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    Florida Gators football player Chauncey Gardner during spring practice- GatorCountry photo taken by David Bowie

Talking Florida Gators spring
football week 3: Podcast

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  • Talking Florida Gators spring football week 3: Podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, March 29, 2016, 0 Comments,
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This GatorCountry podcast focuses on recapping the Florida Gators spring scrimmage from last Thursday, plus updating the injury news around the team this week.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down who looked good and who didn’t look good in last week’s scrimmage, plus we recap Jim McElwain’s press conference from Monday.

Andrew and Nick also talk some recruiting news as the Gators are set to host a grad transfer soon, plus they recap the diamond sports from last weekend.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Once again, your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                          I think luckily both of us are not on the injured list, which you might not be able to say the same for a lot of the football team, and the baseball team took some licks this weekend, but you and I made it out unscathed. I do have a little leg thing. We’re not going to get into specifics, but a leg.

Andrew:                 A leg?

Nick:                          I’m not expected to miss any time though.

Andrew:                  Yeah. I think it’s spring. A lot of these so-called injuries if it was football season would these guys missing time? No. It’s spring. Guys like Jalen Tabor, who’s out, guys like Quincy Wilson, who is out, I’m trying to think of who all else that’s out that would be playing. Cam Dillard would probably be playing. Dre Massey would probably be playing. So a lot of these guys that are so-called injured, put in parenthesis, quotations.

Nick:                          Let me run through them. I have the updated list here. Let me run through them real quick, because spring injuries don’t mean much. You’re not playing a game.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                          So we’ll just run through them real quick. Jordan Scarlett has missed time with a hamstring injury. He missed the scrimmage. He should be back Monday, as we’re taping this. Ahmad Fulwood and Dre Massey both leg injuries, believed to be hamstrings. Missed. Fulwood supposed to be back Friday. Massey back sooner, probably not Monday, maybe Wednesday. Friday the team will go back for another full scrimmage, so they’re hoping to get Fulwood back for that scrimmage. Cam Dillard, broken nose. He missed the scrimmage. He’s missing time. They hope to have him back Friday for scrimmage. Cece Jefferson’s down with hamstring injuries, kind of missed a lot of time, low key, missed a lot of time this spring. He’s supposed to be back Monday. Jalen Tabor, hamstring, was held from Thursday’s scrimmage. Duke Dawson dislocated his thumb in the scrimmage. He was able to come back, play a little bit. Expect to be back on Monday. They thought, worst case scenario, it could be broken. It’s not broken, so he’s had to deal with a foot injury and a thumb injury, but he’ll be back.

Then the more serious one is Thomas Holley, and you and I will talk about that for a little bit. So there’s been a lot made of Thomas Holley’s weight loss, and rightfully so. He has completely transformed his body. If you remember, it was from after his redshirt season going into his redshirt freshman year, I put on the message board after we talked to him for the first time, and I said, Thomas Holley, to me, this is two years ago, looks like a kid and sounds like a kid that was told by a doctor, hey, this injury is very serious. We’ve fixed it, but it’s not a matter of if you’ll injure it again; it’s a matter of when, and when that next injury happens, when this happens again, your football career is done, and it’s going to be something that will affect you the rest of your life. So we’re not telling you you can’t play football anymore, but you’re going to have to do things to alter your body to put less stress on it, and even after you do those things, this injury is still not going away.

So where you see him lose 60 pounds, that’s if I take weight off maybe it’ll put less stress, less load on my hip, and that’ll help. He knows, and the coaching staff knew, that it was a serious injury. So, to me, judging by Jim McElwain’s tone, it seems like it could be serious. Obviously, they haven’t really ruled him out. The direct quote from McElwain on Monday was, “The hip flared up. That’s going to be a tough one. He did everything he could, losing the weight, taking the pressure off that. We’ll see that as the spring rolls on what his role will be.” Obviously for a kid that’s worked very hard kind of tough to have to go through it again, even if in the back of your mind you know that having to go through it again is a possibility.

Andrew:                  It’s an injury that is more than an injury. It’s a chronic problem in the hip that we’ll see. Like you said, it’s a situation of not if but more so when it would happen, and I think it’s kind of like last year where you would see him go one game where he was healthy and playing, and then you’d see him miss two games, because the hip was an issue. It’s interesting to see. Hopefully Thomas is able to at least play a few games and get out there, but it is there, and it’s what will cause Rumph, McElwain, Collins, those guys, not to be able to count on him on a week in, week out basis, because of that.

Another guy you missed was Caleb Brantley, sick. He’ll be back. Not Monday, but probably Wednesday or Friday. When you go through that list, you look at a guy like Tabor, hamstring injury. He plays if it’s season. Brantley’s sick. He plays if it’s the season. Dillard with nose broken, he plays if it’s the season. Most of the guys that are injured are more so precautionary reasons. They’re older guys that don’t need the practice. I mean, they all need the practice, but don’t exactly need the reps as much as the younger guys. So that’s kind of why they’re there.

One thing I did want to touch on, Mac continues his normal line, phrase, statement, whatever you want to call it that there is no separation. Let’s face it. There’s separation. Del Rio’s the starting quarterback. You can come out and say it, fine and dandy, but it’s a statement that doesn’t need to be said, because it’s so glaringly obvious that everyone knows right now the quarterbacks are competing for the two spot, not for the one spot, the two spot. Trask and Franks are not starting as true freshmen at Florida. Appleby’s not better than Del Rio. Del Rio’s the starter. Every update we get, Del Rio’s doing the best, by far outperforming everybody. So while Mac may say that, let’s cut to the chase and say it ain’t happening.

Nick:                          It ain’t happening, partner. Luke Del Rio’s going to be the starter, barring an injury. Luke Del Rio’s going to be the starter. We talked about it before. I think Kyle Trask is ahead of Feleipe Franks. Franks is still swimming with the mental part of the game, but it’s not a situation where you’re competing for the starter, and I think it’s not even really, sort of a competition for #2, but I think #2, and you and I have talked about it, the backup job would probably depend on if Del Rio were to get hurt, at what point of the season? What’s still on the line? Is there a lot on the line? Do we need to go to the guy that has some experience? Is it so early in the season that we might just be better suited to get a freshman some reps, or does it happen super late in the season, and you haven’t played either freshman? You’re thinking, I think we can get away with playing Appleby, and we can keep a redshirt on both freshmen.

So there’s obviously a lot of stuff that goes into who would be the #2, not on paper, but in practice, and that not on the practice field, but not in theory. Who would really be the #2 when push came to shove? Luke Del Rio’s going to be your starting quarterback. That’s it. There’s no other way to shake it. Mac won’t say it, but that’s what it is.

Andrew:                  Exactly. It’s not a guessing game. That is the one spot among very few that there’s a starter and nobody else, and that’s how it is. I think Mac uses the same method on Del Rio that he used on Grier, and that is, yes, you’re the starter. Yes, you are by far the best player, but I’m not talking you up like you’re the Heisman Trophy winner. I am trying to talk you down to a point of this is what you have to do. That’s it.

Another thing coming out of Monday is the receiver position. Massey’s down. Fulwood’s down. You’re missing Callaway still, missing Brandon Powell still. He says Alvin Bailey, Ryan Sosa, Chris Thompson are doing well. Come on, bro. Come on.

Nick:                          Yeah. There’s not really many bodies left at the position, so when you have Fulwood, Massey, Powell, Callaway, obviously, Khalif Jackson who’s done for the spring, obviously, that’s five. There’s just not many people left. To me, it’s almost frustrating. I’ll ask a question in a press conference specifically about Hammond and Swain, and I get a two minute answer about Ryan Sosa and Alvin Bailey, guys who I don’t think are going to make an impact in the fall. I think Chris Thompson has a chance to going into his senior year, to make some kind of impact, but we’re talking about guys that didn’t make an impact last year when the position was just as wide open. Everyone was complaining about D Rob last year, for whatever reason, but, I mean, you look at Alvin Bailey last year, three receptions. Treon Harris had two receptions last year.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                          And one touchdown, which is more than Alvin Bailey. So when you’re in the spring you have to keep in mind that the coaching staff is always going to say guys are doing well, because it’s the spring.

Andrew:                  I think it’s a thing kind of like what we just talked about in that Swain and Hammond aren’t going to be praised a ton, because they’re still young. They’re still learning. Mac still wants them to go through the ropes of learning. Everything we’ve heard is that those two guys and Chris Thompson have been probably the three best. I do think Chris Thompson finds a role, and I do think Chris Thompson plays a lot next year. You’re not convincing me Alvin Bailey and Ryan Sosa are playing, but I’m sure they are doing well. It’s what? Seven receivers out there, eight receivers out there, a couple walk-ons. Those two guys are doing well. I’m sure they had a good scrimmage.

A guy that he didn’t mention on Monday is CJ Worton, and you and I both were told that Worton had a long touchdown catch in the scrimmage on Thursday. For me, that’s the guy that I continue to pinpoint, and maybe it’s a situation where I’m hoping he does well, maybe rooting for him too much to do well, and it’s just not realistically going to happen. That’s the guy that I think really needs to step up for Florida this spring is Worton, and it just continues to see that he looks like he’s having up and down days where he has really good days and then some bad days.

