Talking SEC opening weekend for softball and spring football: Podcast

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview the Florida Gators softball team’s opening weekend of SEC play this weekend.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre also talk about how the baseball team is doing as they have one more weekend before SEC play starts next weekend.

Andrew and Nick also get into talking spring football and what positions they’re looking forward to watching this spring.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we talked basketball, and that’s kind of dominating the storylines and everything in Gator Nation, and that’s cool. Basketball deserves its spotlight. Playing well right now. Across the campus a little bit, the diamond sports. Softball, #2 in the country. Baseball, #1, maybe next weeks. I don’t know. They got swept by UCF this weekend. Biggest question is is UCF national champions now?

Nick:                         That was the joke of the week. No. They’re not claiming a national championship. It’s certainly a good win for UCF. It’s not like UCF is a bad team. They’re going to be a regional team. They threw their Saturday guy on Wednesday, and that’s baseball.

Andrew:                 It is. Man, Florida won’t see very many guys that throw like that guy. That is an old-school lefty pitcher. Barely hitting the radar gun at what, 85, Nick? I saw at times it was 83, 84. I can’t say I heard him hitting 90 all night, but maybe I was wrong. He was very sporadic. At the beginning of the game he was pretty sharp, and then he loses his control a little bit, and then some bad calls. We’ll get into that in a second. Then JJ Schwarz flies out to the warning track, almost hits a grand slam.         I thought Sully and Wil Dalton were about to get chumped.

Nick:                         Wil Dalton, he runs the count to 3-0, two questionable strike calls, and then now it’s 3-2, and you get two bad calls. You swing at a bad pitch. You strike out. Dalton pointed his bat at the umpire and said, “That’s on you.” You might be able to get away with telling the umpire that’s on you. A lot of times you’re not going to get away with pointing a bat at him. I think Sully came out of the dugout quick kind of to just get in the way of Dalton, in case he got too hot.

Andrew:                 I also think Sully was letting him know, listen, that sucked. That called sucked. First of all, the 3-0 pitch maybe, because it’s just to get me over fastball. A lot of times umpires are lenient with that pitch. I guess I can understand that a little bit, but then the 3-1 pitch was just as bad.

Nick:                         There was a lot of frustration the night before in Orlando. The strike zone was terrible. You’re looking at a team in Florida who has the best, from a pitching standpoint, the best walk to strikeout ratio and walk per night in the country, and then for them to have 10 walks in a game that’s not a bad game, that’s just a bad strike zone. The umpire Wednesday had nothing to do with the game on Tuesday, but Florida’s players did, and there was definitely some frustration carrying over.

Andrew:                 I don’t even know. I don’t even know what to say. It was bad. That was bad, bad umpiring. Let’s move on a little bit. Kind of talk about what we’re going to talk about in this podcast.

Nick:                         Real quick. There’s a lot, you’ll get it too with softball, and we talk about it more than once, there’s a lot of football mentality when it comes to being a fan and watching these. I get that everyone isn’t a diehard baseball guy like us, but losing to UCF is not embarrassing. It’s baseball. Florida lost two games last year to Florida Gulf Coast, and then won a national championship. It’s not embarrassing.

We’ve talked about the scholarships. There’s a ton of teams and guys in the state of Florida that can’t go to Florida, and the way the baseball scholarships are they’re not going to go out of state, because it costs too much money. There’s a ton of talent in state, and those guys stay in. That’s baseball. You can run into a guy that’s throwing great, and you have a bad hitting night. That can happen two nights in a row. Losing to UCF is in no way embarrassing.

Andrew:                 I think that’s the thing. Listen, everybody wants to win. I mean, you never want to lose. At the end of the day, you’re not going undefeated. You’re not. You’re not going undefeated in baseball. You’re not going undefeated in softball. You’re just not. It is what it is. You’re going to have a game where you can’t hit the broad side of a barn. You’re going to have a game when you just simply cannot throw a strike. It just is what it is in the game of baseball and softball. I will say, as far as Florida goes with UCF, UCF is a team that we’re going to be talking about on Selection Monday in May. They’re going to make a regional. They very well could be making a regional at Florida in Gainesville. They’re going to make a regional.

