Podcast: Recapping the Orange and Blue spring game for the Florida Gators

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Orange and Blue spring game for the Florida Gators that took place on Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown how the game went and what stood out to them for the Gators on Saturday.

Andrew and Nick also go through the post spring depth chart as they see it for both the offense and defense.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, the spring has come and gone, and the Gators got better, and, I guess, got worse in some positions, depending on how you view this whole thing. Overall, Nick, you and I say this, you can’t take much from it. You can take some things, and we’re going to talk about those some things. Just tough to tell. Dan Mullen was very outright in saying that the defense was very vanilla, wasn’t doing a whole lot in the game. A lot of different things to break down here. 60-35 was the final. Orange defeated the Blue. Kind of expected.

Nick:                         Yeah. When the rosters came out you probably expected Orange to win. There’s a lot of things, and we kind of talked about it. I mean, I think for the most part people said they had fun that watched it or attended it. You’re never going to make everybody happy. I thought it was a fun event.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s kind of what we talked about on Friday of last week. You try to juggle here a little bit. I think you said it best. You have to remember this is a spring practice, but at the same time, people don’t want to watch a normal spring practice on TV.

Nick:                         We learned that in 2013 when Will Muschamp did it. Don’t want to watch it.

Andrew:                 We don’t want to watch seven-on-seven. I didn’t mind it, but a lot of people did. You have to juggle that. I will say this for the most part, and that is you created excitement. You had 95 points on the board. A couple years ago wasn’t half of that in a spring game. I think you created excitement. If Dan Mullen’s goal was to create excitement and have the fanbase talking about the offense and the team, he succeeded.

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, you got your Lito Sheppard pick six. It was funny. We were kind of messing with Van Jefferson after the game, and he didn’t understand that we were messing with him. We were like, do you think you gave 100% effort on that little dig route? You kind of didn’t even make an attempt. He goes, well, the coaches told me not to, just do a little curl, little dig, and let Lito take it, and don’t tackle him. We’re like, Van, we’re joking. That was obvious. He was like, okay, I thought you were saying I was in trouble.

I asked Feleipe. I was like, do you regret throwing at an All-American in Lito Sheppard? He laughed it off. Chris Dorian, we saw him after the game. He said, that’s my longest touchdown in the Swamp ever.

Andrew:                 Dorian got a touchdown. Dorian’s got a touchdown.

Nick:                         I mean, that stuff is fun. For the people that get upset about that, listen, it’s a practice. This is supposed to be fun. It’s getting alumni involved. I mean, Ahmad Black’s down on the field. The Pouncey twins are back. Janoris is back. To them, it’s fun to see stuff like that, other alumni getting involved.

Andrew:                 I think someone said, and Nick, you’ll know this better than I, but there was 120 former Gator football players on campus this weekend in general.

Nick:                         I didn’t an official number, but that’s what this weekend is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be kind of like a Homecoming.

Andrew:                 Right. It’s a time that it’s not as intense as it is with a Homecoming game and that kind of stuff. Again, we talk about this a lot, but the Gator brand is big. I’m not discrediting Georgia or Alabama or anybody else’s brand, but Florida’s brand is big. I think that past coaches in particular have not utilized former players, alumni, that kind of stuff in a way to help with recruiting. We talk about the Pouncey’s. Yes, Demarkus Bowman wasn’t on campus. Yes, their cousin, Ethan Pouncey, wasn’t on campus, but to see those two guys on campus, they’re going to go back to Lakeland. They’re going to talk about that kind of stuff. The Pouncey twins were all over social media for being at the Gator game on Saturday.

Nick:                         I don’t remember the last time they were on campus.

Andrew:                 I don’t know either, to be honest with you.

Nick:                         I don’t think Janoris has been back since Muschamp kicked him off the team.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I don’t know when the last time the Pouncey twins were back, to be honest with you. It hasn’t been the last few years, that’s for sure. Unless they’ve come on campus when it wasn’t an event, and they just came in to say hey to the coaches and leave. We both know they’re very close to Dan Mullen. We both know they’re very close to John Hevesy. Also, don’t discredit Keiwan Ratliff, having him back. Lito Sheppard and Keiwan are very close and that kind of stuff. Having those guys back on campus was great.

