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    Caleb Brantley celebrates a tackle for a loss for the Florida Gators over Tennessee- Gator Country photo taken by David Bowie

Spring football talk for
the Florida Gators: Podcast

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Written by Andrew Spivey, March 18, 2016, 0 Comments,
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This GatorCountry podcast talks Florida Gators spring football as the guys break down each position and give updates on how the players are doing this spring during practice.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre give you insight on which players are performing well during practice, plus discuss how the offensive line is shaking out.

Andrew and Nick end the podcast by breaking down the Florida Gators softball and baseball teams for this weekend, plus talk lacrosse and all else Gators sports.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew: ​Hello, my friends. What’s up, Gator Country? This is the man, Andrew Spivey, here. What’s up, Nicholas de la Torre?

Nick:​ What is going on? Another great day here in Gainesville. Lot of stuff going on, and we’re taping this on Thursday. It’ll be up on Friday, but this is Thursday, Friday is one of these next two days are one of the best sporting event days of the year where you’ve got basketball games around the clock. March Madness. I think a lot of people call in sick from work.

Andrew:​ Either sick, or have their little things on CBS.

Nick: Or sitting in the office with an iPad or computer and the game streaming.

Andrew: ​Yeah. Remember a couple years ago when they brought out the whole deal where you could switch it to a spreadsheet real quick when the boss came it. You and I, we’re lucky. We don’t got to do that. I agree. Outside of really the Masters, that’s probably the greatest two days of sports there is. Of course, every day in college football, but outside of Saturday, Sunday for the Masters I would say it was the best. Masters Saturday, Sunday, nothing compares to that.

Nick: ​Masters Wednesday with the Par 3 is awesome. Thursday is awesome. I love the Masters. That’s my favorite. The Masters and the US Open. I think because the US Open always falls on Father’s Day, so I have the tradition of golfing with my dad on Father’s Day. Those two are probably my favorite golf events. As far as how much is going on, you’ve got I think 16 games today, 16 tomorrow. It’s a lot of basketball, and it’s all, I’m not a big college basketball fan or a basketball fan, because I think there’s too many games. If 62 teams, or 64 teams now, are making the tournament, what does a game in January mean? Not much. If we’re playing 82 games in the NBA season, what does a game in November mean? Nothing. When it comes down to the tournament, I’m all in for it. It’s win or go home, and I love the high stakes that you’re kind of playing with once the tournament starts.

Andrew: ​I think this year’s tournament may end up being one of the craziest ones, because there really is no dominant team, and so it’s kind of one of those deals where it might not be as many upsets as we think, but who knows what seed your championship team is going to be, because what? Seven #1 teams this year in the country. I mean, a team like Kentucky that’s a four seed was #3 at one time in the country. Could be crazy, but it’s always awesome to see March Madness.

Nick: ​We’ve got a little March Madness of our own going on on the football field. Florida still doing spring practice. Monday we got shells. Tuesday we got full pads, full hitting.

Andrew: ​Wednesday.

Nick: ​Wednesday. Tuesday, Wednesday, same thing. Wednesday was full pads, and they’ll be back in shells here on Friday, as you’re listening to this. In the media we get to see a very small portion of practice. I was actually talking to Jake McGee about it. He was kind of making fun of me, because he, as a former player, was just going to stay there the entire practice, and I had to leave. So I said I was going to hide behind him. It’s a very small portion, so you and I try to kind of keep that in perspective. We know what we’re seeing, and it’s basically we’re making calls off of what families are telling us, player’s parents, what someone around the staff, people that are at practice sources. People that are close to the program, what they’re telling us, as well as what we’re seeing. I’m not going to go watch 10 minutes of practice and say, so-and-so’s going to be the starter, because I saw him play well today for five snaps.

Andrew: ​It’s tough. It is. It’s tough to make a judgment on what you see. You kind of got to go by other stuff. When you write something, and you say, so-and-so’s the starter, because he lined up first in the passing tree, which is not called the passing tree. It’s called routes on air, for anyone listening. When they run it’s called routes on air. Anyway, you can’t make a judgment on who lines up first in a drill as your starter. It varies. It could be the first person that got to the drill. It could be several different things. It’d kind of be like basing your superstar in basketball off the first person that got in line for layup drills. It’s not based off that. I mean, I’m being serious in this. It’s kind of like you and I talk about which quarterback looked good, and it’s like he looked good throwing routes on air. That’s fine and dandy, but so did Treon Harris at times.

I want to know who looks good when it’s 11 on 11, and there’s a pass rush coming at you. I want to know who looks good when they’re running one on ones, and you’re doing stuff like that. That’s what I want to know, kind of who looks good there. When there’s three quarterbacks throwing routes on air at the same time I could care less who looks good. If you suck, and you’re throwing the ball, and it’s bouncing in the ground, something’s wrong, but any quarterback at the Division I level should be able to throw a post pattern and complete it on air.

Nick:​ Yeah.

Andrew:​ You see what I did there, right? On air. So that’s kind of where you got routes on air.

Nick: ​There were times the past couple years where routes on air were a little harder than they should be. This year I really, what I can take away from watching the quarterbacks is there’s a lot of arm talent. Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have big arms. These guys can really throw the pill around the field. Luke Del Rio, not as big of an arm, but a guy that can make all the throws. Then Austin Appleby, I think to me, based on the small sample size, I really think that he’s kind of an emergency option. I don’t think he can overtake Luke Del Rio. I still think Luke Del Rio is your starter. I would be very surprised if he’s not the starter first game of the year against U Mass.

Andrew: ​Speaking of that, I talked to some people that have been able to watch some more practices, and every one of them told me one thing in common, that Luke Del Rio has a sneaky good arm, and they said when you look at him he is the smaller of the three. While he definitely doesn’t have the best arm on the team, he has a better arm than a lot of people believe, and that was something that kind of came from a lot of people that I’ve talked to is that he has that.
​Then one other note, and this is something, you and I have both been very tough on this person. I’m going to say this, and you and I are both going to have to eat our words, so far. So far I’ve been told that Feleipe Franks has done a better job with the mental standpoint. That’s something you and I didn’t really ever question his physical abilities. He’s always had a strong arm, that kind of stuff, but we did question his mental state, and a lot of people have told me that it’s been different. He’s actually done well with the mental state, and that him and Kyle Trask are both performing well. Trask is definitely behind from a standpoint of understanding reads and that kind of stuff.

Nick: ​Yeah. I think with both of them, we had heard about Franks up at the Opening, and the Opening when I was there a couple years ago and talking to Will Grier, who was there, they really throw a professional playbook at you, and some of the things I had heard about Franks from the Opening was that he really struggled with a bigger playbook, that he really struggled to really grasp it and own it. So that was the question coming in here. The playbook is going to be bigger than it was, and it’s not a playbook that you’ve been playing in high school for three, four years. It’s new. It’s bigger. There’s a bunch of different nuances that you have to get used to. How quickly can you pick that up?

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick:​ To me, still, if you’re living in a perfect world, both freshmen are redshirting, and that just gives them time to grow, time to develop. You have a guy in Luke Del Rio who is a redshirt sophomore, has been in the program. Every player we talked to in interviews says you can tell that Luke has been here. They’re all confident in Luke, and the way that he commands the huddle there’s just a certain confidence that you have, self-confidence that you have when you’re not questioning. You can play faster when you know what you’re doing in a playbook and in a scheme. When you know more than just this is my responsibility, when you know the other 10 people that you’re with, I know all of their responsibilities. I know where I’m supposed to be. It not only helps you exude confidence, but that confidence that you’re exuding builds up and brings up the players around you, and that’s really what Jim McElwain was looking for.

Andrew: ​That’s something that is going to come at time for Franks and Trask. I mean, there is nothing better. That’s why you don’t see a lot of true freshmen playing, because it’s a lot to adjust. Not only now are you adjusting to learning the playbook, but you’re adjusting to quicker defenses. That half second you could have threw a ball late is now picked off by the safety, is now picked off by the linebacker. That false step you took on your drop back is now a fumble with the running back. In high school it was he’s a little slower, I can get my balance here, that kind of stuff. It’s not one thing you’ve got to do. It’s multiple things, but I do think that it’s a positive that Franks has come in with a little bit better understanding, and I’ll be the first one to admit, and I’m sure you’ll be the next one to admit, Nick, that if we’re wrong, we’re wrong. I hope we’re wrong, because I like to see good quarterback play.

Nick: ​What’s that?

Andrew: ​Yeah. What is that? I haven’t seen it.

Nick:​ I’m also a Dolphins fan, so I don’t know. You’re speaking French to me right now with this good quarterback play. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Andrew: ​Well, Matty Ice up in Atlanta is not doing too hot either. Not exactly getting to watch good quarterback play, but that’s it. Then at running back. I’ve heard some good things, and I know you’ve heard as well that all three backs are doing well so far, and that’s something that I expect to continue to go through summer and into the fall that all three backs, I don’t want to say that someone’s going to pull away. I do think one of them will get the bulk of the carries. You and I have talked about that before. I do expect all three to kind of be there to play.