Nick:                         Yeah. I certainly agree. Just said it. Agree to your point, they’re a regional team. Stuff like this is going to happen. Kentucky lost yesterday. Tennessee was killed by James Madison, 21-2 yesterday.

Andrew:                 I saw that.

Nick:                         That looks like, I don’t even want to say a football score. I guess one of McElwain’s explosive offenses, maybe one of their football scores. That stuff happens. It’s baseball. You’re going to lose games like that. It’s a long season. Baseball and softball there’s so many games, it’s not like football. One loss, especially a midweek game that’s nonconference, those games don’t factor in. It’s a better win for UCF than it is a bad loss for Florida.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. I think that’s the thing you got to remember. Here’s the thing too. Listen, is it an excuse that UCF threw their ace and Florida got beat by him? No. It’s not. Heck no, it’s not. But you have to remember that had Brady Singer been throwing, or had Jackson Kowar been throwing, or had Tyler Dyson been throwing, would the results have been the same? Probably not. At the same time, Florida’s not screwing with their rotation to simply go out and win that game. That’s just not what they’re going to do. That’s not what Sully is about. Props to him.

It’s the same thing with softball. We go into softball now, and Florida is 19-1. I’ve heard people say, “They have a loss going into conference play this year. That’s not good.” Look, Florida went out and played the #20 ranked team, Louisiana Lafayette, on the road in a tough place in Lafayette, and lost on a walk-off two-run homer in the 11th inning. Who cares? You’re 19-1. Will I say Florida is a better team for that loss? No. I don’t want to ever say you should lose to get better, but Florida is a better team for going to Louisiana Lafayette, playing that three-game set on the road with a bunch of younger girls who had to go experience that game and that series.

Nick:                         I agree completely. A learning experience too, especially for Florida being young.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Anyway, let’s get into this. We’re going to talk a little baseball. We’re going to talk a little softball. We’re going to get into some football talk later on in the podcast. We got a bone to pick with a certain former player about crying on Twitter that I don’t like. Nick, you know how rants are going to go. Who knows what’s going to come out of my mouth? I apologize ahead of time.

Let’s go ahead. Let’s get into it, Nick. Baseball. This is the final out of conference weekend of the year, correct?

Nick:                         Yeah. Final out of conference. Florida will host Rhode Island this week, and then it’s into FSU. FSU after that in the midweek, and then right into South Carolina. First conference game, first conference series, will be Florida on the road at South Carolina. It’s every other year Florida goes down to Miami, so that’s a good away test before, I would say especially with how young Florida is. If Miami was at home, it’d probably be a bigger deal that your first SEC series was on the road, but you kind of get that big trip out of the way when you get Miami. Florida will kick off, they’re always a week behind softball, kick off SEC play next week. You get Rhode Island out of the way this week, and then it’s always a fun three-game series, midweek series, with FSU.

Andrew:                 I think that you go into this series with baseball, and correct me if I’m wrong, Nick, but you just kind of go in this weekend, and you’re finetuning things. You’re setting up for next week. Listen, out of conference play, it means a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to take that away, but next week is when the season starts.

Nick:                         The first month of the season, and we talked about it before, you’re finding the guys, especially the young guys, you’re finding the guys who you can count on once March 16th comes, and you’re playing South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri. You’re finding the guys, the freshmen or the sophomores that I can rely on when it’s 2-2 bottom of the 7th on Saturday, and we need to get a win, because we lost Friday, or we’re trying to win a series.

Andrew:                 Right. I think that when you look back at what Florida does, especially in Omaha last year, you’re able to see some of the guys that were maybe guys heading into the year you thought, okay maybe this guy helps the team, but then he goes out in the nonconference and starts to shine a little bit. I’m talking about guys like Tyler Dyson, Byrne. A couple of guys that go out, and then in Omaha you count on them a little bit. I think that was a big thing in the out of conference, and then a big thing that you look at conference play. Then you look at a game like FSU next week. That’s going to be a big game for Florida. Be a big game for the young guys who are going to have to start that game on the mound.

