GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview the Florida Gators big game against number 1 ranked Alabama on Saturday in the Swamp.
Andrew Spivey and David Soderquist breakdown the keys for the Gators to pull off the upset on Saturday on both offense and defense.
Andrew and David also give you three players to watch for the Gators on Saturday, plus we pick the game.
I also know this, and that is Dan Mullen figures it out every single solitary big game there is, for the most part. He figures out a way to move the ball. I think we’re focusing on this, and I’m not saying we’re focusing on this for the wrong reasons, but we’re talking about this offense versus Bama’s defense, and rightfully so, because it’s going to be a big thing. In my opinion, this game’s going to be won or lost by Florida’s defense. Obviously, you’re now looking with Ventrell Miller out for the foreseeable future. Some are saying out for the year. I’m told personally that it’s doubtful he plays the rest of the year, but there’s a possibility he could be back for Florida State. We’ll see. Bicep injury. He had to have surgery on Monday for that. You have that of him not being able to play in the game, and that sucks. That’s a big loss when you talk about this game.
Not to get too deep into that, but I don’t know why, but I’m starting to feel a little bit better about this game for Florida. This is a very good Alabama football team, but this isn’t Alabama from last year.
David: No. I even said it to somebody earlier today that is actually an Alabama alum. I was talking to her in Instant Messenger, and she said, Alabama, they’ve been elite before, but this isn’t an elite team. This is just a good team. With a freshman quarterback, this is going to be his first away game in a hostile environment, packed stadium full of Florida Gator fans, and he’s going to have to perform like he did the last two weeks. He’s going to have to perform like he did against Miami and like he did against Mercer. Already throwing for 70%.
This is the chance where you get to rattle a freshman quarterback. This is your chance to make it as noisy as you can. Even before the game, make noise. Get inside of that kid’s head. Make him make mistakes. Make him throw turnovers. That way Florida can get the upper hand. I was looking at a lot of the statistics. Their running backs, they rely really heavy on the running game.
David: Their running backs really haven’t done that much against Miami or Mercer. One of their running backs has rushed 130 yards against Mercer and Miami. If they can hold him to 60 and 70 yards a game, we can hold him to 60, 70 yards a game. If not, there’s an issue, and it’s probably Todd Grantham, but we’ll get into that too. This is going to be the toughest defense that they’ve played all year, and our defense is no slouch. I mean, without turnovers, we pretty much shut out FAU. Without turnovers, we pretty much shut out USF. This should not be a problem for this defense to go in there, hold Alabama under 100 yards rushing, and take advantage of the crowd noise. I have no other words to say.
I know they have a lot of players, a lot of good wide receivers. Kaiir Elam is looking for his NFL contract this year. He’s going to be out there wanting to make some plays. You got Perkins, who I love. I don’t know how much of the field he’s going to see this week either. You got him out there. Obviously, that other corner spot is still up in question with Avery Helm and Jason Marshall there.
Alabama’s still got some wide receivers, and they’ve got a dual-threat quarterback. You know these dink and dunk plays that were going on the last two, three weeks, they’re going to do the same thing to us. They’re going to see if we can hold them to having dink and dunk plays and not even having to throw it deep to Metchie or any of those other wide receivers.
Andrew: You look at what it is. This offense for Alabama is a very well-oiled machine, as far as they know what they’re going to do. They’re going to come in, and they’re going to want to set the tempo of the game upfront.
Andrew: I would say, and I may be wrong, but I would say that Florida’s front seven is probably the strength of this football team. So, you’re going to go best on best. You’re going to mano a mano, man to man, right there. Get out to an early start in this game. I said this. I was doing a radio show and said this, and I meant it. You cannot let Alabama come out and get up 14-0 or 21-7. Cannot allow that to happen. You’ve got to come out of this gate, obviously Dan Mullen’s going to defer, if he wins the toss, and he’s going to kick to Bama. You need a stop.
You need a stop for several reasons. Get Florida’s defense some confidence and some momentum. You need to give Emory Jones and the offense an opportunity to really settle into this football game. When Emory Jones gets going, that’s when he’s at his best. When he can get a couple throws in a row and get confident, that’s when he gets going. The first sign of bad plays for him, that’s when he kind of goes down. You need to get off to a fast start in this game. I say this. If Florida’s going to win this ballgame, it’s going to be in the mid 20s.
