GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we discuss the latest with the quarterback battle after Dan Mullen spoke to the media on Thursday.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down what Mullen had to say about quarterbacks, plus the rest of the team on Thursday.
Andrew and Nick also breakdown the latest Florida Gators commitment as linebacker Mohamoud Diabate committed to the Gators on Wednesday to give Florida one of the best linebacker classes in the country.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, about a week and two days now. We’re taping this on Thursday, so a week and two days and there will be football in the Swamp. You guys are listening to this on Friday, and there will be football under the Friday Night Lights.
Nick: I think all around the country too. Jamborees are done, and spring football is done. St. Thomas will not be playing Friday. They got a big game on Saturday night. ESPN2, make sure to tune in and root for the Raiders there.
Andrew: Who are they playing?
Nick: DeMatha, I think it is.
Andrew: Okay. I couldn’t remember.
Nick: I think they’re from Maryland.
Andrew: Yes. That was Jaylen Tabor’s rival high school, I believe.
Nick: Friendship High School. That name always got me. Friendship High School.
Andrew: That’s a competitive league up there in Maryland, when you talk about those schools and some of the other big-time ones.
Nick: That’s all well and good, Andrew, but St. Thomas plays big boy football at the highest level down in South Florida, so I expect a Raider victory. Good luck to Coach Harriet and the boys down there in Fort Lauderdale.
Andrew: Whatever. Recruiting news was hot. For the naysayers of the world, who thought the world was burning, and it was time to jump off the highest mountain in the world, Wednesday night another bit of good news in Mohamoud Diabate from Auburn, Alabama. Committed to Florida. The outside linebacker, rush end. Nick, I’m going to ask you this after I say this.
Nick: First off, I just asked you how to say his name, and you just said it completely differently than how, what we came to.
Andrew: How would you say it?
Nick: Mohamoud Diabate.
Andrew: Okay. Whatever.
Nick: The people know I got to check you on your pronunciations.
Andrew: Listen, your boy over here has never been the best with pronunciations. Anyway, back to my point, Nick, you got to see him as well as I did at Friday Night Lights. That’s a very, very good-looking athlete to be an outside linebacker/defensive end. Got a body that can add some weight to it. Very athletic. Long, lanky arms. Built like a very, very good outside linebacker and very connected with Sal Sunseri, Grantham, Christian Robinson, all those guys.
He told us that really he knew Florida was the school he wanted to go to since he visited back in March, but went through the process. Auburn kind of slow played him a little bit, and then decided to turn the heat up too late. Alabama recruited him hard, but he said he didn’t really fit in as good there. Florida won out.
In my opinion, Diwun Black is a very good linebacker and is probably the top recruit in the class so far, but Mohamoud might be second, right behind Diwun.
Nick: I think obviously all that on the field stuff is great, but I think he, and I was talking to somebody about this, he’s the kind of person that you want in your locker room. A great student, I think he’s said to people that he wants to be a doctor when football is over. Great student. Just a good person to have in your locker room, a good person to have around your team, especially at a school like Florida, where it’s hard to get in. It’s mentally demanding, in terms of classwork and the kind of load you’ll get from your teachers, your professors and your classes. All around, seems to be all around blue chip kind of player. I think he’s generally a top 60 guy in the country, and then also, when you think about the off the field stuff, you’re getting blue chip in the classroom and on the field.
Andrew: Yeah. From talking with him since February, he’s from Auburn High School, just minutes from the Auburn coaching offices and all that. I’ll never say never, but he’s a guy that is one of those guys that you can pretty much say you would expect him in the class, unless something just crazily went wrong, because he’s a guy that is pretty good to his room. If you watched his video, you can tell how much sticking to his word, that kind of stuff, means to him. Had a very good quote, and I’m paraphrasing this, but he was talking about how he doesn’t want to be what everybody wants him to be. He wants to be who he wants to be. I think that was telling in a lot of ways, because a lot of guys try to live up to expectations, but Mohamoud seems like he has his own expectations.
Nick: That’s an interesting mindset for such a young man, such a young kid, to have. It’s easy to get caught up in rankings. I think we’ve talked about it with Chad Wilson, there’s like a derecruitment process that goes on when you get on campus. You’ve got Nick Saban, Dan Mullen, you name them, Guz Malzahn, telling you you’re the greatest thing that’s ever happened to a football field. That’s easy to let your ego get inflated. I think that’s something with Mohamoud is that he’s kind of stayed level throughout the entire process. Yes, he is taking what the coaches are saying. He’s listening to it, but he’s not taking it as helium to inflate his own his stayed. He’s stayed level. He’s just a grounded young man.
