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Week one spring football recap
for the Florida Gators: Podcast

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  • Week one spring football recap for the Florida Gators: Podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, March 14, 2016, 0 Comments,
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This GatorCountry podcast recaps week one of the Florida Gators spring football practices as the Gators are still in just shorts and shirts until Monday’s practice.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the quarterback position so far through two practices, plus look at the receiver position and offensive line play.

Andrew and Nick also take a look at some baseball and softball updates as the Gators continue to roll in the diamond sports this spring.

TRANSCRIPT:

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

Nick:                          I am coming to you live on a Sunday with no baseball. It is almost an off day for me.

Andrew:                 You did have to pay for it on Saturday with about a seven hour trip at the Mac on Saturday night.

Nick:                         I’m watching baseball, so it’s not really work, but I went straight from, on Friday went straight from football interviews about 5:30 to the Mac, was at the Mac from about 5:30 till 11:30, so about six hours there. Then spent just shy of nine hours at McKethan on Saturday. Friday Saturday spent a lot of time at the baseball field, started to go a little crazy towards the end of Game Two on Saturday, Game Three of the series.

Andrew:                  I also heard that someone jinxed it on Saturday.

Nick:                         Listen, I grew up playing baseball, and baseball has these unwritten rules. You hit our big hitter, you hit our #3 hitter, we’re going to retaliate. A bunch of unwritten rules. When you’re covering a baseball game the biggest unwritten rule is if a game is moving quickly you don’t talk about it. It’s like fight club, first rule about it, you don’t talk about it. Somebody turns to me, we were in the top of the 5th, and it was 45 minutes. That is a dream. That is a quick baseball game. Somebody turns to me and goes, “This game’s moving along pretty well.” We played the next four innings in two hours.

Andrew:                  There is a couple rules. You never talk about that. You never, ever talk about a perfect game or a no-no. Never. I know someone on Twitter, I won’t call names, believes that it’s stupid, but you do not talk about it. Baseball is the most superstitious game there is. You do not talk about it. If you have to talk about it, you say, something special is brewing.

Nick:                         Here’s how strong the superstitions run with baseball. My dad, I think I might have 13 years old, dad buys me a pair of batting gloves, probably $45, $50. Those things aren’t cheap. Use them, first game, brand new. I go 0-3. My fourth at bat without the batting glove on, hit a double. When I came back into the dugout, grabbed the batting gloves, threw them in the trash. Dad says, you didn’t use your batting gloves that fourth at bat. I told him what had happened. Told him what I did. He says, good. He was the one that paid for them. $50 for three at bats, but they were 0-3, and I got a double without them on. Good. That’s the kind of superstitions we’ve got in baseball.

Andrew:                  Time to go in the trash if you’re not hitting. If your team’s not hitting well in one spot, you move to the other spot as a coach. There’s a lot of superstitious things there is in. Contrary to belief, they do work.

Nick:                         We’ll get into football real quick. I’m just going to recap baseball. Florida sweeps Harvard. They move to an 11 game winning streak. Logan Shore actually not his sharpest on Friday. Gave up five runs, all of them earned, but Saturday in the 4:00 start you got probably A.J. Puk’s best start of the season. He’s kind of a put a good start against Dartmouth, a little bit better against Harvard. Now you’d like to see that kind of progression. Alex Faedo gave up four earned runs a week ago. He carried a no hitter into the 7th, only gave up one hit, no earned runs. He has been nails, lights out all year, save for that one start against Dartmouth. Really good to see. Probably the best Sunday starter, maybe in the country, of anything in the country, and it’s really valuable for Florida to be able to go to him on Sunday, because the season within the season is about to begin.

Tuesday Florida hosts FSU, and then you jump right into SEC play. Good to see Puk rounding into form, Alex Faedo bouncing back. He’s been lights out, and the bats came alive this weekend. Florida pounded out 20 hits Friday, double digit hits, I think 12 again on Saturday. Good pitcher from Harvard. Kid from down in Miami on the second game Saturday only ended up getting I think eight hits, nine hits and three runs, but the bats definitely starting to come alive. Deacon Liput, how about this, Andrew? I know we talked about stats, especially in softball, but Deacon Liput, freshman second baseman, has reached base in all 18 games this year.

Andrew:                  Not too bad. Not too bad at all. I watched Puk for the first time all year for more than an at bat or so or whatever, and I’m going to ask you this, because I didn’t ask you this, and I meant to ask you this. Is he been as fast to the mound as he was on Saturday? I’m not going to lie. It seemed like…

Nick:                         That’s a good question.

Andrew:                  He seemed like one ball, if he threw a ball it was, I’m going to speed this up even more, and I believe, now here I’m going to go out on a limb, because I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I believe he had four walks, and three of them were four straight pitches that were balls.

Nick:                         Just to clarify for people listening, you’re talking about in between pitches, and not wasting any time? Kind of just getting the ball and then getting it back in, next pitch?

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

Nick:                         I just wanted to clarify that.

Andrew:                 It just kind of seemed like it was not quick pitching, but it just seemed like he was maybe, at first I thought maybe it’s a mental standpoint of him trying not to think about it too much.

Nick:                         That’s exactly. That’s exactly what it is. We’ve kind of talked in the past, it’s not anything physical with A.J. Obviously a big kid has got to be able to deal with being able to repeat his motion. With A.J. it’s mental. What they really worked on was eliminating that time in between pitches, so there’s less thinking. Really good for you picking up on that, and that’s something that I even asked Kevin O’Sullivan about after the game. He said, “We really made it an emphasis for him to cut down that time in between pitches so that he’s really just pitching and throwing and not out there thinking.” If he walks a guy he doesn’t have to sit there and think about it.

Andrew:                  Yeah.

Nick:                         He walked three, which was big, but he’s a power pitcher, and when you’re throwing, he topped out at 98 yesterday, so when we’re sitting 95, 96, topping out at 98, sometimes you give a little bit accuracy for that kind of overpowering stuff.

Andrew:                 It kind of seemed like the three walks he had were even sped up even more, and that was something that I kind of noticed a little bit. Finally looked a better pitcher, and I think a lot of that has to go back to maybe delivery there, but also he had command of his secondary pitches, and it wasn’t just I’m going to roll out on my fastball. The slider was really good. Soft speed was a little good, and I think he was able to mix pitches there.

Nick:                         Really had command of his slider, and you guys watching at home get a better vantage point. They’ve got that centerfield camera. You get a better vantage point of it. We have the games on in the press box, but the ESPN and the SEC Network press is so delayed that I’ll see strike three in a 2-2 count, and I will go look at the monitor to see what the pitch was, and the count’s 1-1. I’m like, they’re way behind. I miss it, but a nasty slider. Some overpowering stuff, really good. I think the biggest thing was just to see him have a good outing, another one. Two in a row.

Andrew:                  It was. Hitting wise they did well. The kid from Harvard, Pittman, had a slider that was just exploding off the plate once it got there. I know I did watch a little bit of Kevin O’Sullivan’s postgame, and that’s an SEC quality pitcher that they’re going to be good for.

Nick:                         Yeah. The second kid, Gruener, I think is how you would say it. He’s from Miami. He actually had a lot of friends in the stands, like a little cheering section, but he was 93, 95, and really attacked the hitters. I think when you start seeing, you look and say why is Harvard scoring these runs? Why is Florida’s pitching staff supposed to be so great? Why are they giving up runs and hits? They don’t walk batters. They really don’t walk batters, so teams have that on the scouting report, and when you get a team like Dartmouth and a team like Harvard, Florida Gulf Coast, coming in, they’re coming in with a nothing to lose mentality. So the book is Florida’s going to throw strikes. Shoot, when’s the next time we’re going to be able to play the #1 team in the country? Just go up there and swing. You’re supposed to lose this game, so what’s it matter if you go up there? At least go down swinging. I think that’s what you’re seeing. Things really tighten up, and teams really tighten up, once SEC play starts.