David: Yeah. And they’re going to have to establish a run. They’re going to have to establish that line of scrimmage with the offensive line. They’ve done it twice in two weeks. Granted, the teams weren’t the best of the SEC or anything. They weren’t even an SEC team or opponent, but you had two good showings. That showed everybody that you can pound around on the teams that you should pound around. Now it’s time to put up or shut up.
This is the #1 team in the country. If you can establish that line of scrimmage, get Dameon Pierce going, get Malik Davis going or Nay’Quan Wright, or whoever you want to put back there, two tight end sets, two running back sets, whatever you want to do, if you can establish that line of scrimmage and get a run game going, it’s going to make it easier for Emory Jones to score on Alabama, and he won’t have to throw the ball as much, and we won’t have to worry about a dreaded interception that could go for a pick six or something like that.
Definitely, the defense and the offensive line can take stress off of Emory Jones, and I think that’s what you’re going to have to do this game, because Emory Jones right now, I don’t know what’s going through his head, but right now he’s looking in the back of his head saying, there’s a big giant quarterback behind me that runs a 4.4, and he’s playing lights out, and every throw that he throws is on target, and it’s accurate no matter what’s going on with him, and I’ve got to at least do something to keep my starting job. This is how I can keep my starting job is getting a victory at the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Swamp.
Andrew: We’ll see. I don’t have a ton of confidence that Anthony Richardson plays a lot in this game. I know Dan Mullen said on his Wednesday teleconference he’s practiced every day, which I have been told that’s BS. He didn’t practice on Monday. Whatever it may be.
You’re just not going to risk, in my opinion, too much in this game with Anthony Richardson. Let’s just say Florida beats Alabama on Saturday, and then they go lose in Jacksonville. You’re probably not going to Atlanta, because Georgia’s schedule sucks. Their schedule sucks. They’re not going to lose two ballgames. At the end of the day, getting to Atlanta goes through Jacksonville.
You have to, in my opinion, weigh the pros and the cons a little bit in this game. Do you want to go into this game and force Anthony, even though he may be your better option at times, to go, and then maybe he tears his hamstring up worse, and then he’s out for the rest of the year? I don’t know how much we see of that. So, that could give opportunities for Emory to be a little bit more comfortable in this game, to feel a little bit better about things in this game and not to be looking over his shoulder in this game.
Again, I don’t know what it is. I say it every big game. Dan Mullen has something up his sleeve. He always does. Obviously, if you look back and what it was against Bama last year, it was trying to do mismatches with your slot receiver and their linebackers and their safeties. You don’t have Kadarius Toney there. Maybe it’s something with Jacob Copeland there. In my opinion, it’s going to be something with Emory Jones and the running game and quick stuff there. It’s going to be interesting to see.
It’s going to be interesting to see what packages that he’s kind of kept in his back pocket as well. Is there some two and three running back sets where you possibly have Malik and Bowman and maybe even Dameon Pierce all on the field together, or a situation where you have Malik and Bowman on the field together? You’re going to have some of that. There’s something up his sleeve with that that is going to come out on Saturday, and you’re going to get the kitchen sink.
Again, I don’t know what the game plan is going to be to win the game. I do know that he’s not going to go into that game telling Emory, you need to throw the ball 30 times for us to win.
David: Yeah. Also, at the same time, and I did notice this too watching the Miami and Mercer game, their secondary is kind of questionable. They leave guys wide open sometimes. I’ve noticed that on a lot of plays. I think what you need to do, to me, is you need to start out and try to establish the run. You need to try to start establishing some kind of run game. Then after that, if you can establish a run, then I think you take a couple deep shots. Not all the time. Maybe like two or three, maybe four the whole game. You got Jacob Copeland out there. That is your #1 go-to guy. He’s been making plays. He’s been getting open. He’s had these long touchdown plays. Get Jacob Copeland out there. Take a couple of deep shots with him and test this Alabama secondary.