Andrew: He is. I think, again, when you talk about him as a player, what an asset to the program in a 3-4 defense. When you look at him and his body type, he’s a guy that can go rush the passer, and he’s going to be very good at rushing the passer, don’t get me wrong, but then a guy who can also drop back into coverage. That’s something you and I have talked about a lot, Nick, and that is you have a lot of guys at Florida who are being asked to do that, but are they really comfortable doing that? I think you and I both would agree, probably not.
Nick: That’s something that would probably be the next thing we talked about, with Christian Robinson and what Florida, and Christian Robinson specifically, are doing with this linebacker class. You might start saying, how many spots do you need to use on linebacker? Well, a lot, because it’s completely different. When you say, look at Florida’s linebacker board, you’ve got inside linebackers, you’ve got weak side linebackers, guys that you’re looking to be your guys in coverage, and then you’ve got a completely different position, like when you had Will Muschamp here, as a buck. That’s a completely different set of tools that you’re looking for from two other linebacker positions.
I think Florida switching to this 3-4 and really committing to it, you’re going to have to have probably this class is going to be huge for linebackers, and you probably need even another big class the following year to keep making that transition, so that you’re not asking guys, you’ve got some of the tools that we want to play you at this spot, but not all the other ones, we’ll try to teach you. But you’re trying to put a peg into a hole that it doesn’t really fit. You might be able to turn it and squeeze it and make it work, but right now in recruiting you’re seeing we’re going out and getting square pegs, because we have a square hole that we need to fill.
Andrew: Exactly. I mean, when you look at Mohamoud, 6’3”, 215, very well could easily be 230, but is still very comfortable out in coverage, and is a guy that loves to go get the passer. That’s key, because you want a guy who you don’t have to take off the field 1-3, 1st-3rd down. You have some guys who you don’t want on the field on 1st down, because can they go get the passer, or can they be in the running game? Then you need someone different who is in 3rd down who can drop back to the passer, if it’s not their assignment to go get the passer.
Again, another huge pickup. Nick, I was telling you this before we got on here. I said, when you start to look at this linebacker class for Florida, just like you talked about, they needed to load up. You got Diwun Black. Inside linebacker, maybe starts off playing a little of the star position, or maybe even DB a little bit. We’ll see how that is, but most likely a linebacker. Then you look at Tyron Hopper, the big inside backer, in my opinion, at 6’2”, 205, will probably bulk up a little bit. You got three really good ones there. Then you have another guy in Jesiah Pierre, outside linebacker, maybe even can slide into that Will linebacker, probably more that weak side linebacker.
You got four really good linebackers who all kind of bring something different to the table. You’ve got Hopper, who’s a hitter. You got Black and Pierre, who are guys who can play inside, probably more, but also play in coverage as well. Then you have somebody in Mohamoud who can be a pass rusher and that guy who can really stick out there and play in coverage as well. Good job.
I know you want to talk about Christian Robinson, and I’m bringing you to that point. When you look at Robinson, again, he’s a young guy. We can talk about his not a lot of experience coaching. I think he will get there, and I think he is still a good coach already. To have him as a recruiter, he’s 28-years-old. He’s listening to Kodak Black. He’s listening to Drake. He’s listening to those guys that these young guys are listening to. He’s on Twitter like these guys are. He understands and can recruit these guys, maybe a little bit better than a Grantham can.
Nick: Are you listening to Kodak?
Andrew: Nick, I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t even know a Kodak Black song.
Nick: I thought you were going to say, I don’t even know what a Kodak Black is.
Andrew: I going to just shoot you straight, I don’t know. I mean, do I listen to some Drake? Sure. Drake was repping my Mobile, Alabama LeFlore Rattlers jersey for DeMarcus Cousins in his latest video, even though FAMU decided they thought it was them, but whatever. Yeah.
Back to that, Nick, that stuff connects. Christian Robinson is able to connect. He’s able to walk into Tyron Hopper’s room, living room, and say, I played at Georgia. I played in the SEC. I know how SEC ball is. This is what it takes to succeed in the SEC. Furthermore, this is what I didn’t do to play in the NFL that you can do to play in the NFL.
