GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we give our thoughts on the Florida Gators’ spring practice and what we liked and what we think can improve.
Andrew Spivey, Ethan Hughes, and Bailiegh Carlton talk about football, plus we talk about the new additions to the basketball program via the transfer portal.
Andrew, Ethan, and Bailiegh also recap what happened on the diamond last week for both baseball and softball.
Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back. We got the tag team trio going again. We got Ethan, and we got Baileigh back. Got a fun filled podcast. We’regoing to talk some football. We haven’t really recapped the whole spring yet. Ethan brought it to my attention that we had hit on it a lot in print and on the web, all that good stuff, but we haven’t really broke it down on the podcast, so we’re going to break it down on the podcast. Then we’re going to hit some diamond sports. Ethan, your boys are fouling up in Volunteer land. I don’t know. Should have predicted a win this weekend, Ethan.
Ethan:I can just about guarantee you the win this weekend though.
Andrew:We’re going to hold you to it.
Ethan:Tennessee, you could just tell from the beginning it was setting up to be one of those weekends.
Andrew:They sold out their football team for their basketball team to get better and their baseball team to get better. Then we’re going to finish it off with basketball. Mike White’s cooking in the transfer portal. What that means for this team going forward, I don’t know, but we’re going to talk about it here towards the end of the podcast. We’re going to get on that. Fun filled podcast.
Let’s start it off. We’re going to recap some spring ball. Let me ask you this first, Baileigh. Overall thoughts on spring. What did you learn? What do you still have questions? Let’s go with what you learned first.
Baileigh:It’s really hard to take a lot from spring, because we saw spring through Instagram Live.
Andrew:Those 100-yard Instagram Live scrimmages wasn’t good enough for you?
Baileigh:Not quite. Whenever you’re watching it through that, you’re always going to see what they want you to see. It’salways going to be through that perspective, and you’re not going to get your own views from it. You’re going to get what they want you to get from it. Which is good, everybody wants to take away good things from spring, and that’s fine and dandy, but I just don’t think you get that objective view of spring practice. So, I think we probably didn’t quite learn as much about the quarterbacks as we hoped we could learn from spring, but we saw some good things and some bad things from everybody really. We saw a little bit of inaccuracy from Emory, but I think that over the course of spring that improved. You just kind of see the bright spots and a few negatives throughout there.
I think we also learned that maybe the defense is ready to take a step forward. It’s hard to tell, again, from what we’re seeing there, but you definitely saw a lot more energy, I think, than what we saw on the field this fall from them.
Andrew:Ethan, what did you gather? What was your takeaway?
Ethan:Going off of what Baileigh just said, the biggest thing I took away from it was that the defense isn’t just better, but they were actually ahead of the offense in the spring, from what we heard and even what Mullen confirmed to us in his last press conference after the spring. That’s not, I guess, terribly surprising, because generally defenses are going to be ahead of offenses in the spring, especially when you have a new quarterback, a bunch of new receivers, and they have to build the timing and everything. There’s no quarterback runs. There’sno game planning, so it’s kind of set up for the defenses to shine. Given the fact that they wouldn’t have looked good against a Division II school last year on defense, it’s still an encouraging sign to see.
Baileigh:I liked what we saw from the new coaches as well. You can definitely see a different kind of energy out there from Jules Montinar and Wesley McGriff. I really liked Garrett McGee too, the new quarterbacks coach. We didn’t see a whole lot from him on the field wise through Instagram Live and all that, but when we interviewed him, he’s just a very impressive guy, to me.
Andrew:I think the thing you guys hit on the most was the swagger, the energy. Defense is complicated, but defense is also about a want. I say this all the time about tackling. Tackling is not difficult. You either want to, or you don’t want to. If you want to get your face dirty and make a tackle, you’re going to make a tackle. If you want to shy away from it, you’re not going to make the tackle. Chauncey Gardner, many times his junior would look like he didn’t want to make a tackle. Excuse me. His sophomore year he acted like he didn’t want to make a ton of tackles. Came back his junior year, he was all over the place. He was a much better improved tackler. Did he improve his technique? No. It was more of a want to kind of thing there. To see the energy from those two guys I think was the biggest takeaway for me.
