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

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

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the game and why it was a success under Dan Mullen and the coaching staff.

Andrew and Nick also break down how recruiting went for the Gators on Saturday and the big news around recruiting.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, spring football is over. I say it to you now, and that is it went by fast. It seemed like this year was a little bit different than last year. It was a lot quicker spring. Maybe it’s because we were so busy. Who knows?

Nick:                         Those first two weeks where everything was open, I’ll tell you that did not seem fast. We were at three practices and three hours. Some of the older beat reporters, they call it Meyer time, where practice doesn’t really end when they say it’s going to end. I started joking and saying, “Never had that problem with McElwain. How many periods is practice? 13. We’ve done 10 good ones, let’s get out of here.” There was never waiting around.

Then over the last two weeks, when things were kind of closed, there was some stuff for first responders and the police around Gainesville. We’ve talked about when we’ve had the past couple years where games have been cancelled because of weather, just how big the scope is and how many people it takes to create a safe game day environment. They had some stuff open for people like that. There was a practice open to university employees. There was still stuff, even though it wasn’t open to the media. Still stuff that was open.

We’ll get into the spring game, but I think as a spring as a whole I think Dan Mullen did a good job. The coaching staff did a good job. They probably got out of it exactly what they hoped to.

Andrew:                 I mean, it’s something guys have told us, and Mullen talked about, and that was the first 13 practices were the work practices. This game was more fun, have fun, let loose a little bit. Don’t get anyone injured, even though a couple guys did get injured in the game, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. You had that, and this was a game to get the fans involved and the former players involved. They got the former players involved. You had Lawrence Wright and you had Travis McGriff both catching a touchdown pass. Listen, was that gimmicky? Sure. Lawrence Wright and Travis McGriff are talking about that with everyone. Those guys had family members, young family members have never seen them play. They got to do that. It was just fun.

I told you this off the air, and that is which spring game is fun? There isn’t spring games that are fun. There is no winning a spring game, because if the offense looks good, your defense sucks. If the defense looks good, your offense sucks. We talk about the Feleipe Franks long 60-yard run, was that a long run? No, it wasn’t, but you had to do something. There again, who knows if he does get tackled. You don’t know. I don’t know how you make the game more fun. There’s probably nothing you can do really. We can go back to the Muschamp or McElwain seven-on-seven days, if you want.

Nick:                         Those were not fun. Man, those Muschamp ones where there were four healthy offensive linemen, those were not fun. I think the only thing, and I’ve seen something on Twitter, I got to meet him on Saturday. He’s GatorRyan on Twitter. I think he probably said the best way. He said, “Just let us know,” as far as fans, “Let us know that that’s what it’s going to be.” I think what he means is don’t build it up to where you think it’s going to be something, and I’m driving a couple hours, or somebody’s driving up from Miami, and they’re driving six hours, expecting to see something, and that’s not what they get.

I love the standpoint of spring is 15 practices. You’ve got 14 practices that are for the coaches. It’s install. It’s rolling after practice. You’re sweating. You’re straining. You’re going to bleed. You’re going to throw up. That spring game is for fans, for alumni, and for you guys to go out and have fun. Jordan Scarlett scores a touchdown. They’re playing duck, duck, goose in the end zone. That’s fun. That’s funny. Those guys are having a good time. Feleipe Franks scores a touchdown and punts the ball into the end zone. That’s fun. To me, the spring game is more of a reward for the players for getting through camp.

Andrew:                 Exactly.

Nick:                         You could have maybe articulated that. We’re not playing, and we tried to tell people that. We said, there’s a 5:00 deadline, so that second half is going to be quick. I did not have any personal problems with the way that the spring game went, with Lawrence Wright catching a touchdown, with Travis McGriff. Those guys are sneaking off from the sideline in. I had no problem with it. To me, that’s fun. I think I agree with Dan Mullen. He said, “There might be a guy sitting there with his kid at the game, and I watched Lawrence Wright hit Joey Kent in the Swamp 30 years ago,” or however long ago it was, 20 years ago, “I remember that, and now I’m sharing that memory with my kid.”

Andrew:                 Right. That leads me to my point. I saw some people on Twitter, couple of reporters, or not reporters, do a podcast, whatever they do. I don’t know what they do. Call it stupid, call Mullen out. Say it was a gimmick. Nobody needs it. Keep your opinion to yourself. What do you want? Your opinion was it was dumb, but I haven’t seen too many people say that. The fans loved it. It was fun. It was something different, and it was a showcase of the guys. You got to see a lot of guys go out there. You got to see a lot of moving around. You got to see the former alumni there.

