Podcast: Talking fall camp for the Florida Gators football team

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we continue to talk about fall camp for the Florida Gators football team as they enter week two of camp.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown what Dan Mullen had to say on Tuesday during his press conference.

Andrew and Nick also breakdown the latest surrounding the team and give their thoughts on what they’re hearing out of camp so far.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, another Dan Mullen press conference in the books, so I guess we’re still on the right track. Let’s just call it like that. Let’s just say that. We’re still on the right track. You nor I will jinx the season and say anything else, but we’re on the right track.

Nick:                         Florida hasn’t had a positive Covid test since July, but we’re getting students on campus, and you’re seeing all over the place what happens when college kids come back, and they want to party, and you’re not going to tell a 20 year old kid not to go to a party. We talked to Dan about that today. You just got to trust your football players to make smart decisions once the other students come back.

Andrew:                 Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, North Carolina State. Several of those schools have had high numbers per se.

Nick:                         North Carolina, having gone to school up there, the North Carolina schools, that’s a whole different ballgame. You’ve got like three major schools within 20 miles of each other, Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest. They’re all within like a 45-minute, hour drive of each other. That’s like a whole different ballgame.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I just was saying those schools have had the positive tests. I was telling you, Alabama and Auburn have had some stories about partying and all that kind of stuff. But it’s like you said, it was rush week and that kind of stuff, so you’re going to have that stuff there. The thing you hope is that your football team isn’t at those frat parties or sorority parties or in Midtown and that kind of stuff. You’re hoping they’re not there, because that’s where it would spread to the team.

I think, and you’ll have to correct me here, Dan Mullen said it would be crazy to think that there’s not going to be some outbreak within the campus in general when kids come back and school starts. You just hope, like you say, it doesn’t come to the football team.

Nick:                         I’m going through the transcript now. I think he said it’d be ridiculous to think that they’re not going to get a positive test. I think everyone’s going to at some point. I think to me, and we’ve talked about it before on the pod, is that when Florida first came back, and Dan Mullen’s mentioned it a couple times, when they first came back and it was voluntary workouts, and then you had guys coming and going, that’s when they really had positive tests. When they kind of locked down, really during the summer though, also you’re in like a quasi-bubble, because there’s not students really on campus. It was really only the women’s soccer team, the basketball team showed up, volleyball’s on campus, and football, but really that was it. You’re almost in like a bubble, because you’re just with mainly student athletes on campus, and everyone’s getting tested and just kind of hanging out with yourselves.

They haven’t had a test, but it’s like you said, now it’s going to be a real test. Even it’s just your girlfriend, and your girlfriend goes to a party, and now she gets it, and you’re like, I didn’t go out. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t go to a frat party. I didn’t go to the bar. Well, someone that you were with did. Those are the kind of decisions that you have to make. I think what you saw Florida do, the football team at least, just realize after a bunch of positive tests how easily it can spread and how serious it is, and they kind of locked it down. It’s a whole different ballgame. Florida starts the semester August 31st, and I can tell from going to Target on Saturday, students are back. Students are back, coming back to Gainesville. It’ll be interesting to see. I hope, obviously hope everything works out for the best. Dan, you could tell today Dan realizes we’re going to have to deal with it at some point.

Andrew:                 Right. You’re going to have to deal with it. Knock on wood. I hope and pray that it doesn’t happen, but I think that in way, not in a way, I think you’re going to have a positive test on the football team sooner or later. I hope not, but it’s kind of crazy to say that you’re going to not ever have a positive on the football team. I just think that you have to hope that the standards and the procedures you have in place protect it to where if someone does have it it’s caught early, and then it doesn’t spread to everyone. Then like you say, the worst case scenario would be you have half your football team go to Midtown, and they have a breakout, and you have to shut down practice like they did in North Carolina State and North Carolina and other schools like that.

I feel like everyone, when the Big 10 and the Pac-12 cancelled the season, it kind of woke everyone up to say, we’re that close to not having a season? We have to do what Mullen is saying, what Scott Strickland is saying, what the doctors are saying, what the trainers are saying, what everyone’s saying. I think it kind of woke them up a little bit.