Nick: I think the biggest thing for me, and it’s with Christian Robinson. It’s also with Brian Johnson. With quarterbacks, if I’m a quarterback and Dan Mullen is saying something in practice, and it doesn’t click. As a coach, you have to find a way. You’ve got 85 guys, 100 guys. Saying something or coaching something one way, it might not get through to everyone. It’s not. You can take the might out of that. It’s not going to. Saying something one way is not going to resonate with every single player, so you’re always, as a coach, trying to find different ways to say it.
Having a guy like Brian Johnson, who played quarterback for Dan Mullen and had great success as a quarterback with Dan Mullen, he’s able to go into the quarterback room and say, anyone have questions? What happened today at practice, this is what he was coaching you. Can I give it to you a different way, because I’ve been in your shoes?
Same thing with Christian Robinson and Todd Grantham. Todd Grantham obviously is going to be working with the line mostly, but he’s the Defensive Coordinator, so his hands touch every aspect of the defense. When that comes to linebackers, Christian Robinson, I’ve played for Grantham. I know what he expects. I know when he says something what he means, what he’s trying to pull out of me when he says something, and I can go and I can bring that to you.
When you say, he’s too young, and both of those guys are very young, yeah, but I think the biggest asset they have is that they’ve been in these player’s shoes. They can relate to that. When it comes to recruiting, everything that you said. They’re young. They’re not faking it. They’re listening to the same music. They’re not so far removed from being a recruit or from being a player, and that helps them relate to the guys that they’re trying to get to come play for them.
Andrew: Yeah. Again, I think this is something we’re probably not talking about if the tenth assistant coach doesn’t come about. Again, I think the tenth assistant coach not only helps the development on the field, and it helps in recruiting, but I also think it helps the development in coaching, because you’re able to get a guy like Christian Robinson, who could be, I don’t want to say will be because I can’t see the future, but in my opinion should be a rising star in the business who does really well in the future. Who knows? He may go to the NFL. I don’t know. You see that, and he’s going to look back, and he’s going to say, thanks to that tenth assistant coach I was able to get my start at 28-years-old as a linebacker coach at the University of Florida. Whereas in past years, he may have been coaching at Marshall or FAMU or FAU. Again, that’s nothing against those schools, but to be coaching at the highest level of it all is a great start.
Nick: That’s why you’re getting, when you look at the paychecks, Chris Robinson coming from being a GA to being that tenth coach is a little bit different. Listen, man, if someone wanted to pay me six figure, I don’t care if I’m the tenth highest paid on staff. That’s cool. I’ll take my six figures. Keep bringing in blue chips, and watch some bonus money start rolling in.
Andrew: I was going to say, he’s making, what? $170,000? Something like that. $120,000? I can’t remember the exact total. Whatever it is, he’s eating healthy at night.
Nick: Yeah. Gainesville’s not an expensive place to live.
Andrew: He’s eating at night, and all the perks that come with it. Before we move on with recruiting, got a bit of news on Diwun Black. Transferred to Kissimmee in Florida and is going to be going to high school there for his senior year. There’s still some questions. I’ve asked a few people his status with the team. They say there’s some eligibility questions about the transfer and all that good stuff. So, he may end up not getting to play his senior year. That’s something that, I guess, will be worked out here in the days to come, or maybe even weeks to come, who knows? Is transferring, so is out of the state of Mississippi. We’ve all talked about his academics, he needed to improve, all that good stuff. One good thing is he’ll also be close to Gainesville, so he’ll be able to visit Gainesville be more. Let’s also be honest. Being in the state of Florida, that close to Gainesville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State don’t have as good of a chance.
Nick: I guess, that reminds me of maybe a situation, Bo Scarborough, when he left Alabama and went to IMG. I mean, IMG being a private school is different when it comes to that. I don’t know the standards and qualifications numbers for public schools in the state of Mississippi. I know that the state of Florida is pretty strict, or at least was way back when I was there. That’s something to keep an eye on. Certainly, you’re not complaining about having him. Osceola High School in Kissimmee is about an hour and a half away from Gainesville. Much better than being in Mississippi.
Andrew: Yeah. The leading guy to get the Recruiter of the Year award from Nick and myself is that much closer to Gainesville.
Nick: He’s out here. He’s out in these Twitter streets and in the comments on Instagram. He’s full pom-poms. He’s the eleventh coach when it comes to recruiting.