I just really have not seen good secondary play. I’ve seen good secondary play from Alabama, but not elite secondary play like I used to see. Even going into last year, Alabama’s secondary wasn’t that great. They were okay. I mean, they were good. They weren’t elite. They were good enough to get the job done, get turnovers, and get you to the next game. Right now, I’m not seeing it.
Andrew: I will say this. While the secondary has been suspect, always remember this, and that is Nick Saban’s going to be ready.
Andrew: His boys are going to be ready. You know that. If I’m Florida, the thing that scares me a little bit is how crappy they played against Mercer, because that means this week of practice has been probably really grueling and really good for Saban and his staff. It’ll be interesting to see. Again, I’m excited to see some of the mismatches they do. I definitely think that there’s opportunities for Florida. I don’t know. Sideline to sideline is what Nick Saban’s linebackers are really good at, so that’s going to be a question if Emory can really spread the field out a lot there.
They are down Christopher Allen, and they could possibly be down with Will Anderson, their other top linebacker, so you’re getting some injuries there a little bit. LaBryan Ray’s a guy who is probably going to line up on Jean Delance or Michael Tarquan, whoever’s at right tackle, and you better block him. If not, he’s going to eat lunch in the backfield. Like you said, establishing the running game. You’ve got to establish the running game in this game. You’ve got to make Alabama aware that you can line up and run it at them, something you couldn’t do in December.
David: Right. You also, on defense, you have to get pressure on the quarterback. I know he’s a dual-threat quarterback, and they’re going to try to throw the kitchen sink to us with quarterback runs, all sorts of little dink and dunk plays that we’ve struggled with the last two games, and I’m pretty sure they’re looking at that on film, and you’re going to have to get pressure on this quarterback, and you’re going to have to keep him from screening it off to one of those Alabama running backs. That’s going to kill you if every time you blitz the quarterback he throws a screen, and they’re getting 10- and 20-yard chunk plays. That’s just going to beat you up the whole game, and you can’t go down by two touchdowns. If Florida goes down by two touchdowns, they’re not winning the game. I don’t think so.
At this point, you’ve got to rattle the quarterback. A hostile environment, freshman quarterback. That’s going to be the key on defense, and I think Florida can do it. Florida has the defense. They have enough of a defensive line to compete with Alabama’s offensive line. Zach Carter, Brenton Cox, all those guys, they’re going to have to step up, and this is going to be the game. They’re going to be fired up. Zachary Carter’s going to be fired up. He’s the most fired up on that team. He’s the leader of that team, if you ask me. Zachary Carter is going to be fired up for this game. So, establish the run. Establish the line of scrimmage, and I think you walk away with a victory in this game. That’s just my opinion.
Andrew: Who plays linebacker is the biggest question for me.
Andrew: Well, see, I love Hopper. I do. I love Hopper’s game, but Hopper doesn’t have the girth inside to play middle linebacker in this game, especially with Moon. You can’t have Moon and Hopper, and really even Moon and Diabate, together out there on the field, because who’s your middle linebacker to absolutely come up and crush the run? That’s my thing. I don’t know who that’s going to be. I think you’re going to probably roll out Diabate and Moon as your starters at linebacker, maybe even Moon and Hopper. I think you’re going to see a lot of Burney in this game.
David: I was about to say Burney.
Andrew: Because he’s probably your biggest, thickest guy out there, besides the guys we’ve talked about. That’s a question for me, and that’s where when you start talking about Gervon Dexter, when you start talking about Valentino, when you start talking about Tyrone Truesdell and Newkirk, Daquan. You start talking about those guys. Those guys have got to be the guys who set the tempo up front and not allow gaping holes to where you’re one on one with the linebackers and that kind of stuff, because you don’t have Ventrell. You don’t have that veteran base middle linebacker who can just come up and thump you that would like to see.
Maybe it is. I think you have to see more of Burney in the game. Maybe even some Derek Wingo in the game. Wingo still seems like he’s a little bit further down and needing to learn the playbook a little bit more and still needs to get a little bit better. That’ll be the interesting thing for me, and that’s something I think a lot of people forget about is if you’re playing Georgia or if you’re playing LSU or somebody who’s going to try to spread the ball out a little bit more, Ventrell’s not as big of a loss, but when you’re playing Bama, who wants to just line up and pound it at you, that’s where it’s a loss.