Nick:                         What just happened in Tuscaloosa? They just literally shut down bars for two weeks.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         I think that’s Alabama governor, Nick Saban was like, knock it off, close it down.

Andrew:                 I don’t know. I get it. I do. I get it, shutting it down, but at the same time it’s like, I don’t know. I guess I shouldn’t say that. At the same time, you can’t shelter the kids either, you know what I’m saying? The normal students. I get it. I mean, it’s real, but I just, I don’t know. I don’t know.

Nick:                         There we go. That’s our Covid talk for the day.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You know what I’m saying? I feel like in a way you can’t kill the whole college vibe either, but at the same time, if they’re not following the instructions that are laid out there, I get it. It’s just I don’t know. It’s 2020.

Nick:                         Yeah. I couldn’t imagine going to school right now. Do you even come back to campus? Are you just doing online classes? Even if things are open, it’s still not, it’s going to be hard to have a normal college experience in this year.

Andrew:                 100%. Did you see, before we get into a lot of talk, we’ll stay on the Covid topic for a second, and that is the whole attendance thing. Did you see where Gurvan Hall said it doesn’t make a difference to him when he’s playing in front of a packed house or not packed house, when they asked him what it’s going to feel like playing in front of 13,000 at Hard Rock Stadium? Has he played in front of 13,000 in Hard Rock Stadium before?

Nick:                         No.

Andrew:                 I’m sitting here to myself thinking.

Nick:                         Maybe like for the FSU game, if you include FSU fans that went down for it.

Andrew:                 I’m sitting here to myself thinking, bro, you’re not even going to notice the difference. People may go to games now just to say I got to go. Come on, man. You ain’t played in front of 13,000 in Hard Rock. Get out of here, bro.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’ll be interesting. Florida still hasn’t announced. I was told that they’re expecting around 15,000, and then you got to figure out who gets a shot at those, and how do you sell those tickets?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Stuff like that. I think it’ll be interesting, because the SEC kind of just like washed their hands with the whole thing. They were like, everyone can kind of figure out what they want to do.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         That makes sense, to some extent, because you have to go by state and local guidelines. If the SEC came out and said, everyone can have 20,000, and then all of a sudden Alabama or Tennessee says, our governor says we can only have 12,000. Why is it fair that we can only have 12,000, and then we go over to Alabama, and now they’ve got 20,000? They’ve talked about putting in like artificial noise. I’m against that. I don’t know if that’s a hot take or controversial take, but I’m against pumping in crowd noise. Just play the game, whether it’s in front of nobody, if there’s no fans in the stands, or if there’s 90,000, whatever the case may be. I don’t think I like the pumping in artificial crowd noise.

Andrew:                 I’ll say this. We’re big baseball fans. I’ve been able to watch MLB all year. I’ll say this. I was against the crowd noise at first, because I was like that’s just kind of weird, that’s kind of Little League to do that. But the more that I’ve been able to see it with the teams and the stadiums and stuff, it does help it to where you really don’t notice there’s no fans there. I get it that there’s no fans there, and that’s the point and everything else, but I feel like that pumping in the noise is okay. I’m okay with it, because of the fact that it does make it kind of feel normal.

In some way, it does help you to have a little bit of homefield advantage, the best that you can. Not that the artificial crowd noise is going to simulate 90,000 on 4th down against Tennessee or LSU or whoever, but I’m okay with it. I think the more that I’ve been able to see it has helped that become more true for me, just not to notice that there’s nobody there.

Nick:                         Yeah. Then how do you regulate that? Do you have somebody from the SEC sitting there and staring at volumes? That’s too many decibels. You have to bring that down. If you’re going to allow it, then you have to make it universal.