Listen, I’m trying to think of the word that I’m trying to use. Is it funny and scripted and all that to have the former alumni? Does it kind of take away from that? Sure. But at the end of the day, is anybody looking at the scoreboard? No. It’s just a way for Chris Dorian to be able to talk to his kids about that, for Lito Sheppard to talk to his kids about that, for that kind of stuff to be talked about. That’s it.

Nick:                         Somebody was asking me. I think an area of deficiency was maybe the secondary with the safeties in particular. Somebody asked me during the game, and it’s a fair question, do we need to be worried about the secondary? My answer was, this is a very scripted event. There wasn’t a lot of blitzing. There weren’t a lot of exotic packages. To me, it was they were trying to showcase the offense. Like Dan Mullen said after the game, this was going to be a celebration. You saw that with the playing Duck, Duck, Goose in the endzone and the guys celebrating after touchdowns. I think it was Freddie Swain punted a ball into the endzone after a touchdown. They were just having fun.

Andrew:                 I think there is a little bit of concern, to go back. That was one of the things that I was going to hit on. I do think there was a little bit of concern with the safety play, as far as allowing people to get deeper than them. Maybe allowing their eyes to stay in the backfield too long. I do think that was some question marks that can be raised. How much of that goes with the scheme of the defense, what they were told to do, who they were working with. At times, you had walk-ons playing with starters. You had walk-ons playing with second teamers. Maybe it was a walk-on’s fault, that kind of stuff.

I do say if there was one area in the game that concerned me more than others, it was allowing the guys to get deeper and maybe not finishing tackles, per se. Now, when we talk about finishing tackles, we have to go back to this, and that is they haven’t tackled to the ground all spring. That’s a focus point. That kind of stuff. How much of that goes onto that? Again, 50/50. You’ll have some people say, it’s a game, they should have understood. You’ll have some people who understand that.

Nick:                         I don’t think Dan Mullen, based on what he said, will ever have a spring game like some people do, where it’s the ones versus the twos, and you get a 48-0 game, and the twos just aren’t competing. He likes to have a draft and have things split up. Now, listen, they let the two honorary captains pick the teams, but there’s some moving and shifting around after that.

Andrew:                 I don’t know that I blame Dan Mullen for that, and I don’t know that I disagree with Mullen on that. You get the ones versus the twos. I mean, the ones should be better than the twos. They should beat the twos.

Nick:                         There’s a reason you’re ones, and a reason you’re two.

Andrew:                 What do you get out of that, per se? Do you kill the confidence of those twos going from spring to summer, when you want them to get better? Also, it kind of goes back to what Mullen preaches, and that is everybody is a one in the spring, until they can separate themselves. Having a draft kind of supplements his argument, I guess.

Nick:                         Right. I like that. I have no qualms with anything they did Saturday. I don’t think Orange and Blue stats matter. I don’t think most spring game stats matter.

Andrew:                 Some guys set some records. They might say those records matter.

Nick:                         That’s cool. Dallas Baker acknowledged Trevon Grimes breaking his record. Grimes had four catches, two touchdowns, 195 yards. 195 yards beat the record. That’s cool. Then you get another player, and Dallas Baker is one that has been around now too. They had Dallas Baker come and speak. I can’t remember when it was. It was during spring. I can’t remember which spring practice it was. Come and speak to them, and he got emotional talking about what Billy Gonzales meant to him, and that when his grandmother passed away, even though Billy Gonzales hadn’t really been around and wasn’t coaching him at the time anymore, was there and reached out to him and talked to him. Having those players around, like you said, to bring it up again, is great for the team, for recruiting and for the program.