Nick: ​I wrote about it even before the season started. I think this is going to be the hottest contested, the tightest race of any of the position battles, because you really have three quality players there. Mark Thompson, we’ve mentioned before, came in with the right attitude, the right mentality of clock’s ticking. I don’t have a lot of time here. I’m trying to be, in all reality Mark Thompson’s playing as one and done. I’m sure he’ll say, I love you Gator Nation, but this is my life. I’m not trying to spend a lot of time here. My job is to do as best as I can my junior season, and then get on. Move on to the NFL>

Andrew:​ As a running back, it’s a race to that second contract. That’s what it is. I mean, a running back that lasts in the League through his second contract is considered doing really well. The quicker you can get to that second contract, with the least amount of wear and tear on your body, is a positive thing. I do want to move to the offensive line a little bit. We haven’t talked about this yet, and it happened what? Sunday night? Sunday night Travaris Dorsey transfers. You and I talked about it at the beginning of last year. He was a guy that the staff was high on before he got injured, and for whatever reason he never either brought that intensity back or something, and then he transferred away from spring practice, and better opportunity for other guys. I think we can both agree that it probably wasn’t likely he would play much, but he was a bigger body that I thought could be an asset to Florida as they do look to get bigger in the middle.

Nick: ​I think you were higher on him that I was, not saying I was right, but I think you were higher on him that I was. I know that at one point in time the staff was high on him. To me, just looking at him and seeing him play and practice, he had a lot of weight to lose. I know Florida wanted to get a little bigger inside, but there’s a difference between 320 pounds can be bad, and it can be good. It all depends on how you carry it, and how that weight is distributed. Not every 320 pound player is the same, and to me it just looked like he still had a lot of bad weight, and he was a kid that came in, even when you were covering him during recruiting, it was a kid that you right away said, he’s not going to play as a freshman. Look at him. He needs to redshirt and transform his body. He had started to do it, but I just don’t think he had done it quite enough to the point where he was going to get on the field.

Andrew: ​Yeah. You look at it. We talk about Jawaan Taylor, and as big as he is, he’s 330 pound guy, but when you look at him he doesn’t look 330 pounds. When you look at a guy like a Max Garcia, when you look at David Sharpe, Martez Ivey, they don’t look that, but he’s a shorter guy that is there. I just don’t think it ever did it, and also, I mean, learning of the playbook was always something that hindered, I guess would be the best word to say, Travaris, and I guess best is going to Tuskegee, but something just never came back for Travaris, whether that was he was he came back in bad shape after the off season, or whatever it was, but just wasn’t going to play. I think that now leads to needing a guy like Buchanan to step up or maybe Sandifer or someone else. Someone’s got to step up.

Nick:​ That, to me, I look at Nick Buchanan, and from what I’ve been able to see, I’ve only watched a little bit of the offensive line, defensive line, because really just because there’s no point in watching them when they’re not wearing pads, so I’ve only had two instances, two opportunities to watch them. To me, Nick Buchanan has a heavyweight punch, and by that I mean he has heavy hands. When he’s able to get off the line and get his hands, both hands, on a defensive lineman, that player is going wherever Nick Buchanan wants him to go.

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick: ​Now, I don’t know if I’ve seen the footwork and the mobility that you want to see from a guard quite yet, but from a standpoint of he’s been in the system for a year, he’s done a lot of work trying to transform his body. He’s a guy that had to lose some weight, to then put some more back on. To me it’s just those hands. When you’re talking about someone playing inside, and wanting to run the football, you need a guy that has that kind of punch to be able to move the line of scrimmage. We talked about it. How often did we talk about it last year? Look at the line of scrimmage, and watch Florida’s offensive line have a new one created two yards in the backfield, instead of being able to push the line of scrimmage and move it from, if you’re at the 50 you’re trying to move it to the other team’s 48.

Andrew:​ The thing that I’ve been told by a couple people with Buchanan is that it’s not so much about his play. It’s so much about him kind of knowing what has got to take place, that kind of stuff. The word that was told to me, or the phrase that was kind of told to me is he’s coming along slowly. That could be several things there, but it is a case in point where Florida needs him to step up. You look at Antonio Riles, which to Antonio Riles’ credit a couple people did say that he was upset, and then has kind of bought back into playing offensive line, and has done better. In my opinion, it’s just not there for Riles to be the starting guard. Something interesting you and I both were told, Nick, is that the other guard position in Tyler Jordan, that everyone is very impressed with Tyler Jordan playing guard, to the point where it looks like guard is the position that Florida would like him to be at permanently.

Nick:​ I can see it in his play. Jordan is, for a big boy, very flexible. He gets low. When you’re talking about offensive line/defensive line, talking about really anything in football, the general rule of thumb is low man wins. Tyler Jordan is able to get low. When you’re talking about offensive linemen, now you’re talking about big guys. It’s easy for someone like Kelvin Taylor, who’s 5’10”, to get low when he’s going up against a linebacker, someone who’s 7’, or seemingly 7’. Fred Johnson, it’s harder for him to get low and stay low to create that leverage they need, but Tyler Jordan does a great job of that, plays with great leverage, and his athleticism is something that has really caught my attention. Florida was working on Wednesday a lot of pulling drills, both sides, and to me Tyler Jordan kind of reminded me of either a Jonathan Harrison or a Jon Halapio in the way that those guys were able to pull and then make impact blocks while on the run.

Andrew:​ Yeah.

Nick: ​It’s a lot different to have a ball snapped and hit somebody standing in front of you versus having to do it after you’ve already run 10 yards, 12 yards.

Andrew: Right. That’s what makes your guards, that separates the elite from the good is who is able to pull, pull athletically with still being able to throw a punch on the move and engage, and that’s something.

Nick:​ It’s not just throwing the fat boys down inside.

Andrew: ​No.

Nick:​ They’re athletic too.

Andrew: ​Not only that, but there’s a lot of times where you’re pulling, and you’re meeting a mike linebacker, an Antonio Morrison in the middle of the thing. Morrison, or whoever the linebacker is, has got a three yard head start. The thing with Jordan is this. He is a smart guy, and is going to be a guy that I think is going to do well. Then Fred Johnson. You and I both were told the same thing with Fred Johnson is he’s a guy that has all the athletic ability in the world. He’s just it is taking him a little longer to progress, and I think that’s kind of with the body. I say this, and I mean this not that he’s going to be what we thought he was going to be, but he reminds me so much of what Rod Johnson was entering his redshirt freshman year, in that it was a raw guy who just continued to get better. I mean, when Rod went down many people argued and told us that he was their best offensive lineman when he went down. When Rod got on campus he wasn’t. He was just raw, and that’s exactly what Fred Johnson is.

Nick:​ I would absolutely agree with that. Rod Johnson was Florida’s best offensive lineman last year before he got hurt. I think when it comes to a guy that is raw, you look at Fred last year, and the excitement comes from he’s huge, he’s only a freshman. Think about how good he can be. But when you’re only a freshman, and you’re raw like that, the coaching staff really does a lot to take as much off your plate as you can. Fred only started I think one or two games last year, and he’s coming in in spot duty. Yeah, he looks good, but now there’s going to be more asked of you. You’re starting now. Maybe we don’t want to run as deep a rotation as we do, because we’re more confident in this line. It’s how you handle that, and now it’s kind of build on what you learned last year, but also you’re going to be asked to do a lot more. So that’s kind of where, it’s not saying that he’s regressing. It’s just saying he’s raw. We said he was a raw player coming in last year, and it’s just now there’s more being asked of him.

Andrew: ​Right. I agree with that.

Nick:​ I still think potential wise he has the potential to be one of the best linemen on the team. It’s just kind of putting it all together, and it’s different for every player.

Andrew: ​I’m the same way with Buchanan. I think once Buchanan puts it all together Buchanan’s going to be a freak at guard.

Nick: Right now I think our buddy, Jon Halapio, would say that Buchanan’s a caveman. That’s what they would, Summers would always tell Jon not to be a caveman, and that meant Jon had heavy feet. He needed to be quicker with his feet. He had heavy hands, which you need at guard, but it was all kind of just like, don’t be a caveman. Don’t just try to go with brute force and brute strength. Think.

Andrew: ​That’s a good point. Let’s go to the defensive line real quick. You had Caleb Brantley on Wednesday talking about him wanting to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country, and I think that with the way Brantley plays ball, he became very close with Jonathan Bullard last year, I think the two of them together have really talked a lot, and I think that it’s going to be beneficial to Caleb. I think that Caleb, when Caleb plays ball the way Caleb knows how to play ball, I do consider him one of the best defensive linemen in the country. When he turns it on, he’s a force, and we notice that at times. It was just at times last year it was like, we’ve seen Caleb, where’s Caleb at now? Then he’s back.

Nick: ​The impact that Chris Rumph and also Jonathan Bullard had on Caleb Brantley can’t be understated. Both of those guys really kind of I think opened Brantley’s eyes. I think you might even agree with me, and I put it in my story, that Brantley was cocky, maybe even a little selfish, when he first showed up. 18 year old Caleb Brantley, senior in high school, had a three year plan, and he was one of those kids that when he committed he said, “The next three years I’ll be playing.” Just kind of like, hold on. Hold on. I think the redshirt year, his freshman year, was discouraging, and eye-opening, but even as a redshirt freshman I think he still wasn’t there mentally. Last year he really kind of got it, and this year I think the biggest thing he’s trying to work on is I want to be on the field more. Last year, he told us on Wednesday he’s weighing about 298, but he’ll be about 300-310 during the year. He says, “I need to be able to play more. My motor needs to be better. I need to be on the field more for my team, so I have to get into better shape, into better condition.” That kind of goes back to the 310 is not 310 on everybody. You can be an athletic 310 with a big tank, who can play 40, 45, 50 snaps a game.