Andrew:                 Right. It just depends, because like MLB–

Nick:                         Just come out and say it. Right now, they don’t know if they’re going to do it, and they’re kind of just kicking the can. Dan’s just like, let us know, because we’ve got 30 days, and if we’re going to do it we’d like to start pumping in crowd noise at practice. I think that’s why Dan, he’s been frustrated the last couple times we’ve talked to him, probably because we keep asking him about the waiver for Justin Shorter and Pouncey, and he keeps saying nothing there to talk about. Now the SEC, they’ve done some stuff. He was unhappy about the travel size and saying I wish we could do the NFL type of contact tracing, where everyone wears a little device, and you get Device #1, I get Device #2, and they’re able to tell who’s near each other, if you’re around them for too long, and kind of keep track of people. He wants to be able to dress more guys, in case people are getting hurt or sick.

As I’m sitting here talking about it, I’m like, yeah, that would be frustrating if I’m the head football coach. Everything’s so uncertain. All you have to do is make a few small decisions that bring a little bit of certainty into an uncertain situation and give you some kind of piece of mind, or at least some kind of resolution and something that you can control. He’s been frustrated. I just worked myself up into a frustration just talking about it.

Andrew:                 I get it. It’s frustrating from that standpoint of having question marks there. I’m with you. If I’m the SEC, screw the 60, is it 60 or 70 travel squad?

Nick:                         I think it’s 60.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Screw that. Why care about it this year? What happens, Lord forbid, a guy travels and they get ready to take the test on Friday night before the game, and it comes back positive? Then you’re stuck at Texas A&M down five guys or two guys. Then you got to hurry up, scramble to get those guys there and everything else. If I’m Dan, I’m with you there from that standpoint.

I’m with him, the same thing on the crowd noise. That’s a big difference of having to adjust to that. I do think that’s bad on Sankey’s part not to have done that. To go back to what you said, how do you patrol that? I don’t know how the SEC will do it. MLB has controlled it. They made certain guidelines of how they could do it, when they could do it, all that good stuff. That’s kind of police your own self.

Nick:                         The NCAA has come out and already said that, what’s it called? Anyone not participating this year gets another year of eligibility, everyone. It’s almost like an asterisk year, but then we got news on Monday that the College Football Playoff is planning on ranking teams and going forward. The NCAA doesn’t control that, so when the NCAA came out and said they’re not doing fall championships, they don’t run the College Football Playoff.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         So that can go through. I mean, I’m sitting here saying this is like an asterisk season, but you might have an actual playoff.

Andrew:                 Yeah. The AP poll came out, and they even had the teams that weren’t going to play this year, as crazy as that is. My thing is this, and that is if it’s safe enough to play a season, play the championship. So far there’s been nothing that says it’s not safe. I mean, there’s several things that says it’s not safe in general, but there’s nothing that says it’s not safe enough to play a season. If you’re going to play a season, you got to play a championship. If not, what are you playing for?

The whole blanket thing, I get it. That’s nice of the NCAA, whatever. In general, how many guys are going to be using that rule? I don’t know. Just simply because I think a lot of guys are going to play this year, and the reason they’re playing this year is to go to the NFL.

Nick:                         Unless I was a surefire, like if this happened last year, and I was Chase Young, no thank you. Even with the chance to win a national championship with Ohio State, I’m good.

Andrew:                 Right. How many guys are going to use that rule? I don’t know. I don’t think it’ll be very many, honestly, if you’re asking my opinion. For instance, Kyle Pitts, what does he need that rule for? If he wants to come back, he can come back anyway. He’s a senior. If you’re a senior, I guess. I don’t know. I guess, for instance, if Kyle Trask just had an awful year he could say, I’m coming back, but … Yeah.

Nick:                         That’ll be interesting. It’ll be interesting to see how that stuff plays out. I don’t think they know. If you do get guys, we talked about it with like baseball and other sports. What kind of roster management do you have to do in the offseason?

Andrew:                 Yeah. You look at Florida’s recruiting class, they’re going to fill it up. They’re going to be full. Let’s just say five guys decide I’m going to use that rule and come back. What happens there? Is the NCAA going to give them one of those waivers for a year like they did baseball? Is Florida going to have to tell, let’s say a guy like Slayton comes back, you can’t come back?