Andrew:                  Kind of related this to what you see when an MLB guys down to the Minor Leagues. You always see it, and you’re like Roger Clemens goes down to the AA, well he should strike out 27 guys. No, because those guys just come up there free swinging. There is not setting them up. It’s just I’m going to swing as hard as I can, and if I hit it, fine. If not, I strike out. That’s kind of how it was with Harvard and Dartmouth. That’s kind of how it is with some of your midweek teams as well.

Nick:                         It won’t be Tuesday. Tuesday I’m expecting a great crowd. It’s really been awesome for me with these rivalry games, especially going down. I’ve had the chance now to see a Florida crowd when Miami comes to town, and I’ve had the chance to go down to Miami to see what their fans were like for Florida. It’s so much fun to be able to sit back and kind of take in that rivalry. We’ll get that Tuesday with Florida State coming in. It’s an environment that I look forward to.

Big win for softball. We’ll touch on that after, but we’ve held the people off long enough. I know they’re waiting for some football news.

Andrew:                  Let’s go to football. The Gators have finished their second practice of the spring. We’ll head into practice #3 and in shells on Monday afternoon. You start to be able to see a little bit more install, but you’re able to see a little bit of how these young guys, these freshmen and redshirt freshmen, and then some of these Juco guys, kind of fit up to SEC play when you’re able to start thumping a little bit. You’re not going to tackle to the ground, but you are able to kind of thump a little bit, hit shoulder pad to shoulder pad, that kind of stuff.

Nick:                         The mood around spring, the first day, first two days, is so upbeat, because now these guys all have talked about how they were embarrassed about the Citrus Bowl. Then you’re getting into just a bunch of working out, and it’s like we’re doing all this lifting outside and running outside, and it’s hot, and it’s getting tiresome, but I know we’re doing it for something, and that something is football. Camp starts, and it’s nice, because, sure, it’s hot, but we’re not in pads. So the mood is up. Morale is high, and then camp starts to wear down. Jim McElwain’s mentioned it both springs. This year already. They mentioned it last year. Intensity’s up right now. It’s practice #1. It’s practice #2. What’s the intensity going to be like practice #11 and 12?

I think each times something new is introduced you’ll get a little more heightened intensity. Monday you get out there, now we have some shoulder pads. Now I can put my head down and run into somebody. Intensity level goes up, and then you’ll get Wednesday in shells, and then Friday full pads. I think you’ll get another bump in intensity when full pads come on as well.

Andrew:                  You always get a bump when it’s full pads for practice, whether it be spring practice, fall practice, whatever it is. You always get that extra juice of I’m about to get to hit someone, and there it is. Let me ask you this. This is something you and I talked about. I’m going to ask you so you can tell everyone. You go through last few years, and I say this, and it doesn’t really matter to a lot of the guys, but to guys like Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, these guys that really haven’t had a coaching staff that has been together. How much of a difference do you see from the get go that there’s a unity of this coaching staff, because these guys are in the same routine as they were last year? How much have you seen that, and have you see that that it’s been a difference of looseness, knowing where to be, that kind of stuff?

Nick:                         I wouldn’t use the word looseness. I think those older guys, the guys that put in time, are always loose when it comes to spring. What I will say is that it runs smoother. We mentioned how it kind of ran smooth. Sometimes guys would have to ask questions last year, but even with 12 new faces, practice is kind of running smooth, and Florida runs things very quickly. There’s no walking. Horn blows at the end of period one in practice, and everyone’s sprinting or jogging to period two. There’s less of you’re on field 2. Your group’s over there. It’s kind of just like horn blows, and everyone moves to where they’re supposed to be. I think that kind of familiarity has really given more efficiency to practice.

Andrew:                  That’s kind of what I mean with the looseness.

Nick:                         I think it’s, okay, instead of questioning yourself, now you’re confident. At least I know the foundation of where I’m supposed to be, and there’s questioning of that. I do, you mentioned coaching staff staying together, I really have liked to watch Torrian Gray, the newcomer, especially when we got into some one on one drills with defensive backs and wide receivers. It seemed like Dixon and Gray were kind of giving each other some back and forth. If a wide receiver maybe pushed off a little bit and gets open on a dig by pushing off, Gray snaps something at Dixon about his receivers, offensive pass interference, and it seems like Gray has been able to kind of a just intertwine himself right in with the mix. It doesn’t feel like he’s the new guy on the staff or on the field.

Andrew:                  That makes sense. I think that’s a thing that is interesting to see is how they kind of go about it, those guys being two younger guys, and Gray I guess isn’t so much a younger guy, but just guys that are competitive there, and that’s interesting to kind of see where that is. Gray’s a guy that has probably got the respect of these guys because of where he’s been from, and that’s something interesting to see. Also, with Mike Summers now having the same offensive line coach with him as well I do notice and been hearing things that it’s kind of more of a team effort kind of coaching that offensive line, with Summers being the main guy, but I have noticed that it’s been more of a team effort there at the offensive line.

Nick:                         It’s definitely Mike Summers leading it, but you can see that it’s not a situation where it’s one coach. There’s a team effort going on there. The biggest thing with the offensive line is, I wrote about it. It was up on Sunday. There’s bodies there now. You really take for granted how not having enough bodies on the offensive line affects everything. Now the defensive line is not getting good work. Joey Ivie goes up against a dog tired Cam Dillard, who’s had to take three times as many snaps as Joey Ivie has, and one arm just shoves him off to the side. Joey Ivie’s not getting any better because of that. Cece Jefferson is not going to get any better going up against a tired David Sharpe. It really affects everyone, and I think the coaching staff did a great job of addressing that problem, and you’re going to see heightened intensity level and more focus from the offensive line.

Andrew:                  We talked about this. You asked the other day about kind of where the excuse of the receivers with the DBs, does it make them better? This defensive line does get better by going up against decent competition at the offensive line. That’s no doubt about that. Going up against some faces that are trying to block them. It’s a process that is a slow process. It’s kind of offensive line is kind of like building a farm system in baseball in that it’s not fixed over one day period of time. It’s fixed over two and three year period where you have to get guys in that are freshmen, get them in there, get them in the system working them out. Let them gradually get better to be ready their junior and senior years. You’re starting to see that with Ivey and Jordan being sophomores, Fred Johnson being a sophomore. They’re older in the program, and that helps out a lot.

Nick:                         I think that’s a really good analogy, because sure Florida had three freshmen get some serious playing time last year, but I would say that recruiting offensive line is more of like a Major League baseball draft. It’s like, we took you, but we’re going to send you down to the Minors to get you some seasoning before you’re ready for the show. It is a process, and I think what you saw was the offensive line recruiting not necessarily was bad, I know you would disagree, saying it was bad. There was just a lot of things that you couldn’t really control, injuries, and I think I’m quick to say that the offensive line recruiting was bad, not just last year, over the past four or five years, but I think really if you look at it fairly that there were some injuries and stuff that you really couldn’t control.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Bad I guess is something you could say. Like you say, it is bad, but it just is a thing where I think it’ll continue to get better. It will continue to get better as they go on. Kind of where, like you said, with the Minor League system it gets better as they continue to grow, and I think that this team will continue to get better. Maybe not this year from a depth standpoint of having a two deep, but definitely by next year when you’ve got guys like Desire-Jones, Sandifer, Buchanan, which I think Buchanan plays more this year, but Desire-Jones, Sandifer I think are still a year away. You got those two guys. TJ McCoy, another year away probably. You’ve got those three guys that are there. Then you’ve got a guy like Stone who basically by next year he’ll be a redshirt sophomore almost, because I consider this spring to kind of be like his redshirt year, where he has that extra spring.