To call it dumb is idiotic. To call Mullen dumb for that or anything else is off your rocker. I don’t know. It almost shows the bad part of some of the fanbase when they say things like that, because it just has to irk Mullen, because he was trying to do a good thing, and to have one person say that was just retarded.

Nick:                         I don’t like to tell fans how to feel, so if you were disappointed by the spring game, that’s fine. That’s your prerogative, and that’s how you feel. It’s your opinion. An opinion is never right or wrong, it’s just how somebody feels. To me, everyone wants to see offense, so I get that. If Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks throw for 600 yards, what the hell is wrong with the safeties? The linebackers, they weren’t covering. There’s almost no winning when you’re playing against yourself. We talk about it when we’re at practice. Someone made a nice pass. Who was it on? Why did he blow that coverage?

There’s almost no winning when you’re talking about a spring game in that aspect of the offense looks great. Is it because the offense is great, or just the defense sucks? We’ve dealt with that in past years with is the defense that good, or is the offense that bad? We kind of say, in those past years, it’s a little bit of both. The offense is bad.

Everyone knows the team that Dan Mullen inherited. It’s a team that was 4-7 last year. It’s a team that even when they made it to the SEC Championship didn’t look good in the two years previous to that. To expect in 14 practices to have an offense that’s going to be a top 10 in the country, and you’re going to see that in the spring game, I think that maybe is a little unrealistic, and maybe some of that is on the media and not preparing fans for that. In the springtime, there’s really no bad stories that come out, unless people are getting arrested. There’s really no bad stories that come out during the spring. That’s not just at Florida and with our beat. That’s across the country.

Andrew:                 The thing about it is it was a time for improvement. You did see those guys improve. I don’t know if I told you or not, but I did. I saw some mechanics get cleaned up for Emory Jones from the Under Armour game to Saturday’s game. Did he still look like the guy that’s going to win the Heisman this year? No. I saw Kyle Trask take a gigantic improvement with some of his mechanics. One of the things that we were seeing with Kyle under Nuss and Mac was he was throwing off his back foot a lot. I see him stepping into the ball a lot more.

I was able to see the offensive line in some places get better. Was able to see the defensive line. There were some really positive things that we were able to witness on Saturday, and that’s what I look at. You didn’t expect to go out there and Feleipe or Kyle or anyone to go out and there be that much better, because it was only, like you said, 15 practices, 14 practices of that.

I think what Mullen did was he was able to showcase these guys a little bit, and also take some of the pressure off these guys. If Franks goes out there and craps the bed, or Trask goes out there and craps the bed, everyone piles on top of those guys. Now you take away, and the attention is not on those guys per se, it’s on how much fun it was. That’s a good thing. Again, I don’t know how you walk away from that game with any bad comments to be said, expect for it was a fun game. It was fun. That was it. It was fun.

Nick:                         The other thing for me that was fun, in just walking around seeing the environment around the game. Maybe you missed that if you show up right at game time, and I understand there’s concerns about travel and maybe I wasn’t able to get to the thing. Mullen said, back when I was there in Orlando at the Gator Club meeting, “I want a game day atmosphere to be something in between a football game, a rock concert, and a state fair.” The theme in the lot by the north end zone, where Gator Walk is, I think that was a really good environment for families, in particular. They had food trucks and funnel cakes. People were passing out free pizza and free water bottles. There’s music. There’s just a lot of stuff going on that makes is a good family environment. I think that was different.

Certainly, the energy around Gator Walk, I would say other than maybe the LSU game last year and the Tennessee game last year, that was the best most electric environment for a Gator Walk that I’ve seen in a year. Certainly, better than when you got towards UAB and the FSU game. Those were kind of ghost towns. People had kind of checked out by then. To me, the energy and the excitement around outside of the game and the game day environment was good.

Andrew:                 Kids. Listen, this is also a big recruiting thing. A couple of the guys that I have had the chance to talk to, which is about 20, 25 guys so far, all of them said there was not a point in the day that I was bored. At the end of the day, if the recruits aren’t bored, how are fans bored? That kind of stuff. You also see the guys, the recruits and some of the players, talk about like we say, how deep Gator Walk was. Those are guys that are talking.

Nick:                         At some points in the line, 12 people deep.

Andrew:                 These are guys who have seen that. That’s all the stuff that I’m talking about. I don’t want to harp too much more on this. I want to talk a little bit more about the game in general. Again, I just say if you had a negative comment about it, rethink things a little bit here. To write something calling Mullen dumb or anything else is just not needed.