Andrew: That’s going to help. When you think about making that 8+ hour drive from Mississippi to Gainesville, you’re thinking maybe one or two trips to Gainesville. Now, you’re thinking he’ll probably be most big games, if not all the home games. Who knows? Now, you look at it, when there’s a big target coming on campus, all Mullen’s got to do is pick up the phone and say, Diwun, we need you to make that two-hour trip up and come see up in Gainesville and recruit so-and-so. That’s big. Again, while the game is going on, he’s your coach in the stands.
Nick: That’s a big asset to have. We’ll see what plays out in terms of his eligibility and will he be able to play. Obviously, you don’t want to have a situation where one of your prize recruits is not able to play his senior year, and then when you get him on campus, it’s been over a year since he’s played. I don’t anyone at Florida is going to be upset that he’s closer to campus.
Andrew: We talked a little recruiting, and now let’s talk a little football. We’re taping this on Thursday. Dan Mullen spoke earlier. He talked about the quarterback. Same old, same old. Not willing to name that starter just name.
Nick: Are you willing to name it? We can pontificate a little bit.
Andrew: Nick, I’m going to be honest with you. If you’d asked me this question last week, I would have told you 100% it was going to be Feleipe Franks, simply because of him being a starter last year and having that experience. The more I hear, the more I talk to people, the more that I’m willing to say Kyle Trask might have a shot.
Nick: Let’s bring this little segment back real quick. Buy or sell? Does Dan Mullen know right now? We talked to him on Thursday. Does Dan Mullen know who will take that first down next Saturday? If I tell you he does, are you buying that statement, or are you selling it?
Andrew: I mean, I can’t legitimately say I don’t buy that, because if you don’t know right now, what’s going to change? You got one little practice left, and then you’re going to have a mock game, which isn’t going to be much more than a practice.
Nick: The mock game, I think there were a lot of questions, but the mock game is all procedural. They’ll go through, and they’ll walk in like they’re doing a Gator Walk, and it’s all the things that aren’t football related.
Nick: How are walking through Gator Walk? What’s the timing of all of this? When we get into the locker room, what are we doing in the locker room? Getting dressed, the time. Everything, especially with TV, everything is so down to the minute. When TV’s ready to go, the game is starting, so you’ve got a certain amount of time. I’ll tweet out a picture, put a picture on the message board. We get when we get to the stadium down to the second of where the team is supposed to be. So, they’re going through all that stuff. When they get out for kickoff and doing all that. It’s just procedural things. Getting dressed. Where do we stand on the sidelines? What do we expect? It’s 3rd and 15, our punting needs to be ready. Where are they standing? It’s just stuff like that. That’s what he means by the mock game. It’s not a scrimmage.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. Of course, like I said, they’ll do some practice, regular practice, that kind of stuff. I’m buying that he knows who it is. My question to you is this, Nick. Put you on the spot here. Do you take the experience Feleipe gives you, knowing that he’s going to be the most inconsistent of the two, or do you take the less experienced guy who hasn’t started a game, even in high school? Going to be consistent. Not going to give you the big plays, per say, the 80-yard bombs. You know what I’m saying, Nick? What are you taking?
In my opinion, this is just my opinion, and I’m biased, because I can’t stand inconsistent plays. I just can’t. I take the less experienced, because it is Charleston Southern. Let him work out the kinks there. It’s a guy that’s going to be consistent, and the guy who’s going to more likely lead me on long drives, than the guy who is going to throw the ball in the dirt six times and then hit me a 70-yard touchdown once a game.
Nick: Yes. If it’s me, I’d go with Kyle Trask. I understand that this coaching staff wasn’t here to go through and to see Feleipe Franks, but I was. From what I’ve seen, he’s the same quarterback to me. I know what I’m going to get. I know Emory Jones isn’t ready to start. I would go with Kyle Trask. Especially, like you said, you’ve got a game where you’re going to be able to work out the kinks.
Another buy or sell would be do you think, like Mullen said last week, that he’s going to have his one starter, and that one starter will play until the game gets out of control? Until you’re up 25 in the 4th quarter, and we’re going to start putting in some other guys. Do you think that he will only play that one guy, or all three guys are going to play? I think Emory Jones is going to play. Throughout the year, he’s going to have packages and plays and sets designed for him. Do you think that the #2 guy, Trask or Franks, will not play in the first game? Like Mullen said, he wants to have his one guy, and unless he has a disaster or gets hurt, that’s going to be the guy.