I think that’ll be good as well. It’s a slow process to build that offensive line group. It’s kind of like the quarterback play where it doesn’t get fixed overnight, because very rarely do you see young guys just do really well. You did see a guy like Martez Ivey and Tyler Jordan do well last year, but I think you could say well, but not great at the offensive line.

Nick:                         Right. I honestly think that the offensive line will be improved. Martez Ivey not going through spring is going to give some other guys some run. Antonio Riles is getting some run right now. I would like to see a little bit more of Nick Buchanan. I think Heavy Chocolate’s got some weight to lose before he’s really a guy that’s able to contribute. Let’s move on.

Andrew:                  Let’s go to quarterback position.

Nick:                         That’s what I was going to do, because…

Andrew:                 This is what everybody wants to hear.

Nick:                         I’m not going to tell Twitter what to do. That’s a bad look. That will end up poorly for me.

Andrew:                  Talk to Uncle Silk.

Nick:                        That will end up poorly if I try to tell Twitter what to do.

Andrew:                  You go ahead and tell it straight to Silk. You’re talking to Silk.

Nick:                         Here it is. I always tell you, I’m very up front, very honest about what we see. We’re out there for 10-15 minutes. I don’t know with my own eyes I’m not seeing what’s going on after I leave, after those first four periods of practice. If I tell you, I think this person looks good, I’m not saying this kid’s going to start. You do you, Twitter. I’m just saying Kyle Trask throws a nice ball. He’s from Texas. I had never seen him throw before this past week. I had seen Feleipe Franks throw. I had seen film of Appleby. I’d seen film of Del Rio. I had seen Del Rio last spring throw the ball. I had never seen Trask. So I made a comment about Trask, and then I think all Friday was just, that’s our starter. He’s going to unseat Del Rio.

Luke Del Rio is going to be the starter for Florida. You and I both agree on that. I think it would be a monumental upset for anyone else to start other than him, but what I’m trying to say is I’m just telling you what I see. No bias. Not saying he’s going to start. I think Kyle Trask throws a nice football. He has nice footwork. I want to see what he looks like when the pads come on and there’s a pass rush.

Andrew:                  He’s got the best arm on the team. It is what it is.

Nick:                        You probably remember this. Will Grier at times last year everything was a fastball. It didn’t matter what the route was, everything was thrown as hard as I can throw it. With Trask, through a very limited narrow scope of what I’ve seen, I see him mixing up the speeds. If the coverage is tight, and I need to zip it in there, I’ve got that 98 that I can reach down and get, but I don’t need to throw everything as hard as I can. There’s times to, even on like a crossing pattern, something short that might be in traffic. You don’t have to throw it in there. You don’t need the guy, and really the most impressive thing is with that arm talent that he has, with that power, the accuracy is there. Everything is in the numbers or leading his receiver. That’s really impressed me. Again, as Mac says, they’re in underwear, so take it with a grain of salt. I was impressed with his arm talent.

Andrew:                  It’s kind of like, it’s exactly what we said on the message board before practice started. Trask has the best arm on the team, and we knew that. Del Rio doesn’t have the best arm on the team. I would probably say Del Rio has the third best arm on the team behind the two freshmen. It’s like I said with Trask is this. Trask is learning the game from scratch. Franks is having to cut down, tear down mistakes, and learn them from there. Trask didn’t start in high school. We know that. You don’t expect him to start at Florida. You don’t. It’s one of those stories that it’s 1 in 500 that he goes in and starts. It’s just like a walk-on almost, but Trask played behind another big conference signee that’s going to TCU in high school. He could have played anywhere else. He has the tools. I do think Trask is a guy that in a couple years we’re talking about being the starter at Florida. I do.

I’ll say this though. Del Rio is a guy that I’ve heard some very positive things about early on in the spring after two practices, as well as the off season before then, and kind of the winner is that he’s kind of taken control of this offense, become that guy that’s the leader of the team, and is showing what we all expect him to show, and that is leadership qualities, high IQ for a quarterback, and a guy that just knows where everyone is supposed to be and helps the team line up. Mac’s quote about affecting others is Del Rio’s quote basically.

Nick:                         Absolutely. You can really tell Del Rio’s leg up, and that is the familiarity with the offense, familiarity with the players. All the guys seem to be accepted by the team, but Luke’s been there longer and has a year of building relationships with these guys. I think they really respond to him. Now, I’ll agree with you that I think he’s got probably the third best arm behind Trask and Franks. I think snap judgment, early judgment, I think Austin Appleby, I kind of said it earlier, I think he’s kind of just a body, a guy there for leadership, maybe to help the younger guys grow, possibly an emergency quarterback if you don’t want to burn a redshirt. I think that I would put Trask ahead of him right now, just from arm talent.

Obviously, you mentioned already the learning the system, stuff like that. Del Rio though, knows the system. Runs it efficiently. Really reminds me of like a redshirt senior quarterback who’s been in a system for what seems like forever, and it just comes to him, and that knowledge gives him a confidence, and you can see that his confidence kind of starts to affect everyone else around him. A guy misses or runs the wrong route, and it’s Del Rio kind of like snapping at him in a way that Tom Brady does, where you look at it, and you’re like that kind of comes off harsh, but the receiver’s looking at him like, I know that was on me. I got it. They kind of accept it. So that’s really I think what is separating him.

He’s not the most physically gifted. When you see the four quarterbacks, Appleby, Trask, and Franks are huge. Del Rio is not small, probably 6’1” or 6’2”. He’s listed at 6’2”, but looks small next to the other guys, but I think it’s maybe that intangible, that comfort level, that really is separating him and something that the guys early on, the rest of the team, are responding to.

Andrew:                  That’s a good point there. I know someone’s going to say, you guys aren’t talking about the defense a lot. It’s just defense in underwear is tough. It just is, because, especially at the linebacker position, there is no way to judge anything with the linebackers. Yes, coverage is there, but again they’re in underwear, like you say, so a lot of that will come about as we go into Monday with being in shells, and then as we go into Friday where it’s full pads. That’s when you can start to tell more about the defense, and both of the lines, offensive line and defensive line there, and your running back position really. Mark Thompson, of course, looks good in underwear, and that’s all fine and dandy. We’ll see how he does when he’s got Jarrad Davis meeting him in the hole and the two guys have got to meet. Does Mark Thompson become soft? I don’t think he does, but I’m just saying. We’ll see where that happens Monday, Wednesday, Friday as they go about there.

Nick:                         That’s when, I put it up on our message board, and I said, guys, I’m not even going over to watch the offensive line and defensive line work one on ones, because they’re going through the motions right now. You’re not going to see anything until they get really into full pads. You’ll see a little bit more Monday, Wednesday when they’re in shells, but really when they get into full pads. That first Friday of practice I’ll probably split my time between, obviously, the quarterbacks and then offensive line, defensive line to see what kind of work those guys are getting in.

Andrew:                  Good point there. I think that’s pretty much everything football wise that has been there. I think that’s everything. Am I missing anything?

Nick:                         I like all three of the new receivers. Dre Massey to me, I say it wrong every single time. Dre Massey, didn’t think his routes were very crisp the first practice. Did mention he hasn’t played football in a while. It’s been a long time since his last Juco game. Thought he looked better. He’s got good hands. He’s definitely quick, and the routes were better. So I’ll be interested to see when we start getting 11 on 11 where they’re lining him up, and kind of how they’re using him. Love Hammond. Liked Swain. Like Hammond probably the most right now. I get killed on our message board for it, but I still think CJ Worton is one of the best pure receivers on this team.

Andrew:                  Gold chain and all.

Nick:                         I don’t know what he’s doing off the field. I don’t know if the coaches like what he’s doing off the field, but when he’s on the football field he is technically, technique wise of the best receivers Florida has. I’m going to keep saying it. You guys can keep bashing me. Maybe he’ll prove me right at some point this season though.