Andrew:                 It’s a situation where you continue to get those guys around. You had Trenton Brown come on campus and talk to those guys. I think it’s one of those next steps to building what Dan Mullen wants to build as a program. I talk about this a lot. Nick, I know you do as well. The stuff they do at Alabama is very detailed and to the point. There’s no point missed. It’s very thought out, well-scripted, that kind of stuff. That, to me, feels like what Dan Mullen is doing. He’s building up the fanbase, building up the alumni base back to around where he’s at. He’s starting to make changes on his recruiting staff to bring in former Gators, that kind of stuff. It’s all a process. Saturday was just another process forward.

Let’s get back to the game real quick. I said the safety play was a concern a little bit there. One concern that I think we can take away from this, and it’s not breaking news or anything else, but this is something that shouldn’t have been as noticeable as it was, but offensive line play wasn’t as good as years past. We expected that. I think it just showed even more on Saturday. This is going to be the spot where they will either win or lose by.

Nick:                         It’s something we talked about all spring really. You could have put the first team offensive line there, and they would have been fine, then the second team really struggled. What you saw was you had freshmen with seniors or freshmen with starters. It was just a hodgepodge, a mishmash of offensive line. You didn’t really see the first team offensive line, even though they were playing with the Orange team, which had a lot of the first team players on it.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, again, it was a lot of just drop back and throwing, that kind of stuff. There wasn’t a lot of run plays. To be fair, the defense wasn’t blitzing either though, so that has to be noted as well. It’s nothing new. We all knew that this offensive line was going to be a work in progress. We all knew this was going to be an offensive line that was going to improve and allow this offense to be really good or wasn’t going to improve, and the offense would struggle. Again, it’s an offensive line that returns 1.5 starters, that half being Brett Heggie.

Nick:                         Right. Will Brett Heggie stay healthy?

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the million-dollar question, Nick.

Nick:                         I wanted to kind of go through the depth chart a little bit, as far as I see it. You can kind of give your take. I think people want to know where we stand, I guess, after spring.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Quarterback. This is going to be easy. I think really clear. Even when I say with stats, I don’t put a whole lot of stuff into stats. It’s kind of more of an eye test. And not just from Saturday, from what I’ve seen all spring. There not going to name him the starting quarterback, but Feleipe Franks is your starting quarterback. I really see him, starting with that South Carolina game, shushing everybody, I really see him turning the corner and really becoming the leader that you want him to be. Does that mean I think he’s going to win the Heisman or be an All-SEC quarterback? No. I think I’ve seen enough and what I needed to see from Feleipe Franks to make that statement that he’s becoming the leader that Florida needs him to be, and this is an offense where you need strong quarterback play. I think Feleipe Franks can give you that.

Andrew:                 I agree.

Nick:                         Not something I’m saying at this time last year. Huge steps.

Andrew:                 I’ll say this too, Nick. I did think that you can take some positives out of what he did on Saturday. I thought he threw the ball well. I thought he had a little bit more touch on some throws. That’s been the biggest key for Feleipe is understanding when to throw at 100-miles an hour and when to throw at 50, when to throw the fastball and when to throw the changeup. Pitchers struggle with that, and that’s something he struggles with. I’m laughing, because of that analogy. I mean, everyone jokes about when to throw your fastball, when to throw your changeup. That’s the question.

The arm strength has never been a question mark. It’s always been that. I do think that Feleipe has been able to really, I guess, understand the playbook more and settle in and gain that confidence that I understand what I’m doing, I understand where I’m going. I don’t have to think about it. I can just go through my progressions and know where I’m going to go with the ball.

That’s something Dan Mullen said in his press conferences this spring. He knows, and his quarterback should know, pretty much, where they’re going to go with the ball before it’s snapped. I think he’s getting closer.

Nick:                         I agree with that. Absolutely. More question for me, Emory Jones or Kyle Trask. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of separation there. I would say Emory Jones is probably ahead of Kyle Trask, but I just don’t know that there’s a whole lot of separation. The coaches will probably continue looking for, I don’t want to say they’re looking for Jones to separate himself. As a coach, would you want maybe your redshirt freshman to separate himself over a redshirt junior, redshirt sophomore? Maybe. They’re just looking for separation between those two.