David: Right. You talked about this game. You said you think it’s going to be a lot closer than what you thought. Did a little research. Every time Alabama’s had a really close game, somebody on special teams knocks it out of the park for them, whether it’s a big kickoff return, puts them in good field position. They do something on special teams. Happened to Clemson. Happened to Auburn plenty of times. You’ve got to limit the special teams play. When I’m kicking that ball on a kickoff, it’s going out of bounds, or through the endzone, not out of bounds. Through the endzone. Out of bounds would be bad.
David: Then when you punt it, you better have somebody covering, because I guarantee you John Metchie, he’s getting that ball, and he’s going to try to take it to the house every single time. If you go three and out, get your team ready. Get on top of the special teams. Do not let them score on special teams, because that’s usually what happens to Alabama when they have a close game. They come up with a special teams play and wind up winning a game. You have to.
Andrew: Here’s the thing. All big games are decided by a couple things. Three things, in my opinion. Penalties. Who wins the penalties? Who wins the special teams? Four things. Who wins special teams? Who wins the turnover margin? Who is able to dominate and really show will on the line of scrimmage? Those four things. Usually if you can check three of those four, you win the football game. Obviously, Florida’s standpoint, you can’t lose the turnover battle, because if you do that, you’re in trouble.
David: Yeah. Big time.
Andrew: If they lose special teams and give up free points, you’re in trouble. If you have a ton of penalties and Emory’s in 2nd and 25 and furthermore, you’re in trouble. If you don’t run the ball, once again, you’re in trouble. So, all four of those things, in my opinion. That’s any big game, in general, but like you said, Bama finds ways on special teams in close games to break your heart. I will say this. At times Florida’s special teams has been really good, and at times there’s been some question marks. I haven’t seen a kicker for Florida kick it in the endzone, where McPherson who just kicks it out of the endzone and not gives any ability to return it. Need that to happen this week. Obviously, if you get a field goal opportunity, you’ve got to hit it.
David: Yeah. You’ve got to hit it. That’s something we haven’t even seen either. They haven’t had to kick a field goal yet. How’s Jace Christmann going to kick a field goal? What happens if the game is on the line, and you’re at the 57, and he has to kick a field goal? Where’s it going to go? Left, right, or in the uprights?
David: That’s another game that’s a big thing that Alabama has won close games with is their kicking game. Actually, not really. Their kicking game’s been pretty terrible.
Andrew: Their kicking game has been atrocious until the last year or two.
Andrew: That was one thing you couldn’t get a five-star from.
David: Then finally he hit one.
David: Yeah. So far, man, and I’ve looked at some of the stat categories for this game, actually Florida is averaging way more in total yards than Alabama. They’ve got 609.5 total yards, where Alabama sits at 462. A lot of that is contributed to Anthony Richardson. Don’t get me wrong. I think that’s why there’s a big debate on whether he should play or not. I’ll get back into that, because I actually wanted to comment, what you said on that earlier. Yards rushing, Florida 381.5, Alabama 152.5. Florida is definitely leading in the rushing margin against Alabama too. Alabama really, a team that relies on running the ball, hasn’t really been able to run the ball here lately.
If you can limit that run game, get that quarterback rattled, I don’t see Alabama scoring 30 points. To me, with them averaging 46 points per game and it being Mercer and Miami, I know our defense is better than Miami’s. I know our defense is better than Mercer’s. I think Florida can at least hold Alabama to 30 points, without turnovers. There can’t be any turnovers. If there’s turnovers, then we’re done. We’re toast. It’s not happening.
David: I think you can limit Alabama to 30 points. I think we can score 20-30 points on Alabama too. I think it will be a lot closer of a game than what people think, if, keyword if, Emory Jones doesn’t throw three, four, five interceptions. If he looks like the Emory Jones for the first half of the USF game, I think we’re in good shape. Emory Jones, you don’t have to ask a lot from Emory Jones in this game. I don’t think you do. All you got to do is say, don’t turn over the football, get us 1st downs, and get us to the endzone. You don’t have to throw these big 50, 60-yard shots. I would say that you do every once in a while, if you’re establishing the run game. But if Florida can’t establish the run game, and Alabama’s pushing them around on the defensive line, we’re in trouble. They’re going to make Emory Jones try to throw the football, and if Anthony Richardson can’t play, that’s all you got. Who do you got? Del Rio, Kitna?