Andrew:                  We’ll see. I think, again, I think he’s a guy that has the tools to be a good player. I mean, he shows that. It’s just you sometimes wonder what the heck is this kid doing off the field that is just destroying himself? That’s kind of what it is. You kind of feel bad for whatever’s going on with him off the field. I don’t know, but like you said, Swain and Massey, however you want to say it, and then Josh Hammond, all three of those guys are going to be guys that I think contribute next season in some capacity. I think Dre is probably your guy that’s going to be either your starter or get a lot of playing time in the slot. I think he’s your starter. Then you look at Swain and Hammond, they’re going to get playing time, because there is no real person to stand outside of Callaway. That leads me to my next point. Antonio Callaway. He released a statement, his attorney did. You and I talked about this. That’s an attorney backing his guy.

Nick:                         It’s a criminal defense attorney making a bold statement to back his guy, and then maybe to get things moving.

Andrew:                  It’s leverage.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s just trying to create leverage. Trying to get things moving in the way that you want them to move. It’s still an internal matter, a confidential internal matter, which is kind of why you haven’t gotten all the details that you want.

Andrew:                  Biggest thing right there to say. We had people say why are everyone being secretive about Callaway and Treon? That’s why.

Nick:                         So when it’s a university matter, not a police matter, it doesn’t have to be made public. There’s laws that you just can’t violate, so I still think it plays itself out within a week, two weeks. Just on what I know. I think Antonio Callaway will be back with the team. I have no idea if Treon Harris will.

Andrew:                  Something’s up with Treon. I don’t know. I have no idea. Here’s the thing. He’s been investigated now twice.

Nick:                         He’s been investigated twice. There was also a suspension last year for a game.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                         And the other time where he was pulled over with, who else was in the car?

Andrew:                  Was it Tabor that was in the car?

Nick:                        Tabor was in the car, and JC was in the car.

Andrew:                  Yes.

Nick:                         There was also weed in the car, but no charges were brought up there, because it wasn’t any of those three’s car. It’s kind of like, there’s a pattern, and there’s a history. Things are starting to add up there for Treon.

Andrew:                 Exactly. The thing with Callaway is this. I think Callaway, from a legal standpoint you and I have been told multiple times he’s good to go.

Nick:                         He’s not at all being investigated by the Gainesville Police Department. There is no criminal investigation going on with either player, with either Treon or Antonio. This is all Florida.

Andrew:                  That’s what I was going to say. Usually this stuff works its way out, but unlike the arch rival up in Tallahassee, Florida does take Title IV very seriously. That’s the kind of stuff that you’re looking at that’s being investigated there. Again, when people say you’re hiding stuff, no. Not hiding stuff. It simply is I don’t want a lawsuit against me. I know Nick doesn’t want a lawsuit against him, and quite frankly we don’t know all the details because of that stuff. It’s best to shut up in cases you don’t know what you’re talking about, and in this case that’s it.

Go to softball real quick. #700 was Coach Walton on Saturday night in a crazy game, and, Nick, I know you got to see the home run, but it’s weird today, and I texted you this in the middle of the first inning, and I said Florida just looks like a team that’s not worried. This crowd isn’t bothering them at all. They were at Auburn, packed house there. Crowd’s going wild, cheering. Florida just looks unfazed, while Auburn looks tight, nervous, intimidated, and it showed. This is a team from Florida that’s a championship mentality, championship caliber players, and it showed. 6-3 win on Saturday night in Auburn.

Nick:                         I mean, I didn’t say it anywhere, so you can not believe me, but I was talking with a friend, and we were both watching the game. I was like, Kvistad’s going to hit a home run here. I don’t know why I had the feeling. It’s hard. We talked about it last year. It’s hard when you’re covering a team, because you don’t have, I guess I have kind of like a blissful ignorance of the softball team. So to me, you following 25 games now, are so locked in on matchups and this and that, and me, from the outside, I was like that would just make sense to me. Florida’s 24-0. They made a pitching change to go left on left. I was like, it would just make sense. Auburn’s doing everything they need to do, everything’s by the book. It would just make sense that it doesn’t work, and that she hits a home run and Florida wins this game.

To me it just made perfect sense. Then when she hit it, I was like, yeah. I would never make that call for a baseball team, for Florida’s baseball team, because I’m so in the numbers. You’re watching a game. You’re looking up stats and situations and doing all this other stuff. It was just like me as a casual observer. I turned the game on. I hadn’t even watched the first six innings, because I was at baseball, and I’m just like, she’s going to hit a home run.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Going to hit a home run. It’s a team that’s all year they haven’t hit homeruns, and then in the biggest game of the year they hit two three run homers. I think what’s funny is, I’ll go ahead and say it, we had this moron on our message boards on Saturday night. He’s Delanie Gourley’s not throwing well. She was 13 of the first 17 hitters she threw strikes for. One run, and it’s like Florida needs to score 7 if they’re going to beat Auburn. You’re talking about the #1 pitching staff in the country here. It’s not some coincidence or luck that they’re holding Auburn’s bats down. It’s simply that Florida’s a really good pitching staff, and it’s kind of where it is. Let’s not forget here who we’re talking about. It’s the people that don’t follow the team a lot, and come in making statements. Florida is a team that is going to be fine. They’re a good softball team, if not the best softball team in the country. I consider them to be the best. I know that’s an opinion right now, but we’ll see come Oklahoma City in June. It’s a team that just doesn’t get rattled very often.

Nick:                         How was, obviously I only tuned into the last little more than half inning, and the crowd got quiet really quick after I turned the game on, but how was the crowd from what you could tell?

Andrew:                  The crowd was buzzing. There was this old guy, and I would say he’s probably—

Nick:                         Was it lit?

Andrew:                  It was lit. It was fire. It was fire for sure. It was popping there. There was this old guy. He’s probably mid 40s, maybe early 50s, and he’s in an Auburn football jersey, which whatever. Do what you got to do, bud. Anyway, Merritt gets hit. They call it back and say that the ball hit the bat, and she was out. So he gets up, stands up, and starts screaming something, waving bye. They show his face afterwards, see that. He’s completely silenced after the three run homer, so 6-3 is what it is. That crowd got quite after the three run bomb, because it was a Auburn comes back. They get shut out in the bottom of the seventh, and you lose the game. They wasn’t so happy after that game. First five and a half innings very loud, very into the game.

Nick:                         That’s good. They’ll finish, weird schedule. They’ll play Sunday. Andrew will be on that, and then they’ll play Monday as well. Interesting series. I know we are running up against time though.

Andrew:                  Running up there. Like you said, got that series, and then back at home. Then we’ll get baseball back at home against FSU. Florida will find out their fate in the NCAA Tournament Sunday night. We’re taping this Sunday afternoon, so you guys will know where they’re at, and women’s basketball finds out Monday night. Expecting them to be a top six seed, probably anywhere from four seed to six seed, somewhere in that vicinity. Tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see you guys on Wednesday.

Nick:                         As always, www.GatorCountry.com. On Twitter it is GatorCountry. I am @NickdelaTorreGC. He is @AndrewSpiveyGC. Instagram, TheGatorCountry. Find us on Facebook, just Gator Country there. Should be a good week. I’m ready to hear some pads pop. Florida State on the baseball diamond Tuesday. Be there, be square. Missouri comes in on the weekend, first SEC series for the Gators. Big week, a lot of football, baseball, softball, and fun.

Andrew:                  Some recruiting. Guys are starting to come on campus as well. I’ll have plenty of updates on that on the site. Stay tuned. Check us out every afternoon for practice updates, or Monday, Wednesday, Friday for practice updates. We’ll have that. David Bowie bringing the photos. Check us out. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                      You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

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

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This GatorCountry podcast recaps week one of the Florida Gators spring football practices as the Gators are still in just shorts and shirts until Monday’s practice.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the quarterback position so far through two practices, plus look at the receiver position and offensive line play.