Like you said, how much do you read into Emory? I don’t know that you read too much into Emory, because Emory’s game is play action, making the defense be out of position and having the ability to escape and run and to have the quarterback run in the back of people’s minds. It’s going to open things up for him. Now, was there some concern because of his accuracy on some of his passes? Absolutely. Sure it was. Again, am I overly concerned about it? Not really. I am overly concerned a little bit about the offensive line, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Like you said on McGee, I really like the positivity from McGee and the really hands on coaching from him. You saw him doing a lot of working on technique and stuff, and that’s not to say Brian Johnson didn’t. Every quarterback coach has a different philosophy on things. Overall takeaways for me was much more energy, much more detailed focus on the small things that maybe were bypassed last year, and a lot of that was because you didn’t have a spring. To say the defense is ahead I think is absolutely true. Will it be that way come Game 1? I don’t know. We’ll see. Spring usually does, like you said, allow that to happen.
Ethan, I’ll start with you first. Any disappointments?
Ethan:The offensive line would be the obvious one. We saw the one eleven-on-eleven period there, the final practice. I think the first five plays were like three sacks and two tackles for loss or something.
Baileigh:Another thing about the offensive line too is Mullen mentioned it. He doesn’t really give us any updates on injuries, but he did mention towards the end of spring that a lot of guys were really banged up there too. Not that I’m giving excuses, but it seemed like the numbers were down there as well, and that was causing some issues.
Andrew:I know Gouraige was kind of struggling with some injuries late, and they were bouncing guys around. They were trying to figure out where Stewart Reece as going to play and trying to figure out who the center was and all that. It’s very concerning though, because you feel like heading into spring your interior guys of Ethan White and Stewart Reece at guard, you felt like those two guys were two guys, with Kingsley at center, those three that were going to probably be your guys there, and to see no inside push on the running game is just concerning, and it’s concerning because of the fact that you know you’re going to have to run inside the tackles with a running quarterback in Emory Jones. You know that that’s going to be your game, and if this offensive line cannot get a block up front, you’re setting yourself up for a bad year, because Emory is not Kyle Trask. You’re not going to be able to go 80% pass in this team, so that’s a concern for me there majorly.
Baileigh:Go ahead. Ethan.
Ethan:Sorry. I agree, but I also think that, again, like we were talking about earlier, once you get the quarterback run game involved, maybe the element of deception is able to freeze defenses just long enough to where the offensive line doesn’t have to block as well.
Andrew:Yeah. No. You have a good point. It all works together. And so, when I say that’s concerning, it’s concerning, but also like you say, there is an opportunity there. It’ssomething we have to watch all year. My thing is if it doesn’timprove, it’s a long year.
Baileigh:Yeah. For me to just switch gears here a little bit. We were talking about some things that might have disappointed us a little, and this could go back to the offensive line as well, but I was a little disappointed that we really didn’t see any running backs take over and say this is my spot. They’ve got such a deep group there, but nobody has really looked elite. We didn’t really get to see much of Bowman, because he was injured for a majority of spring practice. I was a little bit disappointed in that, that we just didn’t get to see a whole lot from them yet.
Andrew:I think it is because of the offensive line in a lot of ways, because of that. Not seeing Demarkcus Bowman sucked, because we all wanted to see what he could do. If I had to pick, coming out of spring ball I think Lorenzo Lingard and Nay’Quan Wright were probably your top two. Now, here’s the kicker on that. Those guys run a lot more outside than they do inside the tackles, so can they run inside the tackles? We’ll see. Dameon Pierce is going to run between the tackles. We all know that. I think in a way it hurts him there, but it also does show that you have some speed there in Lingard and Nay’QuanWright. Nay’Quan Wright’s playing football this year for the University of Florida. Some way, shape, or form he’s going to be out on the field a lot more than he was last year. He’s too good of a back not to play.
Baileigh:Oh yeah. While we’re talking about running backs, were you guys at all surprised that we haven’t seen any transfers come out of there, or you think that Florida’s just playing it perfectly with them?
Andrew:I’ll let you talk about that, Ethan.
Ethan:I’m not really surprised, just because there isn’t a whole lot of guys that you would think would be candidates for that. Obviously, Pierce isn’t going anywhere, because he’s played a lot. Malik Davis isn’t going to go anywhere because where’s he going to go really? He’s still coming off of those knee injuries a couple years ago and didn’t really prove a whole lot last year. Obviously, Nay’Quan Wright is going to play a ton. You just added Lingard and Bowman, so they’re not going anywhere. Doesn’t really seem to be an obvious candidate for someone to transfer.