Andrew:                 I think the thing with Emory Jones, and I say this not to make excuses for Emory, but Saturday’s game takes away half of what he’s at. His ability to be a run pass threat doesn’t get shown in those kind of environments. Everyone knows you’re not calling quarterback draw. Everyone knows that. That takes away from that when you have games like that.

Nick:                         Right. 100%. I don’t know, listen, Jalon Jones, people were asking about him on Saturday. I don’t know what his role will be with the team. Last year we figured Emory will play in four games. I don’t really see Jalon playing in four games. Just a redshirt.

Andrew:                 I think he takes a shirt. I think it’s over with and kind of done with there. He doesn’t have the opportunity that a guy like Emory Jones has. Emory was QB-2 last year. Period. That’s what he was. Jalon is QB-3 or 4 this year.

Nick:                         Right. I don’t see him even ahead of Kyle Trask.

Andrew:                 I’m just saying. He’s QB-3 or QB-4. Some people may have him ahead of Trask, so he’s still QB-3.

Nick:                         Right.

Andrew:                 At running back, didn’t see a lot of Lamical Perine. That was on purpose.

Nick:                         You weren’t never going to see a lot of Lamical Perine.

Andrew:                 What was you going to get out of that? Nothing. So, no reason to see that. Malik Davis though, Nick, showed me he’s healthy.

Nick:                         Absolutely. We’ve seen that. We kind of talked about it all spring. No hesitation in the cuts or anything like that. That’s always a big thing. Obviously, the ACL was over a year ago, but then having the foot last year. Good to see him running around and moving. Lamical Perine, it’ll be interesting for me, last year it was clearly, in the beginning of the season before Malik Davis got hurt, a one, two, three. We were bemoaning the fact that Jordan Scarlett got the first drive, then Lamical got the second, and then Malik got the third. None of them were really getting a chance to get going.

I think right now the way that it shakes out, I’d probably have Lamical Perine, then Damian Pierce or Malik Davis. Not sure that there’s separation between the two of them. Then Iverson Clement after them. But Lamical Perine, how much? Does he get 250 carries this year? Does he get 200 carries this year? What’s his number? He’s just shy of 1,200 yards away from being a 3,000-yard career rusher at Florida. Something that hasn’t happened since ’99-’02 with Earnest Grant.

Andrew:                 I don’t want to say that he will be, because I think that Mullen has shown in the past that he’s a guy who is going to use multiple backs and try to keep someone fresh, but I would say that Lamical gets the bulk of the carries. I think that when we talk about too, could you see some situations where you go with Lamical and Malik Davis in the backfield together? I think you could. I think they show different things. The biggest difference that I say, Nick, and I don’t know if you agree with me here or not, is the difference with Lamical than other backs that have been there in the past, Jordan Scarlett mainly, is Lamical is a four down back. He can catch the ball, block, and run.

Nick:                         Yeah. He’s your pass catcher out of the backfield. He was last year as well.

Andrew:                 Right. Do you go in and have some different things for two-back set? Maybe. Me personally, I think Lamical gets the bulk of the carries though.

Nick:                         I agree with that 100%. Just what’s the share? Is it a 2-3, 2-3? Is it 3-1? That remains to be seen, but he’s going to be the bell cow.

Andrew:                 I mean, I don’t know. I think you got to feed your bell cow, and you got to kind of go with that guy. If Malik Davis comes in and gets hot, you got to ride the hot hand too.

Nick:                         Greg Knox won’t be complaining about having too many guys.

Andrew:                 There you go. Let’s move to receiver, Nick. Trevon Grimes is a guy that we all waited for last to break out. Never did until the Florida State game, and then he did. On Saturday, kind of looked like a guy playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Nick:                         We probably all, yourself and myself included, are too impatient and forget that this is an 18-year-old kid when he gets to Florida, 19-years-old, and everything’s new. He’s going through whatever he’s going through with his family. It’s a whole new locker room that he’s trying to familiarize himself with. It’s a whole new playbook. That stuff takes time. It’s different time for everyone. Someone might be able to come in and get it right away and play right away. If that’s the case, good for you. If it’s not the case, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad player. It doesn’t mean you’re never going to get it. I think it just took some time for Grimes to really find his footing in the offense last year. You saw it towards the end of the year. He’s super talented, athletically gifted, physically gifts. I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg with Trevon Grimes and what he can be at Florida.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I agree with you.