Andrew and Nick also take a look at some baseball and softball updates as the Gators continue to roll in the diamond sports this spring.

TRANSCRIPT:

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

Nick:                          I am coming to you live on a Sunday with no baseball. It is almost an off day for me.

Andrew:                 You did have to pay for it on Saturday with about a seven hour trip at the Mac on Saturday night.

Nick:                         I’m watching baseball, so it’s not really work, but I went straight from, on Friday went straight from football interviews about 5:30 to the Mac, was at the Mac from about 5:30 till 11:30, so about six hours there. Then spent just shy of nine hours at McKethan on Saturday. Friday Saturday spent a lot of time at the baseball field, started to go a little crazy towards the end of Game Two on Saturday, Game Three of the series.

Andrew:                  I also heard that someone jinxed it on Saturday.

Nick:                         Listen, I grew up playing baseball, and baseball has these unwritten rules. You hit our big hitter, you hit our #3 hitter, we’re going to retaliate. A bunch of unwritten rules. When you’re covering a baseball game the biggest unwritten rule is if a game is moving quickly you don’t talk about it. It’s like fight club, first rule about it, you don’t talk about it. Somebody turns to me, we were in the top of the 5th, and it was 45 minutes. That is a dream. That is a quick baseball game. Somebody turns to me and goes, “This game’s moving along pretty well.” We played the next four innings in two hours.

Andrew:                  There is a couple rules. You never talk about that. You never, ever talk about a perfect game or a no-no. Never. I know someone on Twitter, I won’t call names, believes that it’s stupid, but you do not talk about it. Baseball is the most superstitious game there is. You do not talk about it. If you have to talk about it, you say, something special is brewing.

Nick:                         Here’s how strong the superstitions run with baseball. My dad, I think I might have 13 years old, dad buys me a pair of batting gloves, probably $45, $50. Those things aren’t cheap. Use them, first game, brand new. I go 0-3. My fourth at bat without the batting glove on, hit a double. When I came back into the dugout, grabbed the batting gloves, threw them in the trash. Dad says, you didn’t use your batting gloves that fourth at bat. I told him what had happened. Told him what I did. He says, good. He was the one that paid for them. $50 for three at bats, but they were 0-3, and I got a double without them on. Good. That’s the kind of superstitions we’ve got in baseball.

Andrew:                  Time to go in the trash if you’re not hitting. If your team’s not hitting well in one spot, you move to the other spot as a coach. There’s a lot of superstitious things there is in. Contrary to belief, they do work.

Nick:                         We’ll get into football real quick. I’m just going to recap baseball. Florida sweeps Harvard. They move to an 11 game winning streak. Logan Shore actually not his sharpest on Friday. Gave up five runs, all of them earned, but Saturday in the 4:00 start you got probably A.J. Puk’s best start of the season. He’s kind of a put a good start against Dartmouth, a little bit better against Harvard. Now you’d like to see that kind of progression. Alex Faedo gave up four earned runs a week ago. He carried a no hitter into the 7th, only gave up one hit, no earned runs. He has been nails, lights out all year, save for that one start against Dartmouth. Really good to see. Probably the best Sunday starter, maybe in the country, of anything in the country, and it’s really valuable for Florida to be able to go to him on Sunday, because the season within the season is about to begin.

Tuesday Florida hosts FSU, and then you jump right into SEC play. Good to see Puk rounding into form, Alex Faedo bouncing back. He’s been lights out, and the bats came alive this weekend. Florida pounded out 20 hits Friday, double digit hits, I think 12 again on Saturday. Good pitcher from Harvard. Kid from down in Miami on the second game Saturday only ended up getting I think eight hits, nine hits and three runs, but the bats definitely starting to come alive. Deacon Liput, how about this, Andrew? I know we talked about stats, especially in softball, but Deacon Liput, freshman second baseman, has reached base in all 18 games this year.

Andrew:                  Not too bad. Not too bad at all. I watched Puk for the first time all year for more than an at bat or so or whatever, and I’m going to ask you this, because I didn’t ask you this, and I meant to ask you this. Is he been as fast to the mound as he was on Saturday? I’m not going to lie. It seemed like…

Nick:                         That’s a good question.

Andrew:                  He seemed like one ball, if he threw a ball it was, I’m going to speed this up even more, and I believe, now here I’m going to go out on a limb, because I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I believe he had four walks, and three of them were four straight pitches that were balls.

Nick:                         Just to clarify for people listening, you’re talking about in between pitches, and not wasting any time? Kind of just getting the ball and then getting it back in, next pitch?

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

Nick:                         I just wanted to clarify that.

Andrew:                 It just kind of seemed like it was not quick pitching, but it just seemed like he was maybe, at first I thought maybe it’s a mental standpoint of him trying not to think about it too much.

Nick:                         That’s exactly. That’s exactly what it is. We’ve kind of talked in the past, it’s not anything physical with A.J. Obviously a big kid has got to be able to deal with being able to repeat his motion. With A.J. it’s mental. What they really worked on was eliminating that time in between pitches, so there’s less thinking. Really good for you picking up on that, and that’s something that I even asked Kevin O’Sullivan about after the game. He said, “We really made it an emphasis for him to cut down that time in between pitches so that he’s really just pitching and throwing and not out there thinking.” If he walks a guy he doesn’t have to sit there and think about it.

Andrew:                  Yeah.

Nick:                         He walked three, which was big, but he’s a power pitcher, and when you’re throwing, he topped out at 98 yesterday, so when we’re sitting 95, 96, topping out at 98, sometimes you give a little bit accuracy for that kind of overpowering stuff.

Andrew:                 It kind of seemed like the three walks he had were even sped up even more, and that was something that I kind of noticed a little bit. Finally looked a better pitcher, and I think a lot of that has to go back to maybe delivery there, but also he had command of his secondary pitches, and it wasn’t just I’m going to roll out on my fastball. The slider was really good. Soft speed was a little good, and I think he was able to mix pitches there.

Nick:                         Really had command of his slider, and you guys watching at home get a better vantage point. They’ve got that centerfield camera. You get a better vantage point of it. We have the games on in the press box, but the ESPN and the SEC Network press is so delayed that I’ll see strike three in a 2-2 count, and I will go look at the monitor to see what the pitch was, and the count’s 1-1. I’m like, they’re way behind. I miss it, but a nasty slider. Some overpowering stuff, really good. I think the biggest thing was just to see him have a good outing, another one. Two in a row.

Andrew:                  It was. Hitting wise they did well. The kid from Harvard, Pittman, had a slider that was just exploding off the plate once it got there. I know I did watch a little bit of Kevin O’Sullivan’s postgame, and that’s an SEC quality pitcher that they’re going to be good for.

Nick:                         Yeah. The second kid, Gruener, I think is how you would say it. He’s from Miami. He actually had a lot of friends in the stands, like a little cheering section, but he was 93, 95, and really attacked the hitters. I think when you start seeing, you look and say why is Harvard scoring these runs? Why is Florida’s pitching staff supposed to be so great? Why are they giving up runs and hits? They don’t walk batters. They really don’t walk batters, so teams have that on the scouting report, and when you get a team like Dartmouth and a team like Harvard, Florida Gulf Coast, coming in, they’re coming in with a nothing to lose mentality. So the book is Florida’s going to throw strikes. Shoot, when’s the next time we’re going to be able to play the #1 team in the country? Just go up there and swing. You’re supposed to lose this game, so what’s it matter if you go up there? At least go down swinging. I think that’s what you’re seeing. Things really tighten up, and teams really tighten up, once SEC play starts.