Andrew: I don’t know. I don’t know how much I believe that, simply because I think Mullen is a quarterback guru, and if it is Franks, and he goes out there and shits the bed, I think he gets pissed off and yanks him. Vice versa, if Trask goes out there and does the same thing or doesn’t show that he can get over the lack of experience, I think he yanks him. I don’t think that I can buy that. I think I sell that he won’t.
I don’t know if he has a short Steve Spurrier leash on him, but I don’t know if he lets him just go out there and tank the season because they ended up not being the guy. To say that, I don’t think a head coach should be that dumb. If you’ve got a guy who can’t do it, and shows he can’t do it, then you’ve got to go, especially if it is a guy like Franks. That would be Year 2 that he’s shown he can’t get the job done. How much more do you need to see?
Nick: Yeah. I would go with Trask and see what I have, especially in that first game.
Andrew: I mean, I would go with Trask too. Me personally, and this is just me, and I don’t know why. I still think Franks is a guy who runs out first against Charleston Southern, even though everything I say makes me believe that it should be Trask. From everything we hear, I still think that at the end of the day Mullen goes with the guy who has some experience starting. Mullen knows as much as anyone how much having a quarterback who’s calm in the huddle can do for a team. I think it probably is Franks.
I guess that goes to your second question, and that is how long does he stick with Franks if he continues to show he’s not the guy?
Nick: I was on that panel on Wednesday night and somebody, I think it might have been Zack, made the argument, you don’t want a guy to check out. We saw last year when Luke Del Rio was named the starter over Franks. Franks marched himself into McElwain’s office and said, you made the wrong decision. I love that. I love that attitude, but Zack was making the argument that you don’t want that to happen.
Andrew: You can’t operate out of fear.
Nick: That’s what I was getting at. You don’t operate that way. If I’m the coach, and I name Kyle Trask the starter, and Feleipe Franks shuts down, that just tells me I made the right choice.
Andrew: Yeah. Listen, do you think Nick Saban’s over there operating and going to name Jalen Hurts the starting quarterback, because he knows if he’s not the starter he’s transferring? Hell no. Nick Saban’s saying, you know what, if two is the best guy, then I think I made the best decision. That’s where you have to trust your coaching ability and your ability to evaluate did I make the right choice. Listen, there will always be second guessing. That’s anything in life that we do. When you make a decision, you always say, did I make the right decision? Nine times out of ten, if you’re a good decisionmaker, the facts prove that you did. I think everybody, it’s human nature to do that. But you can’t operate out of fear.
Nick: You can’t make a decision as important as this based on I think Kyle Trask will handle being a backup better than Feleipe Franks will handle being a backup. You can’t make a decision that way.
Andrew: That leads me to my next point, Nick. This is something that was kind of hot on Twitter a little bit. Our friend, Matt Baker, posted a tweet about Franks’ comment, and some people were getting on him, because he later posted a follow-up on that. Nick, this is just me. Maybe this is the world we live in, the day and age of kids, but, Nick, I’d be damned if I don’t want my quarterback saying, I’m going to be pissed off if I’m not the starter, or saying, when someone asks me is being the starter in the back of your mind? Yeah, it is. Because it’s a goal. As a quarterback, only one of you are playing. If you don’t want to be the guy, what are you getting up for in the morning?
Nick: Yeah. Those were comments meant to be very politically current. Franks, the story got out last year that he didn’t handle it well. That’s not me. I would love, if I’m a coach, I would love the guy who I did not name the starter coming in and telling me I’m wrong. I would love that attitude.
Andrew: Yeah. I would say, prove it.
Nick: Yeah. That got played out a certain way in the media, so I think Franks comes in and goes, I’ll go the opposite direction, because that go played out. Fortunately, I don’t know how it gets taken as one way. People just read Matt’s tweet incorrectly, or maybe he could have worded it better.
Andrew: I’m not directing that at Matt, by no means. I’m just saying.