Nick:                         I think the only argument would be let us know.

Andrew:                 At the end of the day, it’s a spring game. What did you expect? They played.

Nick:                         In years past, for certainly a couple of those Muschamp ones where there were so many injuries throughout spring that the spring game was a seven-on-seven, and it was really bad football. I thought looking at it to begin with that the Orange offensive line was so much better, and I thought the Blue offensive line really did a good job. I thought you saw some effective running. Dan Mullen is not a magician. He’s not going to wave a wand and make Feleipe Franks, who his struggles have been noted everywhere, Kyle Trask, someone who hasn’t been able to play football for a year, because of his injury, you’re not going to wave a wand and make them both look like Heisman contenders. Maybe the expectations before need to be tempered.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. Temper it a little bit. Let’s dive in a little bit and talk about some of the game and talk a little bit about things we liked in the game. I want to start with Kyle Trask at quarterback first, Nick. You and I have talked about it all spring. He’s a guy that was doing really well. Me, personally, I saw him take some steps and make some NFL type throws on Saturday that really told me this is a chance. He very well could be your starting quarterback. I don’t think people could be upset about it.

Nick:                         I think, and I’ve said it all along, that Kyle Trask is the best quarterback in terms of accuracy, pocket presence. I think he was high on a couple throws last Saturday, but that’ll happen. I think Feleipe Franks, to me, looked exactly like what we saw last year. I think some of it is he tries to do too much. You’ll see the scrambling, throwing off your back foot, stuff like that. Maybe it doesn’t lead to an interception or something in the spring game environment but trying to do too much in that sense. That’s when you’re running right, stopping, and doing a Derek Jeter throw from the hole and trying to throw the ball 70 yards across the field.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I think that stuff gets him into trouble. You saw that. You’d like to see, as far as him maturing, not to do that stuff anymore. I agree with Kyle Trask. I think he’s good. I might start calling Emory Jones Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham, because he threw one pass that might have been 120 mile an hour. He’s got a big arm, and I think you saw some of the accuracy things that we had talked about in the spring. He might throw the ball 120 miles an hour, but he doesn’t know where it’s going yet. That stuff will come in time.

Andrew:                 Then he turns around and makes a really good pass.

Nick:                         Yeah. Then makes a great pass to Kemore Gamble, which again plays into what we’ve talked about with the linebackers and the linebackers not being great in coverage. Kemore was wide open there. It’s going to be a mixed bag. This is a not a team at Florida that’s going to go undefeated next year. It’s still the same roster.

Andrew:                 What?

Nick:                         Did I break news?

Andrew:                 Jim McElwain got fired. Dan Mullen came in to go undefeated.

Nick:                         Hopefully he doesn’t get fired then too. I’m done with the coaching searches.

Andrew:                 Lord, no.

Nick:                         I thought there were encouraging things, and still the defense is better than the offense right now. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone either.

Andrew:                 That’s what I wanted to carry on more about. It’s still a work in progress with the quarterbacks. I said this on the last podcast, and that is you kind of see your biggest growth from the end of spring to the beginning of fall camp, because now you know the techniques, and you’ve been able to work with the fundamentals with Brian Johnson and Dan Mullen a little bit. You’re able to now get into the film room. I still, Nick, I’m not trying to be hard on Feleipe, but I still think Feleipe just needs to get in the film room more and really understand how a play should be ran, what is expected out of the play. I think that’s kind of the difference between maybe him and Kyle Trask, because Feleipe has the better tools, maybe not the accuracy, but better tools there. I just think Kyle’s more football smart there with it.

Again, I can’t say enough about Trask from the standpoint of him being able to make the throws. He had the one pass across the middle that should have been intercepted, but it wasn’t. Then he turned around in the next play and hit an out route, and it was beautiful. Then, Nick, the back shoulder fade is back, baby.

Nick:                         That pass to Tyrie Cleveland, that’s an NFL throw.

Andrew:                 That was beautiful. When is the last time that thing has came out?

Nick:                         Been a while.

Andrew:                 There is nothing in this world that I like seeing more than a back shoulder pass, because you can’t cover it. You can’t cover it.

Nick:                         No.

Andrew:                 Then you had Feleipe. Wide open receiver, busted coverage, and he leads Trevon out of bounds. You see that. Then at receiver, Nick, I think we see what we’ve all talked about, and that is there’s three guys at receiver that are the dudes, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Van Jefferson.