Nick:                          You’ve got, at this point for him, you’ve got to get past that. A freshman you do something stupid, punch a wall, break your hand. Okay. There’s your chance. There’s your get out of jail free card, your pass. You did something stupid. You’re young. Now, it’s coming to the time where, like McElwain mentioned it about DeAndre Goolsby. Hey, he’s finally coming out and stringing together good practices, because he’s coming out with the right mentality, and that means he’s paying attention when they’re going over things in the meeting rooms. He knows his playbook, and he’s taking all of that off the field on the field to practice. To me, Worton, third year in the program, got to get with the program and start doing that and stringing things together, because when it comes down to it, you can have all the time in the world, if the coaching staff doesn’t trust you, and you haven’t earned that trust in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, and on the practice field it doesn’t matter how good you are, because you’re not going to play on Saturday.

Andrew:                  That’s a good point.

Nick:                         To your point, to what you said, he’s a guy who I got dragged over the coals a little bit last year, because I was so high on him when he was a freshman, was so high on him going into his second year, that people are like, hey, where’s this kid? I’m like, he’s just got to figure it out. It’s a guy that can help Florida, and Florida needs help on offense. To me, it’s almost like I don’t know how you can’t see that, and how does that not motivate you? Maybe you don’t like to study the playbook, or you don’t like to sit through meetings. Maybe you don’t even like practice. Maybe you just really enjoy the game of football and playing the games, but you have to at some point, the light has to switch to say that I can’t just do what I want to do. There’s these other things that I have to do to enable me to be successful and be the player that I want to be.

Andrew: :                 I mean, it’s make or break time for Worton, because, let’s face it, the receivers coming in this year for Florida are better than the crop before that. The class coming in in 2017 I would be willing to bet is going to be as good, if not better than this class they have right now. This receiver group is getting better. It’s being shaped up. It’s going to be a different environment around that position. For me, it’s time for Worton to either step up or get out. For me, I hope he gets it, because I do think he’s a talented player. He showed that in the SEC Championship game against Alabama when he had the touchdown catch. When he gets in the game he usually finds a way to make a play. So I guess what has me excited about Worton is he does have the ability. He’s quick. He’s a strong guy for his size, and a guy that catches the ball really well. It’s just it’s one of those things where it seems like he can’t get out of his own way. You talk about the incident his freshman year, he punched the wall. He kind of made news last year where Florida was on a road trip, and he’s talking about partying in South Dade.

Nick:                          Hey, man, there’s a lot going on in south Florida.

Andrew:                  Right, but it’s a situation where it’s like maybe you should have just chill out a little bit here, not said, maybe not say what you want to say. Remember, social media is seen by an assload of people, and you might not want to do that.

Nick:                          I remember seeing that tweet and thinking, man, I wouldn’t mind being down there for a pool party. That sounds good, but Florida’s not counting on me to catch passes.

Andrew:                  Exactly. I mean, if you’re McElwain you’re sitting here thinking, does this guy really love the game? You have to wonder if that doesn’t pop into his head when he sees stuff like that.

Nick:                       Absolutely. As a coach, you don’t want your player to be hurting, but as a coach you would rather your player tweet something like, man, it hurts to have to sit at home and watch this team, watch my guys play knowing that I can’t be out there, or tweet nothing. Maybe text the coach, hey, congrats on the win, really sucked, I was pissed off I couldn’t be there. That’s what you want. Not kegger at my place, here’s the address.

Andrew:                  Right. Sounded like CJ might have just been glad to get home and kick it back with a few on that Saturday.

Nick:                         South Florida’s the spot to be. I can’t knock him there.

Andrew:                  Think about it. If he does what he’s supposed to do, there’ll be a lot more, instead of having to worry about somebody getting the drinks he would be buying them himself, if he was in the League.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                  Anyway, let’s go to the defensive side of the ball real quick. I want to hit on Chauncey Gardner. You and I, we’ve talked in depth a ton about Chauncey Gardner. I’m in the opinion that he could play anywhere in the defensive backfield. I know you’re in the opinion that you think he’s more of a safety, nickel back kind of guy. Once again, I think he can play all three. Mac did make news on Monday. Talked about that Chauncey’s been working exclusively at safety.

Nick:                        If you’re following along our practice threads, you would have known that I told you that, that Chauncey is not working outside. He’s only working at nickel and safety, and he’s really get a lot of reps at safety behind Washington and Harris.

Andrew:                  Where can they find those practice threads?

Nick:                         GatorCountry.com.

Andrew:                  There you go. That’s a good spot to have. A little meaningless plug.

Nick:                         Shameless plug.

Andrew:                  Whatever. Same thing. It is what it is. Whatever. Anyway, you think about it though. Chauncey’s a guy that can play anywhere. Right now Florida needs depth at safety. They made some news over the weekend. There’s a grad transfer going to visit. We’ll talk about that here in a minute when we talk recruiting, but for Chauncey to play there a little bit I don’t think is a bad thing. In my opinion, if you learn how to play safety you can play anywhere. So I don’t see it as a bad thing.

Nick:                         No, it’s not. Really Duke Dawson is having a good year. I’ve always thought that he…

Andrew:                  How’s he having a good year? He can’t even stay on the field.

Nick:                         He is staying on the field. He’s playing through injuries. I think maybe, there was a lot made of last year of some of the social media stuff that happened with his parents, but it’s all been smoothed over. I’ve always thought that Duke was a very good nickel, and, obviously, you have Brian Poole, who is a very good nickel. So maybe hard for Duke to get on the field. I think Florida doesn’t lose a step from what Brian Poole was with Duke in the nickel. To me, if you get Chauncey reps there, get Chauncey reps at safety, it’s good. I do agree with you. If you can play, actually, I don’t know if I agree. Keanu Neal was a great safety, but you wouldn’t put him out at corner.

Andrew:                  That’s not because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Nick:                         Right. There’s a different kind of knowledge that you have to have to play safety versus…

Andrew:                  Let me ask you about Jalen Watkins. Jalen Watkins is a guy that you can stick at corner, safety, and that’s what Chauncey Gardner is. If Keanu had to play one play at corner I think he would, but physically he wasn’t ready. I mean, Marcus Maye, for instance, is playing a lot of corner this year, as well as safety.

Nick:                        That’s injury related.

Andrew:                  But that’s a situation, that’s what I’m talking about.

Nick:                         He can do it.

Andrew:                 Right. He can do it. That’s what I’m saying with Chauncey. It’s not like we’re putting him at safety because he can’t play these other two, and it’s going to hurt him to play these other two. It’s we’re letting him to play safety. He can play here. It’s kind of like a guy that plays the middle infield in baseball. If you’re playing short, and you’re playing second, you’re kind of learning the same thing here, so you’re able to move down or move around, and that’s kind of where Chauncey is. I think Chauncey will see reps at not only safety but at nickel, and down the road I do think he sees some time at corner. I think he can play all of those positions there.

Nick:                         Maybe it’s a situation where he just grows into the safety, because if you look at it, Nick Washington and Harris are both older. Maye is definitely gone after this year. Kylan Johnson has moved down to linebacker, so maybe it’s a position where he kind of just makes the switch and takes off and runs with it.

Andrew:                  I’ll say this. Jawaan Taylor will be one of those safeties, so everybody else is just competing for another spot.

Nick:                         I’m not going to argue with you on that. I’m just saying I haven’t seen enough of him. I need to see him at this level.

Andrew:                  Right. I mean, I don’t know. Joseph Putu, the Juco guy coming in, maybe he gets in there.

Nick:                         With Putu it’s a situation where he’s also an older guy, so he’ll be coming in as a, will he be coming in as a sophomore?

Andrew:                  Yes.

Nick:                        He has three to play, so not really an older guy then.

Andrew:                  He’s a redshirt sophomore.

Nick:                         Okay. So then an older guy, a guy probably that’s on a one to two year plan, as opposed to a three year plan coming in, with three years left of eligibility.

Andrew:                  Right. Exactly. I think that’s there. I think that’s it football related. Anything we’ve not touched on?

Nick:                        Everybody wants to know about Eddy Pineiro.

Andrew:                  That’s true. I saw something today, boss. You know me. You don’t get angry. I get frustrated, because I think people overreact. First of all, it’s spring football. Spring football, right? Everyone is great, like we said, but Mac made a comment, well, Eddy shanked one on a kickoff, and someone goes oh hell, here we go. Really? Mac just said he did great in everything else, and then you’re going to get upset because he shanked one kickoff. Come on, now. Let’s relax here a little bit.

Nick:                         It’s like we’ve said, you can’t recreate a Saturday in the fall really at any position. At kicker you definitely can’t, and it’s such a mental position. Do you want your kicker ever to kick a ball out of bounds on a kickoff? No, but you can’t get too high on your highs and too low on your lows when it’s spring football and you’re talking about the kicker. If Eddy makes a 70 yarder in a scrimmage, which I’m not saying it happened, that doesn’t mean anything. There’s not anyone in the stands. There’s not a TV camera. There’s not an opposing team on the other sideline. You’re not worrying about is Butch Jones going to try to ice me? Are they going to call a time out right before the ball is hiked?

