GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we breakdown the latest around the Florida Gators program as the Gators hired Wesley McGriff to coach in the secondary.
Andrew Spivey and Seth Varnadore breakdown the hiring of McGriff and what he means to the coaching staff and what he brings to the table.
Andrew and Seth also breakdown the newest transfer they received in Antonio Shelton from Penn State.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Seth. Seth, we’re back. It’s supposed to be the offseason, but things are fast and furious once again. Gators have a new coach. They have new guys on campus as early enrollees. They have a new transfer in town. They’re still looking for one coach. Dan Mullen is starting to get things back in order a little bit. There was a lot of questions about would he interview with the Jets, would he interview with the NFL, all that stuff. It looks like that stuff is dying down, which is a good thing for Dan Mullen and the program.
Seth:Modern college football. Never seems to stop. It doesn’t matter when it is. You’re either recruiting or hiring new people or game planning for the next season. It’s kind of a 12-month job, and then when you’re covering it that becomes a 12-month job too.
Andrew:Yeah. Obviously, college football has gotten to the point where it’s 365 days a year and everything else, but it’s going to a different level now with the transfer portal and that kind of stuff. It seems like every day there’s a big name player from a different program entering the portal. That continued, and Florida was the beneficiary of that. They get sixth year senior Antonio Shelton, a defensive tackle from Penn State who, we’re taping this on Sunday, is already on campus and enrolled at Florida for next year.
I think that was a big one. Is he an All-SEC All-American type of player? No. Not at all. Is he a guy that’s going to come in, provide leadership for this young defensive line? Is he a guy that’s going to provide depth and make an impact in some way, shape, or form? Yeah. I think it is. I think that’s the first of a few transfers you’ll get. Hopefully the rule passes where he’ll be able to play next year, which I think he should be able to anyways as a grad transfer. I think it’s big in a lot of ways for Florida to get a veteran defensive tackle.
Seth:They definitely need bodies on the interior of the defensive line, so it’s good to get a guy that’s experienced, that kind of understands what’s going to be asked of him. He’s a fifth-year senior. I think he was third team All-Big 10, so he’s a guy that’s made some plays in his career too. He’s not just a guy that’s going to sit the bench the whole time. He’s played. Played games at Penn State. You want to get somebody with experience there that can help kind of anchor that inside of the defensive line for you.
Andrew:We talk about this a little bit, but we can hit on it again. Is getting another defensive tackle now probably still the biggest need?
Seth:I think yeah. I think on either side of the ball, either side of the ball on the line. That’s where I think you’d want to be looking into the transfer portal. I think they can kind of supplement in other places, but I’d be looking for another defensive tackle, another interior defensive lineman, for sure, because you lost your two this year, and we saw kind of what the depth looked like when one of those guys was out. I think shoring up the depth there will help you. It’ll even help you, they love to rotate guys in. They probably couldn’t do that as much this year and keep the level of play as high, so adding more depth there will help you in a bunch of different ways.
Andrew:I think the biggest thing is not to have to slide Zach Carter inside. We talked about that a ton. Zach Carter can play that, but it’s a situation where he’s not strongest there. He is a really good weak side defensive end. The ability for him to play inside is there, but that’s not where he’s at his strongest. I got back to Jonathan Bullard. Jonathan Bullard could play inside at defensive tackle, but he was best at defensive end. That’s where he’s playing at in the League right now.
I think having that interior guy that can play without moving Zach Carter inside allows your entire defensive line to get better. We see it when Kyree Campbell came back. When Kyree Campbell came back, Zach was able to stay outside and play defensive end. Boom. It makes him a lot better player. I think that’s a key is making sure you have enough depth to where Zach Carter can play outside and not forced to play inside.
Seth:That’s just another added benefit. You need those depth bodies, but that also means that, just like you said, you don’t have to pull somebody else to get depth. Zach Carter coming back, I was pretty surprised. I thought he made himself some money this year, so to see him come back I think is a really good sign. He’s a guy that could have another big year, especially if he doesn’t have to play out of position.
Andrew:Yeah. Absolutely. I think that allows the ability to rotate a lot more. You’re obviously going to bring back Brenton Cox, Zach Carter, Princely, Khris Bogle, who had a fantastic Cotton Bowl. You still have Andrew Chatfield. You have a lot of guys that can be rotated in and out. I think that’s big, because you didn’t get to see that a lot this year, because simply the depth wasn’t there at the positions. I think that’s something next year that you’re wanting to see. There’s nothing wrong with playing Zach Carter inside on 3rd down, when you want simply a pass rush, but on 1st down you want Zach Carter, who is undersized for defensive tackle, playing inside, especially when you can get a guy like an Antonio Shelton, who’s a big body, to just clog up the middle.