Nick:                         That’s going to be big. I think even you’ll see this weekend in Rhode Island you’ll still see guys like Jack Leftwich go out, Tommy Mace, who’s a guy that Florida thinks they’ll be able to count on. Didn’t pitch well last night. You take that as a learning experience. Jordan Butler gets the loss, but he gave up three hits. Just gave up the lead-off double, and then someone hits a popup and the wind takes it, and it goes out. All of a sudden, it’s 2-0 in the first. That’s a learning experience for him.

It’s like I said. You’re still figuring the pieces out right now, and you need to get Deacon Liput more at bats. Deacon Liput returned Wednesday. He was 0-3 with a walk. Listen, it’s kind of like last year when JJ was struggling, and everyone said Sully needed to take him out of the lineup. I said, “Listen, if Florida wants to go to Omaha and wants to win a national championship, that’s a guy they need.” It’s the same thing with Deacon Liput. If you want to get back to Omaha, and you want to have a chance to repeat, Deacon Liput is a guy you need, and you need to start getting him at bats, because he missed the first 14 games.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s a big thing. On Wednesday night you kind of saw that a little bit. When you watched his at bats he kind of looked like a guy that was going through his first week of spring training in the Major Leagues. It is. It’s expected, because you just can’t. You can’t simulate live at bats against an opposing pitcher. You just can’t. Guys will tell you that. You look at guys in the Major Leagues. They have to go on rehab assignments just to get back. I think Liput will come back, and I think this weekend might be more important to him than maybe anyone, because this is a chance against a Rhode Island team that probably doesn’t have the studs that you’re going to face, or absolutely doesn’t have the studs you’re going to face in SEC play. It’ll be big for him.

I wanted to say this about JJ. Man, has JJ really turned the corner finally. Got back into the ways that we all kind of knew JJ would be. That’s a guy that hit to all parts of the field. I think, me personally, the fly out on Wednesday night that was to deep right field was important to me, because that showed that he can still drive the ball to right field.

Nick:                         That’s been a big thing for him is not just taking the ball the other way, but taking it there with some authority. I think that’s what he’s been able to do really well. Just real quick on Rhode Island, before we get into softball, I have a couple questions for you about softball. It’s tough for those teams. They haven’t been able to host anything. They’ve been on the road.

Andrew:                 Like you said, on the road.

Nick:                         At Texas A&M. Then had to go all the way over to Seattle. Played four games against Seattle, and then back down in the state of Florida they played last weekend at Jacksonville. Then at Florida. They won’t even get a home game until the 20th of this month, and then that’s just one. Then they get into conference play. It’s tough for the northern teams. Kind of road warriors to start, while the baseball and softball fields defrost up there.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I was watching my Jaguars a couple weeks ago play Hartford, and South had already played seven games, eight games, and it was Hartford’s first game. I was looking at their roster, and they didn’t play a home game until like mid-March or something. It was crazy.

Nick:                         I was talking to Siena’s SID when Florida opened the series with them, and they drove 21 hours on a bus down to Florida, and then the next weekend it was 24 hours on a bus down to UCF. That’s rough. Listen, Rhode Island will probably come out and throw some guys throwing 92 miles an hour on Friday, and they’ll come out swinging the bats aggressive. They’re getting a chance to play the defending champions. They’re not going to roll over and die, but it should be a weekend for Florida to get back on track.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Like you said, it’s a big weekend heading into conference play. Softball. Softball starts it all up this weekend. They host Kentucky to start SEC play. Florida is #2 in the country now, because Washington is still undefeated in out of conference play. They’re #1. Who cares? It’s #1, #2. Florida will be back there. Anyway, Florida opens the conference schedule against #23 ranked Kentucky. Nick, I’m going to throw a stat at you here, and I’m not talking about football. I’m talking about softball. Ten of the 13 teams that play softball are ranked in the top 25 this week.

Nick:                         How many of them are in the SEC?

Andrew:                 13.

Nick:                         That’s so crazy.

Andrew:                 13. Vanderbilt doesn’t play, doesn’t have a softball team.