There are so many other variables that happen that really affect the mental side of the kicking game that you can’t recreate it. So if we’re going to sit here and tell you, it doesn’t matter if Eddy’s 8 of 8 in the scrimmage. That’s cool, but that’s not the same situation he’ll be kicking in. Then we’re not going to get over here and be like, you need to worry, because he pulled one out of bounds, and Mac said, he just washed it, went through it too fast, and good. Get those out of the way now.

Andrew:                  Exactly. Here’s the thing. I really do, I think Eddy Pineiro is going to be a really good football player, and I think he’s going to do fine. I really do. I think he’s going to be fine. It can’t get no worse. I think Eddy is the guy that is going to do his work, and he’s going to put in the work, but kicking is a situation that just you don’t get anything out of spring ball. It’s almost like a closer in baseball. It’s like, yes, can he go in there and get the three outs? Sure, but let’s turn on the pressure when it’s a one run game in the bottom of the ninth of the SEC Championship on the line. Can he get the three outs then? You can’t compare that. You can’t compare the pressure. Like Mac said, he’s putting it through the goalposts. He’s kicking the ball well on kickoff, stuff like that. So, spring’s a success. Let me know in the fall that he makes his first of the fall, and I’ll tell you how big of a success Eddy’s going to be for this Florida team down the stretch.

Nick:                         That’s really, especially with a kid who doesn’t have a ton of experience. We talked to Brandon Kornblue, both of us, and you try. He said, we really try with kickers to create stress, to create some kind of anxiety, and it might be something as like Kornblue in his kicking camps would be like we’ve got like a Snickers bar for the winner of this, to create a little competition, or we split up into teams of four with four kickers. You’re the last one. You’ve got to make three out of three, or else your team loses. These other three guys are depending on you. It’s still not the same.

Andrew:                  I don’t even think it’s, we say he didn’t have the experience, this, that, and the other, but it’s true for any kicker, not just Eddy. You look at Austin Hardin. How many springs has he had a bounce back spring, and he’s going to be better? He got things fixed. I mean, for the last two years that supposedly has been it, and we’ve seen what happens. It’s a deal where any kicker in America has good springs. If they have shitty springs, that’s a different story. That’s a different story, because then you’re in trouble. If you’re having a good spring, it’s like, you had a good spring. Hallelujah. Now let’s see you do it in the fall.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                  Anyway. I think that’s everything we wanted to cover football wise. Anything we haven’t covered that you’re thinking about?

Nick:                        Mac mentioned the running backs, specifically Mark Thompson, catching the ball out of the backfield. I wanted to bring that up, just because it’s not something that Florida did a lot last year. So Jordan Scarlett had one reception. Mark Herndon had one reception. Jordan Cronkrite had six, and Kelvin Taylor had 17. That’s a grand total of 25. I really thought the running backs would have more of an impact as far as catching the ball, so maybe with Thompson. McElwain pointed out, I didn’t know about Thompson, was that he started playing football as a receiver, and kind of just got too big to play receiver.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                         And moved to running back.

Andrew:                  Let me ask you this real quick. Sorry to interrupt you here. Let me ask you this though. This is a stat you and I don’t have in front of us, and it’d be tough to do, but I feel like there was several more designed running back plays late in the season that Treon just missed. For some reason, and maybe I’m wrong. Someone I’m sure will do the research, and I’ll come back and get slapped in the face, but for some reason I just feel like the last few games, I know in particular the Florida State game there were a lot of screens set up that were just missed. There were a lot of check downs that were just missed, because you’ve got to remember, check down’s probably the hardest one to throw, because you’re throwing over the defensive lineman, with Treon being 5’2” that’s hard for him to do.

Nick:                         Treon’s my height. We’re 5’10”.

Andrew:                  You’re not playing quarterback.

Nick:                         We’re 5’10”.

Andrew:                  You’re not playing quarterback.

Nick:                         Not on St. Thomas Aquinas, home of the mighty Raiders.

Andrew:                  Anyway. You know what I’m saying? I feel like that number might be skewed a little bit. Maybe not. I kind of feel like that number has been skewed a little bit. That’s just me. Maybe I’m completely off base.

Nick:                         I don’t know. To me, based on what we saw in the spring and how they were kind of using them, and you thought Brandon Powell is a receiver, but a lot of the plays that we saw in the spring last year were him lined up in the backfield, kind of shotgun with Kelvin Taylor to the quarterback’s left, Powell to the quarterback’s right, and kind of just throwing a quick swing pass. It’s just like, you’re getting the ball with space. Make somebody miss. Make something happen. I think we just didn’t see a lot of that. Maybe it was towards the end of the year Mac kind of seeing it’s going to be tough to run east and west, and if we’re throwing a lot of these swing passes there are some pretty athletic linebackers that are getting out there really quickly, and we’re not creating as much room, as much separation when the guy is catching the ball as we thought we did, and maybe it’s not advantageous for us to keep running that play.

Andrew:                  Right. I don’t know.

Nick:                         Year one, as we always said, was always going to be a learning process, though, and a growing process, because of the deficiencies that were left on the roster. There are still deficiencies left on the roster. We’ve talked about it before. This 2017 class, Mac’s still kind of behind. The first class that this coaching staff recruiting wise will be caught up to date on is really 2018.

Andrew:                  Yeah. No excuses though.

Nick:                         Yeah. No excuses.

Andrew:                  No excuses whatsoever.

Nick:                         Rule #76, no excuses. Play like a champion.

Andrew:                  Play like a champion today. That’s right. Well, we’ll see. Going into recruiting I will say that things are going well for Florida, and they got some big visitors. We’re taping this on Monday. The big safety out of Virginia, Devon Hunter, #2 safety in the country is on campus, and then Amir, and I want to say his name is Riep. Excuse me, Reip. I don’t know, however you say his name, Amir is his name. That’s what I’m going to call him. Both of those guys are on campus for Florida. I feel like Florida’s doing a good job getting guys on campus, and now it’s all about closing.

The big news over the weekend is that safety transfer, grad transfer from Miami of Ohio, Marshall Taylor. 6’2”, 205, 210 pound safety is finishing up his career at Miami of Ohio this spring. Is a native of Georgia, and is going to visit Florida on April 15th. Nick, you and I both watched his tape, and there’s something about his instincts, his ability as a safety just to move, his athleticism, that we both like. You and I both talked about this. This is a guy that can be very well plugged in from day one to play opposite of Marcus Maye and a be a big benefit, because I think if you look at the roster right now Florida’s missing that one safety from having an elite defense again.

Nick:                         Yeah. I went on a little like mini rant last podcast that there’s nobody to replace Keanu Neal.

Andrew:                 Rants are okay.

Nick:                         What?

Andrew:                  Rants are okay. We do plenty of rants on here.

Nick:                         Yeah, but to me, really watching, when you look at, it’s easy, Quincy Wilson’s had to deal with it. When you see a corner that is 6’2”, 200, or 6’2”, 190, you think safety. To me, he really looked good at corner. Did a really good job. Was fluid with his feet, fluid, good footwork, flipped his hips. I saw some very good recovery speed. At times where he would get beat, able to make up that ground, and then because he’s 6’2” you make up that ground, and now you can get that long arm up and either swat the ball down or get your arm in the receiver’s face, cause an incompletion.

The physicality is what maybe you would say, maybe that translates to receiver, but you look at Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Both those guys are physical, and what I see is breaking down, squaring up the receiver or the running back, the ball carrier, and going in between knees and waist. Going in and tackling that middle part of the ball carrier, not this, Marcus Roberson, where it was kind of like, this guy’s running at me with the ball, let me dive at him and turn so that his legs hit my back, and he trips, that kind of tackle, that cornerback tackle. You know what I’m talking about?

Andrew:                  That’s just a road block tackle.

Nick:                         That’s the nonphysical corner’s way of tackling. I’m going to dive at you.

Andrew:                  That’s Demarcus Robinson’s way.

Nick:                         He wouldn’t tackle.

Andrew:                  No. He would lay down so that he didn’t have to hit people. Here’s the thing. You and I were talking about this a couple podcasts ago of what Torrian Gray likes out of his DBs, and that was exactly what this kid is. That’s big physical guys that can play corner or safety, and you and I had the little rant about, does he not want big name corners? I told you you were crazy, that that’s not what I meant, but this is kind of what it is. Taylor, kind of like a Marcus Maye who’s playing a little corner this spring because of injury. Taylor can do both. We’ll see what Florida has. When you look at the teams he’s visiting, Michigan State, Auburn, Florida, and I’m missing one. Louisville. Florida has the best defense of the four and has a spot to play early. If he’s truly open, you have to like Florida’s chances of getting him, in my opinion, especially if they get him on campus like he says.

Nick:                         That will be a big visit. You really can’t say enough about not, obviously every coach needs to be out recruiting, but you can’t say enough about how positive the reaction has been to Gray.