Seth:That’s 100%. They’ve kind of built the program in the past, their first few years in here, about they were going to heavily rotate guys, so they were fresh in the fourth quarter. You saw that kind of. You think back with the Texas A&M game. When did Texas A&M really start to just assert themselves? Second half, second half of the third quarter, the fourth quarter. They didn’t have that normal rotation they’ve had in the past where guys stay fresh, and everybody is starting to do that. I think just having that ability. You obviously have the guys on the edge that can do it, and now when you add more bodies inside you don’t have to take any of those edge guys to come inside, and now they can be fresh and ready to roll in the fourth quarter.
Andrew:Absolutely. That goes for several different positions. That goes for the secondary. We talked about it a lot. Having a rotation at safety was a key for Florida the last few years. Didn’t happen this year, because there just wasn’t the bodies a lot of times. For three games you didn’t have Davis and Stiner back there. Rashad Torrence was out at times this year. You didn’t have that all.
That leads me to my next point, and that is the Gators have gotten Wesley McGriff from Auburn, which wasn’t retained, or wasn’t going to be retained. It’s a veteran coach. As someone who met with him for the first time this week, once he got to Gainesville, said to me, he’s going to bring an energy to the backfield, the defensive backfield that is, that wasn’t there the last few years. He’s going to bring a sense of accountability to this team. He’s going to bring a veteran voice to this team.
I think he’ll help not only the players, but I think he can help Todd Grantham. As a coach, we’re always taught to always be able to adjust and learn and evolve as a coach. I think that’ll help Grantham a little bit as well. Whether McGriff coaches safeties, corners, what he does is kind of still up in the air right now, depending on who they hire, I think it’s a good veteran voice who’s been around the game a lot and has seen a lot.
Seth:It’s a guy, like you said, he’s been around a long time, so he’s probably coached in quite a few different systems. He’s also been a coordinator in the past. What I think is interesting is all these guys that you’re hearing, and all the guys that you’ve been reporting may be in talks on the boards, they all have some type of defensive coordinator experience, which I think is interesting, because typically when you game plan the staff comes together. It’s probably different now with all the analysts. They can give you some stuff, but the staff comes together and kind of goes through stuff, the places I’ve been. You kind of work together and formulate the game plan. It’s not just the coordinator coming in and saying, this is what we’re doing, teach it.
So, adding more guys that have coordinator experience to the staff could be a way to kind of maybe help Grantham make some changes. I think that he’s given a little bit of leeway there, and then if he doesn’t make the changes, and there’s still problems, then these guys I’d imagine are going to be not on one-year contracts. Grantham’s got one year left. He’s got a chance to make changes, and these guys will bring that experience to the table, and that will help with some collaborative game planning. I thought that was kind of interesting that everyone you kind of see names being bandied about for these positions has some type of coordinator experience in the past.
Andrew:That’s a good point. I think you’re seeing that in a lot of places in general, where you’re having a lot of guys who have either been co-DCs or DCs and different things like that. I think it’s because, and you can help me here if I’m wrong, I think it’s because of the evolution of offenses in a way. A lot of offenses are multidimensional. For instance, you look at Alabama. They’re a power I formation football team, but they’re also a spread them out five wide, passing/quarterback option team. You look at Florida. Florida at times this year was a pound it, go at it with Emory Jones kind of guy, where he could run. Then at times they were just spread them out with Kyle Trask, and they were completely passing. It was different by the quarterback. Still, what I’m saying is every offense around the country right now is multi dependable.
Seth:The big trend in offense is, like you said, multiplicity and multiple personnel groupings. You’ll have teams like the two teams you’re going to see Monday night in the National Championship game. They’ll come out with two tight ends, and so the traditional two tight end set you’d want to play one way, but these tight ends can all move, and then they got receivers that can just fly on the outside. Then they’ll come out a few plays later, and they might go four receivers and one back. Then they might come out a few plays later, one tight end, three receivers, and a back, or sometimes two backs. They’ll all just changing up their personnel groupings. There’s a lot you have to account for now, so having multiple guys that have been around and had to call plays and put game plans together I think is only going to help improve kind of how the defense attacks these new offenses and how they’re put together.