Nick:                         The entire league.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         It’s almost like how many will they get into Omaha? They’ll be more than half the field again.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Oklahoma City usually has five of the eight. Yeah. Very easily could be another SEC dominant season. When you think about Tennessee, Tennessee is at #3 in the country. They’re playing well. You got LSU again. You got the Alabama and Auburn and Georgia. They’re all playing well. It’ll be interesting to see kind of how the softball season goes about, because once again, it’s just like baseball, it’s going to be a competitive as hell league. Whoever wins the conference title is going to earn that title. We say it all the time. Baseball and softball in SEC play gets you prepared for Omaha and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think what Florida is doing right now is pretty impressive. Kelly Barnhill has got 22 1/3 scoreless inning streak, or had one. No. Still does.

Andrew:                 Still does.

Nick:                         SEC Pitcher of the Week. Amanda Lorenz has reached base safely in every game.

Andrew:                 What’s weird, Nick, I mean, it’s not weird. It’s incredible. Three out of the last four times Kelly Barnhill has been in the circle she has not allowed a hit. Not allowed a hit. She’s thrown two no-hitters and a perfect game in three of the last four games she’s been in the circle. I call that pretty good.

Nick:                         Channel Scott Strickland. Is that good?

Andrew:                 Is that good? I’m just going to throw this number at you. She’s throw 56 2/3 innings this year. Two earned runs. That’s it. Two earned runs. 95 strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting just .76 on the year. Not too bad.

Nick:                         That’s tough. My big question to you is with SEC play starting, what is the pitching rotation?

Andrew:                 I expect Walton to probably go again with Barnhill, Ocasio, Barnhill, probably in that order. It could be a situation where if they face a Mississippi State, who’s not very good this year, you maybe throw a Chronister or Natalie Lugo, or very well Walton could close with one of those girls. He’s done that a lot as of late, bringing one of those girls in to close it out in the fifth inning. Walton also does a good job of putting Barnhill, and then close with Ocasio, and then allowing Ocasio to come back on Saturday and start and Barnhill close it out. He works it in very well.

One thing is for sure, and that is every chance he has to put Barnhill in the circle he’s going to do it, but he’s not going to do it like a lot of softball coaches do it, where he pitches Barnhill every night. He’s just not going to do it. He doesn’t need to do it.

Nick:                         No. That’s certainly a luxury.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, you look at Katie Chronister. I think she’s someone who doesn’t get talked about a ton. She’s a sophomore, lefty. Listen, she’s 2-0 on the year, 0.53 earned run average, and only given up one run in 13 innings pitched. A lot of teams would kill for that. That’s just what it is. We talk about Ocasio. She doesn’t get a lot of love either. 0.80 earned run average, only given up five runs in 44 innings this year, 8-1. She gave up that one walk-off homerun. A lot of teams she’d be their ace.

Nick:                         The whole rotation, and I say it all the time, to me is a luxury. I think you’re maybe seeing more teams do it, but not everyone can recruit the way that Tim Walton does. To me, it’s just amazing. Like you said, most softball weekends it’s this is our girl, and she’s going to throw Friday, Saturday, Sunday. If we play 20 innings on Friday, she’s going to throw Saturday. That’s just how it is.

Andrew:                 It is. I’m going back. I’m trying to think back to which team it was. It might have been Iowa State. Don’t quote me on that. Two weekends ago in Gainesville, Florida put up eight runs in the inning. They took the starter out, brought a reliever in. The reliever got clobbered, and then they brought the starter back in again. Florida’s not doing that. Walton’s not doing that. He’s like, you hit those two? I’m going throw another one. That’s just the way it is. Like you said, it’s a luxury. Walton, Sully, they go out, and they recruit the best of the best at pitching.

I will say this, to move off of pitching, and that is Florida’s bats are coming alive. That’s been something that’s kind of hurt Florida, and I would say it hurt Florida in both baseball and softball. If you want to talk about a downfall for either team, it’s been hitting. Florida in softball is coming around a little bit. Lorenz hitting .460. Nicole DeWitt is at .365 on the year. The bats are starting to come around. Had eight homeruns last weekend out in Cali in the four games they played, or three games they played. The bats are coming alive.