Nick:                         Yeah. You got to figure it out. Then it creates waves for a little while. Maybe Kyle Trask will be playing football at Florida in 2024.

Andrew:                 For real. Our buddy Jake McGee could have used that rule.

Nick:                         Jake.

Andrew:                 Jake.

Nick:                         40-year-old senior, Jake.

Andrew:                 Andre Dubois might still be playing if that was the case.

Nick:                         I think he might be the only one that wouldn’t have eligibility. The NCAA would look at it and be like, no, man, come on. Get on out of here.

Andrew:                 You’re 40.

Nick:                         Get on out of here.

Andrew:                 You’re 40, man. You can’t be playing ball with these kids. It’s bad for your health, man. Go on.

Let’s get into some football talk, Nick. You said it best, Dan Mullen’s been frustrated. He doesn’t like the practice reports coming out and all that stuff. Again, do I understand it? You’re the head football coach at Florida. You don’t want that stuff coming out. I would say this, and I’m going to go on a little soapbox, I guess, for a second. I know most people are going to tell us to knock it off. They don’t care. Whatever. Y’all pay to listen, or y’all paid to get reports. That’s my thing. I just feel like in a way, Nick, and correct me if you feel differently, but I think you feel the same, and that is nobody puts out the bad practice reports, you know what I’m saying? 90% of all practice reports are so-and-so is doing really well. So-and-so made a great catch. So-and-so playing better than last year.

I just feel like in a way sometimes Dan gets in his own way of creating excitement for his program. That would be my biggest thing of why is don’t you want some excitement right now? Maybe it’s just because of the pandemic, but in a way I just feel like there’s no excitement around fall camp right now. Maybe it’s because of just the virus and everything else, but for the most part there’s not much excitement or anything out of fall camp so far.

Nick:                         Maybe some of it’s also we’re still 30 days away.

Andrew:                 Right. But most years there’s a lot of, and I guess too it’s because we haven’t been able to attend practice at all. Maybe that has something to do with it. You know what I’m saying? Doesn’t seem like there’s any excitement or buzz so far out of fall practice. Maybe that’s what Mullen wants. Obviously, that’s what Mullen wants. I just don’t get it, in a way. The SEC and a few other conferences around the country are the only ones playing. You would think that he would want Twitter and Instagram and everything else just blowing up with excitement about your conference playing football.

Nick:                         I think that’s not just a Mullen thing. Coaches are just so protective of everything going on.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing. I get that, but the man, probably the greatest coach of all time, Nick Saban, knows how to generate that stuff through his media.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think Miss Terry helps, because he’ll come out, and he’ll yell at the media. He comes back and goes, Miss Terry told me I was too mean to you guys.

Andrew:                 I don’t know. That’s just me. That’s my soapbox. Probably people are going to yell at us and say we’re acting like media. Whatever. I don’t care. It’s just I think that in a way you hurt yourself when you do some of that stuff. I know you were frustrated, and a lot of other people were frustrated that players hadn’t been made available to talk. It’s one of those things too. I just don’t get it from that standpoint, because it just seems like you’re playing, your conference is one of the few conferences playing, why don’t you want that buzz out there for your team of that?

Furthermore, do you not trust Kyle Trask to go out there and give the program line, the coach talk? Do you not trust your veteran quarterback? Do you not trust a guy like Marco Wilson to go out there and talk to the media without saying anything? I feel like Dan sometimes, and it goes in recruiting as well, I feel like he misses an opportunity to create buzz for his program.