Andrew:Let me focus on this with you here. When you look at this coaching staff now, they have nine coaches. McGriff is the secondary coach. Safeties, corners, whatever it may be. What do you look at as the position you would like to add the most? I say that because some programs allow their secondary coach to coach the entire secondary. Some head coaches want their secondary to be split up between corner and safety. Now that’s five guys, basically. You got two corners, a nickel, two safeties on the field pretty much at all times. That’s more than half your defense basically. Do you agree that there needs to be a split secondary, or do you think that at times having a split secondary hurts teams?
This is the way I look at it. I think that we have to look at it now as like I just said. At times you’d have five to six DBs on the field. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a two secondary coaches, and especially because of the fact that Todd Grantham is a linebacker/front seven coach. I think that’s what helps make this needing a second secondary coach.
Seth:The way the game is played, a lot of people play it now, a lot of teams are playing versions of quarters, which is kind of Saban’s big thing. It’s kind of just trickled throughout. I think if you’re playing a version of quarters, which Florida does play some of that, where the safeties have to make reads sometimes. Sometimes they’re reading #2, so they can come in and fill for run and add extra bodies to the box. I think if you’re playing like that, it behooves you have a safeties coach specifically, and then a corners coach, if that’s how you’re going to play.
If you’re going to play more stuff where you’re playing, some teams are going to like the Seahawks cover three type stuff, where they’re just exclusively in three high. Then I don’t think you need it as much, but when you’re playing a lot of two high looks, I think you need a safeties coach, especially like you said, in Florida’s position, where you have Grantham coaching outside linebackers/rush ends. I don’t think you necessarily need an extra body at defensive line, since it’s not too different, too dissimilar to coaching those guys, since he’s got the rush ends.
I think with Florida specifically I’d be looking for a safeties coach, just because the way those guys have to play is different in this scheme. Scheme dependent it could switch, but for Florida I think take that second DBs coach.
Andrew:I think you just had a good point there. With Grantham coaching that rush end/defensive end/outside linebacker, do you really want to split David Turner’s responsibility even more? What’s David Turner then going to coach? Just the one defensive end?
Andrew:Or just the inside nose. It’s different if Grantham was an inside linebacker/safeties coach, for instance, or whatever it may be. For instance, like Derrick Mason. Derrick Mason is more of a DC secondary coach. Then it’s okay. If you’re Alabama, and you got Nick Saban coaching the secondary, it’s okay. With Grantham being that, it would just baffle me a little bit to have David Turner coaching one guy or two guys and another guy coaching one guy. It would just be crazy.
I think you have to look at having another secondary coach, just because you want to maximize your resources with your coaching staff. Some people have said, split up the offensive line, so Hevesy has somebody helping him in recruiting. That’s a great point. It needs to happen.
Seth:That is one way you could go.
Andrew:But Mullen being an offensive coach, he wants that sixth guy on the defensive side of the ball. He’d rather have six and four, because then it’s basically six and five, with him there, and that’s how it goes with most head coaches. They want an extra guy on the side of the ball they’re not prestige at, or they’re not the most well knowledged at.
Seth:Yeah. Like you said, he just considers himself an offensive coach, so it kind of evens out there. Just looking at some other staffs, you do have teams, like Georgia appears they only have one defensive backs coach, but they also have Kirby.
Seth:He’s a defensive backs guy. They’d be a team that you’d think would want different coaches for each. I think just the way Florida is positioned right now, you’d think it’s going to be another defensive backs coach, just because, like you said, I don’t think they’re going to add anybody on offense. It wouldn’t necessary be a bad thing. That’s the other position, I think defensive backs and then now offensive line are the two ones where you’d really want to split it up, because you’ll get the most out of splitting those positions up. Florida’s done that in the past. When Mullen was the offensive coordinator, I believe it was split.
Andrew:With Addazio and Hevesy.
Seth:Those are the two positions you’d want to split, but the way Florida’s constructed it seems like it’s going to be defensive backs split up.
Andrew:Yeah. Georgia’s different, because they have Scott Cochran, who is just a special teams coach. I’m going to say this. It’s a two-fold statement that I’m going to make here. I’m talking out both sides of my mouth a little bit. Is it good to have just a special teams coach? Yes. If he is a great special teams coach.