When you get into SEC play, Florida’s going to have their pitching, and they’re going to get hit a little bit, and teams are going to score some more runs. You definitely don’t expect Barnhill to go throughout the whole year only giving up two runs all year. You need the bats to come alive a little bit, and I think at the right time they’re coming around. Lorenz. Kayli Kvistad struggling a little bit, but you think she’s a senior, she’s going to come around now that it’s SEC time.

Nick:                         There’s always going to be some drop off. I said after, I think, the first seven games, I think Blake Reese was hitting .420.

Andrew:                 Right. How do you hit .420 all year? If you hit .420 all year, you’re in the Hall of Fame.

Nick:                         There’s going to be some drop off. Do I think he’s going to hit .200 the rest of the year? No. Is he going to hit .500? No. There’s always going to be a regression to the average.

Andrew:                 Yeah. When you look at that, it’s somewhere where you have to get a balance. At the beginning of the year, your average is always going to be the highest, and then it’s always going to drop quicker in the middle of the year, because you have less at bats. When you look at it the end of the year, you probably look at him and he’s hitting anywhere from .280-.300.

Nick:                         That’ll happen, especially once you get into conference play. I think things start to settle down a little bit.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. Fire away. I know you had some questions softball-wise. What you got? Listen, I don’t want to hear none of the fan stuff.

Nick:                         How is Kentucky? Obviously, Auburn is always a powerhouse, but what are the teams that will really challenge Florida? Which teams are those?

Andrew:                 I think, first of all, when you look at Kentucky, Kentucky is a team that’s hitting the ball pretty well on the year. I think, outside of Kentucky, you’re probably going to look at Tennessee. Tennessee is #3 or #4, depending on the poll that you look at. They’re 21-1 on the year. Texas A&M is a team that’s looking good again. LSU, Auburn, both are in the top 10 as well. Georgia is the team that has the best hitting team, as far as stats go, in the SEC early on. They’re 18-1 on the year. Alabama, they’ve had five losses in out of conference play. They’re a team that’s probably the team that is the toughest to figure out. They’re a younger team. Then a team like South Carolina, who has come on as of late, over the last year or two, is starting to play better ball all around.

I think, when you look at just the SEC, I would Tennessee and Georgia are probably the two teams you worry about the most, just because they’re two good hitting teams. Tennessee also pitches really well for Florida. At the end of the day, how do you say Alabama is not going to be there? They’re always there at the end of the year. Then if you’re looking national, Oklahoma. They’re back again. 13-2, #5 in the country. Then Washington, who’s perfect, 23-0. In conference, Tennessee and Georgia. Out of conference, Washington and Oklahoma.

Nick:                         How importance, once you get into the conference championship, we talk about getting five of the eight teams to Oklahoma City from the SEC, once you get to that conference championship week, how important is that? We talk about in baseball it’s not that important. There might be some teams that need to win a game or two, but Florida is really never going to be in a position, or not this year, going to be in a position where they need to win games. You’re kind of just setting things up. How is that different in softball once you get to the tournament?

Andrew:                 It’s a lot like baseball. I don’t think it’s a big deal, for Florida especially, because they’ve got the resume. We talk about the Louisiana Lafayette game. That’s a game that’s big, because it’s a #20 ranked team in the country. That’s a series that’s good on the out of conference resume. The conference play is big on the resume.

It’s not that big of a deal, but when you look at just kind of how the conference is, it helps you build your seeding. If Florida is have Kentucky come in this weekend, and they’re able to sweep them away, you sweep the #23 ranked team in the country. That’s big. You got that Tennessee conference schedule coming up. Again, I don’t think it’s as big as a lot of people say. This is where Bruce Pearl’s whole conference tournament means nothing, that’s where he should be talking.

Nick:                         Anything else you want to touch on with softball, before we got some football to get into?