Nick: No. I’m just saying it almost gets into a situation where now, if I’m Feleipe Franks, or if I’m any of these players, what can I say? No matter what I say, it’s going to get misconstrued by the fans. I have no problem with the way, the story of how he handled it last year. Me sitting there, I understand that he’s not saying he doesn’t care. Feleipe Franks wants to be the starting quarterback. He was just trying to diplomatically answer a question, and it didn’t go how he expected or wanted it to go. Obviously, he doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch Kyle Trask play football all year. Does he want to win? Yeah. If they’re winning football games, if they go 15-0 and win a National Championship, and Feleipe Franks doesn’t take a snap all year, he’s going to wear that Championship ring. He’s going to root for his team. He just wants to win.
Nick: He thinks, as a competitor, that I give my team the best opportunity to win. As every player on that team, even if he’s a fourth string long snapper who’s a walk-on, thinks I can probably do a better job than Ryan Farr, I could help our team win if I was playing. Everyone thinks that.
Andrew: My point, Nick, and that’s what I was asking you, as a competitor, do you not want your quarterback to come out and say, I want that job? You know? For me, if I’m Mullen, and I hear that quote, I’m almost thinking, do you want to be the quarterback? That’s the way I would take it. Again, I’m not Dan Mullen or anything like that, but me, being a competitor, I want that person to look in the camera and say, I want to be the starting quarterback. I’m the guy for the starting quarterback.
Then Kyle Trask, or vice versa Feleipe Franks, shouldn’t take that as a negative shot at their friend or anything like that. At the end of the day, it’s a competitor. Only one of those guys is playing on Saturday.
Nick: Absolutely. What people say in the media, we only get these guys every so often. They spend much more time with each other. If I’m a player, I’m not really concerning myself with what my teammate says in the media, or what Twitter is construing as that, is saying what he said, because I know where his locker is. I’ll go talk to him. I’ll ask him. Hey, man, this is what you said. What did you mean? Because it’s being taken a certain way.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Let’s move on a little bit. Some injury news. Mullen got a little chippy about it, said he didn’t want to talk about it, because the media already knew all the answers. David Reese has a little ankle injury. We’ve heard x-rays are negative on that. So, I think you probably look at him missing Charleston Southern game. If it’s an ankle sprain, it could be two or three weeks, but it does seem like he’s avoided the disastrous high ankle sprain.
Nick: Jim McElwain’s favorite injury.
Nick: What is your opinion on that?
Andrew: On Mullen?
Nick: I think that not addressing, trying to keep things … You want to keep things in house, and I get that, but in today’s day and age, you sent me a screenshot. I had people tweeting at me yesterday. Florida takes a picture, puts it on their Instagram story, and Jawaan Taylor is in a boot, has a boot on his left leg.
Andrew: Fred Johnson.
Nick: Fred Johnson, sorry. With the friends, family, classmates, people not even in the same class, just seeing people walk around campus with a boot or a sling or whatever the case, it gets out. I think by not just addressing it, by wanting to keep it in house, I get wanting to keep it in house, I just don’t see how it is. By not addressing it head on, that just leads to more speculation.
Andrew: Yeah. Listen, this is my thing. Again, I understand both sides of the argument. If it’s just a small injury, especially if it’s an injury they’re going to play through, maybe don’t talk about it that much. For instance, and I’m just using this, this did not happen, guys, but just for instance, if Van Jefferson is dealing with a tight hammy, and he’s going to play. Do I want to publicize that so that the other team knows maybe he’s not at full speed, so I can maybe switch my DBs and have my best DB now covering Trevon, instead of covering Van? I get that. If it’s a situation where it’s like a David Reese, who is probably going to miss a little bit of time, I don’t understand. Just publicize it and get it out there. Me, again, I’m a little bit of a control freak, I almost would want to be the one that would get the news out there, so that it was reported by me, not misinterpreted or misreported by someone else.
Nick: Yeah. I know that I come off as whiny media guy that we’re doing this, but it’s our job to report on the team, and people want to know stuff like that. Our jobs don’t always run in line with what the coaching staff wants out there.
Andrew: Listen, you’re going to get cussed out either way. Either you report, and you make Mullen mad, or you don’t report it, and we listen to the people on sites and on Twitter say you don’t do a good job. Either way, you’re in a lose-lose situation.
Nick: I’m never doing a good job. We’ll just leave it at that. You don’t got to tell me. I know. I’m not doing a good job. I got it.