Scott Cochran, for instance, is not a great special teams coach. He is there for a head. He is there to get him away from Alabama. He was there to help with the strength staff and to help recruiting, which I don’t know if that’s good or bad or what. Now, if you can go out and hire a great special teams coach, sure, because special teams wins and loses a lot of football games. But they better be a great recruiter as well.
Seth:You don’t want your special teams coach, it’s very important, but you don’t want that guy not being a plus recruiter. It’s a little bit like in a lot of places, now some places are different, but in a lot of places the tight ends position and the running backs position, you want those guys to be plus recruiters, because those positions aren’t seemingly the toughest. In a lot of places they don’t use their tight ends very much, so that guy is just there to be a recruiter. If you’re going to be special teams only, you better be lights out recruiting. I think there is something to having a guy like that, but I don’t think that’s something that Florida’s well positioned for, that’s for sure.
Andrew:Yeah. For instance, South Carolina hired just a special teams coach, and it’s crazy to me, because that’s what Beamer is known for, being a special teams guy. In that sense, I kind of think it’s a waste. Why do you need to hire a special teams guy to do what you’re a specialty at? That to me is crazy. Again, there’s no right, wrong, perfect answer to how this tenth coach should be used. I think it’s program driven. It’s head coach driven. It’s a little bit of coaching needed. For instance, let’s just say somebody has a great linebacker’s coach, but he’s a pitiful recruiter. Then you go out and hire a recruiter that’s a really good recruiter that’s also a decent linebacker coach. It’s every program driven. I’m not saying that with McGriff. McGriff’s very good in both assets. I’m just saying every program is different, and every program can get to use that tenth coach in their own different way.
Seth:Yeah. I was covering USF before, and their new head coach came in, and he hired a specific special teams coordinator, and that’s all he does. The guy is, I think, a good recruiter too, but it depends. It’s just kind of how you want to set up your program. It could be something important, but that tenth coach kind of gives you some flexibility. I think a good part of this hire is, just like you mentioned, McGriff seems to be well regarded in recruiting. He seems to have a good reputation there. I think that was kind of the most important thing to add with these two guys is you need to add some plus recruiters.
Andrew:Absolutely. You needed someone to come in that was going to inject some energy in this secondary. Like it or not, secondary guys are the most over talkative. I don’t want to say arrogant, because arrogant’s a bad word. Cocky. That kind of stuff. Let’s face it. This team didn’t have that juice. Is the juice bad at times? Sure. But you also want your DBs to play with some juice, and this DB group did play with some juice. Now, that’s nothing against Ron English and Torrian Gray. They’re both fine coaches, but both those guys were quiet guys. I think McGriff will bring some of that energy to this room and help them to get back to that swagger of DBU. You’re DBU. Have that swagger about yourself.
Seth:Like we mentioned before, he’s been doing it a long time and a bunch of different styles. He’s coached in the NFL, which I think is only going to help him kind of establish that expertise with the players. I think he’s a guy that will probably command respect really quickly. From everything we’ve heard from people, he’s a guy that the players love and seem to really get along with. I think this is a really good hire for the position, and then this next hire will be interesting to see where they go, because there’s a bunch of names floating out there.
Andrew:Let’s go ahead and get into some of those names. Obviously, Chris Ash from Texas. Charlie Strong, who used to be at Florida, who’s now an analyst at Alabama. His name is out there a little bit. Cory Sanders from Pitt is out there. We’ve heard some NFL names are also being thrown in the mix. A lot of names, and I’m sure that we’re probably not even talking about the guy going to be hired, because that’s the way college coaching searches go. I think I feel good in saying that Ash and Strong probably won’t happen. I say Strong because he’s a linebacker coach. Do you really need a third linebacker coach there? I think in a way the game has kind of passed him along, in a way. Chris Ash, it looks like Sark may make a run at him if Chris Arnett from Mississippi State doesn’t take that job. There’s a couple other places that are looking at him. I think he has chances to go be just the defensive coordinator alone in several places.
So, I’ll take a look at a guy that I want to look at more. I want to see if you know anything about him, and that’s Cory Sanders at Pitt. One of the better recruiters, a young recruiter. A lot of people credit him for much of the success Pitt has in recruiting, but he’s also coached some really good players in the secondary as well, and he’s a young, energetic guy as well.
Seth:Narduzzi’s one of these quarters gurus, so if Florida’s going to be playing quarters, taking his safeties coach would be probably a good move. I don’t know a ton about him, like just personally and talking with people, but I read a little bit about him. He’s been a DII head coach, a DII coordinator, I think an even higher level than that coordinator, and he was born in 1985. This is a relatively young guy too.