Nick:                         I see what you’re saying there. I saw Corey Clark, I think he works for Rivals, said Mike Norvell, since preseason camp started they’ve talked to 41 different players, including freshmen, every assistant coach, every coordinator multiple times, and they’ve talked to Norvell 16 times. We’ve gotten Scott, Scott Strickland, I think three times since all this stuff has happened. We’ve got Dan a couple more times. I agree with you. I don’t know what the harm is. It might just be a media thing from my perspective, wanting to talk to more people. Just writing the same stuff, and you start running out of things to ask Mullen, but you’d have more questions if you were talking to a Kyrie Campbell, a Marco Wilson. I would love to talk to Lorenzo Lingard.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, that’s what I’m saying. I feel like, and this isn’t just the fall camp thing. This is something I’ve expressed multiple times. I do, I feel like Dan misses an opportunity a lot of times to create buzz for his program. Listen, there is a lot of buzz, per se, for the team in general, as far as how good they’re going to be, that kind of stuff. I think you miss an opportunity with everything going on right now. There’s not much going on. If you’re a kid in Ohio, you’re not getting any daily reports from Buckeye land on what’s going on in practice, because, guess what? They’re shuttered up at home. You’re not getting any of that. Why not create that buzz of allowing those guys to talk, just allowing things, not being upset about things getting out?

You and I have talked about this several times. We try to respect Mullen and everyone else’s opinion, and if they don’t want things to get out, we try to hold things back on things. It’s just I don’t get it. How many times have you honestly, and I’ll ask you this question, Nick, because you and I do it all the time, how many times have we said, this is practice report, Kyle Trask sucks, or Kyle Trask has played awful today? Not very times. 90% of the time it’s Kyle Trask blew it out the water, had a great scrimmage.

Nick:                         But also, all the defensive backs had a great scrimmage.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Florida ran the ball really well, but the defensive line played great too. Listen, man, when you’re going against yourself, you can’t have it both ways.

Andrew:                 Right. You know what I’m saying.

Nick:                         Dan even said that today. He was like, last fall camp we ran the ball all over the field. He goes, then we get into the season, we couldn’t run the ball, and we couldn’t even stop the run. I mean, that’s the other thing too. We’re not going to just pump nonsense at you guys. Everyone wants to hear that everyone’s doing great in fall camp. That’s the thing, if you’re going up against yourself and someone had a great day, someone probably didn’t have a great day.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Anyway, that’s a soapbox. Again, it’s not my program. It’s Mullen’s program. Again, I get it from the standpoint of you don’t want your playbook, for instance, out or what you’re doing, or this, that, and the other. I get that. I’ve been in his shoes before when I was coaching. At the same time, it’s like everyone pretty much knows what Dan Mullen’s going to do on offense. Everyone pretty much knows what Todd Grantham’s going to do on defense. Is it really that much that you need to hide?

Even for Florida, you don’t have a quarterback battle, so what are you hiding? I think everybody in the world knows Emory Jones is going to play some. How much? We’ll see. Everyone pretty much knows that’s going to happen, so what are you hiding there? You see what I’m saying, Nick? There’s nothing really to hide.

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s ways to do it. He just doesn’t want to.

Andrew:                 Right. Let’s get into some stuff though. Let’s get into some stuff we’ve heard. Sorry, Dan, but, again, that’s what people are asking for. Let’s get into some stuff we’ve heard and been able to verify as far as how practice is going. So far it does seem like the offensive line in general, Nick, is better, which is not saying a ton.

Nick:                         It was a low bar. It was a low bar to get over.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It does. It sounds like the new guy in Stewart Reese is playing well. Dan Mullen even kind of said that as well on Tuesday that he’s pretty familiar with everything, so it wasn’t a huge, trying to think of the word I’m trying to say here. It wasn’t a huge learning curve for him, I guess is the best way to say it, because he has been in Mullen’s offense before. Him playing right guard is kind of what we’ve been hearing as well. That veteran leadership I think will be the biggest thing for Reese there.