Nick:                         You saw how often that Get It To List that was talked about by the last staff, you saw how many times they just, how quickly can we get the ball into Kadarius Toney’s hands? You saw that a ton on Saturday.

Andrew:                 In the first quarter, I mean I need to go back and look. I’ve got the stats pulled up right now. Just a second here, Nick. Let me pull this up real quick. I had the first quarter stats up somewhere here. I can’t find it right off hand. Here we go. Kadarius Toney had touched the ball five times in the first quarter. That was the first quarter alone. You look at him, Nick, you’ve got to get him the ball. Four catches for 50 yards on the day. Pretty good day.

Nick:                         Yeah. Absolutely. Good day. The offense, to me, right now, especially that receiver position, hinges so much on the eligibility of Jefferson and Grimes. I think it goes from being a potential strength of the offense to just a group of guys if they’re not. Not talking down about the other guys. It’s just having them and then adding the pieces like Swain and Hammond, adding them onto the other guys, that to me makes the group better. If you take those two, I think Van Jefferson is your best receiver. I might have even said that prematurely after like one practice, but I think he’s the best receiver.

Andrew:                 And Trevon’s healthy. I think that’s a huge thing too. He kind of showed what we all thought he was out of high school, and that is a big receiver that when healthy is a legit player.

Nick:                         Absolutely. First thing is still waiting to see how the NCAA rules on Shea Patterson, but I will say that Shea Patterson and the other five, so there’s six guys that are transfers, so the other four. Shea Patterson and the other four, other than Van, were all 2016 recruits. Van is a 2015 kid. Another reason why Florida would wait to see how they ruled on Shea in Michigan, because it’s going to be a different case and probably a more difficult case for Van than the other guys, because if Ole Miss is now saying, and I think they had to say, no. They didn’t want to be culpable for more than they already are. It’s going to be a harder case to prove that the coaches knew something in 2015, if you can’t prove that they knew it in 2016, for that recruiting class.

Andrew:                 Again, like you said, that’s going to be there, and that’s going to be probably how the receivers, that is going to be how you’re going to judge the receivers is Van and Trevon. You didn’t see exactly huge numbers from either one of them, but you were able to see throughout the game how just kind of more fluid those guys were.

Tyrie Cleveland did have three catches for 37 yards, and Josh Hammond looked good. You can’t rule those two guys out at all. Tyrie being injured this spring, he wasn’t one of the three we talked about a ton. Josh Hammond, and I mean this with no disrespect to Josh Hammond, I think Josh Hammond is a good player. Josh Hammond is one of those guys that you’re never going to see in the headlines, because he always just does his job.

Nick:                         You need guys like that.

Andrew:                 Right. You can’t take that for granted at all, because you need that guy. He’s kind of like the Louis Murphy with Urban Meyer’s team.

Nick:                         Louis Murphy didn’t catch anything except first down passes on third down. There was an entire season.

Andrew:                 Or David Nelson. Neither one of those guys did anything until …

Nick:                         Everyone would love to have seven Demarcus Robinson’s on the team, because of how talented he was, but who’s the guy that’s blocking for Demarcus Robinson when they throw him a screen pass on the outside? Who’s the guy that you know when we call this quick three drop slant, no read, this is where the ball’s going, who’s the guy that’s going to be on that hashmark that he’s supposed to be on to catch the pass? That’s not the guy that is Demarcus Robinson that might get caught dancing a little bit, like a lot of wide receivers do at the line of scrimmage. It’s going to be Josh Hammond, who’s knows I’ve got three seconds to get off the line, away from this guy, and to a spot, because that’s where the ball is going to be.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s something else I wanted to get into a little bit. The screen pass works again. It’s no longer a two-yard stand pass anymore. It works. It gets some yards.

Nick:                         I think it was Dan. Dan called you out on Twitter. Said the stand pass is back.

Andrew:                 It’s fun again. At the running back position, Nick, I don’t want to dive too much into this, because we’re trying to move on here, but wanted to just hit on it. I think we were able to kind of see on Saturday just what we’ve all talked about, and that’s how loaded that RB group, the running back group, is. Jordan Scarlett had a great day, 10 carries, 57 yards.

Nick:                         He looks like an NFL running back.

Andrew:                 He does. Two touchdowns. Perine had six for 28. Damien Pierce had five for 18. Then the guy that I think a lot of people forget about is Iverson Clement. He had five for 14. Guess what? You don’t even have Lemons and Malik Davis out there. How they’re going to split that up is going to be crazy to see. That running back group is a really good group.