Seth:Pretty impressive resume for somebody that young, and, if you look, they’ve had some really good defenses at Pitt since he’s been there in 2018, I think was when he got there first. He was previously at Western Michigan. I’m assuming that was with Fleck, so when they kind of got it rolling there. Then he was a defensive coordinator at West Florida, so he’s been in Florida. They recruit in Florida at Pitt. They’ll come down and try to get guys, and he’s gotten a few. That kind of goes to you saying that he’s regarded as a pretty good recruiter. I think he would be a good hire. A guy you probably wouldn’t have thought of right when you were thinking they were looking for safeties coach, but he’s a guy that brings coordinator experience. He even brings a little head coaching experience, which is kind of interesting. I think he’s an interesting guy. He’s got an interesting resume, and he’s a young dude too. That helps as well.
Andrew:Listen. Could he get the job? Sure. Could he not get the job? Sure. We’re not going on air breaking news or anything else. It’s out there and everything else. I do think it’s interesting that once again he’s a guy with some defensive coordinator experience. The biggest question is this, and I’ll ask you this. I don’t want to get into the whole Grantham thing again. I’m so sick and tired of talking about it. The guy is coming back. You just need to suck it up and love it. That’s just what it is.
But how much is Grantham willing to listen to these guys? How much is Mullen going to enforce that on these guys I think is a big question, because you don’t want it to turn into a power struggle. You don’t want it to turn into a fight where everybody has their own game plan, and then at the end of the day you don’t have a game plan. That to me is a big question mark. I think that’s one of the reasons Travaris Robinson ended up at Miami and not Florida. Listen, I think it’s better to find that out now than it is to find that out Game 1 or Game 5.
Seth:Alignment is key. That’s a key word in coaching. You have to have organizational alignment.
Seth:You can be a great coach. You can be the best DB coach on Earth, but if you’re just going to question everything the defensive coordinator calls, your players pick up on that, and that’s when you get that friction in the room. Not just amongst the coaches, but you can get it amongst the players too. You don’t want that. Obviously, these guys, all the names we’ve heard, even Wesley McGriff, who’s been hired, have that coordinator experience, but they are also currently assistants. They understand the pecking order. They understand how it’s done, but they can add value, and I’m sure they’re going to. Their voices will be heard, but they understand that I’m a position coach, and they’ve been that coordinator before, so they understand the importance of having guys that understand their job, do their job, add value in the process, but ultimately, it’s your decision as a coordinator.
I think having those guys with the coordinator experience gives you not only kind of that level of these guys have had to call plays before, but they also understand the position that Grantham’s in being the coordinator. You can’t be questioning it. Whatever we decide as a group is what the decision is, and we all got to roll with a united front, totally aligned. That’s kind of the other part of it. I think you got to have guys that aren’t going to come in and try to shake things up crazily. You got to have guys that understand their role and do it really well, and I think it seems like that’s what you got in Wesley McGriff.
Andrew:You don’t want yes men. There’s a difference. You don’t want yes men, but you want also guys who can sit at a table, have a discussion, and whatever discussion is ended in that discussion it’s ended, and you leave the room as a united front. Now, behind closed doors, you can argue and bicker about the game plan all you want, as long as you come to an agreement, and once you leave the room that agreement is as one.
Seth:As far as the players know, we’re all 100% together.
Seth:But in that room you can be like, I don’t know about this. You don’t want the yes men that say, that’s a great idea, Todd, but you want those guys that say, why don’t we do it like this? I’m sure those guys, when they talk about it, if they go through the year, and they’re trying to do things, and none of their ideas get put forth, then I’m sure they’ll have end of year meetings, and that will be something that, we tried to do this, and we got turned down at every level.
Seth:Once you leave the room, it’s 100% united. You cannot have an dissention once you talk to players. That’s kind of thing that people don’t really understand maybe. You understand, because you’ve been in the coaching. There will be a lot of disagreement on how to attack things and a lot of different ways to do it, but once it’s decided how we’re going to do it that week, that’s the way it is. That’s 100%. That’s the way it is to the players and to anybody else we talk to.
Andrew:You may go out to the practice field and see it against a scout team, and Todd Grantham may look over at Wesley McGriff and say, maybe your idea was better than mine. I’ve seen it happen a ton. A coach once told me, if we’re all agreeing in the coaching room, something’s not right.
