’s his opinion. To me, I think if you don’t think you run fast well, or if you don’t think you play very well fast, to me that’s probably an indictment on your point guard, because that’s kind of where it would start.
I haven’t given up on Mike White. Maybe it’s because we’ve had Baileigh covering basketball, and I haven’t been around watching every game, like she was, and like Eric was, and haven’t been around the program in terms of talking to players and people like that. Maybe that’s why I haven’t given up on Mike White, but I’m still team Mike White right now. It’s November. They’ve got plenty of time to figure it out. I mean, November quickly turns to December and January.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. This is a team that a lot of experts had going to the Final Four. They were #6 in the country. We can say what we want to say, but there was reason to believe this team was going to be really good. I just haven’t seen it. I’ll take it a step further here a little bit, Nick, and that is Mike White’s always kind of prided himself on defense, and I think the defense is lacking a little bit.
Nick: Yeah. A lot on offense is this too. Listen, Noah Locke was a great shooter his freshman year. Tre Mann is an incredibly fun player to watch, can create. He can shoot. Right now, shots aren’t falling. I mean, law of averages, you think that they’re going to start falling eventually. Right?
Nick: But yeah, defense is effort. For all Mike White’s teams, you had to buy in, or else you won’t play. Had to buy in defensively, or else you won’t play. To me, it’s some of that too. Where’s the effort? You can’t let a poor shooting night bleed into your defense, and now you’re playing bad on both ends of the floor. If you’re not shooting well, make up for it somewhere else.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. Here’s the thing. This isn’t football, so there’s still plenty of time. I was listening to a couple people, talking heads on ESPN and stuff, who said they don’t think there’s a great team this year in college basketball, and there’s a lot of parity and everything else. That’s very accurate. So, while they’re struggling now, we have seen in the past that Mike White’s teams do get better as the year goes on. We are talking about several young guys who are just now playing their first games, so maybe they get better. I think that you will see a team that is much improved in February than it is now, as they should. But I do think that there’s some pressure on Mike White.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, right now, do I think his job is in jeopardy? No.
Nick: I mean, we’re four games into the season. If this team goes to, this is his first real time of having his, we always talk about football coaches getting four years or getting five years to get their full team. This is Mike White’s team. All these are his guys.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. I mean, like you said, do I think Mike White’s job is in jeopardy this year? No. I don’t at all. I just think that it’s a situation where you have to start looking and saying, okay, you got to make some changes for this team to go forward, that kind of stuff. I mean, I’ll say this. You can’t waste the talent that he has.
Andrew: Scottie Lewis. I’ll say this too. Maybe the hype around Scottie Lewis was a little too high. I was seeing different things where it said Scottie Lewis is a top 10 lottery pick next year. I haven’t seen that yet, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to be.
Nick: I think he got a really good end to the Towson game, and I think he tried. I mean, it was really a lot of Andrew Nembhard at the end of last game. That’s me listening to it on the radio on the turnpike driving home from Orlando from the airport, but it seemed like he had a couple big plays, couple big threes at the end of that game. I think he’s getting more confident. I would expect him, kind of like a Brad Beal. Remember, Brad Beal started his career at Florida like what the heck? This is supposed to be a lottery guy?
Nick: Then got more confident. The speed of the game started slowing down, and then he went nuts in tournament time.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. I mean, he did. He had a pretty good close to his game. Mike White’s starting to use him a little bit more in the post and that kind of stuff. He’s getting better there. There’s still some improvement that I think overall has to be made for this basketball team to go to where they want to go. Do I think that it’s a situation where they’re going to change their offense? No. I just think that they have to get a little bit more in rhythm. I’ve always heard this, and, again, I’m not a basketball guy to say this is always true, but everyone says, if you’re standing around on offense, you’re not doing your job.
Nick: Lot of standing around on offense right now.
Andrew: Ton of standing around on offense.
Andrew: So. Anyway, any final thoughts on this?
Nick: No. Big week for them coming up. You really need to show some life in Charleston. The men’s basketball team, after losing in Storrs, they go to the Charleston Classic. They’ll play St. Joe’s on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Then they’ll get either Miami or Missouri State on Friday. So, need to see some inspired basketball.
Andrew: Yeah. Absolutely. Florida is unranked. #27 in the country in the new poll that just came out, so there’s that. I wanted to talk real quick about this. The Tua situation. Give me your thoughts.
Nick: Okay. So, for me, I am probably going to hit on both sides. For me, one, it’s not Nick Saban’s call to play him or to not play him. That comes from the trainers. If the trainers and the doctors tell the head coach, he can play, well, they went to a lot more schooling than I did to talk about injuries, so I can play him.