Nick:                         I think the biggest thing, because I asked Mullen about it, I think the biggest thing is not even that he’s familiar with the playbook. It’s about the expectation. We talk about that. We talked about that when Mullen first got here, and the attitude of the team just changed, because it was a literally a losing team.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         That he inherited. You had to change an attitude, and these guys had to learn what these new coaching staff expected of them. You get a grad transfer in, or even a guy like Van Jefferson, not a grad transfer but a guy that transfer in, smart, knows the playbook, stuff like that, figures it out, but still has to kind of figure out what these coaches expect and what’s going to be asked of them. Stewart Reese came in knowing that already. He’s already played for John Hevesy. He knows what’s going to be expected of him from his position coach. He knows the strength staff. He was familiar with Savage, knows Mullen. I think that stuff, even more so than, because I’m sure the playbook has changed a little bit since Stewart Reese played for them two years ago, three years ago.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I think that’s the biggest thing, just coming in and knowing I don’t have to figure out what Nick Savage’s workout is going to be like. I don’t have to come in and figure out how John Hevesy wants me to do this or how he’s going to coach me. You kind of already know that stuff. That just lets you hit the ground running.

Then when you’re looking at Ethan White, a sophomore that is at center, tough position, not one that he played a ton of last year, and right now you’re still so far away. They’re getting five different guys reps at center, just in case. I think the biggest thing when you have a guy like Ethan, new position, younger player, next to him on his left is Brett Heggie, redshirt senior, and then a graduate transfer next to him. You can’t overstate how important that is or how much that will benefit a young player to have those guys next to him.

Andrew:                 That’s exactly right. You want to be surrounded by that. A guy like Stewart Reese has kind of been through it all. Nothing’s going to really phase him, like you said. Then again, like you said, he understands what a normal game week is like under Mullen and Hevesy, so you’re not going to really have to worry about that from him. It’s a lot of advantages for him there.

Let’s run through that, Nick. You want to run through it, or you want me to run through it, kind of that starting line so far?

Nick:                         I think the starting offensive line, it’ll be interesting to me to see what happens at tackle. Inside right now I think you’ll probably start Ethan White at center, and then Heggie and Reese at guard. Then, to me, it’s where does Stone go? Is Gouraige a guy? Will he step up, and will he take the spot? I wonder what happens, I think you and I were both high on Kingsley, but I think Kingsley is just a center, and if Ethan White is a guy that takes over that spot, where does he go? Can he play guard? You kind of got to find some depth.

Andrew:                 Right. So far kind of what it’s been is it’s been Stone, Heggie, Ethan, Reese, and Gouraige. Does Gouraige end up moving to that left tackle spot and being that? Do they feel better with the more veteran guy in Stone there? A guy who at times last year struggled. It’ll be interesting to see how much he’s improved there. Then if not, do they move Richard over there? Does Stewart end up moving outside, or do they like him more inside?

Nick:                         I think that’s a great thing for Stewart. I don’t know if you put him at left tackle, but I think he’s a guy you would feel comfortable playing anywhere from left guard all the way over to right tackle.

Andrew:                 Right. Yeah. Exactly. Again, under Hevesy they love that versatility of being able to move guys around. If you could Ethan to be that center and kind of be that staple, because he’s just a sophomore now, if you could get him to be that staple for the next few years, you kind of build around him. That’d be huge. Like you said, it’ll be interesting to see what a guy like Kingsley does, if he ends up moving to a guard spot or what happens with him, if Ethan’s able to kind of solidify that center spot.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s one thing. Dan says we’re much more experienced at offensive line. I think I’m going to take with the line an I need to see it approach.

Andrew:                 Oh, there is zero doubt. You’ve got to show me this offensive line is better. The old saying is another year is fine and dandy, but at the same time, these are the same guys who didn’t perform as well last year. Should they be better? Absolutely. They should be better, but you’re not getting me to go to Vegas and place a huge wager that these guys are going to be studs this year until I see it. Sorry.

Nick:                         Yeah. I say it all the time. If you brought back five offensive linemen from a crappy offensive line, does that mean you have a good offensive line? No. Sure, they have experience, but maybe they’re just not good.

Andrew:                 Right. I don’t know. We’ll see. We’re 35 minutes in, and we haven’t even talked about this, and that’s my fault. I guess I kind of took it for granted when we said last week that we didn’t expect any of these guys to opt out, but everyone that did miss practice, Grimes, Toney, Copeland, and Zach Carter, all are back in practice. Sorry for being 35 minutes in and saying that, but we had said last week we didn’t expect none of those guys to opt out. It was more of we knew they weren’t going to opt out. We had already been told that.