Andrew:                  Kind of related this to what you see when an MLB guys down to the Minor Leagues. You always see it, and you’re like Roger Clemens goes down to the AA, well he should strike out 27 guys. No, because those guys just come up there free swinging. There is not setting them up. It’s just I’m going to swing as hard as I can, and if I hit it, fine. If not, I strike out. That’s kind of how it was with Harvard and Dartmouth. That’s kind of how it is with some of your midweek teams as well.

Nick:                         It won’t be Tuesday. Tuesday I’m expecting a great crowd. It’s really been awesome for me with these rivalry games, especially going down. I’ve had the chance now to see a Florida crowd when Miami comes to town, and I’ve had the chance to go down to Miami to see what their fans were like for Florida. It’s so much fun to be able to sit back and kind of take in that rivalry. We’ll get that Tuesday with Florida State coming in. It’s an environment that I look forward to.

Big win for softball. We’ll touch on that after, but we’ve held the people off long enough. I know they’re waiting for some football news.

Andrew:                  Let’s go to football. The Gators have finished their second practice of the spring. We’ll head into practice #3 and in shells on Monday afternoon. You start to be able to see a little bit more install, but you’re able to see a little bit of how these young guys, these freshmen and redshirt freshmen, and then some of these Juco guys, kind of fit up to SEC play when you’re able to start thumping a little bit. You’re not going to tackle to the ground, but you are able to kind of thump a little bit, hit shoulder pad to shoulder pad, that kind of stuff.

Nick:                         The mood around spring, the first day, first two days, is so upbeat, because now these guys all have talked about how they were embarrassed about the Citrus Bowl. Then you’re getting into just a bunch of working out, and it’s like we’re doing all this lifting outside and running outside, and it’s hot, and it’s getting tiresome, but I know we’re doing it for something, and that something is football. Camp starts, and it’s nice, because, sure, it’s hot, but we’re not in pads. So the mood is up. Morale is high, and then camp starts to wear down. Jim McElwain’s mentioned it both springs. This year already. They mentioned it last year. Intensity’s up right now. It’s practice #1. It’s practice #2. What’s the intensity going to be like practice #11 and 12?

I think each times something new is introduced you’ll get a little more heightened intensity. Monday you get out there, now we have some shoulder pads. Now I can put my head down and run into somebody. Intensity level goes up, and then you’ll get Wednesday in shells, and then Friday full pads. I think you’ll get another bump in intensity when full pads come on as well.

Andrew:                  You always get a bump when it’s full pads for practice, whether it be spring practice, fall practice, whatever it is. You always get that extra juice of I’m about to get to hit someone, and there it is. Let me ask you this. This is something you and I talked about. I’m going to ask you so you can tell everyone. You go through last few years, and I say this, and it doesn’t really matter to a lot of the guys, but to guys like Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, these guys that really haven’t had a coaching staff that has been together. How much of a difference do you see from the get go that there’s a unity of this coaching staff, because these guys are in the same routine as they were last year? How much have you seen that, and have you see that that it’s been a difference of looseness, knowing where to be, that kind of stuff?

Nick:                         I wouldn’t use the word looseness. I think those older guys, the guys that put in time, are always loose when it comes to spring. What I will say is that it runs smoother. We mentioned how it kind of ran smooth. Sometimes guys would have to ask questions last year, but even with 12 new faces, practice is kind of running smooth, and Florida runs things very quickly. There’s no walking. Horn blows at the end of period one in practice, and everyone’s sprinting or jogging to period two. There’s less of you’re on field 2. Your group’s over there. It’s kind of just like horn blows, and everyone moves to where they’re supposed to be. I think that kind of familiarity has really given more efficiency to practice.

Andrew:                  That’s kind of what I mean with the looseness.

Nick:                         I think it’s, okay, instead of questioning yourself, now you’re confident. At least I know the foundation of where I’m supposed to be, and there’s questioning of that. I do, you mentioned coaching staff staying together, I really have liked to watch Torrian Gray, the newcomer, especially when we got into some one on one drills with defensive backs and wide receivers. It seemed like Dixon and Gray were kind of giving each other some back and forth. If a wide receiver maybe pushed off a little bit and gets open on a dig by pushing off, Gray snaps something at Dixon about his receivers, offensive pass interference, and it seems like Gray has been able to kind of a just intertwine himself right in with the mix. It doesn’t feel like he’s the new guy on the staff or on the field.

Andrew:                  That makes sense. I think that’s a thing that is interesting to see is how they kind of go about it, those guys being two younger guys, and Gray I guess isn’t so much a younger guy, but just guys that are competitive there, and that’s interesting to kind of see where that is. Gray’s a guy that has probably got the respect of these guys because of where he’s been from, and that’s something interesting to see. Also, with Mike Summers now having the same offensive line coach with him as well I do notice and been hearing things that it’s kind of more of a team effort kind of coaching that offensive line, with Summers being the main guy, but I have noticed that it’s been more of a team effort there at the offensive line.

Nick:                         It’s definitely Mike Summers leading it, but you can see that it’s not a situation where it’s one coach. There’s a team effort going on there. The biggest thing with the offensive line is, I wrote about it. It was up on Sunday. There’s bodies there now. You really take for granted how not having enough bodies on the offensive line affects everything. Now the defensive line is not getting good work. Joey Ivie goes up against a dog tired Cam Dillard, who’s had to take three times as many snaps as Joey Ivie has, and one arm just shoves him off to the side. Joey Ivie’s not getting any better because of that. Cece Jefferson is not going to get any better going up against a tired David Sharpe. It really affects everyone, and I think the coaching staff did a great job of addressing that problem, and you’re going to see heightened intensity level and more focus from the offensive line.

Andrew:                  We talked about this. You asked the other day about kind of where the excuse of the receivers with the DBs, does it make them better? This defensive line does get better by going up against decent competition at the offensive line. That’s no doubt about that. Going up against some faces that are trying to block them. It’s a process that is a slow process. It’s kind of offensive line is kind of like building a farm system in baseball in that it’s not fixed over one day period of time. It’s fixed over two and three year period where you have to get guys in that are freshmen, get them in there, get them in the system working them out. Let them gradually get better to be ready their junior and senior years. You’re starting to see that with Ivey and Jordan being sophomores, Fred Johnson being a sophomore. They’re older in the program, and that helps out a lot.

Nick:                         I think that’s a really good analogy, because sure Florida had three freshmen get some serious playing time last year, but I would say that recruiting offensive line is more of like a Major League baseball draft. It’s like, we took you, but we’re going to send you down to the Minors to get you some seasoning before you’re ready for the show. It is a process, and I think what you saw was the offensive line recruiting not necessarily was bad, I know you would disagree, saying it was bad. There was just a lot of things that you couldn’t really control, injuries, and I think I’m quick to say that the offensive line recruiting was bad, not just last year, over the past four or five years, but I think really if you look at it fairly that there were some injuries and stuff that you really couldn’t control.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Bad I guess is something you could say. Like you say, it is bad, but it just is a thing where I think it’ll continue to get better. It will continue to get better as they go on. Kind of where, like you said, with the Minor League system it gets better as they continue to grow, and I think that this team will continue to get better. Maybe not this year from a depth standpoint of having a two deep, but definitely by next year when you’ve got guys like Desire-Jones, Sandifer, Buchanan, which I think Buchanan plays more this year, but Desire-Jones, Sandifer I think are still a year away. You got those two guys. TJ McCoy, another year away probably. You’ve got those three guys that are there. Then you’ve got a guy like Stone who basically by next year he’ll be a redshirt sophomore almost, because I consider this spring to kind of be like his redshirt year, where he has that extra spring.

I think that’ll be good as well. It’s a slow process to build that offensive line group. It’s kind of like the quarterback play where it doesn’t get fixed overnight, because very rarely do you see young guys just do really well. You did see a guy like Martez Ivey and Tyler Jordan do well last year, but I think you could say well, but not great at the offensive line.