Nick:                         Unfortunately, he could leave after this year if he has a big year. So, you might only see it for one year, but I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg with Tre Grimes.

Andrew:                 I think that while the receiver is absolutely loaded, you really do need somebody to step up and be that if it’s 3rd and 10, who are you going to? That’s not to say that Van Jefferson or Josh Hammond or any of those other guys. But who’s going to be the guy that is the guy? Who’s going to be the guy who draws the double teams every game?

Nick:                         I mean, you have your traditional XYZ receiver positions. I don’t even know if I’d be able to make a depth chart and have them at, you know, you could have Van, Grimes, Cleveland, and Hammond on the field at the same time, four-wide receiver set. I mean, that’s not even naming Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, or Freddie Swain. There’s just so much depth there, and I think all of those guys can play on either side of the field, at the X or the Z. Then Hammond’s a guy that can play all three spots. Swain’s a guy that can play outside, inside. Kyle Pitts, we’ve seen him line up outside.

I really like that play where you might have let’s say Trips to the left and Pitts out wide, outside the hashmarks to the right. That just creates space. Then you get the ball in his hands, have him run a quick slant, get the ball in his hands. Just a one-two drop, get the ball out. Now you’ve got this 6’5” 250-pound monster running with the ball in space, and it’s just, try to tackle him. We think we’re going to get at least five.

Andrew:                 That’s the key. I guess that kind of moves us to the tight end position a little bit, Nick. A guy like Kyle Pitts is going to create mismatches.

Nick:                         He’s going to be on the field somewhere. I don’t know if it’s at tight end or receiver or H-back, but he’s going to be on the field.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He’s going to be on the field. One of the things that he continued to show, even on Saturday, was just how soft his hands are, really soft hands. A guy who is going to be able to make those good catches and those tough catches. A guy, Nick, you and I have said this, I guess we have to continue saying it, because it still hasn’t taken place, but be consistent Kemore. Kemore Gamble is a guy who is a big body tight end who can do a lot of things. Just be consistent.

Nick:                         I know I’d like to see it. I’m sure there’s a bunch of people that would like to see it.

Andrew:                 Just be consistent. That’s the biggest thing for him. A guy who didn’t play on Saturday was Lucas Krull. You and I both know, Nick, that he’s going to have some place in the offense, whether that’s just in the red zone, whatever it may be. His production and time on the field will go up.

Nick:                         You didn’t get to see him. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury that happened in the second practice that really hindered what he was able to do all year, or all spring. He’s a guy, like you said, some role. There will be a role for him somewhere doing something.

Andrew:                 We talked about the offensive line, but, Nick, go ahead. Run through your starting five, and then I’ll run through my starting five, post-spring.

Nick:                         From left to right. Stone Forsythe, Brett Heggie, Nick Buchanan, Chris Bleich, and Jean Delance is my starting five.

Andrew:                 Okay. Well, there ain’t no sense in me going through. That was going to be my starting five. Will be interesting to see how Noah Banks bounces back and is able to kind of come back after not going through spring. Be interesting to see how he does. Does a guy like Richard Gouraige take that step forward from spring to summer? Still looks like a guy who’s trying to pick up the offense fully, so how does he go? Do they go after a transfer?

Nick:                         I think 100% you’re looking for a grad transfer or a transfer. Someone that can play right away.

Andrew:                 At tackle.

Nick:                         At tackle. When you look at the tackle depth, I think Richard Gouraige is probably right now second team left tackle, but he had his moments where he struggled. I’m not writing him off, but just young. Your backup left guard right now I think is Ethan White, and he’s still losing weight and trying to get back into it. Then backup center is going to be either Tanner Rowell, who’s a walk-on, or Kingsley Eguakun.