Andrew: Right. It’d be Del Rio. That would be your thing. You’re going into this game, and you know what Bama’s gameplan is going to be, and that is going to be to force Emory to be the dude, to come out and throw the ball. Again, you have to turn the tide a little bit, and I say tide, that’s kind of that. You turn the tide as far as if you can come out and still be able to run the ball efficiently with Emory, with Dameon Pierce, with Malik, whatever it may be, then you allow yourself to throw the ball off of that and get the RPOs and the screens and the flats and all those kind of things going.
Again, you know what the gameplan is. Emory and Dan have got to have a plan, and they do. I’m sure they do. I’m sure they do. We’ll see. We’ll really see where that is. Again, I hope this is Emory’s time to come out and shine. Once again in a big game, offensive line play.
David: Yeah. This is a question I thought of earlier. Do you think they use more speed this game? Do you think you see more of Lingard, you see more of Bowman, you see more of those faster guys out there on the edge? Because Alabama’s linebackers are probably going to be pretty fast. You’re probably not going to be able to run around the edges unless you have some kind of speed. You think we see Lingard, Bowman around the edges, maybe some speed sweeps with them, something like that?
Andrew: Yeah. I do. I think you see some of the speed option play, especially with Will Anderson and Chris Allen, Allen’s for sure out, and Will Anderson’s questionable, but even if he does play, it won’t be 100%. I do think you see a little more speed option. I do think you see more of Bowman and Lingard in this game, because that’s a place where you could take advantage of things. Take advantage with your speed. Your speed of Emory and Bowman or Emory and Malik or Emory and Lingard is going to be better than a linebacker. It just simply is. There’s just no way around it.
I do. I think so. I think that you do that. I think that you see some stuff as far as the two back set. I do. I really, really do. I think you see some different things that we haven’t seen with this team. Dan Mullen said that on Monday. He said, there’s a lot of stuff you guys haven’t seen, and I believe that, because it has been vanilla, but I also believe that he understands, and this is not to take away from the receiver group. The receiver group is a little held back because of the quarterback play, but the running back group is your best group, especially with Emory. Again, I think that you’re going to see some things different.
David: What I’m really concerned with too is we haven’t seen a lot from Justin Shorter, and he still has a lot of drops. He’s had a couple drops, not a lot. We haven’t seen Justin Shorter. To my thinking, if they don’t have a lot of film on Justin Shorter, why don’t we get him out there? Why don’t we give him the ball a little bit? See what they can do with Justin Shorter. Justin Shorter’s a big fast 230-pound freak kind of a guy. He’s, what, 6’5” or something like that? A guy that was the #1 athlete in his class. You haven’t utilized him yet. What are you doing with Justin Shorter?
I think we might see a little bit more of Justin Shorter this game, just based on the fact that they haven’t really done anything with him, and the tight ends. Where have the tight ends been? Where’s Whittemore been?
Andrew: I think you definitely see something with Keon Zipperer and Kemore Gamble in this.
David: Whittemore too. What about Whittemore? We have to see these guys that were making plays last year out here on the field doing it again. I think Dan Mullen has a gameplan for that. I think Dan Mullen has purposely not been utilizing too much of his talent to wait for games like this, but after he exposes this talent, every team is going to be preparing for it. To me, as a fan, I don’t think we’ve seen the kitchen sink on offense. I really don’t.
Andrew: I don’t think so either. I don’t think you have. And that’s smart, again. Let’s look defensively for a second here. We talked a little bit about it with Ventrell and that kind of stuff. The key in this game, and it was in the Bama game in Atlanta in December, and that is when they motion that back out of the backfield to the slots or out real wide, Hopper, Burney, even Diwun Black a little bit, those guys have got to do their job, because that’s where Bama beat Florida in Atlanta was motioning Najee Harris out. Now, obviously, Najee Harris ain’t walking through the door again. Brian Robinson’s a really good back.