Nick, I want to talk about the defense, but it’s a little bit tougher to talk about the defense in the game, because of the offense kind of knowing how they’re going to line up. Did want to single out a couple guys. First guy is Amari Burney. Led the Blue team in tackles with seven. He’s a guy, and I’m going to say this, and I’m not comparing him to him. He’s a guy that reminds me of Keanu Neal, in that wherever the ball is, Amari Burney is.

Nick:                         He’s around it.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He’s just always around the football, and that just shows the type of football player he is. Seven tackles. Led the Blue team. Quincy Litton was second with four tackles. Good to see him healthy again. The guy that maybe impressed me the most was Ventrell Miller, Nick. Eight tackles, a sack, a couple tackles for loss. Really good player, now that we see him actually on the field.

Nick:                         I think a couple of those guys, Ventrell, James Houston, I think there’s a couple of those redshirt freshmen linebackers that really have a chance. I think David Reese is really kind of entrenched as a starter, but a couple of those guys for that other second spot. I was joking around, ran into Fee Bartley after the spring game, and he said the same thing. He said there might be a couple of those guys that get in. He goes, if not, if they’re not ready to play, you might have to put six defensive backs on the field and play that way.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, here’s the thing too. The depth at that position isn’t very good. Getting a guy like Ventrell ready to go is huge. Heading into the spring, you really could only talk about Reese, Vosean. Who am I missing? Who am I missing here, Nick?

Nick:                         Reese, Vosean, James Houston, Ventrell Miller, Kylan Johnson.

Andrew:                 Really Kylan, Vosean, and Reese were your three that I think you could count on heading in. You got Moon at outside linebacker, but he’s kind of moving around. You didn’t really have a ton of guys that you could so-called count on, and now you’re able to see Ventrell. He slides in. I’ll be honest with you, Nick, he showed like he’s a guy that could potentially move up to be a starter, with the way he plays. That’s no surprise, because we’ve seen out of high school. He’s a headhunter and wearing #51.

Nick:                         I thought he moved really well sideline to sideline, and he’s a big dude.

Andrew:                 Big, big dude. Antonneous Clayton, Nick, though showed some bursts. I said this on the last podcast, and I’ll say it again on this one. He might have been the guy that benefited the most from the coaching change. It really showed in the game. Can’t say enough about Clayton, because we all know Clayton had the talent. He’s just now kind of showing a little bit more.

Nick:                         I think Clayton is an interesting guy. We talked about him for a while, and it was kind of he was working with the threes, I think, to begin spring, and then kind of working then some with the twos. Then a little bit with the ones. A guy that has all the potential in the world. I think he kind of got caught up in what a lot of younger guys do, get caught up in a number. I need to weigh this. You start eating Wendys and McDonalds and just a pound of pasta for dinner, just to get a number up.

The biggest thing in his game was his speed and his quickness. You talk about he’s got the speed and quickness, and now he needs a coach to teach him about hand placement and stuff like that, but now you’re trying to get to a number. I need to weigh 280 pounds. I weigh 240. How do I do that? I eat terrible. Now you’re putting on bad weight, and you lose that step, so you lose your best asset. I think that the biggest thing that happened with him is that he got sick his freshman year, lost 20 pounds, tried to put that on, put it on the wrong way.

You can see his body is kind of changing now, and it’s instilling more confidence in him. Another thing that happened to him is that you’re a big five-star guy, you’ve been the man at your school for three years in high school, and then now you’re a small fish in a big pond. You lose that confidence. I think he’s gained that confidence back, and I think you’re going to see the best version of Antonneous Clayton coming up.

Andrew:                 Exactly. It’s needed. You never can have enough depth on the defensive line, never, ever, ever. If a team or a coach tells you that, they’re crazy, because you can’t. You’re going to rotate guys in. I mean, I think Sunseri was talking about he’d like to have 8-10 guys to be able to rotate. When you look at the best teams in the country year in and year out, it’s teams that can rotate fresh bodies. You used the line all the time, they have one gas tank. You better use that throughout the game sparingly. You need fresh bodies in the 4th quarter that can go. That’s a big thing for them. Adding Clayton, Moon and those guys to the already talented group is a huge plus.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think that defensive line group, you kind of got to see a little bit about how deep they are. We’ve been talking about that all spring, how deep that defensive line is.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Anything else you want to talk about the game before we move on to recruiting?

Nick:                         Let’s see. I have a question for you about recruiting. What else do we need to talk about? How do you think the offensive line shakes out once you get Heggie back?

Andrew:                 Still not ready to say, Nick.