To give a little bit more depth on that, they wanted some more testing. They wanted to see some more testing before they got out there, and they did. Again, you’re not going to hear me complain about that, because it’s real. The virus is real. Zach Carter’s been through it with some of his family members, that kind of stuff. You’re not going to hear me complain about it.

The reason I thought about that was at the receiver position it has allowed guys like Henderson, guys like Jaquavion Fraziers, to get a lot more playing time. Now that position, with guys like Ja’markis Weston as well, has allowed that position to get some more experience. Now it might not be as much of we need someone to step up, because there’s been guys who have had to step up. Maybe they’ve gotten enough practice reps to be accountable this fall.

Nick:                         That’ll be an interesting thing. I’ve started to make it like a yearly tradition to ask Mullen at the Signing Day press conference, who’s the guy?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Who’s the one that we’re not talking about, that is overlooked? Whether it’s because they need to develop more, whether it’s because they were a guy that committed early and then never wavered. It’s always the hat dance, the players that go back and forth, that get the most attention. It’s the guy that is the most solid that doesn’t get talked about. I always ask him, who’s that guy? When Ja’markis Weston signed, that’s who he told me. He goes, that’s going to be a ballplayer. I think what he said today about him was he’s already been super athletic, but now a year in you’re seeing the route running. You’re seeing his hands start to develop, and his hands are getting softer. He’s receiving the ball better. Listen, if you’re playing receiver, you got to be able to catch the ball.

Andrew:                 Right. The biggest thing for him was to grow into his body. When he first signed, he was a skinny old tall boy, and that was it. Now he’s been able to grow into his body. I said this last year, and I know some people talked about him, but I feel like he didn’t get talked about enough because he committed so early and, like you said, didn’t really do the hat dance, but Jaquavion is a kid that I think the world of. I think that’s a guy that you could be talking about being an All-American in two years. That’s my take on him.

I just feel like he has that big playability and was kind of overshadowed by Leonard Manuel for a while and by some other guys for a while. Even Henderson, he was kind of overshadowed by him and the whole recruitment of him. For right reasons, Henderson’s a very good player. I’m not going to say he’s better than Henderson, by any means, but I think he’s a guy that you will be talking about being a big-time contributor for this team.

Nick:                         Then also, did Weston return punts at all? I don’t know how much time we have left.

Andrew:                 In high school he did. Yes.

Nick:                         Yeah. We wanted to get into punt return. Dan Mullen today said Kadarius Toney’s returning punts, and I’m thinking, yeah, sure. Any time the ball’s in his hands, you feel like something could happen, but he could also run 47 yards for a two-yard loss.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I look at some of the freshmen. Obviously, we took it for granted. I mean, when Mullen put Freddie Swain back there in 2018, I think you and I were both like, what?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Then Freddie was fantastic at it. I mean, I’m looking at some of these guys. It was obvious they trusted Freddie. I’m looking at a guy like Xzavier Henderson. Can he do it? I think Jaquavion Fraziers has been working at punt return in practice. They’re only eight practices in but working there some. How many guys are going to be there? I think that’s something, I know we haven’t brought it up, but that’s a big part. Florida hasn’t been great on special teams. If you want to get some electricity there, who’s a guy that you can, one, trust, but that can also get you some momentum and get you a big return or get you a touchdown even on punt return, kick return?

If it’s not Toney, I’m looking at some of these freshmen that I think. Xzavier Henderson, he’s electric. I think Jaquavion Fraziers, he can be electric. Who are some of the guys that would be on punt and kick return? Obviously, Copeland’s done some kick return as well.

Andrew:                 We talked about this off the air when we were kind of getting into this. Who do you do it? You oftentimes kind of balance do you want a guy who’s surehanded back there, or do you want a guy who’s electric back there? You don’t have a Brandon James on the team who’s both. Again, Brandon James is a once in a 20 year kind of guy. You don’t have that guy. You don’t have that Freddie Swain on the team right now. You don’t have a cornerback that I think you’re comfortable right now putting back there.