Andrew:I’ll be honest. I thought one guy would transfer. I really did. When you go through the list of Pierce, Davis, Lingard, Wright, and Bowman, that’s five guys. That’s five guys who’ve played. Well, Bowman hasn’t played a lot. He played some. Still, that’s five guys who’ve played. No way, shape, or form are those five guys all going to play a lot next year. It just isn’t.
Baileigh:There’s only one ball. You’ve got to give it to somebody.
Andrew:You got to give it to the guy who’s hot. I would venture to say three of those guys are probably going to play more than the others. I am. I honestly am. I’m shocked. I really am. I’m not going to name names, but I think it’s pretty clear of some names that I thought would probably transfer, some of the older guys. I guess having the ability to split out to the slot receiver for a couple of these guys is also there, so maybe that’sa role that this staff is pushing, and if it is, more power to them, more props to them, because that is a way to keep them. To answer your question, I am shocked. I am. I’m also a little shocked that maybe another guy or two hasn’t come out and transferred. Usually after spring you have three to four to even five guys transfer, and so far it’s just TJ Moore and JahariRogers, right? That’s the only two.
Ethan:Those are the only.
Baileigh:I’ve been surprised about that too. I’ve just been waiting for someone else to announce, and nothing’s happening. I guess they’re doing something to keep them happy.
Andrew:I say that. I think it becomes a thing too where we have to see. The NCAA has to rule pretty soon on this whole roster limit for next year, of what it’s going to be. We still don’tknow. Everyone’s operating that it’s going to be increased, but is it? It has to be, but what’ll it be increased to? It’s a situation where some guys may be forced out, and maybe that’s what some teams are waiting on, and we’ll see. If we’re being honest, the NCAA may wait till the day before the first game of the year before they say it. That’s just the NCAA. That’s something to keep in the back of your minds is what that kind of means.
Baileigh:Yeah. I guess I hadn’t really even thought about that part of it. I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what all happens with all that. Going back to spring here, do you guys have other thoughts on your takeaways?
Ethan:I thought one of the positive developments was the wide receivers. It looks like Jacob Copeland and Xzavier Henderson are lined up to be the receivers this year that take that Kadarius Toney/Freddie Swain type of leap. They’ve both had a really good spring, from what we got to see.
Andrew:Yeah. The thing too I’ll say is I was impressed with that, and I was really impressed with a couple of the early enrollees. Jason Marshall, I was really impressed with him. Not that I didn’t think he was going to do that. I did, but it’s always one of those things of seeing it at the next level. Nick Elksnis, I was really impressed with him. I thought he did a really good job of moving up the depth chart rather quickly there. Then the development of the two transfer defensive tackles in Shelton Valentine and Newkirk. I was impressed that those two guys came in and really picked up on everything so quickly to make an impact.
Baileigh:Talking about those two guys, it seemed like every single person we talked to this spring had so many good things to say about them. I guess you see that everywhere, but when guys are first getting into a program, you kind of expect them to take a little bit of time and settle in and find their place. It seems like those guys just came in, and they were leaders, and that’s it. They knew that was going to be their job, and they did it. I’mvery impressed with that, and I’m excited to see them in the middle this fall.
Andrew:I’ll ask you guys this both real quick, and then we’ll move on. Give me a guy on offense and a guy on defense who you think will take that next step from right now, what is today? We’re taping this on April 13. The guy who will take a step from April 13 to the first game in the fall. Who do you think will take the step and really showcase their stuff in the fall?
Baileigh:Okay. I will start with offense here.
Baileigh:Someone that I am really looking forward to seeing make a step and get a lot more playing time is Trent Whittemore.
Baileigh:I really think that he was impressive this spring, and he’s someone that we’ve all just kind of been waiting to see. He showed glimpses of that last fall.
Andrew:Before he got hurt.
Baileigh:Yup. Then we kind of just didn’t really get to see much else from him. So, I am excited about him. Let’s see defensively, who am I going to go with? Ethan, give your offensive, and I’ll come back to defensive.
Ethan:Does it have to be somebody like a breakout player, or can it be somebody who’s already playing?
Andrew:Anybody. Anybody that you think will take a step forward.
Ethan:I think Jacob Copeland would be my answer for that. Just because he seemed to have a really good spring, and he’s going to be counted on to be probably their top pass catcher in the fall. It’s kind of been an annual tradition under Billy Gonzales that you have one veteran receiver who you’ve kind of given up on has a breakout year, and he seems to be the biggest contender to do that this year.