Andrew:                  He’s not getting out worked. He’s a guy that you talk to every DB, and I kind of feel repetitive, because I ask every DB, how much do you talk to Torrian Gray? They’re like, every day, or at least every other day. I’m like, when is Gray coaching ball? In the middle of spring practice, he’s texting so-and-so and saying, call you after practice? It’s good. I think that Gray has done positive. When you start to talk to some of these guys they’re like I really like Torrian Gray when he was at Virginia Tech, but I didn’t like Virginia Tech, so I wasn’t going there. Now that Gray’s at Florida, it’s Florida’s got a shot now.

Nick:                         Yeah. Really interesting to see, obviously there’s been a lot of positive talk, but I think fans might be getting a little antsy for a commitment. It’ll be interesting to see a lot of positive talk, I’m not getting antsy for a commitment, but how that positive energy, that positive talk, translates into actual signing on the dotted line when it comes down to it.

Andrew:                  I mean, once again it’s like, five star Sean Wade, to committed to Ohio State, five star Deangelo Gibbs. Some of these guys they’re like they’re in no rush to commit, and it’s like, do you just want commits and settle for John Doe who’s not good, or do you wait on the elite guys to commit? In my opinion, Florida can wait on the elite guys, because there’s so many good players in the state that they’re okay.

Nick:                         What positions, we talk a lot about, and plan a lot of our podcasts, but then you’ll say something, and I just ask you a question you’re not ready for. What positions is Florida set at where you think they can be a little pickier?

Andrew:                  Running back.

Nick:                         Yeah, like running back. I think we both agree like defensive tackle you’re in a position where you can’t be as picky. Obviously you’re going to try to get the best, but there are some serious turnover and some attrition that’s about to happen after this year inside of defensive tackle.

Andrew:                  I don’t think you can be picky at defensive tackle. I don’t think you can be picky at linebacker. At receiver, there’s so many good receivers this year I think you can be picky, kind of like they were last year in the spring/summer. Everyone wanted them to fill up, and they’re like no, no. We’re going to hold a spot for Freddie Swain. We’re going to hold a spot for Tyrie Cleveland. They were holding a spot for Nate Craig, that kind of stuff. I think that’s the same way. Running back I think they can be very picky. I think they can be very picky at receiver, and I think at tackle they can be a little pickier, because there is a lot of good tackles there, but inside guys I think they need to load up on guards. I think they need to go ahead and get some D tackles, some linebackers, that kind of stuff, and then I think everywhere else you can be pickier than maybe before.

I don’t know. I’m against taking early guys that you’re just taking to get a commit, and start focusing on the big name guys, getting some of these guys in the spring, getting some of these guys in the summer. Everyone says, they have three commits, and it’s almost April. If they have three commits in July I’ll be concerned. Until then, I’m not concerned. Let them go after the big name guys, get the big name guys. Then I’ll be okay. I mean, you look at this time last year they had 9 or 10 commits, six or seven of those guys didn’t even sign, because they were dumps that just got committed just to get commits.

Nick:                         Then you get into a situation where numbers are now weird. Do we have to start either actively expressing to somebody that it might be in their best interest to look somewhere else, or kind of give them the hint by not contacting them as much?

Andrew:                  Then you get in a situation, and I’m not going to name this kid. I’m not. Everybody’s going to know who this is, but you get a kid who ultimately signs with Florida because you can’t push him out. It happened last year. Nick, I think you know who I’m talking about. I think everybody knows who I’m talking about. It gets to a situation where you can’t push him out, but maybe you wanted to. What happens? You’re in trouble.

Let’s finish this podcast real quick. Diamond sports. Why are you dropping the ball? Why are you dropping the ball?

Nick:                        I don’t play.

Andrew:                  We had the perfect thing going. We hadn’t lost a series.

Nick:                         We? We?

Andrew:                  You dropped the ball.

Nick:                        What’s your batting average this year?

Andrew:                  1.000

Nick:                         No. What’s your ERA?

Andrew:                  0

Nick:                        No.

Andrew:                  Yeah. I haven’t thrown a pitch. What happened, bro? What happened up in Lexington? I mean, I’m just going to go ahead and say it right now. For the message board people, Florida should not be #1. They’re overrated, and they’re not getting to Omaha.

Nick:                         Florida, Kentucky plays Florida tough. They’ve won four series in a row. So it’s not even just it was on the road. They’ve won four in a row, and to me you got exactly what you expected out of Logan Shore. That’s why Logan Shore is your Friday night starter. That’s why he’s been your Friday night starter for three years. Got exactly what you needed from him on a big night Friday.

Saturday, Puk didn’t pitch poorly. He gave up a homerun in the first inning, in the second batter, and then he had a bad fifth inning, and then Frank Rubio comes in and cashes in two runners that Puk left on base, so he gives up six runs total. It wasn’t bad if you look at Puk the way he threw. He was getting behind some guys, and it doesn’t matter that he throws 97, and that he’s 6’7”, and he’s left handed. If you’re getting behind, and you’re in 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 counts, and guys know the fastball’s coming, doesn’t matter if you throw 107. They’re going to time it up eventually. So you have to stay ahead of counts. That’s what he really struggled with.

I think the bullpen, as great as the bullpen has been, I just think they were off this weekend. Florida’s gotten by in situations where it’s a one run game, two runners on, we’re going to the bullpen, and you’re getting a double play, inning ending double play. You’re getting a strikeout. They just didn’t get that. So I think it was just an off weekend for the bullpen.

Bats kind of struggled. JJ Schwarz had a good Sunday, but really struggled before that. Outside of Nelson Maldonado, who tore the cover off the ball, I think he was eight or nine for 14, something like that, something ridiculous, including two homeruns on Friday. Just not a good weekend. It’s baseball. It’s a long season, and I even said that after they beat Harvard. It’s a long season. They’re not going to win every game. Big week though this week, so how do you respond when you get FSU on Tuesday and then the new #1 team in Texas A&M coming in for three games? So you’re playing #9 and #1 this week. How do you respond after dropping two in a row?

Andrew:                  We’ll see. It’s a situation where we’ll see. Kentucky, like you said, they always play Florida tough. If you bounce back with a good weekend against A&M, all things are forgotten, and they’ll be fine. I don’t have too many concerns about it. If it happens again this weekend, maybe they get swept, then I might start being a little concerned. Until then, I’m not too concerned.

The Gators softball team, Nick, go to Baton Rouge and guess what?

Nick:                         They put the broom in the carryon.

Andrew:                 You’re right. Another sweep. 3-0, 3-0, and 6-2 over there in Baton Rouge. Friday night, the second game of the Friday night game was a nine inning game that went into the ninth inning scoreless, and Dewitt hit, Nicole Dewitt hit a three run homer, and won the game for the Gators. Aleshia Ocasio is the SEC Pitcher of the Week, as she now is leading the NCAA with a .36 Earned Run Average after picking up two more wins over the weekend and a save for Florida that was a big one for her, and the Gators now come home to play #9 Alabama. Another top 10 matchup, and the Gators are still one loss, 33-1. Set the program record for best start to a season.

Nick:                         Yeah, but they’re just relying on talent. They don’t play fundamental softball.

Andrew:                 That’s my message board people.

Nick:                        They don’t hit well with runners in scoring position.

Andrew:                  There were just 7-12 on Sunday.

Nick:                        They leave too many girls on base.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Maybe so. I don’t know.

Nick:                         You know what I really think they do?

Andrew:                 What’s that?

Nick:                         I think they strike out too many people, and they’re really not giving the defense a chance to play defense. They need to strike out less girls.

Andrew:                  Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know, boss.

Nick:                         I don’t know how you complain about this softball team, but people find ways.

Andrew:                 They should be complaining about your team. Your team’s the one losing series over there.

Nick:                         They should, you know what? In order to make room for more football in lieu of, and in light of Florida two of three to Kentucky, they should just get rid of the program. Knock down the baseball field, build a standalone football facility. Just get rid of baseball.

Andrew:                  You better watch out. Somebody might take you up on that offer. Let’s get out of here. Friday scrimmage for the Gators. We’ll be back. Gators, Florida State Tuesday night.

Nick:                         I think we should bring on our buddy Ryan to preview Florida, Texas A&M as well.

Andrew:                 He will be here. I’ve already discussed it with him. He’ll be here. He’ll talk that, and Gators, Alabama this weekend in softball. Some recruiting. Nicholas, tell the people where they can find us, and we’ll get out of here and see you guys on Friday.

Nick:                         Hit the W button three times, then GatorCountry.com. Always got news, updates, tidbits, pictures, videos, podcasts. Also, if you haven’t already, you can go to iTunes, search Gator Country, and subscribe to the podcast. That will give you a notification every time a new one goes up. So you don’t have to worry about anything, missing anything. Follow us on Twitter, GatorCountry, @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC. On Instagram, TheGatorCountry, and our Facebook page has everything that the website has, except the message boards, so follow us there as well.

Andrew:                  Every scrimmage the Gators have had we’ve had updates, and we don’t bullshit the updates. They’re straight. They’re forward. They’re the best. You’re not a member, come check us out. Give me a holler. Give Nick a holler. One of us will hook you up with a nice little deal to get you there. That’ll get you spring football, recruiting, everything you can think of. Like Nick said, hit us on Twitter or email. Our emails are on our Twitter accounts. As always, Butch and Mark you still aren’t very good, and opening day is right around the corner, so go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         Good luck, Marlins. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                They need to stay classy.