Andrew:You do. You’re going to disagree. Everybody has either done it before, ran it before, and they’ve all done it different ways. None of these guys have every coached together. None of them. Not as a group. They’ve never coached together, so they all have different ideas. They’ve all learned from different head coaches or different defensive coordinators or whoever it may be. They’ve all learned from different people, so everyone has their idea. It’s like running a business. You can ask 50 people who run a restaurant how to run a restaurant, and you’re going to get 50 different answers.
Seth:That’s why it’s so interesting to be bringing in guys with that coordinator experience, because they obviously want guys to bring stuff to the table. If they just wanted yes men, every single coach they would be going after wouldn’t have that coordinator experience. It seems to signal they want a collaborative process on the defensive side of the ball, guys that will bring ideas to the table, and then understand the process of it. That’s what is kind of the most interesting thing to me about going after guys with coordinator experience. I think that adds something to the game planning process.
Andrew:Let me ask you this. I’ve said this many times, and I don’t know if you agree with this. We haven’t talked about this yet, but we will right now. Offenses have changed so much in just the last year, I would say, last two years. Everybody says, and I’ve told this to be people, and I laugh about it, but everyone says it’s the same offense, they’re just lined up different, for instance. For instance, Urban Meyer, he runs the wishbone. It just looks different. So, it’s all recycled.
Anyway, all defenses right now are trying to adjust to this RPO game and everything else. Do you think that that is going to start becoming a key is having more of these guys with experience there? Just because no coach right now truly understands how to stop the RPO, and if they tell you they do, they’re crazy. Watch the NFL. Josh Allen’s running the RPO to death against the Colts. You can’t tell me the Colts ain’t got a good coaching staff. They do. Just nobody knows how to stop it right now.
Seth:Here’s how you got to contextualize the RPO in your mind. Think about all the great triple option offenses and how you’ve always heard growing up, if it’s run perfectly it can’t be stopped, right?
Seth:That’s what all the option guys say, at least.
Seth:If the quarterback makes the right read every time, it can’t be stopped.
Seth:Now imagine the pitch guy, instead of being five yards behind the line of scrimmage, is like six or seven yards in front of the line of scrimmage. So now, your pitch guy is just a slant route or a post route or an out route. It’s definitely changed, but there are ways I think you can combat it. Having more minds that have seen it, guys that have had to call plays and try to scheme how to stop it, is only going to help. You got to do stuff. You have basically understand what their reads are and then force the read you want. You can do that. The problem is you have teams like Alabama and Ohio State doing it, where you’re going to force them to give it to Najee Harris behind that offensive line? That’s not a great idea.
Seth:Or you’re going to force them to pull it and throw a slant to the Heisman Trophy winner? That’s not a great idea either. That’s where it’s really tough, but you can combat it by forcing the read you want. But having more guys that have had to kind of think about this and really come up with plans to stop it is only going to help.
Andrew:Here’s the thing that it goes back to. Playing your fundamental. You’re playing your technique. You’re playing your assignment. 90% of the time you’re going to stop that play. Now, the problem becomes this. You’ve seen Najee Harris or Trey Sermon run for 175 in the fourth quarter. You’ve seen them fake a handoff to him. All your eyes are going to flow that way, because guess what? You’re tired of seeing him run the ball. So, boom, that’s when they pull it.
Now, obviously, I’m saying that tongue in cheek, because it’s not that easy, but I’m just saying in general I think that every college coach and NFL coach as well is trying to figure out how to stop these things. I think the more minds you get on something, definitely the better you are. So, that’s kind of a reason that I’m getting to that point of getting more minds in the room, just to figure it out.
It’s kind of like Mullen has on offense in a way. You look at Brian Johnson. He brings something different to the table. John Hevesy is more of an offensive line coach, or is an offensive coach, more of a run guy. Then you got a guy like Billy Gonzales, who is your receiver coach, and of course he wants to throw the ball. It’s everywhere, but I think it’s becoming more prominent on the defensive side of the ball, as we see offenses really catch up and bypass the defensive side of the ball.
Seth:You got to play totally different than you did, and you got to understand. It used to be how are we going to take this away, and now it’s really become what are we good giving up? What are we all right giving up? Because we’re going to have to give up something, because you’re not shutting anybody out. That’s really hard to do now. It’s basically become a game of what do we want to give up, when do we want to give it up?
Andrew:And how do we slow them down?