Nick:                         Right. I honestly think that the offensive line will be improved. Martez Ivey not going through spring is going to give some other guys some run. Antonio Riles is getting some run right now. I would like to see a little bit more of Nick Buchanan. I think Heavy Chocolate’s got some weight to lose before he’s really a guy that’s able to contribute. Let’s move on.

Andrew:                  Let’s go to quarterback position.

Nick:                         That’s what I was going to do, because…

Andrew:                 This is what everybody wants to hear.

Nick:                         I’m not going to tell Twitter what to do. That’s a bad look. That will end up poorly for me.

Andrew:                  Talk to Uncle Silk.

Nick:                        That will end up poorly if I try to tell Twitter what to do.

Andrew:                  You go ahead and tell it straight to Silk. You’re talking to Silk.

Nick:                         Here it is. I always tell you, I’m very up front, very honest about what we see. We’re out there for 10-15 minutes. I don’t know with my own eyes I’m not seeing what’s going on after I leave, after those first four periods of practice. If I tell you, I think this person looks good, I’m not saying this kid’s going to start. You do you, Twitter. I’m just saying Kyle Trask throws a nice ball. He’s from Texas. I had never seen him throw before this past week. I had seen Feleipe Franks throw. I had seen film of Appleby. I’d seen film of Del Rio. I had seen Del Rio last spring throw the ball. I had never seen Trask. So I made a comment about Trask, and then I think all Friday was just, that’s our starter. He’s going to unseat Del Rio.

Luke Del Rio is going to be the starter for Florida. You and I both agree on that. I think it would be a monumental upset for anyone else to start other than him, but what I’m trying to say is I’m just telling you what I see. No bias. Not saying he’s going to start. I think Kyle Trask throws a nice football. He has nice footwork. I want to see what he looks like when the pads come on and there’s a pass rush.

Andrew:                  He’s got the best arm on the team. It is what it is.

Nick:                        You probably remember this. Will Grier at times last year everything was a fastball. It didn’t matter what the route was, everything was thrown as hard as I can throw it. With Trask, through a very limited narrow scope of what I’ve seen, I see him mixing up the speeds. If the coverage is tight, and I need to zip it in there, I’ve got that 98 that I can reach down and get, but I don’t need to throw everything as hard as I can. There’s times to, even on like a crossing pattern, something short that might be in traffic. You don’t have to throw it in there. You don’t need the guy, and really the most impressive thing is with that arm talent that he has, with that power, the accuracy is there. Everything is in the numbers or leading his receiver. That’s really impressed me. Again, as Mac says, they’re in underwear, so take it with a grain of salt. I was impressed with his arm talent.

Andrew:                  It’s kind of like, it’s exactly what we said on the message board before practice started. Trask has the best arm on the team, and we knew that. Del Rio doesn’t have the best arm on the team. I would probably say Del Rio has the third best arm on the team behind the two freshmen. It’s like I said with Trask is this. Trask is learning the game from scratch. Franks is having to cut down, tear down mistakes, and learn them from there. Trask didn’t start in high school. We know that. You don’t expect him to start at Florida. You don’t. It’s one of those stories that it’s 1 in 500 that he goes in and starts. It’s just like a walk-on almost, but Trask played behind another big conference signee that’s going to TCU in high school. He could have played anywhere else. He has the tools. I do think Trask is a guy that in a couple years we’re talking about being the starter at Florida. I do.

I’ll say this though. Del Rio is a guy that I’ve heard some very positive things about early on in the spring after two practices, as well as the off season before then, and kind of the winner is that he’s kind of taken control of this offense, become that guy that’s the leader of the team, and is showing what we all expect him to show, and that is leadership qualities, high IQ for a quarterback, and a guy that just knows where everyone is supposed to be and helps the team line up. Mac’s quote about affecting others is Del Rio’s quote basically.

Nick:                         Absolutely. You can really tell Del Rio’s leg up, and that is the familiarity with the offense, familiarity with the players. All the guys seem to be accepted by the team, but Luke’s been there longer and has a year of building relationships with these guys. I think they really respond to him. Now, I’ll agree with you that I think he’s got probably the third best arm behind Trask and Franks. I think snap judgment, early judgment, I think Austin Appleby, I kind of said it earlier, I think he’s kind of just a body, a guy there for leadership, maybe to help the younger guys grow, possibly an emergency quarterback if you don’t want to burn a redshirt. I think that I would put Trask ahead of him right now, just from arm talent.

Obviously, you mentioned already the learning the system, stuff like that. Del Rio though, knows the system. Runs it efficiently. Really reminds me of like a redshirt senior quarterback who’s been in a system for what seems like forever, and it just comes to him, and that knowledge gives him a confidence, and you can see that his confidence kind of starts to affect everyone else around him. A guy misses or runs the wrong route, and it’s Del Rio kind of like snapping at him in a way that Tom Brady does, where you look at it, and you’re like that kind of comes off harsh, but the receiver’s looking at him like, I know that was on me. I got it. They kind of accept it. So that’s really I think what is separating him.

He’s not the most physically gifted. When you see the four quarterbacks, Appleby, Trask, and Franks are huge. Del Rio is not small, probably 6’1” or 6’2”. He’s listed at 6’2”, but looks small next to the other guys, but I think it’s maybe that intangible, that comfort level, that really is separating him and something that the guys early on, the rest of the team, are responding to.

Andrew:                  That’s a good point there. I know someone’s going to say, you guys aren’t talking about the defense a lot. It’s just defense in underwear is tough. It just is, because, especially at the linebacker position, there is no way to judge anything with the linebackers. Yes, coverage is there, but again they’re in underwear, like you say, so a lot of that will come about as we go into Monday with being in shells, and then as we go into Friday where it’s full pads. That’s when you can start to tell more about the defense, and both of the lines, offensive line and defensive line there, and your running back position really. Mark Thompson, of course, looks good in underwear, and that’s all fine and dandy. We’ll see how he does when he’s got Jarrad Davis meeting him in the hole and the two guys have got to meet. Does Mark Thompson become soft? I don’t think he does, but I’m just saying. We’ll see where that happens Monday, Wednesday, Friday as they go about there.

Nick:                         That’s when, I put it up on our message board, and I said, guys, I’m not even going over to watch the offensive line and defensive line work one on ones, because they’re going through the motions right now. You’re not going to see anything until they get really into full pads. You’ll see a little bit more Monday, Wednesday when they’re in shells, but really when they get into full pads. That first Friday of practice I’ll probably split my time between, obviously, the quarterbacks and then offensive line, defensive line to see what kind of work those guys are getting in.

Andrew:                  Good point there. I think that’s pretty much everything football wise that has been there. I think that’s everything. Am I missing anything?

Nick:                         I like all three of the new receivers. Dre Massey to me, I say it wrong every single time. Dre Massey, didn’t think his routes were very crisp the first practice. Did mention he hasn’t played football in a while. It’s been a long time since his last Juco game. Thought he looked better. He’s got good hands. He’s definitely quick, and the routes were better. So I’ll be interested to see when we start getting 11 on 11 where they’re lining him up, and kind of how they’re using him. Love Hammond. Liked Swain. Like Hammond probably the most right now. I get killed on our message board for it, but I still think CJ Worton is one of the best pure receivers on this team.

Andrew:                  Gold chain and all.

Nick:                         I don’t know what he’s doing off the field. I don’t know if the coaches like what he’s doing off the field, but when he’s on the football field he is technically, technique wise of the best receivers Florida has. I’m going to keep saying it. You guys can keep bashing me. Maybe he’ll prove me right at some point this season though.