Andrew: I mean, everyone has different things on injuries. I get it. I know when we coached when we had guys who were sick we would try to hide that all week to not have that out there, so the opposing team was still preparing for that. So, I get it, but at the same time I do think maybe Mullen took that a little too far, almost mocking in a way, I guess would be the best way to say it. I get both sides of it. I just think that if it’s something that’s big that they’re going to miss time, it should be out there. If they’re playing through it, then who cares?
Nick: Yeah. Don’t get mad when it gets reported on. Our job is to report it. We’re not here to protect the team. We have a job, and our job is to report stuff. It’s going to happen.
Andrew: Let’s move on a little bit here. We got about five or ten minutes left. Something Mullen talked about on Thursday as well, talked about there’s not as many position battles, per se, but more depth battles to see who’s going to be game ready. Talked about punter and kicker is still a position that’s open, as far as who’s going to be the starter. Nick, I think it brings to a good point, and that is, while we talk a lot about the roster in the past few years, it’s a pretty good roster still, and when you look at certain positions, they’re very deep.
You look at receiver now, it’s a deep position. When you look at defensive line, that’s a deep position. We all know about running back. I think we take tight end for granted sometimes as well. I think there’s a lot of tight ends vying to get in for spots at tight end.
Nick: That’s the won’t be long position, and it’ll be interesting. I think the biggest sleeper at that position is going to be RJ Raymond. Obviously, it’s not someone that’s really being talked about. Cool story, getting a scholarship. Luke Del Rio put Jimmy Mac on blast about the way that his scholarship was taken from him, but he’s back on scholarship now.
I just think I’ve seen C’yontai Lewis, for six years now, since we’ve watched him before his senior year of high school, and I think I know what he is. It’ll be a different offense. He had that connection with Will Grier before he got hurt. Maybe he finds that with somebody else. I think Lucas Krull is coming along as a guy that hasn’t played football in years. Kyle Pitts is a freshman. I think the world of him. I think he’s going to be a great player. Long, lean, super athletic. He brings a dynamic that nobody else in that cornerback room really does.
I think RJ Raymond, in terms of this year, where he is in terms of how smart he is. He’s athletic. He’s not a Kyle Pitts kind of athletic freak, but he’s athletic. I think he can surprise some people and not only block but get some of those shovel passes and make a little impact this year. Especially for someone who probably was an afterthought.
Andrew: That’s what I was going to say. When you look at him, you think maybe he’s a guy who fills that H-back role a little bit in Mullen’s offense. I hate to bring this name up, because I’m sure someone’s going to have something to say, but like an Aaron Hernandez was, where it’s a lot of the inside pitches on the shovel pass and that kind of stuff. When you look at that in Mullen’s offense, it’s a big, big deal in his offense. RJ Raymond’s size, 6’2”, 245-250, depending on day of the week. You think about him, and you think he’s a guy who can take some of those shovel passes on the goal line or in short yardage situations and make something happen. A guy who can be that guy who hits the flats out. We’ll see.
Nick: Yeah. From what we’ve seen, and from what we’ve heard, that shovel pass, that was the Chico shovel pass, that’s back, and it’s certainly, at least early on in the season, 45 is not going to be a guy that’s going to be highlighted by teams as someone they’re game planning for. I think he’s a guy that will be sneaky early on, and he’s just a reliable player. I think Dan Mullen and this coaching staff is looking for guys like that. Obviously, you need those homerun hitters, those big play threats, but you also need the guys that are just reliable.
Andrew: RJ Raymond kind of brings me into my final point, and that is special teams. You eat first again. We talked about that under Urban, and we’re talking about it now. Mullen had a great point on Thursday, and that is if you win special teams, you already win one-third of the game. You win offense or defense, you got a pretty damn good chance of winning the game. If you win special teams and offense or special teams and defense, you got a pretty good chance of winning a football game. Bringing that importance back was huge.
Had another good point when he said, if a guy’s not good enough to start on special teams, he always asks his coordinators, how do you think he’s good enough to play on your side of the ball? Nick, I’m going to ask you that. To me, that’s about the best way I can describe it. If you’re not good enough to run down the field and make a tackle on special teams, if you’re not good enough to make a block on special teams, how are you supposed to win a football game on your side of the ball?
Nick: Yeah. It starts with an attitude adjustment. It starts with not thinking that special teams is only for guys who can’t play on offense and defense. In a lot of places, that’s it. That’s what it was at Florida. If you looked at the guys who were on special teams, it was the guys that weren’t playing offense and defense. That’s completely, to me, ass backwards way of coaching and playing a game. Like you said, and like coaches say all the time, it’s a third of the game. Punt, kick. Florida wasn’t getting it done on punt return, punt cover, on kick cover, on kick return. Wasn’t getting the job done. You’re just relegating yourself, or just saying I’m okay with being mediocre in 33% of the game.