But you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to set the edge. Zach Carter, Brenton Cox, Bogle, all those guys that are going to be playing D end have got to set the edge and funnel everything up the middle. Do not want anybody getting to the edge in this game, and that goes for Bryce Young. Make Bryce Young beat you through the air. Don’t allow him to use his dual-threat and get going either.
It sounds so simple, and it ain’t. It’s not. When you’re talking #1 team in the country, you have to dot your Is, cross your Ts, cross your Xs. You got to do everything you’re supposed to do in this game, because it does take a close to perfect game to win these football games. Again, I don’t think Alabama’s as good as they have been in the past. We all know they’re not as good as we all thought they were after Miami, because Miami is straight trash, but they’re a good football team. They’re going to do things the right way. The mistakes they made in the Mercer game I don’t think you see very much in this game. Again, it’s covering the slot or the running back when he comes out. It’s setting the edge and funneling everything inside and keeping everything inside the tackle box.
David: Right. I am interested to see what they do with the absence of Ventrell Miller. I was thinking Hopper. Now that you bring up Amari Burney, that might be your best option right there to stuff the run. He’s the bigger of most of the linebackers there. I do like Hopper. He has speed. He has size. He has good coverage ability. I think he’s the best all-around linebacker you have on your team right now that can play.
I do like Diabate’s speed, but he doesn’t have the size that Hopper has. He doesn’t have the size that Amari Burney has. But he can set the edge, and he’s actually decent in coverage as well. I’m pretty interested to see what they do without Ventrell Miller being there, obviously.
The cornerback position, I’m not worried so much about Cornerback 1. I’m worried so much about Cornerback 2. We’ve seen Avery Helm miss on occasions. We’ve seen Jason Marshall miss on occasions. What’s going to happen at that Cornerback 2 position? Do you roll Avery Helm back out there for another snap or two, or do you let Jason Marshall take over the whole game and just see what he can do?
Andrew: You got to put Jadarrius Perkins in there.
David: Yeah. You need Perkins there.
Andrew: You got to figure it out. Is Perkins your star? Do you feel good enough with Tre’Vez Johnson as your star? You got to figure that out, for sure, in the game. Hopper’s going to play a roll in this game. Hopper’s going to play a big roll in this game. He’s going to play a big roll in the season. With the absence of Ventrell Miller, he’s just got to, especially when Moon shifts down and is in that outside linebacker D end spot, definitely so. You have Diabate and Hopper there. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used a little bit.
Safety play, outside of Trey Dean, has still been a little suspect there. You got to figure that out as well. Like I said, this is your time to shine, Gervon Dexter. This is your time to shine, Tyrone Truesdell, Newkirk, Valentino. All those guys, this is your opportunity to shine. Zach Carter. Listen, I’m not harping on Zach Carter. Zach Carter’s had a lot of big football games. Zach Carter, in my opinion, is on a fast track to being a late first-round pick.
David: Oh yeah.
Andrew: You go out, and you do it against Alabama on Saturday, guess what? All eyes come on you, and you’re definitely there. Zach Carter can do it. Zach Carter’s that kind of player. This is where you make your money on Saturday for Sundays. Kaiir Elam’s the same way. Kaiir Elam, guess what? Metchie’s going to line up across from you, big dog, and Alabama ain’t scared to throw on you, so they’re going to throw it that way some. Show what you got. It’s all across the board. Jean Delance, everybody. It’s all across the board. You’re going against the best. It’s Saturday. You’re facing the #1 team in the country in Alabama in front of a sold-out crowd. It’s put up or shut up time. It’s time for you to put your name on a map.
These guys keep talking about I don’t want to be second to Alabama no more. Guess what? Your opportunity comes on Saturday. You’re opportunity to put a loss on Alabama’s schedule comes on Saturday, when they come to your stadium, the Swamp. You were pissed off last year when you had to run up the stands because you lost to LSU. Guess what? Put up or shut up time when Alabama comes. Your opportunity.
David: That’s right. Limit turnovers. Play good defense. Keep Alabama’s offense off the field. I can’t stress enough to keep Alabama’s offense off the field. If you nickel and dime your way to touchdowns, keep their offense off the field, get their defense tired, I think that’s the key to win. I really honestly think that’s the key to win the game. You’ve got to get Alabama on their heels. You’ve got to get their confidence down. Every time you nick a 1st down, the confidence on that defense goes down the more tired they get. I say weigh down their defense, keep their offense off the field. That’s how you win the game against Alabama. What do you think, man?