Andrew: ​Exactly. I think that’s a good point. I have no problem. Caleb, if you’re listening, and you want to get me, come get me, but I’ll be the first to say it. I think Caleb would to, that Caleb’s grown up a ton in the last two years, and it was good. Caleb, I think Caleb did know he was the big man on campus in high school, and I think that did transfer over a little bit. I think, I do, I really think that he’s going to do really well. I think that when he gets to season, and it’s his turn to kind of, I don’t want to say own the line of scrimmage, but he is going to be the leader of that defensive line for the most part. Cece Jefferson will be there as well, but Caleb’s kind of the older statesman. I know Bryan Cox is older, Jordan Sherritt are older, but I think that Caleb will be that guy that is kind of the leader of that defensive line, much like Bullard was. I said it on the message board on Wednesday, or on Thursday, I do think Caleb Brantley will have a Jonathan Bullard kind of year. I think that he is a guy that is, I don’t want to say pissed off, but is pissed off in a way, that he’s having to stay now for his fourth year, and it wasn’t part of his plan. It’s time to make money, as the youngsters would say. It’s time to get that money.

Nick: ​To your point, 100% Caleb Brantley is the voice of the defensive line. He’s the guy that everyone looks to, and I know you mentioned there are some guys that are older than he is, but Caleb Brantley is the standard on the defensive line, and guys really look to him as a leader. He talked about, on Wednesday, talked about little things like I’m making sure my shirt’s tucked in, because that’s what the coaching staff wants, and I know that people are looking at me as an example. So if my shirt’s tucked in, maybe theirs will be. Something just that small, and it’s just a different attitude from him then we’ve seen in the past. Getting away from attitude, on the field he is a monster. Twice, two or three times during fast ball drills, the quick four, five plays kind of in a hurry up, Caleb would have had sacks on Luke Del Rio. He’s just quick off the ball. His strength is there. I really think, like you said, that he could have a Jon Bullard type year where he kind of vaults himself into early draft rounds.

Andrew: ​I agree. I think it’s a thing where the year of coming back and having this year is not only good for him, but it’s going to be good for that whole defensive line, because guys like Khairi Clark are going to be able to learn from him, and just Ivie’s going to benefit from him being there, and it’s going to be good for him. I’m really looking forward to seeing Caleb play, because in my opinion if you can have a good defensive tackle that can wreak havoc that is an offensive line’s worst nightmare, and an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare, because it now takes two guys there, and with a guy like Jefferson or Bryan Cox or Jordan Sherritt, those guys at the outside, guess what? Now they’re one on one. The running game can be disrupted by a good defensive tackle being in the backfield.

Nick:​ Absolutely. The running game, the passing game, the big thing with Caleb is that his numbers haven’t been there. He hasn’t had huge numbers, but he’s eating up double teams.

Andrew: ​For being a defensive tackle, numbers never say enough about what a defensive tackle does.

Nick: ​It doesn’t paint the whole picture.

Andrew: ​Yeah. I mean, I think you and I can both agree that the numbers didn’t even say how good Jonathan Bullard was last year, because Bullard would be in the backfield several plays would cause an incompletion or an interception. He doesn’t get credit for that. Same way with Brantley. There was several times where he’s pushing the center in the backfield, and just isn’t there.

Nick: ​Jon Bullard got held like if your friend had fallen off of a cliff, and you grabbed their hand. Jon Bullard got held as strong as if you were trying to save somebody from falling to their death, and it just wouldn’t get called last year. I don’t know why. I agree. The numbers, even Jon Bullard’s great numbers last year, didn’t paint the real picture, the whole picture of how much he meant, and I think Caleb Brantley has that and can have that kind of impact. It’ll be interesting to see how, if he can carry that. It’s all good in the spring, can you carry that through the fall? I think it gets to a point in your career where things maybe haven’t unfolded the way you thought they would, so maybe that’s the light bulb, and the flip a switch for him.

Andrew: ​Right. That’s going to be the biggest key for that.

Nick:​ I have a couple Twitter questions for us, and there’s one, I’m going to go out of order, because there’s one I wanted to get into.

Andrew: ​Okay.

Nick: ​Where did it go? There’s a bunch of questions. It’s from Ryan Whitten. How has the depth at linebacker and defensive back been progressing? Any standouts being mentioned by the coaching staff? I wanted to mention first at defensive back.

Andrew: ​Okay.

Nick:​ Obviously Quincy Wilson, Jalen Tabor, on either side. Duke Dawson returned to practice Wednesday in full pads, looks good to go after that foot bruise. Those are your three starters at corner and nickel. At safety, it’s obviously Marcus Maye, and then I’m not sure who comes in in that next spot. Right now, Marcell Harris and Nick Washington are kind of splitting those reps, but Chauncey Gardner is getting a lot of reps at safety, and I would say that Chauncey is getting more reps at safety and at nickel than he is at an outside cornerback spot. That really behind Tabor and behind Wilson is really Williamson, who I think really benefitted from a redshirt year. He’s much bigger this year. He was the kind of guy that looked maybe more like McArthur Burnett, sort of skinnier, lankier, but has put some good size on, and I’ve seen a lot of growth from him from last year to this year.

Andrew: ​I think to your point, Nick Washington will probably be that guy, and what Nick lacks in physical ability, he’s a smart guy. Nick’s going to be in position to make plays. It’s just sometimes he’s not going to make them because of his athletic ability, not that he’s not athletic, but he’s going to be in the right position. That’s something Marcell Harris struggled with a ton last year, being in the right position. With Chauncey, I think he kind of takes that Duke Dawson role almost in that it’s I can play safety, I can play nickel, wherever I need to play I can play. I’m better at safety, but if nickel is the calling, that’s where I play.

Nick: ​Yeah. As a freshman a lot of it is kind of like how quick can I get on the field? I’ve got a lot of time here. I’ve got at least two more years after this year here. If I want to be a cornerback, but I can’t get on the field at corner, because there’s guys ahead of me, where can I get on the field? How can I help right now?

Andrew:​ Right. I think that’s a key there. At linebacker I think we can agree, it’s Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone. You got guys like David Reese that are getting better there. I think it’s just going to be a work in progress through spring and summer of who those guys that backup those two guys really are.

Nick: ​Yeah. I still feel strong, feel like the defensive secondary will be strong. I don’t know how you really replace Keanu Neal. There’s not one guy that does it for me. That’s obviously a lot of production to pick up on, but we’ll see how Chauncey kind of develops. I think McArthur Burnett’s a guy that could play, but I don’t expect him to play a lot unless it’s on special teams, as a freshman. He is bigger. You can tell that he’s gained weight from the 157 that he was listed at when he showed up. He’s a kid from the Muck, so he has that mentality that you need, that you want. It’s just how quickly can you put it together? Everyone is different. I think he’s a little small and would benefit from kind of being eased into it.
​Then at linebacker, listen, Florida’s going to be in nickel, and Florida’s going to be in dime a lot. Let’s just say it, because you don’t have the depth that you want there. Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone potentially could be two of the best in the SEC, but after that you’ve got guys who I’ve been down on, Daniel McMillian. I’m not down on him, but Matt Rolin. Don’t really know what to expect from him for a full season.

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick: ​Then David Reese, who’s coming along. I really like to see how the players themselves are taking it upon themselves to take Reese under their wing. A drill starts, and Jarrad Davis will jump in first to do it. Alex Anzalone throws his arm around David Reese’s shoulder, and they’ll have Jarrad Davis run through the drill twice so that Reese can focus on, look at his footwork. There’s no false step there. You can’t take a false step, because if you do that’s the difference between breaking up a pass or having a tight end catch a ball with you out of position. Now he turns up field, and you have to wait for a safety to make a play 10 yards down the field. Now, watch his head. Where are his eyes? What is he looking at? To me, the job that the players are doing to bring Reese up to speed shows that they know this kid has potential, and we might need him to play this year at some point, so let’s get him ready for that.

Andrew: ​Right. The thing that I was told about Reese is that he’s Antonio Morrison part two, in that he’s going to be a guy that’s going to meet you in the hole, and he’s going to be suspect in coverage. The thing for that for me is this. It’s not so much that now Reese is going to have a lot to learn from a defensive standpoint, as much as it is, like you said, that false step, that kind of stuff. We’ll see. We’ll see where those guys kind of go over the next couple of weeks. Who develops as that second guy, and then where it goes through the summer and into the fall. I don’t think the backups will be determined until really the fall.

Nick: I probably agree with that. I also have a question for you. How did James Robinson’s trip go on Monday?

Andrew:​ Went really well from everything I’ve been told. James is a guy that’s kind of tough to get on the phone, so I haven’t been able to get an interview with him, but everybody I’ve talked to says that the visit went really well. Florida is definitely moving up the ladder as far as his recruitment goes. I would say that Florida, I don’t know if Florida has taken the lead back from Clemson, but I would venture to say that it’s neck and neck now, and that Florida is now right in the picture with him. Torrian Gray has done a great job ever since getting on campus at Florida of really stepping up, making sure that he’s talking to James every day, every other day, whether it be social media, whether it be that one phone call, whatever it may be. It’s showing him that he’s a priority. Every visit James Robinson takes to Florida is a huge plus.