Baileigh:I can agree with that. Then going to my defensive one here. Even though he is good, and we saw him be good last season in spurts, I’d say, I’d say Brenton Cox is someone that I see making that big step that we’re looking for from him, because last year it just seemed like there would be some plays where he’d totally go away, and it seemed like this spring the feeling was he’s getting rid of that, that part of him. He’sbringing his level up for those plays. So, I’m hoping that anyways. Florida’s defensive line could be set up to be really good this fall, if everything falls into place like it sounds like it will.
Ethan:My defensive player to watch is actually anotherdefensive lineman. I think Gervon Dexter could be in for a big fall, especially since he has those two older guys ahead of him now that could really help him settle into the defense and find his role. He has those two older guys that he can watch and learn what it’s going to take to get there. I think he could be a guy that maybe doesn’t have a ton of production, because he’s going to be probably a second-string player, but when he’s out there you’re going to I think notice a much larger consistent impact from him this fall.
Andrew:I agree with you there. I’m going to go with a guy on offense. I’m going to say Keon Zipperer. I think Keon Zipperer is a guy who has to take away from this spring and say, I really need to focus on everything to be the guy. KemoreGamble is a guy who I think is going to still probably be your starter, but I think Keon Zipperer can be the guy who is your best tight end, so I’m going to go with him.
Then defensively I like your pick on Brenton Cox, Baileigh, because he was one of those guys that at times he really showed out and showed he was that five-star player we all thought he was, and then sometimes he just kind of faded off into the glory of not really doing anything. Defensively, I’m going to go with Tyron Hopper. I think he’s a key to this defense. I really do. Ventrell Miller is a guy who is going to do what Ventrell Miller does. Tyron Hopper can do it all, and I really want to see him continue to take those steps. Not really his physicality and his athletic ability, but more just really honing in on what it takes to be a linebacker, understanding his reads, understanding all that. Those are going to be my two guys on the offense and defensive side of the ball.
Baileigh:I think those are good picks. About Hopper, yeah. Maybe my mind is just going blank here. I don’t particularly remember a whole lot from his spring, but Florida definitely needs some more linebackers to step up this fall, because it just seems like the older guys are kind of fading into the background. You need some new fresh faces out there to kind of, I don’tknow, I guess get things going a little better.
Ethan:I think it’s interesting that none of us chose a defensive back as a breakout player. I guess, if you had to pick a DB to break out, who would it be?
Andrew:Good question. I don’t know. I’m concerned so much about depth there, Ethan, that I don’t know. Do you say Jaydon Hill? Do you say Rashad Torrence? I don’t know. I don’tknow who I would pick, because I don’t feel comfortable with depth there.
Baileigh:I feel very similarly. That’s why I was like, I’m just going to go with …
Ethan:I do think Trey Dean could have a big year though.
Andrew:100%, but I think for him it’s more just getting out on the field and playing and getting that opportunity to play more for him. I think that’s the biggest key there. I don’t know that it’s as much anything he can do. It’s just he needs to get on the field and be able to get the reps.
Ethan:He was their best safety last year, I thought, and they had him #4 in the rotation for some reason.
Andrew:That was insane. Another day, another topic. Ethan, I’m bringing you to the table.
Andrew:Rocky Top, man. What is going on with this team? It’s a train wreck. They’re #18 in the country, and they’re not playing like the #18 in the country. What in the world went wrong at Rocky Top?
Ethan:That series was one of those series where all three games just came down to a handful of pitches, and you could really make an argument that, if three or four pitches went the other way in the first two games, the Gators could have swept Tennessee, and on the other side, if Armstrong swings a fraction of a second late in that third game, they would have gotten swept. I think that’s kind of their recurring issue with this team.
I don’t think it’s a talent issue where they think that they’re better than they are, because of the preseason rankings, like some people have suggested. I just think it’s as simple as they don’t know how to win, and they’re not a very mentally strong team. I think that stems from the core of this team played on the 2019 team that barely made the NCAA Tournament and lost in the regional round at Texas Tech, and then they didn’t get to play any SEC games last year to kind of build that toughness that it takes to win in this league. When you get into a series like Tennessee, where you’re going on the road with a top 10 team, most of the time it’s going to be decided by a handful of plays, and for whatever reason, they just never seemed to be on the right side of those handful of plays, at least not often enough.