Seth:Yeah. Then how can we create some negative plays or create some turnovers to get a couple stops? The game has totally changed. I think some of that is with how it’s officiated and things like that, but defense is a lot harder now.
Andrew:Listen, defense doesn’t make for great TV ratings, so that’s a thing, whether we want to admit it or not. It is what it is. Let’s go to some guys who got on campus already. You had most of the early enrollees. The only guy we’re still waiting on is Desmond Watson, and he should be on campus on Monday. Doesn’t now look like Marcus Burke will get on campus early, and that one hurts. That one hurts a little bit, because I was expecting him to get some run at receiver next year. That one hurts.
Then the big one was not getting Diwun Black on campus early. He had a class that’s not going to transfer, so now he has to take a four-week class to make that happen, so he can’t participate in spring ball or anything else. That one to me, Seth, hurts the most, because that was a guy that I thought, with his experience, with his maturity level, was going to play a lot for Florida at a position at linebacker that simply doesn’t have a lot of depth, and experienced depth.
Seth:He seemed to be a guy that you really wanted him to get a spring under his belt, and then give him a chance to roll into the season ready to go. Not having that will hurt, but he’s a guy that I’m sure has been so committed to the program, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go when his number is called. On the other end, who is somebody you think coming in early and having the spring will really help get on the field?
Andrew:Jason Marshall. Corey Collier. I don’t think either one of those guys start. I think it’s so tough to start in the SEC as a true freshman, especially in the secondary. Just because of what we talked about, the offense. Honestly, outside of KaiirElam, are you fully on board that Jaydon Hill is an SEC starting corner? I think most people would say no.
Seth:You can never have too much competition in the backend, and rotate those guys in. It’s tough, but you saw a guy like Kaiir Elam come in his true freshman year and kind of get sprinkled in as the year went, and then towards the end of the year he was playing a ton. You may see something similar to that.
Andrew:Yeah. Then Corey Collier at safety. I think and believe that Trey Dean and Rashad Torrence are going to be good enough to go. I’m very high on Trey Dean. I’ve said that many times. But will that be the case? I don’t know. Maybe Corey Collier gets in there and takes their job. I don’t know. Like you said, competition is good.
A guy too, and this is a position that’s deep, and so I may get some heat for saying this, but Demarkcus Bowman is a guy that I think is going to be the beneficiary the most of this. Simply because I don’t think Florida has a four down back on the roster right now. Nay’Quan Wright is the closest thing they got to it, and for whatever reason, the staff hasn’t trusted Nay’Quan to play a ton. Again, is Dameon Pierce your starting running back next year? Probably. But I think Bowman will come in and push for a lot of playing time and is probably your #2 guy heading into the fall.
Seth:Where would Bowman be if he had signed out of high school? Would he be established the guy already? If you looked at it like that, where do you think he’d be already?
Andrew:I think he’d be the guy. Simply because Dameon Pierce has his goods and bads. Malik Davis has his goods and bads. Like I said, Nay’Quan, for whatever reason, is not getting a ton of run. Lingard’s still hurt. He still doesn’t fully trust his knee, and now I see he wants to change positions and everything else. Who knows what that situation is about? I think he’d have been the guy already. Like I said, since Perine left I don’t think that Florida has a true four down running back on the roster, and I think that’s what Bowman is. Bowman’s just a different dude. He’s just an electric guy who is a different back that this offense is going to need. Next year with Emory, you’re going to run the ball a lot more, so you’re going to need more than one back to tote the rock, and I think Bowman comes in and is that #2 guy.
Seth:Yeah. Using a quarterback, especially Emory or Richardson, kind of whoever it is, those guys have shown they can run kind of inside the tackles, and Emory’s kind of slippery and does a good job of reading his blocks. Richardson seems like a guy that will be just an animal running the ball, with how big and fast he is.
Andrew:He just looks for contact.
Seth:Then you get a guy like Bowman as your guy that’s your perimeter runner. He’s on the edge, and the quarterback’s kind of holding the guys in the box, and now he’s out in open space. Then that becomes really dangerous. Then if that’s how they’re going to play, who’s the guy you want in that position? Probably him, right? I don’t think your statement is too controversial, if that’s how they’re going to play.
Andrew:I mean, again, Mullen has done a good job of adjusting to whatever style of offense he needs to run to whatever kind of players he has, but let’s just say what it is. Florida was not a very good up the middle running team this year. They just weren’t.