Andrew:                 I don’t know. You’re asking the wrong person.

Nick:                         Then TJ Moore, William Harrod at right guard, and Michael Tarquin at that right tackle. When you’re looking at Michael Tarquin, who didn’t have a great spring, he’s young. I’m still not sure how much the shoulder is affecting him, but it’s just a very young inexperienced green second team offensive line. If you can get somebody who has some experience to come in and help you, I think Dan Mullen and staff will jump at it.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Moving to the defense. Defensive line, we talked about all those guys that were rushing the passer on Friday, but we’ll go back through that. You have guys like Jeremiah Moon, who will be back. You have Greenard, who I thought looked really good on Saturday at times. You have Zach Carter there. You have Andrew Chatfield, who, again, looked pretty good at times on Saturday. You have several guys there. Now you’re just waiting to see kind of who makes that push.

Nick:                         My line right now, I think at that spot, at that buck, would probably be Greenard first, and then Moon, Chatfield, and then you still have got David Reese, Mohamoud Diabate, and Josiah Pierre. Lot of depth there.

Andrew:                 Pierre looked good at times on Saturday. To move to linebacker, big Reese, older Reese. Ventrell is there. James Houston is there. Who else we got there? Amari Burney is there.

Nick:                         I think your starters right now would be David Reese, and then Amari playing that weak side linebacker. They call it the money linebacker.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Those will be your starters, but then you still have Ventrell Miller, who I think has a lot of potential. I think you started to see a little bit of that towards the end of last year. Then James Houston, he got dinged up a little bit, but is fine, in the spring game, and he’s probably the backup money to Burney right now.

Andrew:                 Okay. Again, you look at those guys at that position. There’s several guys that are expected to play. Ventrell and James Houston are two guys that I think have very bright futures. Then you got some incoming freshmen there as well. It’ll be interesting. Tyron Hoper is a guy that I think will emerge to a guy like Amari Burney, who can play that money spot as well there. It all hinges on David Reese. You need big Reese to be the guy at the position and to be kind of that captain of the defense.

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, coming back for your senior season. You’re a guy that’s already well-respected and have been for years. Shoot, I remember talking about him when he got on campus and saying how Antonio Morrison and Alex Anzalone were bringing him around. I can’t believe he’s in his senior year now.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Moving to defensive back. No competition at the two corner spots. CJ and Marco. Marco will be back in the fall ready to go. Chris Steele looked really good on Saturday. I think he’s three on the board right there. Would you agree?

Nick:                         Yeah. To me, yes, Chris Steele will be your #3. It’ll be interesting for me to see if the safety position doesn’t clear itself up. At safety you’re talking about Brad Stewart, Jeawon Taylor wasn’t playing on Saturday. Quincy Litton, probably your three guys at strong. Then your guys at free are Stiner and Shawn Davis. If that doesn’t clear itself up, do you try Trey Dean back there? The reason you’d be able to do that is because John Huggins is, I think, going to be a legit player for Florida.

Andrew:                 John Huggins is ready to play.

Nick:                         Yeah. John Huggins, if you’re trying to get your best five or six on the field in secondary, John Huggins might play his way into that five or six, and then what do you do? You’re not taking CJ or Marco off the field. Chris Steele will play some. He’s going to play some, but if you can get John Huggins on the field, and if Trey Dean can play safety and out-play some of the guys you have there now, it’ll hard, in my opinion, to keep John Huggins, from what I saw all spring, hard to keep him off the field.

Andrew:                 I agree with you. I think that if the safety position continues to be a weak spot, one of Huggins or Dean has to move back. That is what it is. The question is which one of the two is better there. Huggins himself was a safety, so maybe he’s better there. Or do you go with the guy who has more experience playing, and that’s Trey Dean? That’ll be a question heading into the season, but I agree with you. If Brad Stewart and Jaewon Taylor, those two guys don’t lock up and become your ones, and a guy like Donovan Stiner or Shawn Davis don’t step up, I think you have to.