Then also, good championship level teams are able to take bad innings and keep them from spiraling out of control into being disastrous innings. When you give up two runs, you stop it right there. The pitching staff, they just have a tendency to when things go wrong, they have to hit rock bottom before they start to build themselves back up. By that point, they’ve already dug themselves too big of a hole, and it’s too late. For whatever reason, this team plays better when they have their backs to the wall, and they just cannot handle any kind of prosperity at all.
Andrew:Here’s the thing for me, Ethan. It’s not a talent standpoint. I mean, there is some deficiencies, but baseball– Let me back up for a second. People say baseball is not a team sport. They’re full of you know what. Baseball is a team sport. Yes, only one guy touches the ball at time, but that’s in every sport. Maybe the pitcher and the catcher get three outs together by themselves, but this is a team sport. This team’s not gelled yet. This team is just not gelled yet. They’re not having fun like they were last year. I don’t know if the pressure is just beating them down or what it is. I haven’t really seen a leader step up on this team yet. Jud Fabian is a guy that a lot of people look up to, and he’s having a disaster of a year so far. Your pitching staff, Tyler Mace and Jack Leftwich, two guys who you really thought you could just get on their backs and ride them through the weekend, haven’t had good years. Jack Leftwich didn’t even pitch but, what, one batter on Saturday?
Andrew:Yeah. Do they have the talent to get there? Sure, but it’s more about anything than talent. I always use this saying all the time, but the Yankees and the Dodgers 90% of the time have the most talented teams in baseball. They just do. They have more money than everybody, but until last year the Dodgers hadn’t won one since the ‘80s, and the Yankees hadn’t won one since the early 2000s, because it’s a team game. It’schemistry, and this team has no chemistry right now.
I see some former players that are pitchers who transferred away saying Sully’s too hard on pitchers. Don’t give me that. Sully’s always hard on pitchers. Sully’s hard on everybody. He’s a tough coach to play for, but at the end of the day, kids love him, because he gets you drafted, and he gets you ready to go. That softness is retarded. For me, seeing him get frustrated with Jack Leftwich has been boiling all year. I texted you a few games earlier this year, and I said a Sully team does not walk this many guys. I said, he would have had a heart attack by now, and I think it just boiled over to the point where he just had enough on Saturday and was like, if you’re not going to throw strikes, get out of the game.
Ethan:Yup. That’s exactly it. Leftwich wasn’t happy about it. I don’t know if he was upset at himself for walking two guys or upset because Sully put him in with two runners on, nobody out, and it wasn’t a situation he’s used to, but he got back to the dugout and slammed that glove. He did not look very happy, to put it mildly.
Andrew:What are, midway? Are we midway yet through the SEC schedule?
Ethan:This weekend will be the halfway point.
Andrew:So, you’re midway through the SEC schedule. Get over it. Get over it. You had aspirations to be drafted high in the Draft. Get over it. Everybody doesn’t come in with a clean inning. Guess what? You’re going to go to the Minor Leagues, and you’re going to face some adversity. Sully giving you some adversity, get over it. Get over it. I know there’s been some injuries on the pitching staff, but still, this staff has not lived up to expectations whatsoever. Whoever told Jud Fabian about his launch angle needs to go away. Jud Fabian needs to get back to what made him a really good baseball player, and that is hitting for average and hitting homeruns when it happens. You don’thave to force it. Good hitters hit homeruns because they square up the ball.
Ethan:Yup. Jud is really, you can tell he’s just pressing on both sides, because even defensively, which was on the one calling card for him, you saw on the Sunday game at Tennessee where he ran in on a line drive, and it bounced in front of him and rolled all the way to the wall for, I think they ruled it a single and a two-base error. That’s just a play that he never would have made the last two years. For whatever reason, he just thinks that he has to be Superman all the time now.
Andrew:Teams were going to draft him because he was Mr. Reliable. He was a guy who could hit one or two in the lineup, was going to get you 10-15 homeruns a year, was going to hit you high .200s, low .300s, and was going to just be Mr. Consistency. That’s what they loved about Jud Fabian. Whoever told him he needed to be a 30-homerun guy was wrong. That is just what it is. There’s still room in baseball for Mr. Consistency. Period.
Baileigh:Yup. I agree with that.
Baileigh:Y’all go on with baseball. I was going to shift to softball a little bit here.
Andrew:Yeah. Let’s stay on this for just a second real quick with baseball. Ethan, you got Missouri this weekend.