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 focuses on recapping the Florida Gators spring scrimmage from last Thursday, plus updating the injury news around the team this week.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down who looked good and who didn’t look good in last week’s scrimmage, plus we recap Jim McElwain’s press conference from Monday.

Andrew and Nick also talk some recruiting news as the Gators are set to host a grad transfer soon, plus they recap the diamond sports from last weekend.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Once again, your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                          I think luckily both of us are not on the injured list, which you might not be able to say the same for a lot of the football team, and the baseball team took some licks this weekend, but you and I made it out unscathed. I do have a little leg thing. We’re not going to get into specifics, but a leg.

Andrew:                 A leg?

Nick:                          I’m not expected to miss any time though.

Andrew:                  Yeah. I think it’s spring. A lot of these so-called injuries if it was football season would these guys missing time? No. It’s spring. Guys like Jalen Tabor, who’s out, guys like Quincy Wilson, who is out, I’m trying to think of who all else that’s out that would be playing. Cam Dillard would probably be playing. Dre Massey would probably be playing. So a lot of these guys that are so-called injured, put in parenthesis, quotations.

Nick:                          Let me run through them. I have the updated list here. Let me run through them real quick, because spring injuries don’t mean much. You’re not playing a game.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                          So we’ll just run through them real quick. Jordan Scarlett has missed time with a hamstring injury. He missed the scrimmage. He should be back Monday, as we’re taping this. Ahmad Fulwood and Dre Massey both leg injuries, believed to be hamstrings. Missed. Fulwood supposed to be back Friday. Massey back sooner, probably not Monday, maybe Wednesday. Friday the team will go back for another full scrimmage, so they’re hoping to get Fulwood back for that scrimmage. Cam Dillard, broken nose. He missed the scrimmage. He’s missing time. They hope to have him back Friday for scrimmage. Cece Jefferson’s down with hamstring injuries, kind of missed a lot of time, low key, missed a lot of time this spring. He’s supposed to be back Monday. Jalen Tabor, hamstring, was held from Thursday’s scrimmage. Duke Dawson dislocated his thumb in the scrimmage. He was able to come back, play a little bit. Expect to be back on Monday. They thought, worst case scenario, it could be broken. It’s not broken, so he’s had to deal with a foot injury and a thumb injury, but he’ll be back.

Then the more serious one is Thomas Holley, and you and I will talk about that for a little bit. So there’s been a lot made of Thomas Holley’s weight loss, and rightfully so. He has completely transformed his body. If you remember, it was from after his redshirt season going into his redshirt freshman year, I put on the message board after we talked to him for the first time, and I said, Thomas Holley, to me, this is two years ago, looks like a kid and sounds like a kid that was told by a doctor, hey, this injury is very serious. We’ve fixed it, but it’s not a matter of if you’ll injure it again; it’s a matter of when, and when that next injury happens, when this happens again, your football career is done, and it’s going to be something that will affect you the rest of your life. So we’re not telling you you can’t play football anymore, but you’re going to have to do things to alter your body to put less stress on it, and even after you do those things, this injury is still not going away.

So where you see him lose 60 pounds, that’s if I take weight off maybe it’ll put less stress, less load on my hip, and that’ll help. He knows, and the coaching staff knew, that it was a serious injury. So, to me, judging by Jim McElwain’s tone, it seems like it could be serious. Obviously, they haven’t really ruled him out. The direct quote from McElwain on Monday was, “The hip flared up. That’s going to be a tough one. He did everything he could, losing the weight, taking the pressure off that. We’ll see that as the spring rolls on what his role will be.” Obviously for a kid that’s worked very hard kind of tough to have to go through it again, even if in the back of your mind you know that having to go through it again is a possibility.

Andrew:                  It’s an injury that is more than an injury. It’s a chronic problem in the hip that we’ll see. Like you said, it’s a situation of not if but more so when it would happen, and I think it’s kind of like last year where you would see him go one game where he was healthy and playing, and then you’d see him miss two games, because the hip was an issue. It’s interesting to see. Hopefully Thomas is able to at least play a few games and get out there, but it is there, and it’s what will cause Rumph, McElwain, Collins, those guys, not to be able to count on him on a week in, week out basis, because of that.

Another guy you missed was Caleb Brantley, sick. He’ll be back. Not Monday, but probably Wednesday or Friday. When you go through that list, you look at a guy like Tabor, hamstring injury. He plays if it’s season. Brantley’s sick. He plays if it’s the season. Dillard with nose broken, he plays if it’s the season. Most of the guys that are injured are more so precautionary reasons. They’re older guys that don’t need the practice. I mean, they all need the practice, but don’t exactly need the reps as much as the younger guys. So that’s kind of why they’re there.

One thing I did want to touch on, Mac continues his normal line, phrase, statement, whatever you want to call it that there is no separation. Let’s face it. There’s separation. Del Rio’s the starting quarterback. You can come out and say it, fine and dandy, but it’s a statement that doesn’t need to be said, because it’s so glaringly obvious that everyone knows right now the quarterbacks are competing for the two spot, not for the one spot, the two spot. Trask and Franks are not starting as true freshmen at Florida. Appleby’s not better than Del Rio. Del Rio’s the starter. Every update we get, Del Rio’s doing the best, by far outperforming everybody. So while Mac may say that, let’s cut to the chase and say it ain’t happening.

Nick:                          It ain’t happening, partner. Luke Del Rio’s going to be the starter, barring an injury. Luke Del Rio’s going to be the starter. We talked about it before. I think Kyle Trask is ahead of Feleipe Franks. Franks is still swimming with the mental part of the game, but it’s not a situation where you’re competing for the starter, and I think it’s not even really, sort of a competition for #2, but I think #2, and you and I have talked about it, the backup job would probably depend on if Del Rio were to get hurt, at what point of the season? What’s still on the line? Is there a lot on the line? Do we need to go to the guy that has some experience? Is it so early in the season that we might just be better suited to get a freshman some reps, or does it happen super late in the season, and you haven’t played either freshman? You’re thinking, I think we can get away with playing Appleby, and we can keep a redshirt on both freshmen.

So there’s obviously a lot of stuff that goes into who would be the #2, not on paper, but in practice, and that not on the practice field, but not in theory. Who would really be the #2 when push came to shove? Luke Del Rio’s going to be your starting quarterback. That’s it. There’s no other way to shake it. Mac won’t say it, but that’s what it is.

Andrew:                  Exactly. It’s not a guessing game. That is the one spot among very few that there’s a starter and nobody else, and that’s how it is. I think Mac uses the same method on Del Rio that he used on Grier, and that is, yes, you’re the starter. Yes, you are by far the best player, but I’m not talking you up like you’re the Heisman Trophy winner. I am trying to talk you down to a point of this is what you have to do. That’s it.

Another thing coming out of Monday is the receiver position. Massey’s down. Fulwood’s down. You’re missing Callaway still, missing Brandon Powell still. He says Alvin Bailey, Ryan Sosa, Chris Thompson are doing well. Come on, bro. Come on.

Nick:                          Yeah. There’s not really many bodies left at the position, so when you have Fulwood, Massey, Powell, Callaway, obviously, Khalif Jackson who’s done for the spring, obviously, that’s five. There’s just not many people left. To me, it’s almost frustrating. I’ll ask a question in a press conference specifically about Hammond and Swain, and I get a two minute answer about Ryan Sosa and Alvin Bailey, guys who I don’t think are going to make an impact in the fall. I think Chris Thompson has a chance to going into his senior year, to make some kind of impact, but we’re talking about guys that didn’t make an impact last year when the position was just as wide open. Everyone was complaining about D Rob last year, for whatever reason, but, I mean, you look at Alvin Bailey last year, three receptions. Treon Harris had two receptions last year.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                          And one touchdown, which is more than Alvin Bailey. So when you’re in the spring you have to keep in mind that the coaching staff is always going to say guys are doing well, because it’s the spring.

Andrew:                  I think it’s a thing kind of like what we just talked about in that Swain and Hammond aren’t going to be praised a ton, because they’re still young. They’re still learning. Mac still wants them to go through the ropes of learning. Everything we’ve heard is that those two guys and Chris Thompson have been probably the three best. I do think Chris Thompson finds a role, and I do think Chris Thompson plays a lot next year. You’re not convincing me Alvin Bailey and Ryan Sosa are playing, but I’m sure they are doing well. It’s what? Seven receivers out there, eight receivers out there, a couple walk-ons. Those two guys are doing well. I’m sure they had a good scrimmage.

A guy that he didn’t mention on Monday is CJ Worton, and you and I both were told that Worton had a long touchdown catch in the scrimmage on Thursday. For me, that’s the guy that I continue to pinpoint, and maybe it’s a situation where I’m hoping he does well, maybe rooting for him too much to do well, and it’s just not realistically going to happen. That’s the guy that I think really needs to step up for Florida this spring is Worton, and it just continues to see that he looks like he’s having up and down days where he has really good days and then some bad days.