Nick: We were in the indoor practice facility waiting for Geoff Collins on Monday when he was there. So it was kind of like just waiting around, and all of a sudden Robinson walks in. To me, just judging body language and facial expression, he was really impressed by the indoor practice facility. It’s new. It looks nice. There’s going to be better ones around the country that I’m sure he’ll see. He’ll see better facilities around the country, and it really just goes back to putting it on the coaches and building that relationship, and kind of like you said, making him feel like he’s getting that red carpet treatment every time he comes.

Andrew: ​There’s no doubt about it in my opinion, he’s a guy that deserves every bit of red carpet treatment he can get, and is going to be very huge in the fall. Does Del Rio and the offensive passing game impress him enough? I think that’s going to be the key. Is Del Rio impressive, and if not, if Franks or Trask impress him? What is it? That’s going to be the key, because a guy like James Robinson, he has a three year plan. It’s get there, make my time, get my money. That’s what his thinking is. He had a really good visit, and then Florida also had Daquon Green, the receiver commit, on campus. He had a good visit, and Zach Carter, defensive end from Tampa, one of the top defensive ends in the country, will be visiting on Friday. If you’re listening to this early in the morning, then he’ll be on campus later on Friday. Then this weekend a couple visitors coming in as well. Bruce Judson, the slot receiver from Coco is one of them. Make sure to check us out on Gator Country on Friday, or when you’re listening to this on Friday, and we should have some more updates on visitors.

Nick: ​One more we got asked. You and I don’t really like to address this, so I’ll bring the question up, and then we can just say that. You had mentioned a few guys that may transfer after the spring. Any thoughts on who and why would they go through practice just to leave? Yeah. There’s guys that we’re looking at. You kind of go through practice trying to see if you can have a role, and every football player is going to believe in themselves. So it’s you go into spring practice thinking, I’m going to show this coaching staff. I’m going to show them that I deserve to be playing, that I deserve to be here, and that I deserve reps. You go through spring practice, and by the end of it you can kind of see how reps are shaking out, and some kids that maybe went into spring practice thinking I’m going to earn my playing time, they realize by the end of spring that it’s not going to happen here. Then you transfer, but a lot of kids aren’t going to give up on themselves until it’s pretty apparent that their goals aren’t going to be, they’re not going to be able to reach their goals where they are right now.

Andrew: ​Just so that people, they took my comment, I feel like they took my comment wrong. Someone said, the question was asked to me, are we done with transfers? I said, I’m sure there will be a few more after the spring. That was just a general statement in that it always happens, so expect it. It wasn’t that Joe Bob at receiver is transferring, but he’s just waiting till after the spring. There’s no definite guy that said, I’m transferring. Jim McElwain and his staff aren’t stupid enough to let them play the spring if they knew they were transferring. Wasted time there. It was more of a general statement, as in it always happens, so don’t be surprised.

Nick: That’s all it was. It’s just I guess maybe people reading into what you’re saying a little too much.

Andrew:​ Right. Let’s move on real quick. We’re running kind of out of time here. Baseball this weekend against Missouri. Huge win against Florida State over the weekend, or on Tuesday. That was a big one.

Nick:​ First shutout of FSU at home since March 3, 1994. Nelson Maldinado, who hit a homerun against Florida State that night, was not born. He was born in 1996.

Andrew:​ So Dane Running, Mr. Dane Running, as you like to call him, shuts them down. Good win, and what is this? What? Third or fourth year in a row?

Nick: ​Florida has won, here we go Florida dominated FSU last year.

Andrew: ​I’m talking about at home. How many years straight have they won? It feels like three or four years in a row that they’ve won the Florida State matchup at home.

Nick: ​Every year I’ve been here, so maybe it’s me.

Andrew:​ Maybe it is. About the only thing you’re good luck for.

Nick:​ Yeah. Florida also, they have won 20 straight games at home, dating back to last year, and they’re on a 12 game winning streak this year. So it is big weekend with Missouri coming in. Missouri not really great at the plate, but they have some great arms. First off, you’ll get Reggie McClain, who’s 3-0 with a .85 ERA. Tanner Houck, who is a big Major League prospect. He’s 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA. Then Austin Tribby, 2-1 on the year, 3.33 ERA. Missouri has the arms to kind of frustrate Florida’s bats, so it’ll be interesting to see. Everything kind of tightens up in SEC play.

Andrew: It’s much tougher in SEC play. It’ll be interesting to see how Florida’s pitching staff, I would say even the one loss against Miami Florida’s pitching staff has done a really good job of not allowing very many hits, a lot of strikeouts, that kind of stuff. For me it’ll be interesting to see how the staff does in SEC play. Are they still able to strike out a lot of guys? Where does Puk go? Puk seems to be getting better, and where does Puk go? Does Puk continue to get better, or what is he? That’s kind of my question for Puk.

Nick: ​That’s Puk. You kind of, last year we would say with Puk, you never know what you’re going to get, and then last year we kept saying it, but he just towards the end of the year was just lights out. We’re waiting for the bad Puk outing, and it just never came. He’s put two better outing together back to back, so this will be the first true test. It’s not Harvard. It’s not Dartmouth. You’re playing SEC now. 30 games to determine the League champion. Everyone picked you guys to win. You’ve really kind of have to buckle down now if you’re A.J. Puk. This is the end of the road. You’re going to be a high draft pick. Time to start throwing like one.

Andrew: ​Still not taking him with that first pick, but earn it. Softball this weekend. Unfortunately, Monday night they got their first loss of the year. Very un-Florida like, if Florida was going to get beat I thought they would get out hit, but to lose on an error just is very un-Florida like. Florida this year in 28 games have only made 11 errors. They’ve got the third best fielding percentage in the country, but a loss happens. Taking 2 out of 3 on the road against the #3 team in the country is good, no matter how you look at it. You win the series. That’s your goal. I think every coach in America would say at the beginning of a series, win the series. Win the series, and then go for the sweep, and that’s what Florida did. Then on Wednesday Winthrop was the poor team that had to catch them after a win, and Kelly Barnhill did nothing but strike out 18 batters.

Nick: ​School record.

Andrew:​ Yeah. Not too bad. 18 out of 21 hitters, and they were K’d up. I think the positive thing for Florida was not only Barnhill doing well, but Kelsey Stewart, 3 for 4 at the plate, after struggling mightily in Auburn. 3 for 4 was really good for her, and much like any team in America, when your lead off hitter’s going well, your offense is going well. Not that Florida’s offense didn’t do well in Auburn, because it did, but Florida is just a much better team when Kelsey Stewart’s on base creating havoc with not only being on base, but her base stealing and that kind of stuff. Florida takes on Tennessee at home. First home SEC series, and should be a big one. Also of note, SEC championship for gymnastics is this weekend. Florida’s a #1 seed in that. Lacrosse, Florida takes on #1, Maryland. So it’s the #1, #2. That’s also in Gainesville, so if you’re bored on Saturday you got a bunch of different options that you can check out. Nicholas, did we lose you?

Nick: Basketball will travel up to Ohio. I’m here. Basketball will travel up to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes after an impressive win over UNF in the not invited tournament.

Andrew: Kasey Hill, where the hell has Kasey Hill been? This is the five star we all thought he would be. My God, he’s playing different basketball the last couple games. Also, I’m glad you mentioned that. You guys are probably listening to this on Friday morning, so at noon on Friday the Lady Gators go up to Syracuse, and they have a game against Albany on Friday. Then if they win and Syracuse wins, they play Syracuse on Sunday. Good for Amanda Butler’s team to go up in the NCAA Tournament as a five seed. Most people, including myself, were very harsh on her last year, and were calling for her job, but she’s done really well. For me, this is the program that needed to be built up from scratch, and she’s doing it. Best of luck to all of them.

Nick:​ Friday I will be at practice, so make sure you’re checking www.GatorCountry.com for updates from practice. Also, Friday night baseball, Missouri. Softball…

Andrew:​ Tennessee.

Nick:​ Tennessee. Go Vols. Right?

Andrew:​ Shut the hell up. Hold on. I do have to say this. You guys know my hatred for Tennessee, Aubrey Munro has just become my favorite person in the entire world. She was asked Wednesday night, do you like playing Tennessee? Her eyes got huge, and she said, “Oh yes, we always like beating Tennessee.” Seriously, Nick, I shouldn’t say this, but I just wanted to give her a big old hug. That made my day when she said she didn’t like the Vols. That made my day.

Nick: You can follow along with Andrew as he will be yelling at Butch Jones through a softball game, @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @GatorCountry. TheGatorCountry on Instagram, and just Gator Country on Facebook.

Andrew:​ Check us out. If you want to, get in on the action, because right now there is no competition right now. Come check us out, and get the best coverage football, recruiting, everything with it. Come check us out. If you want to get in on the deal, hit me up, and I think we can hook you up with a little something something. As always, Butch and Mark, you still suck. Your spring will suck. So go Braves, and chomp, chomp.