Andrew:It’s go time. The regionals come out in, what, two weeks?
Ethan:The end of April. I don’t know exactly the date, but sometime at the end of April.
Andrew:Right. We’re about middle way of April. It’s gotime. If you want to host a regional, which you do at the University of Florida, it’s go time.
Ethan:This weekend against Missouri, it has to be a sweep. Missouri, they’re one of only two teams in the conference that have an overall losing record. They’re dead last in both batting average and team ERA, both by pretty wide margin. You’replaying at home, where the Gators actually played pretty well, for the most part this year. You’ve got to find a way to win all three of these games. A 2-1 weekend, at this point you don’thave the luxury of being able to settle for just a series win over a team like this.
Andrew:Yeah. It’s go time. What do you think the pitching staff looks like? We’re taping this on Tuesday, so they got FSU on Tuesday night. Garrett Milchin is pitching. Surprised Jack Leftwich isn’t pitching, but still. He’s pitching. What do you think the rotation looks like this coming weekend?
Ethan:I don’t know what it will look like. I think what I would do is probably I’d have Aleman. I’d have some combination of Aleman with Mace in relief after him, kind of like they did against Ole Miss, because I really liked the way that that looked. Then I think you have to start Leftwich, because he’s clearly only getting worse the more you use him out of the bullpen. Then that third game, you either got to just keep rolling with Barco and hope he gets it figured out or maybe you have to start Christian Scott at this point. Then at that point you’re just getting rid of your two bullpen arms that you can count on, so I don’t know.
Andrew:Let me ask you this. I haven’t watched as much baseball in the last few weeks as I should have, and that’s on me. Has there been any bullpen guys really step up?
Ethan:Not really. I think Trey Vanderweide has been the one guy who’s been all right the couple times he’s gotten in, and then Christian Scott came out of the bullpen on Sunday was really good. You have a couple guys that have some nice moments, like Brandon Sproat. They used Jordan Carrion as their closer for one game against Ole Miss, but other than that it’s just been a bunch of wildly inconsistent. Just been wildly inconsistent.
Andrew:See, that’s concerning. Baileigh, go to softball. Take the game against Western Kentucky. Fall to Canada. Kind of whatever. Did pick up the double-header sweep of USF last weekend. Big one coming to town with Alabama. Florida now sits just a game back of Arkansas, right?
Baileigh:Yes. I believe so. Because Alabama beat Arkansas twice this weekend. I think this weekend is really going to tell us a lot about what Florida is as a team, because they’ve played some good teams this year, but now they’re playing a team at the top of the SEC, the team that just beat the undefeated team in the SEC. So, I think we’re going to learn a lot about Florida. We’llsee. I think the bats still have a little bit of a ways to go. We’vegot to see some production from the bottom of the lineup. Even in those couple of places in the top too. Really, the only people we’re seeing real consistency, talk about Mr. Consistency, I think Hannah Adams is Miss Consistency, as well Cheyenne Lindsey. She’s looked really good, even though she didn’t have a great game against Western Kentucky. She ended up getting pinch hit for.
I don’t know. I’m just ready to see it. I’m ready to see Florida out on the field against Alabama and see what they do. If Florida goes out and wins two of three or sweeps Bama, then I think we’re looking at one of the best teams in the country. So, we’llsee how it goes.
Andrew:The question always around softball is hitting. It seems like you and I could get out there for Tim Walton and throw well. It just seems like he’s got the magic touch with pitchers, and that’s even after he changed pitching coaches and everything else. It’s always about hitting. Alabama’s not going to let Hannah Adams beat them. That’s just what it is. Lindaman, Echols, Cottrill, Jaimie Hoover, those girls are going to have to beat them. That just is what it is. They’re not going to allow Hannah Adams to beat them, and that’s any good team does not allow one person to beat them. They’re not going to allow Hannah Adams to beat them. What that means, we’ll see.
Here’s the thing for me too. If you’re going into this series, and you’re expecting Hightower and Lugo to throw up shutouts and one run games, you’re crazy. Just not going to happen. Alabama’s too good of a team. You’ve got to come in expecting to score some runs and give your pitcher some help. I agree. This is a big series. If you go into this series, or you come into this series, and you sweep, whatever, you’re going to learn a lot about this team, like you say, and we’re going to figure it out and see just how good they are. I think they’re a good team. Can they be very good to great to elite to be a real contender in Oklahoma City? We’ll see. I think this weekend tells me a lot. I just need to see consistency from the lineup, 1-9. At least some kind of production.