Nick:                          You’ve got, at this point for him, you’ve got to get past that. A freshman you do something stupid, punch a wall, break your hand. Okay. There’s your chance. There’s your get out of jail free card, your pass. You did something stupid. You’re young. Now, it’s coming to the time where, like McElwain mentioned it about DeAndre Goolsby. Hey, he’s finally coming out and stringing together good practices, because he’s coming out with the right mentality, and that means he’s paying attention when they’re going over things in the meeting rooms. He knows his playbook, and he’s taking all of that off the field on the field to practice. To me, Worton, third year in the program, got to get with the program and start doing that and stringing things together, because when it comes down to it, you can have all the time in the world, if the coaching staff doesn’t trust you, and you haven’t earned that trust in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, and on the practice field it doesn’t matter how good you are, because you’re not going to play on Saturday.

Andrew:                  That’s a good point.

Nick:                         To your point, to what you said, he’s a guy who I got dragged over the coals a little bit last year, because I was so high on him when he was a freshman, was so high on him going into his second year, that people are like, hey, where’s this kid? I’m like, he’s just got to figure it out. It’s a guy that can help Florida, and Florida needs help on offense. To me, it’s almost like I don’t know how you can’t see that, and how does that not motivate you? Maybe you don’t like to study the playbook, or you don’t like to sit through meetings. Maybe you don’t even like practice. Maybe you just really enjoy the game of football and playing the games, but you have to at some point, the light has to switch to say that I can’t just do what I want to do. There’s these other things that I have to do to enable me to be successful and be the player that I want to be.

Andrew: :                 I mean, it’s make or break time for Worton, because, let’s face it, the receivers coming in this year for Florida are better than the crop before that. The class coming in in 2017 I would be willing to bet is going to be as good, if not better than this class they have right now. This receiver group is getting better. It’s being shaped up. It’s going to be a different environment around that position. For me, it’s time for Worton to either step up or get out. For me, I hope he gets it, because I do think he’s a talented player. He showed that in the SEC Championship game against Alabama when he had the touchdown catch. When he gets in the game he usually finds a way to make a play. So I guess what has me excited about Worton is he does have the ability. He’s quick. He’s a strong guy for his size, and a guy that catches the ball really well. It’s just it’s one of those things where it seems like he can’t get out of his own way. You talk about the incident his freshman year, he punched the wall. He kind of made news last year where Florida was on a road trip, and he’s talking about partying in South Dade.

Nick:                          Hey, man, there’s a lot going on in south Florida.

Andrew:                  Right, but it’s a situation where it’s like maybe you should have just chill out a little bit here, not said, maybe not say what you want to say. Remember, social media is seen by an assload of people, and you might not want to do that.

Nick:                          I remember seeing that tweet and thinking, man, I wouldn’t mind being down there for a pool party. That sounds good, but Florida’s not counting on me to catch passes.

Andrew:                  Exactly. I mean, if you’re McElwain you’re sitting here thinking, does this guy really love the game? You have to wonder if that doesn’t pop into his head when he sees stuff like that.

Nick:                       Absolutely. As a coach, you don’t want your player to be hurting, but as a coach you would rather your player tweet something like, man, it hurts to have to sit at home and watch this team, watch my guys play knowing that I can’t be out there, or tweet nothing. Maybe text the coach, hey, congrats on the win, really sucked, I was pissed off I couldn’t be there. That’s what you want. Not kegger at my place, here’s the address.

Andrew:                  Right. Sounded like CJ might have just been glad to get home and kick it back with a few on that Saturday.

Nick:                         South Florida’s the spot to be. I can’t knock him there.

Andrew:                  Think about it. If he does what he’s supposed to do, there’ll be a lot more, instead of having to worry about somebody getting the drinks he would be buying them himself, if he was in the League.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                  Anyway, let’s go to the defensive side of the ball real quick. I want to hit on Chauncey Gardner. You and I, we’ve talked in depth a ton about Chauncey Gardner. I’m in the opinion that he could play anywhere in the defensive backfield. I know you’re in the opinion that you think he’s more of a safety, nickel back kind of guy. Once again, I think he can play all three. Mac did make news on Monday. Talked about that Chauncey’s been working exclusively at safety.

Nick:                        If you’re following along our practice threads, you would have known that I told you that, that Chauncey is not working outside. He’s only working at nickel and safety, and he’s really get a lot of reps at safety behind Washington and Harris.

Andrew:                  Where can they find those practice threads?

Nick:                         GatorCountry.com.

Andrew:                  There you go. That’s a good spot to have. A little meaningless plug.

Nick:                         Shameless plug.

Andrew:                  Whatever. Same thing. It is what it is. Whatever. Anyway, you think about it though. Chauncey’s a guy that can play anywhere. Right now Florida needs depth at safety. They made some news over the weekend. There’s a grad transfer going to visit. We’ll talk about that here in a minute when we talk recruiting, but for Chauncey to play there a little bit I don’t think is a bad thing. In my opinion, if you learn how to play safety you can play anywhere. So I don’t see it as a bad thing.

Nick:                         No, it’s not. Really Duke Dawson is having a good year. I’ve always thought that he…

Andrew:                  How’s he having a good year? He can’t even stay on the field.

Nick:                         He is staying on the field. He’s playing through injuries. I think maybe, there was a lot made of last year of some of the social media stuff that happened with his parents, but it’s all been smoothed over. I’ve always thought that Duke was a very good nickel, and, obviously, you have Brian Poole, who is a very good nickel. So maybe hard for Duke to get on the field. I think Florida doesn’t lose a step from what Brian Poole was with Duke in the nickel. To me, if you get Chauncey reps there, get Chauncey reps at safety, it’s good. I do agree with you. If you can play, actually, I don’t know if I agree. Keanu Neal was a great safety, but you wouldn’t put him out at corner.

Andrew:                  That’s not because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Nick:                         Right. There’s a different kind of knowledge that you have to have to play safety versus…

Andrew:                  Let me ask you about Jalen Watkins. Jalen Watkins is a guy that you can stick at corner, safety, and that’s what Chauncey Gardner is. If Keanu had to play one play at corner I think he would, but physically he wasn’t ready. I mean, Marcus Maye, for instance, is playing a lot of corner this year, as well as safety.

Nick:                        That’s injury related.

Andrew:                  But that’s a situation, that’s what I’m talking about.

Nick:                         He can do it.

Andrew:                 Right. He can do it. That’s what I’m saying with Chauncey. It’s not like we’re putting him at safety because he can’t play these other two, and it’s going to hurt him to play these other two. It’s we’re letting him to play safety. He can play here. It’s kind of like a guy that plays the middle infield in baseball. If you’re playing short, and you’re playing second, you’re kind of learning the same thing here, so you’re able to move down or move around, and that’s kind of where Chauncey is. I think Chauncey will see reps at not only safety but at nickel, and down the road I do think he sees some time at corner. I think he can play all of those positions there.

Nick:                         Maybe it’s a situation where he just grows into the safety, because if you look at it, Nick Washington and Harris are both older. Maye is definitely gone after this year. Kylan Johnson has moved down to linebacker, so maybe it’s a position where he kind of just makes the switch and takes off and runs with it.

Andrew:                  I’ll say this. Jawaan Taylor will be one of those safeties, so everybody else is just competing for another spot.

Nick:                         I’m not going to argue with you on that. I’m just saying I haven’t seen enough of him. I need to see him at this level.

Andrew:                  Right. I mean, I don’t know. Joseph Putu, the Juco guy coming in, maybe he gets in there.

Nick:                         With Putu it’s a situation where he’s also an older guy, so he’ll be coming in as a, will he be coming in as a sophomore?

Andrew:                  Yes.

Nick:                        He has three to play, so not really an older guy then.

Andrew:                  He’s a redshirt sophomore.

Nick:                         Okay. So then an older guy, a guy probably that’s on a one to two year plan, as opposed to a three year plan coming in, with three years left of eligibility.

Andrew:                  Right. Exactly. I think that’s there. I think that’s it football related. Anything we’ve not touched on?

Nick:                        Everybody wants to know about Eddy Pineiro.

Andrew:                  That’s true. I saw something today, boss. You know me. You don’t get angry. I get frustrated, because I think people overreact. First of all, it’s spring football. Spring football, right? Everyone is great, like we said, but Mac made a comment, well, Eddy shanked one on a kickoff, and someone goes oh hell, here we go. Really? Mac just said he did great in everything else, and then you’re going to get upset because he shanked one kickoff. Come on, now. Let’s relax here a little bit.

Nick:                         It’s like we’ve said, you can’t recreate a Saturday in the fall really at any position. At kicker you definitely can’t, and it’s such a mental position. Do you want your kicker ever to kick a ball out of bounds on a kickoff? No, but you can’t get too high on your highs and too low on your lows when it’s spring football and you’re talking about the kicker. If Eddy makes a 70 yarder in a scrimmage, which I’m not saying it happened, that doesn’t mean anything. There’s not anyone in the stands. There’s not a TV camera. There’s not an opposing team on the other sideline. You’re not worrying about is Butch Jones going to try to ice me? Are they going to call a time out right before the ball is hiked?

There are so many other variables that happen that really affect the mental side of the kicking game that you can’t recreate it. So if we’re going to sit here and tell you, it doesn’t matter if Eddy’s 8 of 8 in the scrimmage. That’s cool, but that’s not the same situation he’ll be kicking in. Then we’re not going to get over here and be like, you need to worry, because he pulled one out of bounds, and Mac said, he just washed it, went through it too fast, and good. Get those out of the way now.