Andrew:                 No. I think that’s about it. Big weekend. I’m pumped for it. Listen, I’m always pumped for the diamond sports. Baseball is right around the corner, but so is football. Dan Mullen speaks on Tuesday to kick off spring practice. Things are about to get going. It really does, Nick, it seems like it was just yesterday and it was Signing Day, and not too long ago Mullen was hired. It’s just kind of moving fast, I guess is the best way to say.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m getting stopped a lot by fans that are just excited. There’s a lot of excitement around the program right now. I can definitely say more so than last year, and maybe even more so than before Jim McElwain’s first year. There’s just a ton of excitement around the program and around the football team right now. Obviously, I think being good in the other sports helps as well to keep the excitement going, but I think Mullen has just kind of injected enthusiasm into this program.

Andrew:                 Listen, I go back to what we talked about in the last few podcasts.

Nick:                         I’m always cautious. You know how I am. Especially with football, I’m always cautious to say, I get why you’re excited, but I have no idea. Dan Mullen doesn’t know what this team looks like.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was going to say.

Nick:                         I get the excited, and people are expecting things, because he says, I love points, stuff like that.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I’m saying. We go back to what we said, and I say why should you believe the excitement? Listen, there is no way to tell until September. That’s just the way it is. Jim McElwain had everyone believing they were going to go out and kick the shit out of Michigan, and it was the opposite. Now, I think you and I both agreed when he talked about the offensive line that we both called BS on that. I think that just having Mullen back you really believe the offense is going to be better. Also, just the way he presents himself, and his staff presents themselves, I think it’s just a change.

Listen, Urban Meyer, people can say what they want to about him, but I think most people would be very welcoming to have him come back and bring back the championships he had. I think a lot of people believe Mullen is that guy that’s going to bring that back. Also, I do, I think Mullen is able to relate to fans better than Mac was. It is what it is. It’s just Mullen knows the keywords. Everyone talks about it. There’s keywords everyone listens for, and he knows what he’s hitting on.

Nick:                         Everyone liked Mac’s jokes Year 1 too.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Just playing devil’s advocate here. Everyone liked the turnip truck and he sticks it to the media and stuff like that. When you’re 0-0, and you haven’t lost.

Andrew:                 No. You’re right. I mean, everyone like the whole Clarabelle jokes, and that was the cool thing. My dog, Clarabelle, could. Everyone like that. That’s what I’m saying. How do you separate that? We’ll see. You and I both can agree here. We’ll see in September, but I’m with you. The excitement is back.

Nick:                         It certainly helps that you’re not facing Michigan to start.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, at the end of the day, you got to beat teams like Michigan to get back.

Nick:                         Absolutely. You’re not going to learn a ton. Fans are going to be mad, honestly. I’ll say this now. Fans are going to be upset when they go to those first two practices, because there’s no pads. You’re going to see a little bit, but it’s strategic to open practices, because everyone wants practices to be open and have a chance to go see it, but you’re not in pads. It’s guys running around in shirts and t-shirts, and those first couple days are really the coaching staff trying to figure out what they have.

Andrew:                 You’re right. Again, you’re completely right. I’m not disagreeing with that at all.

Nick:                         It is music to my ears when you say that.

Andrew:                 What?

Nick:                         You’re completely right. You don’t say it enough.

Andrew:                 You are. In this circumstance, you are. You’re completely right. It’s strategic. It is. Also, why not? Why not open it? Listen, if they suck out there, fans don’t care. They’re watching practice. At the end of the day, that’s all they want to do. They just want to watch practice. Here’s the thing, Emory Jones is going to look good. Feleipe Franks is going to look good. Guess why? They’re going to be throwing routes on air. It’s going to be to prop up the fans. They’re going to do a lot of things, I would not doubt whatsoever, if it wasn’t some seven-on-seven where it’s ones versus threes, just to get the offense going. That’s what it’s all about.

I’ll say this, and that is I’m excited that there’s finally someone to go in there and really work with the quarterbacks. Also, I do. I think there’s a quarterback competition, and I like it. I do. I think that also having Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes, I think that’s going to be good. I think that that’s a big plus. Also, you know me, Nick, I love blitzing defenses. I’m really interested to kind of see how the defense lines up and how Grantham gets them going. How does Jeremiah Moon do at that outside linebacker position? How do those guys do there? I’m just really interested to see how that goes.