Baileigh:Right. Walton, he changes up his lineup so much too, so it’s hard to really get that bottom of the lineup going, because you’ll see a new girl at shortstop or in right field every series, it seems like. He’s changing it up, which I don’t disagree with. I think that you’ve got to change things up to try to get something going down there, but it’s just nobody’s really had a lot of time to settle in. Then we’re talking about tests. I think the midweek game this week is going to be a big test too, because they play UCF at home on Wednesday.
Andrew:A team that’s already beat them this year.
Baileigh:Yup. UCF walked off on them a couple weeks ago, and they are a really good hitting team. They’re probably the best hitting team Florida’s faced this season. I think that’ll be a good warmup for Alabama as well.
Andrew:Right. Yeah. We’ll see. It’s a big week. UCF’smuch improved. They’re always good, but I think they’re even better this year than years past. Really good pitching staff as well, and they can hit. They make contact. We’ll see there. Let’smove onto basketball. Ethan, I think you and I getting on Mike White fired him up on the recruiting trail.
Ethan:Yeah. Maybe it did. He’s up to four transfers now.
Andrew:Yeah. We talked about a lot of them, but they’vepicked up a guy, and I don’t even want to try to pronounce the man’s first name. Mr. Fleming. That’s what I’m going to call him, Mr. Fleming here. Transferred in from Charleston Southern, a point guard. Averaged 20 points a game last year. A guy who I think is a guy who can really come in and maybe even play a little shooting guard as well, at 6’4”, 210. Big pickup there. Surprising pickup. I’ll start with you, Ethan, first. What do you think about this? Obviously, he’s not Tre Mann, but he’s better than Ques, and probably a little bit better than Tyree Appleby.
Ethan:He’s kind of a weird guard when you look at his stat line, because he’s averaging more than 20 points a game, but yet he’s only shot 39% and like 32% from the arc.
Ethan:Which tells me that he’s going to be a guy who is kind of a volume shooter. He’s going to shoot it a lot, and he shoots enough to where even if he doesn’t shoot a high percentage, he’s still going to get a lot of points, at least that’s what he did at Charleston Southern. He’s an excellent rebounder, an excellent distributor, so I think he’s maybe kind of a diet version of Tre Mann in that regard.
Andrew:Here’s the thing for me. At least they got somebody that’s not afraid to shoot.
Baileigh:Yeah. That’s true. I think that’s been the problemwith Florida since Kevaughn Allen. Everybody’s scared to put up a shot. Just go do it.
Ethan:Except for the players who should be scared to shoot, like Scottie Lewis or Anthony Duruji. They just let it fly whenever.
Andrew:What’s his name? How do you pronounce his name?
Andrew:No. The kid from Memphis. R-U, R-O-U-S-E-Z or something.
Andrew:Yeah. Ruzhentsev. He shoots every time he comes in the game. He thinks he’s hot potato.
Baileigh:Yup. I think it’s just the transfer portal is Mike White’s bread and butter. We’re seeing it every year. He just goes out and gets these guys. I don’t know what his message to them is, but whatever it is it’s got to be something good. I think Florida really is pretty much upgrading in every position, at least on paper, from what we’re seeing.
Andrew:That was going to be my question. You’re not going to upgrade at point guard. Tre Mann’s a guy who’spicking up a lot of steam to even be a lottery pick. I don’t know that he’s a lottery pick, but he does fit exactly what the NBA likes now. You’re not going to upgrade there.
Andrew:Do you look at it and say, let me go back here. McKissic. Is McKissic an upgrade over Noah Locke?
Ethan:As an all around player, probably not, but I think I saw a stat where he shot over 50% on catch and shoot threes.
Ethan:I think Eric had that in his article. That’s definitely something that’ll be useful for them.
Andrew:Then you have Myron Jones from Penn State, another guard. Do you look at those guys and say maybe they are? You have CJ Felder, the point guard from Boston College. You look at it, and I think that’s where it becomes are they better? I don’t know yet, because Tyree Appleby was a great player at, what was it, Cleveland State? Then didn’t do as much last year. It’s always how do they transition there. With Fleming, he was the Big South player of the year defensively, which to me is huge. We’ve said it all along. Defense makes this team go. This team needs to go in transition. Play good defense. Get this team going in transition.