Andrew: 100%. 100%. Completely agree. The atmosphere in the Swamp is going to be big. Dan Mullen says this all the time. I think a lot of people take it for granted. This is an opportunity. Get loud. Get loud and make it uncomfortable. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. It looks like it’s going to be maybe some rain, cloudiness, so probably not as hot as it usually would be for this game. Your opportunity. Get the crowd going. Get the Swamp shaking. Bradley Bill is going to be Mr. Two Bits. The recruiting section is going to be insane. This is the opportunity. Everything you want as a program. You’re in Year 4 under Dan Mullen. Year 4. This is your opportunity. This is your time to do things.
I know it sounds crazy, because, again, it’s not the end of the season, but this is the barometer. Alabama is the barometer to how good your football program is. This is your barometer, your opportunity for Mullen, Emory, the rest of the guys. Everyone on this team, it’s their opportunity. They’ve never beaten Bama. Dan Mullen’s never beaten Bama. Your opportunity is on Saturday at 3:30.
David: That’s right. 60% chance of rain too, so that good for the run game, if it does rain. Slippery ball, and just hopefully no fumbles and hopefully you’ll be able to run all over Alabama. Do you want to do our three players, or you want to take some questions?
Andrew: We’ll do some questions first. Here we go. I’ll read you one.
David: All right.
Andrew: This is one I had here. Again, we kind of answered the first one. How does UF counter Bama’s strengths on defense and offense? I think we’ve kind of answered that a little bit. Offensively, Florida’s front seven is very good. Then defensively, Bama’s front seven has been pretty good. I think we kind of answered those a little bit there. Somebody said, how would you characterize our base defense? We seem to be a 4-2-5 for all intents and purposes this year. Yes and no.
David: I honestly don’t even know what we are with Grantham.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, yes and no, a little bit, because with Grantham you play a lot of different schemes. College football in general is going to a lot of the 4-2-5 per se. Again, remember that one of those four defensive linemen is playing as an outside linebacker basically, so in reality you’re almost going to that 3-3-5 dime package. Then at times Florida does go where they basically go to a 4-4 defense, at times. Excuse me, a 4-3 defense at times, where they have that third linebacker up, like Amari Burney. So, when they go Burney, Diabate, and Moon. They’re so versatile when they’re out there that it’s hard to really characterize one particular thing.
Like you said, in reality, yes, it kind of is a 4-2-5 defense, because they’re always, not always, but a lot of times have the star, your two safeties, and your two corners. Remember that one of those defensive linemen is playing as an outside backer.
David: Right. Don’t play 10 yards off the receiver either, because that’s not going to work against Alabama. I mean, you see a lot of these offenses going to this more spread offense, more hurry up, so a lot of defenses are changing their schemes. So, they don’t really stick to, whether it’s a 4-3, 4-4, whatever they run. They’re always consistently changing every time they go on defense. That’s why I told you I can’t tell with Todd Grantham, because he substitutes so many people in and out every game. You can call it a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, a million kind of defense, I guess. What other questions we got here? I was going to let you answer that one. You know a little bit more, Mr. Football Coach.
Andrew: What does the Alabama game mean for the future of Florida under Mullen? I don’t know that there is one answer on this. I may be talking out of both sides of my mouth when I say this, but it depends. You cannot go get blown out of this football game, and I’ve said that a ton. You can’t get blown out of this football game, because then that means you took a gigantic step back. Everyone says, this is a new team for Florida. Yes, it is, but it’s also a very new team for Alabama as well. Both of these teams are new. Obviously, Saban’s had much more time to build his depth, but Dan’s in Year 4 of his depth. You can’t get blown out of this game.
Also, it really depends on, say you lose this football game, how do you bounce back? Do you bounce back and then see them again in Atlanta? If you see them again in Atlanta, it’s got to be a better game than it was this time. I’m not saying one way or the other, because I think there’s a bigger picture of it all. I don’t know that the win/loss of this game is so much as how you look and then how the end of the year looks. You can’t at the end of the year, and I’ve said this from the beginning, your goal has got to be getting back to Atlanta. If not, this year was a failure.