Nick:                         Somebody on the message board asked for two deep. I’m not sure the two deep, because I don’t know where Heggie fits in, because I think Tyler Jordan and Heggie will be fighting for a guard spot, as well as Fred Johnson.

Andrew:                 I think Heggie.

Nick:                         Heggie is a guy that can also play center.

Andrew:                 I’m starting to think more and more that Nick Buchanan may be your starting center.

Nick:                         You think Nick Buchanan?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I think he might have overtaken TJ McCoy a little bit. Now, McCoy had some good blocks in the game.

Nick:                         Before getting hurt late.

Andrew:                 Yeah, before getting hurt. I don’t think it was very serious for that. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Buchanan didn’t. I still think tackle is Martez, and the other tackle is Waany. To me, Heggie is your best guard.

Nick:                         He plays with a mean streak.

Andrew:                 He does. I’m not ready to say yet. Sorry. That might be the coward or the easy way out, but I’m not ready to say yet.

Nick:                         Okay. What was our last one? What do you think about the Saturday versus Friday?

Andrew:                 I like the Friday night, because you had the stage all to yourself. I don’t think you were pushing for time as much. As we all know, it was 5:00 almost on the dot, and they were swiping the game, and you were rushing it to be done. Then they were able to go to, I think it was Texas A&M, the next game. I like the whole be by yourself on Friday, but I liked the Saturday because of the atmosphere and the recruiting standpoint of getting more recruits on campus, that kind of stuff. You get to spend all day with them. I’ll say Saturday, but, again, I understood Friday. Not fully against Saturday either, I mean Friday.

Nick:                         I’d be fine either way. I think that’s probably one of the best thing we thought McElwain did, because those were such fun events, and it made sense for recruiting purposes. You’re the only show going on. I thought Saturday, we’ve already talked about it, I thought Saturday was good.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Any other questions?

Nick:                         Nope.

Andrew:                 Let’s talk about recruiting. Nick, it was a who’s-who weekend again. They had a couple guys surprise and show up. The three IMG guys, and then Trey Sanders, Nolan Smith, the Georgia commit, and you also had Noah Cain, the other big running back, show up from there. People were upset that they didn’t get a commit out of the weekend. I understand that. Trust me, I understand that. You want a commit after the weekend. Didn’t happen. A lot of those guys that are coming on campus, the Trey Sanders of the world, the Keiondre Jones, Emory Jones’ cousin the offensive lineman, those guys are just not going to commit early. You would like for it to happen, but it didn’t.

Overall, it was a really good weekend. Topped off a really good spring of seeing top player after top player after top player come in the thing. The one thing that all kids talked about was the atmosphere at the spring game was great for a spring game, and they want to come back and see a fall game to see how the atmosphere can be even better.

Then how much energy the coaching staff had, and how they were never bored. Nick, I never heard that last year. You and I talked about it. We sat in the press box and said the kids were on their phones or bored to death in the south end zone, and that was something they were talking about. A huge plus for them.

Nick:                         That’s another thing. First off, I thought the crowd was very good. They were into the game. That’s an environment where when you have a kid on campus you want to create an environment for them where they can picture themselves on a game day. If you’re in a stadium that seats 90,000 and there’s only 20,000 there, you’re not getting that image in your head.

Andrew:                 So, not Miami?

Nick:                         Yes. I saw an estimation of 12,000.

Andrew:                 Missouri had maybe 1,000.

Nick:                         That’s not great. They have some renovations going on at their stadium there too. They’re getting rid of the rocks.

Andrew:                 It was freezing cold. I mean, to show that you had 58,000 or whatever they announced there, and to have the Gator Walk and the atmosphere like that, it gets kids excited, because they think this is just for a spring game, what will it be like for a regular game? To see the atmosphere and the energy and all the kids that came in talked about how the atmosphere was so much different from the previous coaching staff. We talked about that a lot, and it is. There’s a lot more energy around, so that’s huge.

Again, I understand the frustration about not getting a commit. There’s nothing I can say that somebody is not going to use it as an excuse for Mullen, so I’m not even going to try to say it, except for that it’ll happen. The recruiting class isn’t signed on April 16 that we’re taping this, on Monday. It’s not signed there. Be patient. You can’t get them to sign without getting them on campus.

I know some people say, Florida State landed three guys. They landed two guys Florida wouldn’t take anymore, after they decommitted from Florida. Do you want to go back to the McElwain days of just signing anybody? Because during the McElwain days he got blasted for that. What do you want?