Nick:​ You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

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

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This GatorCountry podcast talks Florida Gators spring football as the guys break down each position and give updates on how the players are doing this spring during practice.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre give you insight on which players are performing well during practice, plus discuss how the offensive line is shaking out.

Andrew and Nick end the podcast by breaking down the Florida Gators softball and baseball teams for this weekend, plus talk lacrosse and all else Gators sports.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew: ​Hello, my friends. What’s up, Gator Country? This is the man, Andrew Spivey, here. What’s up, Nicholas de la Torre?

Nick:​ What is going on? Another great day here in Gainesville. Lot of stuff going on, and we’re taping this on Thursday. It’ll be up on Friday, but this is Thursday, Friday is one of these next two days are one of the best sporting event days of the year where you’ve got basketball games around the clock. March Madness. I think a lot of people call in sick from work.

Andrew:​ Either sick, or have their little things on CBS.

Nick: Or sitting in the office with an iPad or computer and the game streaming.

Andrew: ​Yeah. Remember a couple years ago when they brought out the whole deal where you could switch it to a spreadsheet real quick when the boss came it. You and I, we’re lucky. We don’t got to do that. I agree. Outside of really the Masters, that’s probably the greatest two days of sports there is. Of course, every day in college football, but outside of Saturday, Sunday for the Masters I would say it was the best. Masters Saturday, Sunday, nothing compares to that.

Nick: ​Masters Wednesday with the Par 3 is awesome. Thursday is awesome. I love the Masters. That’s my favorite. The Masters and the US Open. I think because the US Open always falls on Father’s Day, so I have the tradition of golfing with my dad on Father’s Day. Those two are probably my favorite golf events. As far as how much is going on, you’ve got I think 16 games today, 16 tomorrow. It’s a lot of basketball, and it’s all, I’m not a big college basketball fan or a basketball fan, because I think there’s too many games. If 62 teams, or 64 teams now, are making the tournament, what does a game in January mean? Not much. If we’re playing 82 games in the NBA season, what does a game in November mean? Nothing. When it comes down to the tournament, I’m all in for it. It’s win or go home, and I love the high stakes that you’re kind of playing with once the tournament starts.

Andrew: ​I think this year’s tournament may end up being one of the craziest ones, because there really is no dominant team, and so it’s kind of one of those deals where it might not be as many upsets as we think, but who knows what seed your championship team is going to be, because what? Seven #1 teams this year in the country. I mean, a team like Kentucky that’s a four seed was #3 at one time in the country. Could be crazy, but it’s always awesome to see March Madness.

Nick: ​We’ve got a little March Madness of our own going on on the football field. Florida still doing spring practice. Monday we got shells. Tuesday we got full pads, full hitting.

Andrew: ​Wednesday.

Nick: ​Wednesday. Tuesday, Wednesday, same thing. Wednesday was full pads, and they’ll be back in shells here on Friday, as you’re listening to this. In the media we get to see a very small portion of practice. I was actually talking to Jake McGee about it. He was kind of making fun of me, because he, as a former player, was just going to stay there the entire practice, and I had to leave. So I said I was going to hide behind him. It’s a very small portion, so you and I try to kind of keep that in perspective. We know what we’re seeing, and it’s basically we’re making calls off of what families are telling us, player’s parents, what someone around the staff, people that are at practice sources. People that are close to the program, what they’re telling us, as well as what we’re seeing. I’m not going to go watch 10 minutes of practice and say, so-and-so’s going to be the starter, because I saw him play well today for five snaps.

Andrew: ​It’s tough. It is. It’s tough to make a judgment on what you see. You kind of got to go by other stuff. When you write something, and you say, so-and-so’s the starter, because he lined up first in the passing tree, which is not called the passing tree. It’s called routes on air, for anyone listening. When they run it’s called routes on air. Anyway, you can’t make a judgment on who lines up first in a drill as your starter. It varies. It could be the first person that got to the drill. It could be several different things. It’d kind of be like basing your superstar in basketball off the first person that got in line for layup drills. It’s not based off that. I mean, I’m being serious in this. It’s kind of like you and I talk about which quarterback looked good, and it’s like he looked good throwing routes on air. That’s fine and dandy, but so did Treon Harris at times.

I want to know who looks good when it’s 11 on 11, and there’s a pass rush coming at you. I want to know who looks good when they’re running one on ones, and you’re doing stuff like that. That’s what I want to know, kind of who looks good there. When there’s three quarterbacks throwing routes on air at the same time I could care less who looks good. If you suck, and you’re throwing the ball, and it’s bouncing in the ground, something’s wrong, but any quarterback at the Division I level should be able to throw a post pattern and complete it on air.

Nick:​ Yeah.

Andrew:​ You see what I did there, right? On air. So that’s kind of where you got routes on air.

Nick: ​There were times the past couple years where routes on air were a little harder than they should be. This year I really, what I can take away from watching the quarterbacks is there’s a lot of arm talent. Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have big arms. These guys can really throw the pill around the field. Luke Del Rio, not as big of an arm, but a guy that can make all the throws. Then Austin Appleby, I think to me, based on the small sample size, I really think that he’s kind of an emergency option. I don’t think he can overtake Luke Del Rio. I still think Luke Del Rio is your starter. I would be very surprised if he’s not the starter first game of the year against U Mass.

Andrew: ​Speaking of that, I talked to some people that have been able to watch some more practices, and every one of them told me one thing in common, that Luke Del Rio has a sneaky good arm, and they said when you look at him he is the smaller of the three. While he definitely doesn’t have the best arm on the team, he has a better arm than a lot of people believe, and that was something that kind of came from a lot of people that I’ve talked to is that he has that.
​Then one other note, and this is something, you and I have both been very tough on this person. I’m going to say this, and you and I are both going to have to eat our words, so far. So far I’ve been told that Feleipe Franks has done a better job with the mental standpoint. That’s something you and I didn’t really ever question his physical abilities. He’s always had a strong arm, that kind of stuff, but we did question his mental state, and a lot of people have told me that it’s been different. He’s actually done well with the mental state, and that him and Kyle Trask are both performing well. Trask is definitely behind from a standpoint of understanding reads and that kind of stuff.

Nick: ​Yeah. I think with both of them, we had heard about Franks up at the Opening, and the Opening when I was there a couple years ago and talking to Will Grier, who was there, they really throw a professional playbook at you, and some of the things I had heard about Franks from the Opening was that he really struggled with a bigger playbook, that he really struggled to really grasp it and own it. So that was the question coming in here. The playbook is going to be bigger than it was, and it’s not a playbook that you’ve been playing in high school for three, four years. It’s new. It’s bigger. There’s a bunch of different nuances that you have to get used to. How quickly can you pick that up?

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick:​ To me, still, if you’re living in a perfect world, both freshmen are redshirting, and that just gives them time to grow, time to develop. You have a guy in Luke Del Rio who is a redshirt sophomore, has been in the program. Every player we talked to in interviews says you can tell that Luke has been here. They’re all confident in Luke, and the way that he commands the huddle there’s just a certain confidence that you have, self-confidence that you have when you’re not questioning. You can play faster when you know what you’re doing in a playbook and in a scheme. When you know more than just this is my responsibility, when you know the other 10 people that you’re with, I know all of their responsibilities. I know where I’m supposed to be. It not only helps you exude confidence, but that confidence that you’re exuding builds up and brings up the players around you, and that’s really what Jim McElwain was looking for.

Andrew: ​That’s something that is going to come at time for Franks and Trask. I mean, there is nothing better. That’s why you don’t see a lot of true freshmen playing, because it’s a lot to adjust. Not only now are you adjusting to learning the playbook, but you’re adjusting to quicker defenses. That half second you could have threw a ball late is now picked off by the safety, is now picked off by the linebacker. That false step you took on your drop back is now a fumble with the running back. In high school it was he’s a little slower, I can get my balance here, that kind of stuff. It’s not one thing you’ve got to do. It’s multiple things, but I do think that it’s a positive that Franks has come in with a little bit better understanding, and I’ll be the first one to admit, and I’m sure you’ll be the next one to admit, Nick, that if we’re wrong, we’re wrong. I hope we’re wrong, because I like to see good quarterback play.

Nick: ​What’s that?

Andrew: ​Yeah. What is that? I haven’t seen it.

Nick:​ I’m also a Dolphins fan, so I don’t know. You’re speaking French to me right now with this good quarterback play. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Andrew: ​Well, Matty Ice up in Atlanta is not doing too hot either. Not exactly getting to watch good quarterback play, but that’s it. Then at running back. I’ve heard some good things, and I know you’ve heard as well that all three backs are doing well so far, and that’s something that I expect to continue to go through summer and into the fall that all three backs, I don’t want to say that someone’s going to pull away. I do think one of them will get the bulk of the carries. You and I have talked about that before. I do expect all three to kind of be there to play.