Nick:                         It’s something that will play itself out, I think, in the fall, in fall camp. Is it a move that will happen first week of fall camp? I don’t think so. It’s something that I think, at least from what I’ve seen in the spring, something that I think is a possibility and to keep your eye on. I wouldn’t be surprised if a move like that were made. Maybe not full time, but packages where you start to see it, just to test Huggins once the bullets are really flying, and it’s not spring. It’s not fall camp, but you’re playing against other teams.

Andrew:                 I can guarantee you one thing, Nick. Todd Grantham and Torrian Gray aren’t going to put up with no safety play. Torrian Gray will have a heart attack. It just is what it is. He’s not having that. Again, if you look on the sideline, and you seen one of Dean or Huggins out there not playing, you have to sit there and think about how much better is our secondary with one of those guys? I trust Trey Dean or John Huggins to play safety. You and I talked about this. We thought Trey Dean could have easily been a safety coming out. He’s a really good corner. Don’t get me wrong, but both of us thought he can play safety too.

Nick:                         100%.

Andrew:                 Overall thoughts just on the team, Nick, and I have this question for you. We’ll debate it. It’ll be debated all the way through next season. Obviously, Florida had 10 wins last year, but in your opinion, how much further along is this team than it was last year?

Nick:                         There’s really no comparison in my mind. It’s just the familiarity with everything. There’s no thinking about what am I doing on this play. It’s kind of like, that’s the play. I know what I’m doing. Now you’re just kind of reacting, rather than thinking, and that’s going to make you play better. This Florida team is significantly better than they were at this same point last year. I thought they were doing well last year as well.

Andrew:                 I agree with you. I think that from a standpoint of just knowing what’s going on is much better. You look at some of the spots, Nick, that last year were such huge question marks that aren’t question marks this year. I think you feel good with five or six receivers. I think you feel really good with five or six DBs. I think you feel good with one or two quarterbacks. I think you feel good with several defensive linemen and linebackers. I think you feel good about your team in general, outside of the offensive line play, and that’s not to say that you don’t feel good about what those guys can become. You just don’t know. They’re inexperienced.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think the only area you leave with question marks is the offensive line, and we didn’t really think that we’d get a ton of answers because of how young they are on that second team.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. Have to hit on this before we leave, Nick.

Nick:                         Yup.

Andrew:                 Green jacket. He got it.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 He got it. That was awesome.

Nick:                         It was really fun to watch Tiger going after it there on Sunday. Something I hadn’t seen in a while was that Tiger effect, where guys hadn’t been afraid to play against Tiger. Back when Tiger was in his prime, guys would play against him and would crumble, because the crowds are bigger, and Tiger’s just pouncing. He always seems to in key times maybe put himself in like someone’s peripheral vision, in their line of sight when they’re maybe lining up a 12-foot putt, something maybe that they’re comfortable with making, but maybe a little less comfortable when there’s 2,000 people surrounding the green, and is that a red shirt I see? Oh, shoot. He is standing there. You hadn’t seen that Tiger effect.

Then yesterday, I mean, Francesco Molinari had made one bogie in 54 holes and then makes a bogie on the front, doubles twice on the back. Then you just start seeing. I mean, Brooks Koepka missed a couple putts that he could have made that would have possibly forced a playoff. You started seeing guys, that Tiger effect really starting to affect guys.

Andrew:                 It was. Listen, I love watching golf, period. I’m a Jordan Spieth fan. I’ll be the first to admit, not playing really well, but overall, that’s the guy. But golf’s better with Tiger. Listen, I’m a Tiger fan too. Watching Tiger is awesome. I know some people say golf can live without Tiger, and yes, it can, and it will, but golf is so much better with Tiger.

Nick:                         100%. I think whenever the ratings come out, I don’t know if they’ve come out yet, you’ll see that. When Tiger is in contention, there’s just no comparison. When Tiger’s in contention for a major, not even a major, when Tiger’s in contention for whatever Open, the Gainesville Open, people are going to watch. People are going to tune in.