Andrew:                  We’ll see. I think, again, I think he’s a guy that has the tools to be a good player. I mean, he shows that. It’s just you sometimes wonder what the heck is this kid doing off the field that is just destroying himself? That’s kind of what it is. You kind of feel bad for whatever’s going on with him off the field. I don’t know, but like you said, Swain and Massey, however you want to say it, and then Josh Hammond, all three of those guys are going to be guys that I think contribute next season in some capacity. I think Dre is probably your guy that’s going to be either your starter or get a lot of playing time in the slot. I think he’s your starter. Then you look at Swain and Hammond, they’re going to get playing time, because there is no real person to stand outside of Callaway. That leads me to my next point. Antonio Callaway. He released a statement, his attorney did. You and I talked about this. That’s an attorney backing his guy.

Nick:                         It’s a criminal defense attorney making a bold statement to back his guy, and then maybe to get things moving.

Andrew:                  It’s leverage.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s just trying to create leverage. Trying to get things moving in the way that you want them to move. It’s still an internal matter, a confidential internal matter, which is kind of why you haven’t gotten all the details that you want.

Andrew:                  Biggest thing right there to say. We had people say why are everyone being secretive about Callaway and Treon? That’s why.

Nick:                         So when it’s a university matter, not a police matter, it doesn’t have to be made public. There’s laws that you just can’t violate, so I still think it plays itself out within a week, two weeks. Just on what I know. I think Antonio Callaway will be back with the team. I have no idea if Treon Harris will.

Andrew:                  Something’s up with Treon. I don’t know. I have no idea. Here’s the thing. He’s been investigated now twice.

Nick:                         He’s been investigated twice. There was also a suspension last year for a game.

Andrew:                  Right.

Nick:                         And the other time where he was pulled over with, who else was in the car?

Andrew:                  Was it Tabor that was in the car?

Nick:                        Tabor was in the car, and JC was in the car.

Andrew:                  Yes.

Nick:                         There was also weed in the car, but no charges were brought up there, because it wasn’t any of those three’s car. It’s kind of like, there’s a pattern, and there’s a history. Things are starting to add up there for Treon.

Andrew:                 Exactly. The thing with Callaway is this. I think Callaway, from a legal standpoint you and I have been told multiple times he’s good to go.

Nick:                         He’s not at all being investigated by the Gainesville Police Department. There is no criminal investigation going on with either player, with either Treon or Antonio. This is all Florida.

Andrew:                  That’s what I was going to say. Usually this stuff works its way out, but unlike the arch rival up in Tallahassee, Florida does take Title IV very seriously. That’s the kind of stuff that you’re looking at that’s being investigated there. Again, when people say you’re hiding stuff, no. Not hiding stuff. It simply is I don’t want a lawsuit against me. I know Nick doesn’t want a lawsuit against him, and quite frankly we don’t know all the details because of that stuff. It’s best to shut up in cases you don’t know what you’re talking about, and in this case that’s it.

Go to softball real quick. #700 was Coach Walton on Saturday night in a crazy game, and, Nick, I know you got to see the home run, but it’s weird today, and I texted you this in the middle of the first inning, and I said Florida just looks like a team that’s not worried. This crowd isn’t bothering them at all. They were at Auburn, packed house there. Crowd’s going wild, cheering. Florida just looks unfazed, while Auburn looks tight, nervous, intimidated, and it showed. This is a team from Florida that’s a championship mentality, championship caliber players, and it showed. 6-3 win on Saturday night in Auburn.

Nick:                         I mean, I didn’t say it anywhere, so you can not believe me, but I was talking with a friend, and we were both watching the game. I was like, Kvistad’s going to hit a home run here. I don’t know why I had the feeling. It’s hard. We talked about it last year. It’s hard when you’re covering a team, because you don’t have, I guess I have kind of like a blissful ignorance of the softball team. So to me, you following 25 games now, are so locked in on matchups and this and that, and me, from the outside, I was like that would just make sense to me. Florida’s 24-0. They made a pitching change to go left on left. I was like, it would just make sense. Auburn’s doing everything they need to do, everything’s by the book. It would just make sense that it doesn’t work, and that she hits a home run and Florida wins this game.

To me it just made perfect sense. Then when she hit it, I was like, yeah. I would never make that call for a baseball team, for Florida’s baseball team, because I’m so in the numbers. You’re watching a game. You’re looking up stats and situations and doing all this other stuff. It was just like me as a casual observer. I turned the game on. I hadn’t even watched the first six innings, because I was at baseball, and I’m just like, she’s going to hit a home run.

Andrew:                  Yeah. Going to hit a home run. It’s a team that’s all year they haven’t hit homeruns, and then in the biggest game of the year they hit two three run homers. I think what’s funny is, I’ll go ahead and say it, we had this moron on our message boards on Saturday night. He’s Delanie Gourley’s not throwing well. She was 13 of the first 17 hitters she threw strikes for. One run, and it’s like Florida needs to score 7 if they’re going to beat Auburn. You’re talking about the #1 pitching staff in the country here. It’s not some coincidence or luck that they’re holding Auburn’s bats down. It’s simply that Florida’s a really good pitching staff, and it’s kind of where it is. Let’s not forget here who we’re talking about. It’s the people that don’t follow the team a lot, and come in making statements. Florida is a team that is going to be fine. They’re a good softball team, if not the best softball team in the country. I consider them to be the best. I know that’s an opinion right now, but we’ll see come Oklahoma City in June. It’s a team that just doesn’t get rattled very often.

Nick:                         How was, obviously I only tuned into the last little more than half inning, and the crowd got quiet really quick after I turned the game on, but how was the crowd from what you could tell?

Andrew:                  The crowd was buzzing. There was this old guy, and I would say he’s probably—

Nick:                         Was it lit?

Andrew:                  It was lit. It was fire. It was fire for sure. It was popping there. There was this old guy. He’s probably mid 40s, maybe early 50s, and he’s in an Auburn football jersey, which whatever. Do what you got to do, bud. Anyway, Merritt gets hit. They call it back and say that the ball hit the bat, and she was out. So he gets up, stands up, and starts screaming something, waving bye. They show his face afterwards, see that. He’s completely silenced after the three run homer, so 6-3 is what it is. That crowd got quite after the three run bomb, because it was a Auburn comes back. They get shut out in the bottom of the seventh, and you lose the game. They wasn’t so happy after that game. First five and a half innings very loud, very into the game.

Nick:                         That’s good. They’ll finish, weird schedule. They’ll play Sunday. Andrew will be on that, and then they’ll play Monday as well. Interesting series. I know we are running up against time though.

Andrew:                  Running up there. Like you said, got that series, and then back at home. Then we’ll get baseball back at home against FSU. Florida will find out their fate in the NCAA Tournament Sunday night. We’re taping this Sunday afternoon, so you guys will know where they’re at, and women’s basketball finds out Monday night. Expecting them to be a top six seed, probably anywhere from four seed to six seed, somewhere in that vicinity. Tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see you guys on Wednesday.

Nick:                         As always, www.GatorCountry.com. On Twitter it is GatorCountry. I am @NickdelaTorreGC. He is @AndrewSpiveyGC. Instagram, TheGatorCountry. Find us on Facebook, just Gator Country there. Should be a good week. I’m ready to hear some pads pop. Florida State on the baseball diamond Tuesday. Be there, be square. Missouri comes in on the weekend, first SEC series for the Gators. Big week, a lot of football, baseball, softball, and fun.

Andrew:                  Some recruiting. Guys are starting to come on campus as well. I’ll have plenty of updates on that on the site. Stay tuned. Check us out every afternoon for practice updates, or Monday, Wednesday, Friday for practice updates. We’ll have that. David Bowie bringing the photos. Check us out. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                      You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Florida Gators softball clinches series against Auburn

The Florida Gators softball team clinched its first SEC series against Auburn on Sunday

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