Nick:                         McElwain always started slow in recruiting, but then kind of closed well.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but he was always talked about, and it was always criticized, because he would take middle grade guys at the beginning of the year and then push them out late. Do you want Mullen to do that? I’m sure he can line up 10 kids to commit today, middle of the way, and push them out in January.

Nick:                         I think it’s way too early to talk about Dan Mullen as a recruiter. I think the last class was great, was a very good class. Obviously, you won’t truly know until two, three years down the line, but considering all the circumstances, having a month to fill out a class, it was a big deal the way that they finished. I think we’ll know more in February about this recruiting class. Definitely too early to freak out about not getting a recruit or commitment on this weekend.

It’s funny. My dad, who went to Florida, loves the Gators, I was talking to him Saturday and said, “We’re doing this for recruiting.” He’s like, “Recruiting? I can’t get into that right now. It’s too early for me.” I said, “Me too.”

Andrew:                 Again, I understand it. Would Mullen have liked to have Trey Sanders or any of those other big-name guys commit? Sure. To give a quick rundown on kind of the big news, the big DB out of Louisiana, Chester Kimbrough, named Florida his leader. You had the DB out of my neck of the woods in Alabama, Cordell Plott, name Florida his leader. You had Trey Sanders come on campus and talk about how he’s very high on Florida, and getting his brother committed was big. Him and his brother always talked about playing together. You had Keiondre Jones, Emory’s cousin, talk about how the coaching staff always talks to him about blocking for his cousin and stuff like that. He says he’s very high on Florida.

You get these guys, and they’re all very high. Now you got to close and get them back on campus in the summertime. You set the perimeter. You set the groundwork for these guys. Now you just got to close.

Nick:                         When we talk about a lot of those big five-star guys, those are guys who are not ready to commit now.

Andrew:                 Right. They love the attention. Nothing wrong with it. They love the attention. I know you had a recruiting question for me. Fire away.

Nick:                         That was it. There was some sentiment about recruiting, that it was a swing and a miss from a recruiting standpoint this week, because there were no commitments. You kind of got into it before I could ask my question.

Andrew:                 Okay. You call it what you want to call it. When you have the best visitors list in the country on campus, I don’t know how you call that a swing and a miss. Again, do you want a commit? Sure. I think you have to take it with a grain of salt as well. Would you rather just get anybody, or do you want your guys? I think that Mullen is one of those that wants his guys and wants to get his commits.

I do want to say this though, Nick. Florida’s quarterback commit, Jalon Jones, tested out in Charlotte at The Opening. Tested very well. Came in at 6’4”, 203 pounds. Had a 4.45 40. Went with a vert of 32.7. Pretty good there. Said he was seven of seven in his passing drills. Don’t know yet if he got invited to the Elite Eleven or The Opening yet. That’s announced a little bit later on. The wind was bad and that kind of stuff, but 4.45 in a 6’4” 203-pound guy.

Nick:                         I don’t know about those Opening 40 times. Apparently, every high school junior is faster then that guys at the Combine.

Andrew:                 Yeah. What I’m saying is when you’re measuring that against those other guys, that’s pretty good for his size. I know some people are talking about he still needs to get better throwing the ball. Yes, he does, but so does every high school quarterback in the country. It just is what it is. He’s a dual-threat guy. Every dual-threat guy in the country pretty much needs to get better.

Nick:                         One more recruiting question, and this is a hotly debated one. You and I have both been keeping tabs on this. Quarterback who is currently at Ohio State, Joe Burrow. He spoke after their spring game on Saturday, and basically said that he has to have a conversation with Urban and with their coaching staff. He believes he’s a good player, that he didn’t come to Ohio State to sit for four years. He thinks he’s a better player than a four-year backup. No decision has been made by him or his family about him transferring yet. Also, he would not be a graduate transfer, so that wouldn’t be a 2018 fix, would it? Am I correct there?

Andrew:                 No. He would be a grad transfer. I think he graduates next month in May. I believe he can apply and have two years to play if he comes in, so that would be a two-year grad transfer. I think that’s where some of the confusion comes in.

Nick, here’s my thing. I know somebody is going to say another grad transfer. Listen, not all grad transfers are a bad thing. You can’t judge them all by what Mac and Nuss did with those guys. Let’s be honest, those weren’t the two best guys you could get. This guy is a guy that is in Mullen’s system, basically, with Urban. He knows how to run it. I think it would be a good idea just to simply bring in some depth at the position. If he’s able to come in and run the system better than Trask or Franks, then so be it. I think we all know Emory is a year away at least, so if he can come in and do it and win games running Mullen’s system, I don’t see an issue with it. I know some people do. I don’t see an issue with it.