You and I talked about this. Do you really want a guy like Marco, even though he’s surehanded, back there after two ACL surgeries? Probably not. Who do you want back there? I think you make a good point. It could be easily one of these freshmen that you put back there, or maybe a guy like Iverson Clement. I don’t know. I’m just throwing some names out there that electric with the ball or pretty surehanded. Maybe it is a Fraziers. Maybe it is a Copeland. Again, like you said with Toney, every time he touches the ball he has the ability to go big play, but he’s not as surehanded as some other guys as well. I don’t know. That’s a big one. I said this to you off the air. Does maybe Trevon Grimes go back there?

Nick:                         Yeah. Shoot. It’s something, I’m naming people, and if you’re listening, you’re probably thinking, those names make sense, but Freddie Swain, like I just said, didn’t make sense to us. It turned out to be the right one. Maybe it’s someone that, to me, when you say Trevon Grimes returning, I’m like, nah, I don’t think so.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Sure, he’s got good speed. His biggest thing is he’s so big.

Andrew:                 Julio Jones returned some punts in his day.

Nick:                         Yeah. He’s so big that it can be hard to just bring him down, so maybe.

Andrew:                 I don’t know. That’s something we kind of need to dig into a little bit more. We’ll do that for the next podcast. Any final thoughts before we get out of here? Anything we didn’t mention or anything you want to get out there?

Nick:                         We’ll talk to Mullen again on Thursday, and then we’ll talk to him Saturday. They have their mandatory off day on Wednesday. Ninth practice will be Thursday, and that’s really just a walkthrough and an install to get ready for the scrimmage on Friday. Then we’ll have scrimmage notes for you guys on Friday, and then we’ll talk to Dan. I’m sure he’ll be very open and forthcoming about what happened at the scrimmage when we talk to him on Saturday.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s a big one. Florida is now, you’re listening to this on Wednesday, so they have finished their second day of full pads. That’s a big step in fall camp is to get into full pads. They’ve finished that. You want your first scrimmage to go well. You get to see, like we said, two guys like Fraziers and Henderson go through their first scrimmage. It’s a little bit faster paced than your typical practice is. It’s live and everything else. It’ll be interesting to see how those guys go. Then, as we just talked about, the offensive line. That’s another chance for those guys to improve and get better. Stay tuned. We’ll have those practice notes as well. Then we’ll have some updates on Mullen on Saturday. Next week’s podcast should be a good one.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out of here, and we’ll see everyone next week.

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

Andrew:                 There you go. By the way, Nick, I hope you enjoyed your fish being in first place for a while, because they’re looking the rearview mirror.

Nick:                         Here we are now. I told you. I said, end the season. I said, end it now.

Andrew:                 Your Heat did do well. They got a sweep.

Nick:                         Sweep.

Andrew:                 Tyler Herro’s a baller.

Nick:                         It’s going to be great to see Giannis so close to the team that he’s going to be playing for soon.

Andrew:                 By the way, Luka Doncic. Man oh man. I feel like the MBA and the MLB are in such good places because of young talent right now that it’s insane. When you talk about the NBA, and you talk about MLB, within the first five names you’re going to talk about a young guy. I feel like with the NFL, and NFL has some young guys as well, but when you talk about the NFL the first name you’re going to talk about is Tom Brady and guys like that. Obviously, you’re going to get to Lamar, that kind of stuff. I just feel like the NBA and the MLB have really generated a lot of publicity because of the young stars.

Nick:                         I wish baseball would start doing that more with their guys. You get Rob Manfred saying, do whatever you want with your cleats, and then Trevor Bauer comes out, and he has a Free Joe Kelly on his cleats, and it’s like you can do anything except for that.

Andrew:                 Trevor Bauer is the man right now. If you have a hot take, Trevor Bauer is willing to get that hot take out for you.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 And he’s pretty good, so. Anyway, guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves, and we’ll see you next week.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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.