Andrew:                 The thing for me, Nick, is I think the perseverance. Listen, what Tiger did in his personal life was bad. I mean, you should never cheat on your wife and all those things, but to come back from injury the way he did, to come back from the PR, just the negative PR that he had, and he created himself, but the comeback was awesome. For me, Nick, the one moment that will go in my mind forever was him hugging his son. That was just awesome. That’s what sports is all about.

Nick:                         There was the picture of him hugging Earl after winning a Masters, and then him hugging his son. I mean, let me put the injuries into perspective. 1994 he had a benign tumor removed in his knee. 2002 he had a cyst removed and fluid drained from his knee. 2007 a ruptured ACL. 2008 arthroscopic knee surgery and ACL repair. 2001 an MCL sprain. A double stress fracture in his tibia 2008. An Achilles strain in 2011 that he rehurt in 2012. Tore his Achilles in his right foot in 2008. Reinjured that in 2009. He had back surgeries. 2014 surgery on a pinched nerve. In 2015 he had a microdiscectomy surgery on his back, with a follow up procedure. He has a fusion in his back. Strained his left elbow in 2013. Injured a muscle in his shoulder blade in 2006. An inflamed joint in his neck. He’s been through unbelievable. The kind of torque that he puts on back to get the power that he needs in his swing is taking a toll on his body.

Like you said, obviously, you can’t really say much. He brought some of that off the court stuff on himself, but it is nice to see somebody as great. Tiger Woods is the reason I started watching golf. It’s great. I like watching great athletes perform great, perform well. I don’t have a lot of, I’m not a super crazy fan for a lot of teams. I have my teams that I’m a fan of, but I’m not crazy about them. To watch people be great at something, whether it’s Lebron James playing basketball or Tiger Woods playing golf. Even teams I don’t like, and I don’t like the Mets, but when Jacob deGrom pitches, I’m going to watch him.

Andrew:                 When my Braves smoke him on Sunday night baseball.

Nick:                         I shouldn’t have brought him up.

Andrew:                 Lordy. I agree with you, Nick. I was going to ask you, greatest sports moment you’ve seen?

Nick:                         I don’t know about that. There’s some stuff that’s different when you’re there as well.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s what I was going to say.

Nick:                         I’ve seen no-hitters and stuff like that. Shoot, I saw a great one on Saturday when Jordan Butler hit a walk-off homerun in the rain, down two, with two outs.

Andrew:                 Right. There’s several things. For me, and I know we’re rambling here, and we’re on Florida podcast, but for me too, Nick, and this one ties more to you, but I’ll say, and you can back me up here. I’ve been a Dwayne Wade fan since he was in Marquette. I love Dwayne Wade. That’s my guy, everything else. To see what this season’s meant for him has been special too. It’s nothing like Tiger, by no means, but just that effect Dwayne Wade has had on the people of Miami, people all across the country, was awesome.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Flash.

Nick:                         I loved it. And a flash going out in the way that he did his last two games was incredible to watch. I’ve had so many great sports moments living in South Florida and watching him play.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s it. Just wanted to touch on the Tiger thing. I think that’s awesome. You and I are big sports fans, like everyone listening, but for me that was awesome. Such an awesome event to see. Personally, Nick, and I don’t know about you, I didn’t think I would see him win another Masters.

Nick:                         I didn’t think I’d see Tiger, I didn’t think I’d see him ever win another Major.

Andrew:                 Now I don’t know. It’s contagious.

Nick:                         You get over the hump, I guess.

Andrew:                 You know as well as anyone, golf’s all about confidence. When you win a Masters, your confidence goes way on up there. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone later this week. We’ll talk recruiting. Florida did pick up two commitments this last weekend, and we’ll talk more about them on the next one. Picked up H-back athlete Jaheim Bell out of Valdosta, and picked up a 2022 wide receiver in Syveion Ellis, big receiver already. First ’22 commitment. Overall, a good weekend. Lot of good stuff on Gator Country. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone then.

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. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 As always, guys, we appreciate it. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

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