Nick: ​I wrote about it even before the season started. I think this is going to be the hottest contested, the tightest race of any of the position battles, because you really have three quality players there. Mark Thompson, we’ve mentioned before, came in with the right attitude, the right mentality of clock’s ticking. I don’t have a lot of time here. I’m trying to be, in all reality Mark Thompson’s playing as one and done. I’m sure he’ll say, I love you Gator Nation, but this is my life. I’m not trying to spend a lot of time here. My job is to do as best as I can my junior season, and then get on. Move on to the NFL>

Andrew:​ As a running back, it’s a race to that second contract. That’s what it is. I mean, a running back that lasts in the League through his second contract is considered doing really well. The quicker you can get to that second contract, with the least amount of wear and tear on your body, is a positive thing. I do want to move to the offensive line a little bit. We haven’t talked about this yet, and it happened what? Sunday night? Sunday night Travaris Dorsey transfers. You and I talked about it at the beginning of last year. He was a guy that the staff was high on before he got injured, and for whatever reason he never either brought that intensity back or something, and then he transferred away from spring practice, and better opportunity for other guys. I think we can both agree that it probably wasn’t likely he would play much, but he was a bigger body that I thought could be an asset to Florida as they do look to get bigger in the middle.

Nick: ​I think you were higher on him that I was, not saying I was right, but I think you were higher on him that I was. I know that at one point in time the staff was high on him. To me, just looking at him and seeing him play and practice, he had a lot of weight to lose. I know Florida wanted to get a little bigger inside, but there’s a difference between 320 pounds can be bad, and it can be good. It all depends on how you carry it, and how that weight is distributed. Not every 320 pound player is the same, and to me it just looked like he still had a lot of bad weight, and he was a kid that came in, even when you were covering him during recruiting, it was a kid that you right away said, he’s not going to play as a freshman. Look at him. He needs to redshirt and transform his body. He had started to do it, but I just don’t think he had done it quite enough to the point where he was going to get on the field.

Andrew: ​Yeah. You look at it. We talk about Jawaan Taylor, and as big as he is, he’s 330 pound guy, but when you look at him he doesn’t look 330 pounds. When you look at a guy like a Max Garcia, when you look at David Sharpe, Martez Ivey, they don’t look that, but he’s a shorter guy that is there. I just don’t think it ever did it, and also, I mean, learning of the playbook was always something that hindered, I guess would be the best word to say, Travaris, and I guess best is going to Tuskegee, but something just never came back for Travaris, whether that was he was he came back in bad shape after the off season, or whatever it was, but just wasn’t going to play. I think that now leads to needing a guy like Buchanan to step up or maybe Sandifer or someone else. Someone’s got to step up.

Nick:​ That, to me, I look at Nick Buchanan, and from what I’ve been able to see, I’ve only watched a little bit of the offensive line, defensive line, because really just because there’s no point in watching them when they’re not wearing pads, so I’ve only had two instances, two opportunities to watch them. To me, Nick Buchanan has a heavyweight punch, and by that I mean he has heavy hands. When he’s able to get off the line and get his hands, both hands, on a defensive lineman, that player is going wherever Nick Buchanan wants him to go.

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick: ​Now, I don’t know if I’ve seen the footwork and the mobility that you want to see from a guard quite yet, but from a standpoint of he’s been in the system for a year, he’s done a lot of work trying to transform his body. He’s a guy that had to lose some weight, to then put some more back on. To me it’s just those hands. When you’re talking about someone playing inside, and wanting to run the football, you need a guy that has that kind of punch to be able to move the line of scrimmage. We talked about it. How often did we talk about it last year? Look at the line of scrimmage, and watch Florida’s offensive line have a new one created two yards in the backfield, instead of being able to push the line of scrimmage and move it from, if you’re at the 50 you’re trying to move it to the other team’s 48.

Andrew:​ The thing that I’ve been told by a couple people with Buchanan is that it’s not so much about his play. It’s so much about him kind of knowing what has got to take place, that kind of stuff. The word that was told to me, or the phrase that was kind of told to me is he’s coming along slowly. That could be several things there, but it is a case in point where Florida needs him to step up. You look at Antonio Riles, which to Antonio Riles’ credit a couple people did say that he was upset, and then has kind of bought back into playing offensive line, and has done better. In my opinion, it’s just not there for Riles to be the starting guard. Something interesting you and I both were told, Nick, is that the other guard position in Tyler Jordan, that everyone is very impressed with Tyler Jordan playing guard, to the point where it looks like guard is the position that Florida would like him to be at permanently.

Nick:​ I can see it in his play. Jordan is, for a big boy, very flexible. He gets low. When you’re talking about offensive line/defensive line, talking about really anything in football, the general rule of thumb is low man wins. Tyler Jordan is able to get low. When you’re talking about offensive linemen, now you’re talking about big guys. It’s easy for someone like Kelvin Taylor, who’s 5’10”, to get low when he’s going up against a linebacker, someone who’s 7’, or seemingly 7’. Fred Johnson, it’s harder for him to get low and stay low to create that leverage they need, but Tyler Jordan does a great job of that, plays with great leverage, and his athleticism is something that has really caught my attention. Florida was working on Wednesday a lot of pulling drills, both sides, and to me Tyler Jordan kind of reminded me of either a Jonathan Harrison or a Jon Halapio in the way that those guys were able to pull and then make impact blocks while on the run.

Andrew:​ Yeah.

Nick: ​It’s a lot different to have a ball snapped and hit somebody standing in front of you versus having to do it after you’ve already run 10 yards, 12 yards.

Andrew: Right. That’s what makes your guards, that separates the elite from the good is who is able to pull, pull athletically with still being able to throw a punch on the move and engage, and that’s something.

Nick:​ It’s not just throwing the fat boys down inside.

Andrew: ​No.

Nick:​ They’re athletic too.

Andrew: ​Not only that, but there’s a lot of times where you’re pulling, and you’re meeting a mike linebacker, an Antonio Morrison in the middle of the thing. Morrison, or whoever the linebacker is, has got a three yard head start. The thing with Jordan is this. He is a smart guy, and is going to be a guy that I think is going to do well. Then Fred Johnson. You and I both were told the same thing with Fred Johnson is he’s a guy that has all the athletic ability in the world. He’s just it is taking him a little longer to progress, and I think that’s kind of with the body. I say this, and I mean this not that he’s going to be what we thought he was going to be, but he reminds me so much of what Rod Johnson was entering his redshirt freshman year, in that it was a raw guy who just continued to get better. I mean, when Rod went down many people argued and told us that he was their best offensive lineman when he went down. When Rod got on campus he wasn’t. He was just raw, and that’s exactly what Fred Johnson is.

Nick:​ I would absolutely agree with that. Rod Johnson was Florida’s best offensive lineman last year before he got hurt. I think when it comes to a guy that is raw, you look at Fred last year, and the excitement comes from he’s huge, he’s only a freshman. Think about how good he can be. But when you’re only a freshman, and you’re raw like that, the coaching staff really does a lot to take as much off your plate as you can. Fred only started I think one or two games last year, and he’s coming in in spot duty. Yeah, he looks good, but now there’s going to be more asked of you. You’re starting now. Maybe we don’t want to run as deep a rotation as we do, because we’re more confident in this line. It’s how you handle that, and now it’s kind of build on what you learned last year, but also you’re going to be asked to do a lot more. So that’s kind of where, it’s not saying that he’s regressing. It’s just saying he’s raw. We said he was a raw player coming in last year, and it’s just now there’s more being asked of him.

Andrew: ​Right. I agree with that.

Nick:​ I still think potential wise he has the potential to be one of the best linemen on the team. It’s just kind of putting it all together, and it’s different for every player.

Andrew: ​I’m the same way with Buchanan. I think once Buchanan puts it all together Buchanan’s going to be a freak at guard.

Nick: Right now I think our buddy, Jon Halapio, would say that Buchanan’s a caveman. That’s what they would, Summers would always tell Jon not to be a caveman, and that meant Jon had heavy feet. He needed to be quicker with his feet. He had heavy hands, which you need at guard, but it was all kind of just like, don’t be a caveman. Don’t just try to go with brute force and brute strength. Think.

Andrew: ​That’s a good point. Let’s go to the defensive line real quick. You had Caleb Brantley on Wednesday talking about him wanting to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country, and I think that with the way Brantley plays ball, he became very close with Jonathan Bullard last year, I think the two of them together have really talked a lot, and I think that it’s going to be beneficial to Caleb. I think that Caleb, when Caleb plays ball the way Caleb knows how to play ball, I do consider him one of the best defensive linemen in the country. When he turns it on, he’s a force, and we notice that at times. It was just at times last year it was like, we’ve seen Caleb, where’s Caleb at now? Then he’s back.

Nick: ​The impact that Chris Rumph and also Jonathan Bullard had on Caleb Brantley can’t be understated. Both of those guys really kind of I think opened Brantley’s eyes. I think you might even agree with me, and I put it in my story, that Brantley was cocky, maybe even a little selfish, when he first showed up. 18 year old Caleb Brantley, senior in high school, had a three year plan, and he was one of those kids that when he committed he said, “The next three years I’ll be playing.” Just kind of like, hold on. Hold on. I think the redshirt year, his freshman year, was discouraging, and eye-opening, but even as a redshirt freshman I think he still wasn’t there mentally. Last year he really kind of got it, and this year I think the biggest thing he’s trying to work on is I want to be on the field more. Last year, he told us on Wednesday he’s weighing about 298, but he’ll be about 300-310 during the year. He says, “I need to be able to play more. My motor needs to be better. I need to be on the field more for my team, so I have to get into better shape, into better condition.” That kind of goes back to the 310 is not 310 on everybody. You can be an athletic 310 with a big tank, who can play 40, 45, 50 snaps a game.