Nick:                         Grantham is aggressive as all get out, so there’s going to be some maddening times too, where 3rd and 13, and you’re blitzing, and all of a sudden you slip a little pass to the flat and make a guy miss, and now it’s 1st and 10. People are going to be mad about that. I’m with you. I like it. I like the aggressive defense too.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly. Let me ask you this, Nick. We’ll get into this more next week, but I wanted to talk some football, just because everybody wants to talk football. Outside of the quarterback position, what’s the position you’re most looking forward to seeing?

Nick:                         I think it might be running back for me, to be honest.

Andrew:                 Really? Okay.

Nick:                         With how many guys there are, running back is definitely a position. I want to see how they change the linebackers when you’re moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4. You almost can’t even say like 4-3, 3-4, because base is almost nickel at this point. Interesting for me. I just thinking running back is so loaded, and how do those reps shake out?

Andrew:                 Okay. Listen, I’m with you. Again, you’re going to have Scarlett, Perine, and Lemons. Those are your three returning guys that you expect to play, because Malik Davis isn’t going to be ready. You have Damien Pierce and Iverson Clemente that will be getting adjusted to college practices. I’m interested to kind of see how they use Lemons and Clemente a little bit there.

Also interesting to kind of see how they use Kadarius Toney. Mullen has said he wants to use him like the Percy role, where he plays a little bit of everything. I don’t know how many times you and I screamed last year on 3rd and 7, why not put Kadarius in the backfield? If you’re going to throw a swing pass to a running back, why not throw it to a guy like Kadarius who can make something happen?

I guess I’ll say receiver is the position that I’m looking forward to it, and it’s very close, because I almost want to say offensive line, because I think this offensive line group has got a rude awakening coming with John Hevesy. I just think that first day of practice and first few days of practice isn’t going to be fun.

Nick:                         What do you mean by that?

Andrew:                 The bullshit that was put up with before, I don’t think will be put up with now. I don’t think you’re going to be questioning how this offensive line comes out of the tunnel anymore. I don’t see it. John Hevesy has coached some big name guys and some very good offensive lines. Even at Mississippi State, his offensive line was hardnosed, physical, good players. I just don’t think you’re going to be questioning the toughness anymore.

Nick:                         Left to right, what’s your starting five there?

Andrew:                 It’s tough, because we don’t know Heggie. He’s not going to practice in the spring, correct? I would say Martez is your tackle. I almost wonder where Jawaan Taylor is going to play. Is going to slide inside to guard, and then a guy like Jean from Texas play right tackle? Does that maybe move Tyler Jordan to left guard then, and then McCoy at center and Jawaan at right guard? I’m honestly not sure.

Nick:                         Jean DeLance is a big unknown. Obviously, a lot of hype coming from Texas. Had to sit out last year. Don’t know what to expect. I mean, we got Tyler Moore from Nebraska, and everyone was like he was All-Big Ten and a freshman and going to be great. Then shows up and that’s not the case. To me, that’s a big question mark. Does he fit into that five?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         That’s something to look forward to, look for in the spring.

Andrew:                 I’ll say this. Heading into the spring I have zero clue of how the starting five will be post-spring, with the exception of Martez Ivey. Then, here’s another question. Maybe Martez isn’t even your left tackle. Maybe Martez is your left guard. Several people will tell you Martez is a better guard than tackle, so maybe Jean DeLance is your left tackle, and Jawaan is your right tackle, and Martez is your left guard. Maybe. There’s a huge number of unknowns heading into the spring at several different positions, because nobody knows. It just is what it is when it comes to a new coaching staff. Nobody knows how these guys are going to fit in.

Nick:                         Maybe that should have been the position that I said I was most looking forward to look at. No. I’m sticking with running back.

Andrew:                 When you start to look at it, there is. Can you name me the starting five? I bet you can’t.

Nick:                         No. You also have to see what are the different roles. What are they going to be asked that’s different than what they were doing before? How does that change positions? I think the biggest one there, that you touched on, was Martez. Based on what is going to be asked of the offensive line as a whole, is he a better fit at guard?