Andrew:They had their most success when they were able to run to the perimeter. A lot of that was with Emory Jones. When Nay’Quan was in the game, he did that a little bit. So, what would it have been with Bowman? Do I think the offensive line will be better next year? It has to be. It just simply has to be. But if it’s not improved a ton, like you said, you get Bowman on the edge. Watch out, because he’s got the speed to house one that I don’t think any back on this team right now had.
Seth:He seems to be the breakaway threat. Like you said, I don’t think the guys, maybe Wright has got a little bit of that, but he seems to have that speed, Bowman does, that’s kind of that long speed too, where he’s not going to get caught from behind either.
Andrew:Right. That’s what you want. That’s kind of it, Seth. Anything else you wanted to talk about? We hit on a lot of stuff. Again, it’s that time of the year where a lot’s going on.
Seth:My only other thing was is there anybody out in the portal that’s possible or that Florida’s on or anything like that?
Andrew:Nothing really yet. Wanya Morris from Tennessee, their left tackle, is reportedly going to go in the transfer portal. Early on it looks like it’s Oklahoma for him. Eric Gilbert, the tight end that transferred from LSU, is transferring as well. Florida has made up a ton of ground there, but it still does kind of look like Georgia has the inside track on him, because he’s from Georgia. That’s a guy that Kirby’s been tampering, whatever you want to call it, with for a long time.
Florida’s been able to sell the Pitts roll. If you’re a tight end, you have to at least listen. Is there another Kyle Pitts out there? No. Kyle Pitts is Kyle Pitts. But you have to at least listen if you’re a tight end, so I think that that one’s a lot closer than even myself was giving Florida credit for. I just think there’s a little bit of time. Offensive tackle has seemed to be a spot that we all thought was going to be a lot of movement, and there just hasn’t been that much movement in the portal yet.
Seth:The portal, it’s crazy competitive. I’ve heard some people say that teams are in the future, the next couple years, maybe trying to sign more guys out of the portal, and then supplementing it with high school classes, instead of spending a ton of resources at high school, because they’ll get guys they know can play right away. They’ve seen them play at this level. They don’t have to project as much. The portal is only going to get crazier and crazier, but it is interesting to see Florida in on some of these guys.
Andrew:People are like, I wonder if these guys are going to have much interest? These guys know where they’re going pretty much before they hit the portal.
Seth:What’s crazy, the staff gets some flack for recruiting, but recruiting has also changed. Shelton that just signed was a Class of 2016 guy. You’re recruiting from Class of 2016 to, I think, they’re recruiting Class of 2023 already. Instead of focusing on two or three classes, you’re having to focus on six or seven. It’s crazy now.
Andrew:It is. It’s crazy. There’s no doubt about it. I give them flack for recruiting a lot, and I do think it needs to improve, but they have made up for it in the portal. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’ll be interesting to see how this portal works. I don’t particularly like it. I’m just being honest with you. I don’t particularly like the whole transfer just because you’re not playing or whatever it may be. I think that’s what the NFL is, free agency, but what do I know? I think it’ll be something that we’ll have to relook. The NCAA has to recognize and understand that everybody is tampering. They need to just get over it.
Seth:Yeah. Players talk, and then some coaches keep talking to players.
Andrew:Right. It’s only illegal if the coach contacts the player. Not the daddy or the mama or the trainer or the high school coach or whatever contacts them about it. There’s every which way that you can get around this. Seth, man, I appreciate it buddy. We’ll be back next week. Hopefully talking about a new secondary hire and everything else that kind of goes around this program that always keeps us entertained. Of course, we didn’t hit on it, but the fire Mike White chants are getting loud.
Seth:My cousin coaches basketball at IMG, and he said White, he said he’s a great guy. He says he’s the only college head coach he’s met so far that hasn’t had an ego. I was like, maybe that’s the problem. I don’t know.
Andrew:Especially in college basketball with the AAU. Mike White’s a great guy. Great guy.
Andrew:I don’t know. This year and what the man’s went through with Keyontae, I can’t judge the guy. I’m just being honest. I can’t. I don’t know how the guy has the team. The team just has to be deflated. That’s all I know.
Seth:What a tough year. A year that was kind of make or break for him coming into it, and then to have that happen with Keyontae. It’s really tough year. Hopefully you get it turned around, because he is a good guy. I think everyone would like to see him succeed, but they’re having some trouble right now.
Andrew:Tough business, for sure. Seth, we will be back next week. As always, check out Seth’s stuff on the site, and check out everything we got going on. We’ll see you guys next week.