Andrew: ​Exactly. I think that’s a good point. I have no problem. Caleb, if you’re listening, and you want to get me, come get me, but I’ll be the first to say it. I think Caleb would to, that Caleb’s grown up a ton in the last two years, and it was good. Caleb, I think Caleb did know he was the big man on campus in high school, and I think that did transfer over a little bit. I think, I do, I really think that he’s going to do really well. I think that when he gets to season, and it’s his turn to kind of, I don’t want to say own the line of scrimmage, but he is going to be the leader of that defensive line for the most part. Cece Jefferson will be there as well, but Caleb’s kind of the older statesman. I know Bryan Cox is older, Jordan Sherritt are older, but I think that Caleb will be that guy that is kind of the leader of that defensive line, much like Bullard was. I said it on the message board on Wednesday, or on Thursday, I do think Caleb Brantley will have a Jonathan Bullard kind of year. I think that he is a guy that is, I don’t want to say pissed off, but is pissed off in a way, that he’s having to stay now for his fourth year, and it wasn’t part of his plan. It’s time to make money, as the youngsters would say. It’s time to get that money.

Nick: ​To your point, 100% Caleb Brantley is the voice of the defensive line. He’s the guy that everyone looks to, and I know you mentioned there are some guys that are older than he is, but Caleb Brantley is the standard on the defensive line, and guys really look to him as a leader. He talked about, on Wednesday, talked about little things like I’m making sure my shirt’s tucked in, because that’s what the coaching staff wants, and I know that people are looking at me as an example. So if my shirt’s tucked in, maybe theirs will be. Something just that small, and it’s just a different attitude from him then we’ve seen in the past. Getting away from attitude, on the field he is a monster. Twice, two or three times during fast ball drills, the quick four, five plays kind of in a hurry up, Caleb would have had sacks on Luke Del Rio. He’s just quick off the ball. His strength is there. I really think, like you said, that he could have a Jon Bullard type year where he kind of vaults himself into early draft rounds.

Andrew: ​I agree. I think it’s a thing where the year of coming back and having this year is not only good for him, but it’s going to be good for that whole defensive line, because guys like Khairi Clark are going to be able to learn from him, and just Ivie’s going to benefit from him being there, and it’s going to be good for him. I’m really looking forward to seeing Caleb play, because in my opinion if you can have a good defensive tackle that can wreak havoc that is an offensive line’s worst nightmare, and an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare, because it now takes two guys there, and with a guy like Jefferson or Bryan Cox or Jordan Sherritt, those guys at the outside, guess what? Now they’re one on one. The running game can be disrupted by a good defensive tackle being in the backfield.

Nick:​ Absolutely. The running game, the passing game, the big thing with Caleb is that his numbers haven’t been there. He hasn’t had huge numbers, but he’s eating up double teams.

Andrew: ​For being a defensive tackle, numbers never say enough about what a defensive tackle does.

Nick: ​It doesn’t paint the whole picture.

Andrew: ​Yeah. I mean, I think you and I can both agree that the numbers didn’t even say how good Jonathan Bullard was last year, because Bullard would be in the backfield several plays would cause an incompletion or an interception. He doesn’t get credit for that. Same way with Brantley. There was several times where he’s pushing the center in the backfield, and just isn’t there.

Nick: ​Jon Bullard got held like if your friend had fallen off of a cliff, and you grabbed their hand. Jon Bullard got held as strong as if you were trying to save somebody from falling to their death, and it just wouldn’t get called last year. I don’t know why. I agree. The numbers, even Jon Bullard’s great numbers last year, didn’t paint the real picture, the whole picture of how much he meant, and I think Caleb Brantley has that and can have that kind of impact. It’ll be interesting to see how, if he can carry that. It’s all good in the spring, can you carry that through the fall? I think it gets to a point in your career where things maybe haven’t unfolded the way you thought they would, so maybe that’s the light bulb, and the flip a switch for him.

Andrew: ​Right. That’s going to be the biggest key for that.

Nick:​ I have a couple Twitter questions for us, and there’s one, I’m going to go out of order, because there’s one I wanted to get into.

Andrew: ​Okay.

Nick: ​Where did it go? There’s a bunch of questions. It’s from Ryan Whitten. How has the depth at linebacker and defensive back been progressing? Any standouts being mentioned by the coaching staff? I wanted to mention first at defensive back.

Andrew: ​Okay.

Nick:​ Obviously Quincy Wilson, Jalen Tabor, on either side. Duke Dawson returned to practice Wednesday in full pads, looks good to go after that foot bruise. Those are your three starters at corner and nickel. At safety, it’s obviously Marcus Maye, and then I’m not sure who comes in in that next spot. Right now, Marcell Harris and Nick Washington are kind of splitting those reps, but Chauncey Gardner is getting a lot of reps at safety, and I would say that Chauncey is getting more reps at safety and at nickel than he is at an outside cornerback spot. That really behind Tabor and behind Wilson is really Williamson, who I think really benefitted from a redshirt year. He’s much bigger this year. He was the kind of guy that looked maybe more like McArthur Burnett, sort of skinnier, lankier, but has put some good size on, and I’ve seen a lot of growth from him from last year to this year.

Andrew: ​I think to your point, Nick Washington will probably be that guy, and what Nick lacks in physical ability, he’s a smart guy. Nick’s going to be in position to make plays. It’s just sometimes he’s not going to make them because of his athletic ability, not that he’s not athletic, but he’s going to be in the right position. That’s something Marcell Harris struggled with a ton last year, being in the right position. With Chauncey, I think he kind of takes that Duke Dawson role almost in that it’s I can play safety, I can play nickel, wherever I need to play I can play. I’m better at safety, but if nickel is the calling, that’s where I play.

Nick: ​Yeah. As a freshman a lot of it is kind of like how quick can I get on the field? I’ve got a lot of time here. I’ve got at least two more years after this year here. If I want to be a cornerback, but I can’t get on the field at corner, because there’s guys ahead of me, where can I get on the field? How can I help right now?

Andrew:​ Right. I think that’s a key there. At linebacker I think we can agree, it’s Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone. You got guys like David Reese that are getting better there. I think it’s just going to be a work in progress through spring and summer of who those guys that backup those two guys really are.

Nick: ​Yeah. I still feel strong, feel like the defensive secondary will be strong. I don’t know how you really replace Keanu Neal. There’s not one guy that does it for me. That’s obviously a lot of production to pick up on, but we’ll see how Chauncey kind of develops. I think McArthur Burnett’s a guy that could play, but I don’t expect him to play a lot unless it’s on special teams, as a freshman. He is bigger. You can tell that he’s gained weight from the 157 that he was listed at when he showed up. He’s a kid from the Muck, so he has that mentality that you need, that you want. It’s just how quickly can you put it together? Everyone is different. I think he’s a little small and would benefit from kind of being eased into it.
​Then at linebacker, listen, Florida’s going to be in nickel, and Florida’s going to be in dime a lot. Let’s just say it, because you don’t have the depth that you want there. Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone potentially could be two of the best in the SEC, but after that you’ve got guys who I’ve been down on, Daniel McMillian. I’m not down on him, but Matt Rolin. Don’t really know what to expect from him for a full season.

Andrew: ​Right.

Nick: ​Then David Reese, who’s coming along. I really like to see how the players themselves are taking it upon themselves to take Reese under their wing. A drill starts, and Jarrad Davis will jump in first to do it. Alex Anzalone throws his arm around David Reese’s shoulder, and they’ll have Jarrad Davis run through the drill twice so that Reese can focus on, look at his footwork. There’s no false step there. You can’t take a false step, because if you do that’s the difference between breaking up a pass or having a tight end catch a ball with you out of position. Now he turns up field, and you have to wait for a safety to make a play 10 yards down the field. Now, watch his head. Where are his eyes? What is he looking at? To me, the job that the players are doing to bring Reese up to speed shows that they know this kid has potential, and we might need him to play this year at some point, so let’s get him ready for that.

Andrew: ​Right. The thing that I was told about Reese is that he’s Antonio Morrison part two, in that he’s going to be a guy that’s going to meet you in the hole, and he’s going to be suspect in coverage. The thing for that for me is this. It’s not so much that now Reese is going to have a lot to learn from a defensive standpoint, as much as it is, like you said, that false step, that kind of stuff. We’ll see. We’ll see where those guys kind of go over the next couple of weeks. Who develops as that second guy, and then where it goes through the summer and into the fall. I don’t think the backups will be determined until really the fall.

Nick: I probably agree with that. I also have a question for you. How did James Robinson’s trip go on Monday?

Andrew:​ Went really well from everything I’ve been told. James is a guy that’s kind of tough to get on the phone, so I haven’t been able to get an interview with him, but everybody I’ve talked to says that the visit went really well. Florida is definitely moving up the ladder as far as his recruitment goes. I would say that Florida, I don’t know if Florida has taken the lead back from Clemson, but I would venture to say that it’s neck and neck now, and that Florida is now right in the picture with him. Torrian Gray has done a great job ever since getting on campus at Florida of really stepping up, making sure that he’s talking to James every day, every other day, whether it be social media, whether it be that one phone call, whatever it may be. It’s showing him that he’s a priority. Every visit James Robinson takes to Florida is a huge plus.