Andrew:                  Exactly. Here’s the thing. I really do, I think Eddy Pineiro is going to be a really good football player, and I think he’s going to do fine. I really do. I think he’s going to be fine. It can’t get no worse. I think Eddy is the guy that is going to do his work, and he’s going to put in the work, but kicking is a situation that just you don’t get anything out of spring ball. It’s almost like a closer in baseball. It’s like, yes, can he go in there and get the three outs? Sure, but let’s turn on the pressure when it’s a one run game in the bottom of the ninth of the SEC Championship on the line. Can he get the three outs then? You can’t compare that. You can’t compare the pressure. Like Mac said, he’s putting it through the goalposts. He’s kicking the ball well on kickoff, stuff like that. So, spring’s a success. Let me know in the fall that he makes his first of the fall, and I’ll tell you how big of a success Eddy’s going to be for this Florida team down the stretch.

Nick:                         That’s really, especially with a kid who doesn’t have a ton of experience. We talked to Brandon Kornblue, both of us, and you try. He said, we really try with kickers to create stress, to create some kind of anxiety, and it might be something as like Kornblue in his kicking camps would be like we’ve got like a Snickers bar for the winner of this, to create a little competition, or we split up into teams of four with four kickers. You’re the last one. You’ve got to make three out of three, or else your team loses. These other three guys are depending on you. It’s still not the same.

Andrew:                  I don’t even think it’s, we say he didn’t have the experience, this, that, and the other, but it’s true for any kicker, not just Eddy. You look at Austin Hardin. How many springs has he had a bounce back spring, and he’s going to be better? He got things fixed. I mean, for the last two years that supposedly has been it, and we’ve seen what happens. It’s a deal where any kicker in America has good springs. If they have shitty springs, that’s a different story. That’s a different story, because then you’re in trouble. If you’re having a good spring, it’s like, you had a good spring. Hallelujah. Now let’s see you do it in the fall.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                  Anyway. I think that’s everything we wanted to cover football wise. Anything we haven’t covered that you’re thinking about?

Nick:                        Mac mentioned the running backs, specifically Mark Thompson, catching the ball out of the backfield. I wanted to bring that up, just because it’s not something that Florida did a lot last year. So Jordan Scarlett had one reception. Mark Herndon had one reception. Jordan Cronkrite had six, and Kelvin Taylor had 17. That’s a grand total of 25. I really thought the running backs would have more of an impact as far as catching the ball, so maybe with Thompson. McElwain pointed out, I didn’t know about Thompson, was that he started playing football as a receiver, and kind of just got too big to play receiver.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                         And moved to running back.

Andrew:                  Let me ask you this real quick. Sorry to interrupt you here. Let me ask you this though. This is a stat you and I don’t have in front of us, and it’d be tough to do, but I feel like there was several more designed running back plays late in the season that Treon just missed. For some reason, and maybe I’m wrong. Someone I’m sure will do the research, and I’ll come back and get slapped in the face, but for some reason I just feel like the last few games, I know in particular the Florida State game there were a lot of screens set up that were just missed. There were a lot of check downs that were just missed, because you’ve got to remember, check down’s probably the hardest one to throw, because you’re throwing over the defensive lineman, with Treon being 5’2” that’s hard for him to do.

Nick:                         Treon’s my height. We’re 5’10”.

Andrew:                  You’re not playing quarterback.

Nick:                         We’re 5’10”.

Andrew:                  You’re not playing quarterback.

Nick:                         Not on St. Thomas Aquinas, home of the mighty Raiders.

Andrew:                  Anyway. You know what I’m saying? I feel like that number might be skewed a little bit. Maybe not. I kind of feel like that number has been skewed a little bit. That’s just me. Maybe I’m completely off base.

Nick:                         I don’t know. To me, based on what we saw in the spring and how they were kind of using them, and you thought Brandon Powell is a receiver, but a lot of the plays that we saw in the spring last year were him lined up in the backfield, kind of shotgun with Kelvin Taylor to the quarterback’s left, Powell to the quarterback’s right, and kind of just throwing a quick swing pass. It’s just like, you’re getting the ball with space. Make somebody miss. Make something happen. I think we just didn’t see a lot of that. Maybe it was towards the end of the year Mac kind of seeing it’s going to be tough to run east and west, and if we’re throwing a lot of these swing passes there are some pretty athletic linebackers that are getting out there really quickly, and we’re not creating as much room, as much separation when the guy is catching the ball as we thought we did, and maybe it’s not advantageous for us to keep running that play.

Andrew:                  Right. I don’t know.

Nick:                         Year one, as we always said, was always going to be a learning process, though, and a growing process, because of the deficiencies that were left on the roster. There are still deficiencies left on the roster. We’ve talked about it before. This 2017 class, Mac’s still kind of behind. The first class that this coaching staff recruiting wise will be caught up to date on is really 2018.

Andrew:                  Yeah. No excuses though.

Nick:                         Yeah. No excuses.

Andrew:                  No excuses whatsoever.

Nick:                         Rule #76, no excuses. Play like a champion.

Andrew:                  Play like a champion today. That’s right. Well, we’ll see. Going into recruiting I will say that things are going well for Florida, and they got some big visitors. We’re taping this on Monday. The big safety out of Virginia, Devon Hunter, #2 safety in the country is on campus, and then Amir, and I want to say his name is Riep. Excuse me, Reip. I don’t know, however you say his name, Amir is his name. That’s what I’m going to call him. Both of those guys are on campus for Florida. I feel like Florida’s doing a good job getting guys on campus, and now it’s all about closing.

The big news over the weekend is that safety transfer, grad transfer from Miami of Ohio, Marshall Taylor. 6’2”, 205, 210 pound safety is finishing up his career at Miami of Ohio this spring. Is a native of Georgia, and is going to visit Florida on April 15th. Nick, you and I both watched his tape, and there’s something about his instincts, his ability as a safety just to move, his athleticism, that we both like. You and I both talked about this. This is a guy that can be very well plugged in from day one to play opposite of Marcus Maye and a be a big benefit, because I think if you look at the roster right now Florida’s missing that one safety from having an elite defense again.

Nick:                         Yeah. I went on a little like mini rant last podcast that there’s nobody to replace Keanu Neal.

Andrew:                 Rants are okay.

Nick:                         What?

Andrew:                  Rants are okay. We do plenty of rants on here.

Nick:                         Yeah, but to me, really watching, when you look at, it’s easy, Quincy Wilson’s had to deal with it. When you see a corner that is 6’2”, 200, or 6’2”, 190, you think safety. To me, he really looked good at corner. Did a really good job. Was fluid with his feet, fluid, good footwork, flipped his hips. I saw some very good recovery speed. At times where he would get beat, able to make up that ground, and then because he’s 6’2” you make up that ground, and now you can get that long arm up and either swat the ball down or get your arm in the receiver’s face, cause an incompletion.

The physicality is what maybe you would say, maybe that translates to receiver, but you look at Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Both those guys are physical, and what I see is breaking down, squaring up the receiver or the running back, the ball carrier, and going in between knees and waist. Going in and tackling that middle part of the ball carrier, not this, Marcus Roberson, where it was kind of like, this guy’s running at me with the ball, let me dive at him and turn so that his legs hit my back, and he trips, that kind of tackle, that cornerback tackle. You know what I’m talking about?

Andrew:                  That’s just a road block tackle.

Nick:                         That’s the nonphysical corner’s way of tackling. I’m going to dive at you.

Andrew:                  That’s Demarcus Robinson’s way.

Nick:                         He wouldn’t tackle.

Andrew:                  No. He would lay down so that he didn’t have to hit people. Here’s the thing. You and I were talking about this a couple podcasts ago of what Torrian Gray likes out of his DBs, and that was exactly what this kid is. That’s big physical guys that can play corner or safety, and you and I had the little rant about, does he not want big name corners? I told you you were crazy, that that’s not what I meant, but this is kind of what it is. Taylor, kind of like a Marcus Maye who’s playing a little corner this spring because of injury. Taylor can do both. We’ll see what Florida has. When you look at the teams he’s visiting, Michigan State, Auburn, Florida, and I’m missing one. Louisville. Florida has the best defense of the four and has a spot to play early. If he’s truly open, you have to like Florida’s chances of getting him, in my opinion, especially if they get him on campus like he says.

Nick:                         That will be a big visit. You really can’t say enough about not, obviously every coach needs to be out recruiting, but you can’t say enough about how positive the reaction has been to Gray.

Andrew:                  He’s not getting out worked. He’s a guy that you talk to every DB, and I kind of feel repetitive, because I ask every DB, how much do you talk to Torrian Gray? They’re like, every day, or at least every other day. I’m like, when is Gray coaching ball? In the middle of spring practice, he’s texting so-and-so and saying, call you after practice? It’s good. I think that Gray has done positive. When you start to talk to some of these guys they’re like I really like Torrian Gray when he was at Virginia Tech, but I didn’t like Virginia Tech, so I wasn’t going there. Now that Gray’s at Florida, it’s Florida’s got a shot now.