Nick:                         No. You’re trying to win games, whether it’s now with a grad transfer, now with somebody you have who’s already on campus. To me, people say it’s a Band-Aid, and you’re just masking, putting makeup on a pig, if you have a bad situation. That’s fine. Do you want to keep the bad situation and lose games, or bring somebody in for more competition?

Andrew:                 Let me interrupt you for a second, Nick. Yes, it’s a Band-Aid, but it’s a Band-Aid if you got a situation like Mac, where you’re not recruiting well at quarterback. I will venture to say that Emory and Jalon Jones are the two best quarterbacks that’s been recruited at Florida in a long time. I don’t think it’s a Band-Aid. I think it’s more of a free agent signing that you have in baseball, where you sign a free agent for a year to plug the stopgap to the young guys.

Listen, Trask or Franks might end up being the guy. If they are, Burrows goes sit the bench. If they’re not, if Emory truly is the guy that’s the best quarterback on campus, and he’s still a year away, then you need him. It’s not fair to the other guys not to have a quarterback that can help them win games just simply because you want to play at the notion of you need to let Feleipe or Kyle play to get experience.

Listen, this is SEC football. Dan Mullen, his clock’s ticking on how many games he can lose. He can’t just walk in Scott Strickland’s office and say, “Listen, we’re going to suck this year, so I’m going to let Feleipe just go out there and get experience and hope that he gets better for next year.” Scott Strickland’s not playing that game.

Nick:                         No. It’s all about winning.

Andrew:                 People are not coming in the stands to do that. It’s just not happening. I’m in the favor of, if Burrows transfers and wants to come to Florida, and I do know Florida will have some tough competition, Cincinnati is one of them, if he wants to come and Mullen wants him, sign him up.

Nick:                         There’s a bunch of guys. I think Joe Burrow would probably make the most sense, just because, obviously it’s not the same offense, but maybe not identical twin offenses, but fraternal twin offenses with Dan and Urban. These are guys that are potentially grad transfer guys. There’s Shane Buechele, Texas quarterback. He lost his job, lost out to Sam Ehlinger at Texas. There’s Zerrick Cooper at Clemson, Brandon Dawkins from Arizona. There’s a bunch of guys that are out there. Jacob Eason already transferred back home. There’s options for Florida if that’s the route they want to go.

I think I come away high on Emory Jones in terms of future, even though I don’t think he’ll be ready in 2018. I think he plays in 2018, but I don’t think there’s ever a time where he’s starting. Dan Mullen is a big believer in confidence, and he’s not going to put a quarterback in that he doesn’t think is ready just because I wanted to get him experience. At what cost does that experience come, if you’re going to ruin a quarterback’s confidence when they’re a freshman?

Andrew:                 Exactly. Good stuff overall. Jampacked podcast. We’ll be back on Thursday. We’ll talk some more recruiting and all that good stuff. Then we’ll get back to talking about the #1 baseball team in the country, and a Florida softball team that went out and swept South Carolina this weekend. Good things are still going on.

Nick:                         Double sweep. Double sweep on the diamonds.

Andrew:                 There you go. Double sweep. Both teams are doing well. We’ll talk about that more on Thursday and talk some more recruiting. I’m sure there will be something to talk about football. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out.

Nick:                         What’s softball schedule?

Andrew:                 Softball does not have a midweek game this week. Then they go to Texas A&M this weekend.

Nick:                         Florida will play Tuesday, host Jacksonville, before a Thursday, Friday, Saturday week for the baseball team, kind of taking after the softball weird schedules.

Andrew:                 I misspoke on softball. I forgot they added the Florida-A&M game this weekend on Wednesday for a midweek game, because a couple weeks ago in a tournament their game got canceled. Florida-A&M is coming on Wednesday. I forgot about that.

Nick:                         Got you. Big week. Another big week on the diamond. Florida, baseball team halfway through the SEC conference schedule, and then are 12-3. #1 RPI team in the country right now, as well as being ranked #1. Very fun team.

Andrew:                 There you go. Florida has Mississippi State, LSU, and Missouri left. Big weekend in Starkville this weekend, and then home series against LSU, and then Missouri. Florida has to go to Missouri to finish out. Three more SEC series for Florida. They’re 12-3 also in conference play. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Thursday.

Nick:                for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. As always, you can find the podcast on iTunes. Search @GatorCountry. Subscribe and get a push notification every time the podcast goes live. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Appreciate it, guys. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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