Nick: We were in the indoor practice facility waiting for Geoff Collins on Monday when he was there. So it was kind of like just waiting around, and all of a sudden Robinson walks in. To me, just judging body language and facial expression, he was really impressed by the indoor practice facility. It’s new. It looks nice. There’s going to be better ones around the country that I’m sure he’ll see. He’ll see better facilities around the country, and it really just goes back to putting it on the coaches and building that relationship, and kind of like you said, making him feel like he’s getting that red carpet treatment every time he comes.

Andrew: ​There’s no doubt about it in my opinion, he’s a guy that deserves every bit of red carpet treatment he can get, and is going to be very huge in the fall. Does Del Rio and the offensive passing game impress him enough? I think that’s going to be the key. Is Del Rio impressive, and if not, if Franks or Trask impress him? What is it? That’s going to be the key, because a guy like James Robinson, he has a three year plan. It’s get there, make my time, get my money. That’s what his thinking is. He had a really good visit, and then Florida also had Daquon Green, the receiver commit, on campus. He had a good visit, and Zach Carter, defensive end from Tampa, one of the top defensive ends in the country, will be visiting on Friday. If you’re listening to this early in the morning, then he’ll be on campus later on Friday. Then this weekend a couple visitors coming in as well. Bruce Judson, the slot receiver from Coco is one of them. Make sure to check us out on Gator Country on Friday, or when you’re listening to this on Friday, and we should have some more updates on visitors.

Nick: ​One more we got asked. You and I don’t really like to address this, so I’ll bring the question up, and then we can just say that. You had mentioned a few guys that may transfer after the spring. Any thoughts on who and why would they go through practice just to leave? Yeah. There’s guys that we’re looking at. You kind of go through practice trying to see if you can have a role, and every football player is going to believe in themselves. So it’s you go into spring practice thinking, I’m going to show this coaching staff. I’m going to show them that I deserve to be playing, that I deserve to be here, and that I deserve reps. You go through spring practice, and by the end of it you can kind of see how reps are shaking out, and some kids that maybe went into spring practice thinking I’m going to earn my playing time, they realize by the end of spring that it’s not going to happen here. Then you transfer, but a lot of kids aren’t going to give up on themselves until it’s pretty apparent that their goals aren’t going to be, they’re not going to be able to reach their goals where they are right now.

Andrew: ​Just so that people, they took my comment, I feel like they took my comment wrong. Someone said, the question was asked to me, are we done with transfers? I said, I’m sure there will be a few more after the spring. That was just a general statement in that it always happens, so expect it. It wasn’t that Joe Bob at receiver is transferring, but he’s just waiting till after the spring. There’s no definite guy that said, I’m transferring. Jim McElwain and his staff aren’t stupid enough to let them play the spring if they knew they were transferring. Wasted time there. It was more of a general statement, as in it always happens, so don’t be surprised.

Nick: That’s all it was. It’s just I guess maybe people reading into what you’re saying a little too much.

Andrew:​ Right. Let’s move on real quick. We’re running kind of out of time here. Baseball this weekend against Missouri. Huge win against Florida State over the weekend, or on Tuesday. That was a big one.

Nick:​ First shutout of FSU at home since March 3, 1994. Nelson Maldinado, who hit a homerun against Florida State that night, was not born. He was born in 1996.

Andrew:​ So Dane Running, Mr. Dane Running, as you like to call him, shuts them down. Good win, and what is this? What? Third or fourth year in a row?

Nick: ​Florida has won, here we go Florida dominated FSU last year.

Andrew: ​I’m talking about at home. How many years straight have they won? It feels like three or four years in a row that they’ve won the Florida State matchup at home.

Nick: ​Every year I’ve been here, so maybe it’s me.

Andrew:​ Maybe it is. About the only thing you’re good luck for.

Nick:​ Yeah. Florida also, they have won 20 straight games at home, dating back to last year, and they’re on a 12 game winning streak this year. So it is big weekend with Missouri coming in. Missouri not really great at the plate, but they have some great arms. First off, you’ll get Reggie McClain, who’s 3-0 with a .85 ERA. Tanner Houck, who is a big Major League prospect. He’s 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA. Then Austin Tribby, 2-1 on the year, 3.33 ERA. Missouri has the arms to kind of frustrate Florida’s bats, so it’ll be interesting to see. Everything kind of tightens up in SEC play.

Andrew: It’s much tougher in SEC play. It’ll be interesting to see how Florida’s pitching staff, I would say even the one loss against Miami Florida’s pitching staff has done a really good job of not allowing very many hits, a lot of strikeouts, that kind of stuff. For me it’ll be interesting to see how the staff does in SEC play. Are they still able to strike out a lot of guys? Where does Puk go? Puk seems to be getting better, and where does Puk go? Does Puk continue to get better, or what is he? That’s kind of my question for Puk.

Nick: ​That’s Puk. You kind of, last year we would say with Puk, you never know what you’re going to get, and then last year we kept saying it, but he just towards the end of the year was just lights out. We’re waiting for the bad Puk outing, and it just never came. He’s put two better outing together back to back, so this will be the first true test. It’s not Harvard. It’s not Dartmouth. You’re playing SEC now. 30 games to determine the League champion. Everyone picked you guys to win. You’ve really kind of have to buckle down now if you’re A.J. Puk. This is the end of the road. You’re going to be a high draft pick. Time to start throwing like one.

Andrew: ​Still not taking him with that first pick, but earn it. Softball this weekend. Unfortunately, Monday night they got their first loss of the year. Very un-Florida like, if Florida was going to get beat I thought they would get out hit, but to lose on an error just is very un-Florida like. Florida this year in 28 games have only made 11 errors. They’ve got the third best fielding percentage in the country, but a loss happens. Taking 2 out of 3 on the road against the #3 team in the country is good, no matter how you look at it. You win the series. That’s your goal. I think every coach in America would say at the beginning of a series, win the series. Win the series, and then go for the sweep, and that’s what Florida did. Then on Wednesday Winthrop was the poor team that had to catch them after a win, and Kelly Barnhill did nothing but strike out 18 batters.

Nick: ​School record.

Andrew:​ Yeah. Not too bad. 18 out of 21 hitters, and they were K’d up. I think the positive thing for Florida was not only Barnhill doing well, but Kelsey Stewart, 3 for 4 at the plate, after struggling mightily in Auburn. 3 for 4 was really good for her, and much like any team in America, when your lead off hitter’s going well, your offense is going well. Not that Florida’s offense didn’t do well in Auburn, because it did, but Florida is just a much better team when Kelsey Stewart’s on base creating havoc with not only being on base, but her base stealing and that kind of stuff. Florida takes on Tennessee at home. First home SEC series, and should be a big one. Also of note, SEC championship for gymnastics is this weekend. Florida’s a #1 seed in that. Lacrosse, Florida takes on #1, Maryland. So it’s the #1, #2. That’s also in Gainesville, so if you’re bored on Saturday you got a bunch of different options that you can check out. Nicholas, did we lose you?

Nick: Basketball will travel up to Ohio. I’m here. Basketball will travel up to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes after an impressive win over UNF in the not invited tournament.

Andrew: Kasey Hill, where the hell has Kasey Hill been? This is the five star we all thought he would be. My God, he’s playing different basketball the last couple games. Also, I’m glad you mentioned that. You guys are probably listening to this on Friday morning, so at noon on Friday the Lady Gators go up to Syracuse, and they have a game against Albany on Friday. Then if they win and Syracuse wins, they play Syracuse on Sunday. Good for Amanda Butler’s team to go up in the NCAA Tournament as a five seed. Most people, including myself, were very harsh on her last year, and were calling for her job, but she’s done really well. For me, this is the program that needed to be built up from scratch, and she’s doing it. Best of luck to all of them.

Nick:​ Friday I will be at practice, so make sure you’re checking www.GatorCountry.com for updates from practice. Also, Friday night baseball, Missouri. Softball…

Andrew:​ Tennessee.

Nick:​ Tennessee. Go Vols. Right?

Andrew:​ Shut the hell up. Hold on. I do have to say this. You guys know my hatred for Tennessee, Aubrey Munro has just become my favorite person in the entire world. She was asked Wednesday night, do you like playing Tennessee? Her eyes got huge, and she said, “Oh yes, we always like beating Tennessee.” Seriously, Nick, I shouldn’t say this, but I just wanted to give her a big old hug. That made my day when she said she didn’t like the Vols. That made my day.

Nick: You can follow along with Andrew as he will be yelling at Butch Jones through a softball game, @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @GatorCountry. TheGatorCountry on Instagram, and just Gator Country on Facebook.

Andrew:​ Check us out. If you want to, get in on the action, because right now there is no competition right now. Come check us out, and get the best coverage football, recruiting, everything with it. Come check us out. If you want to get in on the deal, hit me up, and I think we can hook you up with a little something something. As always, Butch and Mark, you still suck. Your spring will suck. So go Braves, and chomp, chomp.

Nick:​ You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Florida Gators women’s basketball ready for the NCAA tourney

The Florida Gators women's basketball team will begin play in the NCAA tournament on Fri.

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