Andrew: Yeah. When you look at punt and kickoff, you’re giving up yards. When you talk about the offense, and we’ll see how good it is, but you think about punt return, kick return, the yards you can gain and not put the pressure on your offense by being good at that position.
He had another good point. He said he always has guys who say, I’m faster than the person beside me, but when they turn the field on at practice or games, they’re getting outran. He says, you’re not faster than him. They say, yes, and he says, then you’re not giving me full effort.
Nick: Then you don’t care.
Andrew: Yeah. To me, that’s good points. I guess it’s refreshing to hear Mullen say that, because, at the end of the day, that is. Listen, special teams is also a chance to highlight yourself. On offense and defense, a receiver makes a good play, but 10 other guys helped him. On punt, if you’re one of the guys making the tackle by yourself that’s running down there full speed, you singlehandedly made that play. When you look at punt return, you can almost singlehandedly make, not singlehandedly, you’re almost always singlehandedly going to have to make one guy miss. You are, as a returner. Those are ways you can shine and show out. Like we always say, if you’re playing in the NFL, most likely you’re playing on special teams, unless you’re the quarterback.
Nick: That’s a way, I think the first person for the team last year that probably comes to my mind when I think that is I’m thinking about Mark Thompson. Playing for the Ravens, being on their team right now, he’s not going to be getting carries. He’s not up there on that depth chart. The way that he’s going to make the team is on special teams.
Andrew: Jalen Watkins.
Nick: That’s how Jalen Watkins made the team. Trey Burton made the Eagles roster by being a guy that could play running back, could play tight end, and could be on every special teams unit. With the NFL, when you only can dress 53 on any given Sunday or any given week, if you’re a guy that, coach, I’m only a running back, you’re fourth string. We can only carry three running backs, so you’re not going to be on our team. Can you play special teams? No, coach, I never did that in high school, never did that in college. I’m not that player. All right, go find another team that will pay you to be just a running back.
It’s a way, and I think that’s what you’ve got to get across to guys, especially when they’re young. Your goal, if you’re playing football at the University of Florida, your goal most likely is to play in the NFL. You might get your break on an NFL roster by playing special teams, so learn that now.
Andrew: Look at Trey Burton, the money he made this off season because of being that versatile player. Has a Super Bowl ring because of it, because of that. Again, a lot of good things. Florida transitions into game week after Thursday’s practice, into game mode. Mullen talked about different things that he expects for that game mode. Guys are back in classes. I’m saying it, Nick, football is officially back.
Nick: It’s back.
Andrew: There it is. Nick, any final thoughts before we get out? We’ll be back on Monday. Game week schedule back, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Here we go. Next Friday we’ll be bringing you predications and all that good stuff. I’ll be looking to defend my title again.
Nick: We won’t have a Charleston Southern beat reporter. We’ll get on that with Kentucky the following week.
Andrew: We’re not bringing on the retarded Kentucky guy. I’m just telling you now, Nick. I’m putting it on you now, find someone else. That Kentucky guy, my blood pressure can’t take it this year. I can’t handle it.
Nick: I have somebody else lined up already.
Andrew: Okay. That streak ending, him trying to tell me how Kentucky’s the greatest thing on Earth, I can’t put it no more. I just can’t.
Nick: I got somebody else. Let us know if there’s somebody you want to hear from, and then we’ll figure out if we can grab them on for the Wednesday show. We’ll talk some Gator football with them for the Wednesday show.
Andrew: We may get our boy Barrett to come on and do an overall preview. We may get our boy Barrett to come on on Wednesday and do a little preview. Tell them where they can find us. Tell them all that good stuff.
Nick: Until then, www.GatorCountry.com for all Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Hit us up on iTunes. Subscribe there. Get that podcast sent straight to your phone. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook, Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can follow me, @NickdelaTorreGC, and him, @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: There you go. Nick, just a quick news flash. My Atlanta Braves, three games up in the National League East. All things are good.
Nick: I look forward to watching them get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
Andrew: Listen, I’m okay with that. Just get to October ball right now. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.
Nick: You stay classy.