Ethan:The thing I like most about the roster construction is it seems like they have a lot of different ways that they can possibly score the ball next year. You’ve got three-point shooters like McKissic and Ruzhentsev, hopefully, if he’s able to get his stroke figured out. Then you have one of the better interior scorers in the country returning with Colin Castleton, if he decides to come back, which is likely at this point it would seem. Then you have several guys like Fleming and Appleby, who are more drivers that can get buckets in the paint and stuff.
Ethan:It seems like they have all the pieces you need to have a good team. It’s just a matter of whether they’re going to be able to put them together correctly.
Baileigh:Right. I think that has been a little bit of an issue for Mike White’s teams. He brings in all these big time transfers and freshmen who are supposed to be great, and I just don’t think his teams have been melding together very well. There’sjust so much, I don’t know. Every team is different every year is what I’m trying to say. So, it’s hard to really get into a rhythm, which I know teams like Kentucky, even though they didn’t do it this year, they do it all the time. It just hasn’t really worked so far in their favor.
Andrew:I think the thing different in this. When you look at what Kentucky does, Kentucky plays more of an NBA style game of just spread them out and shoot the ball. Then you look at Florida, and they play a little bit of a different game there. I think that’s a little bit of the process. Not being able to get Scottie Lewis better and figure out a way to use him. Not being able to use Andrew Nembhard correctly. Those are some of the things that scare me.
Again, we’ll see what these guys do as they transition from midmajors to now the big boys. You’re going to go up against the top-notch guys week in and week out, what do you do? Then, like you say, do they bond together? Do they gel together? Are they being able to understand where the guy is going to be at the right time and be able to do that stuff? Then how do they bond with the guys who are already in Gainesville? It’s a lot of question marks there. From the outside looking in, on paper, they might be a little bit better, but we’ll see.
Baileigh:I agree with that. Every year it seems like it’s a wait and see. Over the offseason we’re going to hype them up so much and have those high expectations, and then it’s just up to them if they’re going to meet them or not.
Andrew:Ethan, final thoughts on basketball.
Ethan:I will say it does feel like the transfers they’ve gotten this year seem to be bigger named guys than what they’ve gotten previous years. Previous years you’d get a guy, like Tyree Appleby was good, but then you’d also get two or three guys where you’re like, who the heck is that?
Ethan:Yeah. Duruji. There’s a couple more I can’t think of right now. That’s how irrelevant they are in my mind.
Ethan:Osayi Osifo from junior college. It just never felt like he was ever going to do anything at Florida.
Ethan:Just seemed like he was kind of there. At least this year you’re getting guys that were 20 point per game scorers and first team All-Conference guys. At smaller levels, but at least you’re getting players that have some sort of name recognition.
Andrew:Right. We’ll see. It’s the world we’re living in with free agency in ball nowadays. That’s what it is.
Baileigh:I think I saw there’s like 1,200 basketball players in the transfer portal right now.
Andrew:It’s ridiculous. I hate the transfer portal. I’m just going to let y’all know. I think it’s retarded. Whatever. What do I know? I don’t know anything.
Ethan:It’s also ridiculous because they’re transferring because they want more playing time somewhere else, but then half of their team also transfers. So, it’s like if you just stayed, wouldn’t you get more playing time where you’re currently at?
Andrew:No clue. Couldn’t tell you. Could not tell you. It’sfree agency. That’s all I can say. Any final thoughts, guys? We’llget out of here if no final thoughts on anything we hit on, because we hit on a lot today.
Baileigh:I think we covered it pretty well there. Just kind of getting ready for some summer stuff here. Trying to keep things going through the summer, not keep it too boring around here.
Ethan:We got gymnastics going for a national title this weekend.
Andrew:That’s right. I forgot about that. Trinity’s supposed to be good. Go get a title.
Ethan:Hopefully it goes better than the last Florida-Oklahoma battle we saw in December.
Andrew:For real. That was bad. Go get a title, girls, or ladies, excuse me. Good luck to those. We’ll get out of here. As always, follow us on Twitter, at GatorCountry.com. Hit us up on Facebook @GatorCountry, and on Instagram @GatorCountry. Let us know what you think about it, what we can improve on, and if you want to hear anything different next week. We’ll be back here. Same time, same place next week. As always, Ethan, Baileigh, I appreciate it. We’ll talk to you guys soon.
Baileigh:Thanks, guys. See you next time.