Andrew:                 Then here’s the thing, and I think this is what a lot of people need to remember. Does guard make him get to the League? Maybe. Maybe guard is his position in the League. That’s something that I’m sure Martez got some feedback on, and I’m sure that’s something Hevesy’s talked to him about. We’ll see. We’ll see a lot when that comes about. I can say this. Outside of probably the cornerback position, the starting two, I think every position is pretty much up for grabs everywhere. I can’t think of a position that is really set in stone, outside of the cornerback position, and that’s CJ and Marco.

Nick:                         Yeah. Safety. That’s another one.

Andrew:                 Maybe David Reese is your starting linebacker. Maybe that’s there. Like you say, at safety I think you can make the argument that Chauncey Gardner has a lot to prove. People can’t just mark him down as the starting safety. I don’t see Todd Grantham putting up with missed tackles.

Nick:                         No. I don’t see that being the case.

Andrew:                 Again, we’ll see. Then you got a kicker competition heading in, which McPherson’s not on campus yet, so that’s that. Let’s close out the podcast, Nick. I’m going to close it out with this.

Nick:                         What’s happening on Twitter.

Andrew:                 To me, this just wraps up and summarizes Mike Kent and the previous staff’s mentality with these guys. Mark Thompson is bitching on Twitter because Pro Day is outside, not inside. Nick, where does football take place most of the time?

Nick:                         Most of the time it’s outside. It’s an outside sport.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I get it. The Combine is inside, but it’s the Swamp. You played in the Swamp every Saturday for two years. I mean, not every Saturday, but you played in the Swamp on Saturdays for two years. What are you crying about? First of all, you’re lucky enough to be in the Pro Day. It just screams soft. I wish someone would tell him that NFL GMs and scouts and coaches are probably looking at it and saying, “Okay. When he has a bad day, am I about to hear the excuses?”

Nick:                         There were a lot of excuses from players, a lot of excuses, the last three years.

Andrew:                 Are you okay with him complaining about this, or am I just taking this the wrong way?

Nick:                         He can complain about it. I think that’s the mentality of it, and there’s ways to address it that aren’t tweeting about it. That’s a lot of the world we live in now, and people take to social media to complain about those things. That’s not how you’re going to change anything. If you want to change it, “I want to do it this way. This is going to help me. Can we do it this way?” You talk to the people who are in charge of that. Your Twitter followers aren’t the people who are in charge of that.

Andrew:                 Does it not just scream soft to you?

Nick:                         A little bit. I’d say more selfish.

Andrew:                 Okay. Maybe that’s the word I’m looking for. I don’t know. It just struck a nerve with me a little bit. It was just like, really? What are you complaining about? It’s a job interview.

Nick:                         You maybe run a faster time on turf than you would in the Swamp.

Andrew:                 Okay, but teams are going to know that.

Nick:                         Yeah. Listen, man, if you can play football, they’re going to find you.

Andrew:                 It’s whatever. It’s just one of those things. It just struck a nerve with me. It was just one of those things. Really? That’s what you’re complaining about? Okay, so the next time somebody has a job interview, they’re going to say, “So-and-so got to meet you at the coffee house, but I got to meet you at Waffle House, or I got to meet you at the steakhouse.” Now everybody gets to complain about where they have a job interview?

Nick:                         That’s the other thing. You got to think of how does it look? NFL teams have someone who’s following you, and they’re going to see what you’re doing. Why is he complaining? If we draft him, is he going to complain about it?

Andrew:                 Exactly. Nick, let’s get out of here. As always, you can find me @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. Nick, @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. You can find Gator Country @GatorCountry on Twitter. Nick and I will both be running down the baseball and softball updates all weekend long.

Then next week we’ll be running down basketball. Selection Sunday. We’re going to have a podcast early next week with our man, Eric, to run that down. Then, of course, we’ll have spring football updates coming at you next week. Plenty of recruiting updates are coming at you as well. If there is something going on with Florida Gators sports, chances are you’re finding it at Gator Country. If you’re not, hit one of us up and make sure you get that info.

Again, follow both of us. As always, guys, I appreciate it. Give us a liking and a rating on iTunes. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy.

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