It does become Nick Saban’s decision to play him when it’s 35-7, and there’s two minutes left before halftime. I do not buy, with no pennies do I buy, we wanted to get him work in the two-minute offense. He ran a two-minute offense as a freshman in the National Championship game. Worked out pretty well. He’s started for almost two full seasons now, pretty sure he can run a two-minute offense. You’ve seen him run a two-minute offense. That’s not why you kept him in there. So, I don’t blame Nick Saban for playing him, for playing him in the game. I don’t think he needs to be in there when it’s 35-7.
Andrew: Let me ask you this though. Alabama dropped in the polls. Okay? Let’s be honest with each other here, and that is whether we like it or not, the polls are based off of the eye test, and Florida running up the score–Florida, Alabama running up the score in that game would have helped their chances.
Nick: I don’t think so, not with the playoff committee.
Nick: I think maybe back in the computer days, but I think what the playoff committee is going to sit there and look at it, and now what the playoff committee is going to do is say, Tua’s done, so you’re not the same Alabama team with Matt Jones as you are with Tua Tagovailoa. So, to me, it doesn’t matter what Alabama does. They’re not in the playoff.
Andrew: Right. No, I’m with you. I don’t think so either. I’m going to take this in a different way than you did as well. I think that it’s the doctor’s decision, and if the doctors tell Nick Saban he can play, if I’m Nick Saban, I play. I play. There’s been some talk. I don’t know if this is confirmed, or if this is just a rumor, that Tua told Saban he wanted one more drive, and Saban said, okay, let’s work on our two-minute drill here and go. There’s always the saying, and I’m with you, Nick, in this, we’re baseball guys, and we always say you can’t let a pitcher throw 150 pitches, even if he’s throwing a no-hitter. You do have to protect the player against the player at some point. At the end of the day, Nick, this wasn’t an ankle injury. This was a freak hip injury. This has nothing to do with his ankle.
Andrew: So, while it sucks, and I’m like every other football fan in America, I don’t want to see nobody get hurt, especially a guy as talented as Tua. I also say, it’s life, and it’s the game of football. It happens. It just does. Feleipe Franks, that was just a freak injury. It happens. It’s football, unfortunately.
Nick: Yeah. I agree with that. Like you said, it’s not an ankle injury. To me, like you said, if a pitcher goes out there, pitcher’s in the ninth or trying to go out in the ninth, and he’s got a no-hitter, 130 pitches, sometimes you got to step in the way of the competitor, because the competitor’s always going to want the ball, want the opportunity. When you’re a 68-year-old grandfather and the highest paid public servant in the state of Alabama, sometimes you tell the 19-year-old kid, no, man, you’ve had a good day. You’re out. We’re going to let somebody else play.
Andrew: Right. Again, I’m not saying that Nick was right or wrong for playing him in the game. I just sit here and say that it happened, and it sucks. It does. It sucks.
Nick: It sucks. Whether you like Alabama, or you hate Alabama, I think even some Auburn fans, not all of them, some Auburn fans would even say, he seems like a really nice guy. He seems like he’s doing a lot of work and what he can with charities. He seems honest and genuine. He loves God. He’s religious. You hate to see it happen to the person. I’m sure Auburn fans like to see anything bad happen to Alabama, but I think Tua’s a pretty universally well-liked person.
Nick: You hate to see it happen to somebody who in a couple months was being talked about being the #1 pick in the Draft. That’s certainly not going to be the case anymore.
Andrew: Right. Then, like you said, you have a situation where this has got potential to be career ending. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be, but you don’t want that to happen at all. That’s just my thoughts. I’ve seen some people harp on Saban about it. Listen, I know you’re hard on Saban. You don’t have anything good to say about Nick Saban.
Andrew: I think you and I are both in agreement that, listen, it happens. It sucks. It’s awful, but it happens. It’s the game of football. It’s a contact sport. Anyway, Nick, what’s the plan this week? Just coordinators on Wednesday, correct? No Mullen.
Nick: Yeah. We’ll talk to Dan Mullen on Wednesday on the SEC teleconference, but that’s it. So, we’ll talk to a bunch of seniors this week, as we get ready, and we all start writing our stories about Senior Day and try to encapsulate these guys’ careers. We’ll just talk to Hevesy and Todd Grantham this week.
Nick: Mullen on the teleconference, and then Mullen Thursday night on his normal radio show.
Andrew: Getting ready for FSU. Terrible week of football, by the way, coming up.
Nick: It always is. The week before rivalry week is always, everyone’s playing cupcakes before rivalry week.
Andrew: I’m not used to a bye week, so I’m going to enjoy the bye week. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out of here. 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. Hit that subscribe button. 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. We will talk to you guys on Wednesday. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.