Nick:                         Yeah. Really interesting to see, obviously there’s been a lot of positive talk, but I think fans might be getting a little antsy for a commitment. It’ll be interesting to see a lot of positive talk, I’m not getting antsy for a commitment, but how that positive energy, that positive talk, translates into actual signing on the dotted line when it comes down to it.

Andrew:                  I mean, once again it’s like, five star Sean Wade, to committed to Ohio State, five star Deangelo Gibbs. Some of these guys they’re like they’re in no rush to commit, and it’s like, do you just want commits and settle for John Doe who’s not good, or do you wait on the elite guys to commit? In my opinion, Florida can wait on the elite guys, because there’s so many good players in the state that they’re okay.

Nick:                         What positions, we talk a lot about, and plan a lot of our podcasts, but then you’ll say something, and I just ask you a question you’re not ready for. What positions is Florida set at where you think they can be a little pickier?

Andrew:                  Running back.

Nick:                         Yeah, like running back. I think we both agree like defensive tackle you’re in a position where you can’t be as picky. Obviously you’re going to try to get the best, but there are some serious turnover and some attrition that’s about to happen after this year inside of defensive tackle.

Andrew:                  I don’t think you can be picky at defensive tackle. I don’t think you can be picky at linebacker. At receiver, there’s so many good receivers this year I think you can be picky, kind of like they were last year in the spring/summer. Everyone wanted them to fill up, and they’re like no, no. We’re going to hold a spot for Freddie Swain. We’re going to hold a spot for Tyrie Cleveland. They were holding a spot for Nate Craig, that kind of stuff. I think that’s the same way. Running back I think they can be very picky. I think they can be very picky at receiver, and I think at tackle they can be a little pickier, because there is a lot of good tackles there, but inside guys I think they need to load up on guards. I think they need to go ahead and get some D tackles, some linebackers, that kind of stuff, and then I think everywhere else you can be pickier than maybe before.

I don’t know. I’m against taking early guys that you’re just taking to get a commit, and start focusing on the big name guys, getting some of these guys in the spring, getting some of these guys in the summer. Everyone says, they have three commits, and it’s almost April. If they have three commits in July I’ll be concerned. Until then, I’m not concerned. Let them go after the big name guys, get the big name guys. Then I’ll be okay. I mean, you look at this time last year they had 9 or 10 commits, six or seven of those guys didn’t even sign, because they were dumps that just got committed just to get commits.

Nick:                         Then you get into a situation where numbers are now weird. Do we have to start either actively expressing to somebody that it might be in their best interest to look somewhere else, or kind of give them the hint by not contacting them as much?

Andrew:                  Then you get in a situation, and I’m not going to name this kid. I’m not. Everybody’s going to know who this is, but you get a kid who ultimately signs with Florida because you can’t push him out. It happened last year. Nick, I think you know who I’m talking about. I think everybody knows who I’m talking about. It gets to a situation where you can’t push him out, but maybe you wanted to. What happens? You’re in trouble.

Let’s finish this podcast real quick. Diamond sports. Why are you dropping the ball? Why are you dropping the ball?

Nick:                        I don’t play.

Andrew:                  We had the perfect thing going. We hadn’t lost a series.

Nick:                         We? We?

Andrew:                  You dropped the ball.

Nick:                        What’s your batting average this year?

Andrew:                  1.000

Nick:                         No. What’s your ERA?

Andrew:                  0

Nick:                        No.

Andrew:                  Yeah. I haven’t thrown a pitch. What happened, bro? What happened up in Lexington? I mean, I’m just going to go ahead and say it right now. For the message board people, Florida should not be #1. They’re overrated, and they’re not getting to Omaha.

Nick:                         Florida, Kentucky plays Florida tough. They’ve won four series in a row. So it’s not even just it was on the road. They’ve won four in a row, and to me you got exactly what you expected out of Logan Shore. That’s why Logan Shore is your Friday night starter. That’s why he’s been your Friday night starter for three years. Got exactly what you needed from him on a big night Friday.

Saturday, Puk didn’t pitch poorly. He gave up a homerun in the first inning, in the second batter, and then he had a bad fifth inning, and then Frank Rubio comes in and cashes in two runners that Puk left on base, so he gives up six runs total. It wasn’t bad if you look at Puk the way he threw. He was getting behind some guys, and it doesn’t matter that he throws 97, and that he’s 6’7”, and he’s left handed. If you’re getting behind, and you’re in 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 counts, and guys know the fastball’s coming, doesn’t matter if you throw 107. They’re going to time it up eventually. So you have to stay ahead of counts. That’s what he really struggled with.

I think the bullpen, as great as the bullpen has been, I just think they were off this weekend. Florida’s gotten by in situations where it’s a one run game, two runners on, we’re going to the bullpen, and you’re getting a double play, inning ending double play. You’re getting a strikeout. They just didn’t get that. So I think it was just an off weekend for the bullpen.

Bats kind of struggled. JJ Schwarz had a good Sunday, but really struggled before that. Outside of Nelson Maldonado, who tore the cover off the ball, I think he was eight or nine for 14, something like that, something ridiculous, including two homeruns on Friday. Just not a good weekend. It’s baseball. It’s a long season, and I even said that after they beat Harvard. It’s a long season. They’re not going to win every game. Big week though this week, so how do you respond when you get FSU on Tuesday and then the new #1 team in Texas A&M coming in for three games? So you’re playing #9 and #1 this week. How do you respond after dropping two in a row?

Andrew:                  We’ll see. It’s a situation where we’ll see. Kentucky, like you said, they always play Florida tough. If you bounce back with a good weekend against A&M, all things are forgotten, and they’ll be fine. I don’t have too many concerns about it. If it happens again this weekend, maybe they get swept, then I might start being a little concerned. Until then, I’m not too concerned.

The Gators softball team, Nick, go to Baton Rouge and guess what?

Nick:                         They put the broom in the carryon.

Andrew:                 You’re right. Another sweep. 3-0, 3-0, and 6-2 over there in Baton Rouge. Friday night, the second game of the Friday night game was a nine inning game that went into the ninth inning scoreless, and Dewitt hit, Nicole Dewitt hit a three run homer, and won the game for the Gators. Aleshia Ocasio is the SEC Pitcher of the Week, as she now is leading the NCAA with a .36 Earned Run Average after picking up two more wins over the weekend and a save for Florida that was a big one for her, and the Gators now come home to play #9 Alabama. Another top 10 matchup, and the Gators are still one loss, 33-1. Set the program record for best start to a season.

Nick:                         Yeah, but they’re just relying on talent. They don’t play fundamental softball.

Andrew:                 That’s my message board people.

Nick:                        They don’t hit well with runners in scoring position.

Andrew:                  There were just 7-12 on Sunday.

Nick:                        They leave too many girls on base.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Maybe so. I don’t know.

Nick:                         You know what I really think they do?

Andrew:                 What’s that?

Nick:                         I think they strike out too many people, and they’re really not giving the defense a chance to play defense. They need to strike out less girls.

Andrew:                  Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know, boss.

Nick:                         I don’t know how you complain about this softball team, but people find ways.

Andrew:                 They should be complaining about your team. Your team’s the one losing series over there.

Nick:                         They should, you know what? In order to make room for more football in lieu of, and in light of Florida two of three to Kentucky, they should just get rid of the program. Knock down the baseball field, build a standalone football facility. Just get rid of baseball.

Andrew:                  You better watch out. Somebody might take you up on that offer. Let’s get out of here. Friday scrimmage for the Gators. We’ll be back. Gators, Florida State Tuesday night.

Nick:                         I think we should bring on our buddy Ryan to preview Florida, Texas A&M as well.

Andrew:                 He will be here. I’ve already discussed it with him. He’ll be here. He’ll talk that, and Gators, Alabama this weekend in softball. Some recruiting. Nicholas, tell the people where they can find us, and we’ll get out of here and see you guys on Friday.

Nick:                         Hit the W button three times, then GatorCountry.com. Always got news, updates, tidbits, pictures, videos, podcasts. Also, if you haven’t already, you can go to iTunes, search Gator Country, and subscribe to the podcast. That will give you a notification every time a new one goes up. So you don’t have to worry about anything, missing anything. Follow us on Twitter, GatorCountry, @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC. On Instagram, TheGatorCountry, and our Facebook page has everything that the website has, except the message boards, so follow us there as well.

Andrew:                  Every scrimmage the Gators have had we’ve had updates, and we don’t bullshit the updates. They’re straight. They’re forward. They’re the best. You’re not a member, come check us out. Give me a holler. Give Nick a holler. One of us will hook you up with a nice little deal to get you there. That’ll get you spring football, recruiting, everything you can think of. Like Nick said, hit us on Twitter or email. Our emails are on our Twitter accounts. As always, Butch and Mark you still aren’t very good, and opening day is right around the corner, so go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         Good luck, Marlins. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                They need to stay classy.

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University of Florida head coach Jim McElwain watches over his football team during a practice inside Florida’s indoor practice facility- Florida Gators football- 1280x852
Jim McElwain updates Florida Gators after scrimmage

Jim McElwain updates the Florida Gators following their first scrimmage of the spring.

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