David: Yeah. I’m kind of the same way. As a fan, as far as it means for Dan Mullen and his tenure, if he loses this game, and he beats Georgia, and he goes through the rest of his schedule, and he gets back to the SEC Championship and plays Alabama again. Or you never know, maybe Alabama gets knocked off, and he plays Auburn or something like that. You just never really know. I highly doubt it. If they go back to the SEC Championship, and they win it, then I’m okay with that. But if you get blown out by Alabama, those players aren’t going to have a lot of confidence for the rest of the schedule, I don’t think.
David: Or they’re going to be really pissed off. It matters. You have to beat Georgia at that point. You have to beat Georgia two years in a row, and if you don’t beat Georgia, and you lose to Georgia, and you’re sitting here 10-2, then a lot of people are going to be like, Dan Mullen, you recruited for the past four years. You said these were your recruits. You missed out on a lot of top talent in the state of Florida that Alabama and Georgia both did get. You couldn’t beat them this year. You beat Georgia last year, based on a quarterback that was playing at an elite level, but could you have beaten Georgia last year without Kyle Trask? They’re going to wonder that. They’re going to say, did you have enough talent really to beat Georgia last year, or did you just have a really good quarterback?
Andrew: Right. To say that, you look at this game, just in general. You have it at the Swamp, and you have all those recruits coming in, and you have all that stuff. Does it set you back? Some people are saying, if Anthony Richardson doesn’t play, then it doesn’t really matter. No, that’s not the way this works. Emory was your guy. You can’t get blown out in this game with Emory. That’s my thing. Can’t get blown out of this game in general.
Let’s move on to the next question. Assuming Dan Mullen is holding back a few wrinkles for this game on both offense and defense, any guesses what those might look like? No, I really don’t. I would say the biggest thing for me is going to be I think they’re going to get very multidimensional in their formations. I think you see two running backs on the field a lot. I think you see a lot of different things. One thing I haven’t seen a ton, and I said this to someone. It might have been even you, David. I’ve seen no motion with the receivers.
Andrew: Jacob Copeland and Trent Whittemore are going to come and motion at some point and get a ball on jet sweep or something. Then defensively, I don’t know that there’s so much of a wrinkle defensively. Todd Grantham throws everything in the world out there anyway, so I don’t know that there’s a wrinkle we haven’t seen from Todd Grantham.
David: I think it’s going to be more suited to benefit Emory Jones. I think there’s going to be a lot more designed run plays in this next game, since Emory Jones has been struggling to pass the ball. You never know. There could be some designed run plays that look like designed run plays, where he tells Emory Jones, take a deep shot out there to Copeland. Take a deep shot out there to Henderson. I think you’re going to see a lot more of that. I think Dan’s going to try to stay away from all the intermediate throws that Emory Jones tends to struggle with. He could throw an intermediate throw in there between now and then, maybe a slant or something like that, but I really see maybe those kind of wrinkles in the offense. I haven’t really seen any wheel routes. I know that killed Georgia, but that was Georgia.
What Dan Mullen is going to do is he’s going to find a weakness in that Alabama defense, and he’s going to exploit it. That’s exactly what he does. Like you said last week, he exploits everything he sees in a defense. I think Dan Mullen at first, he’s going to try to see what works and what doesn’t in the first quarter, unless he’s down by 14. Then he’s going to have to try something. Then in the second quarter, I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more stuff open up, as the game progresses.
Andrew: Yeah. Outside the quarterback position, who’s one player for the Gators that you see having the biggest impact on the game, if the Gators are to keep it close and/or win? Offensively, in my opinion, it’s probably Malik Davis or Demarkcus Bowman, whoever’s playing running back. Defensively, it’s Ty’Ron Hopper. I say that, and I just said that I didn’t think he was going to start. I don’t, but I think Ty’Ron Hopper plays a good bit.
David: I think you’re right with Malik Davis. I was actually thinking Jacob Copeland. Jacob Copeland’s been on a tear recently. He’s, what, 175 yards last game? I know the opponents weren’t up to par, but this is Jacob Copeland’s NFL year. He’s a lot older, a lot more experienced. He’s showing out. He’s shown he can get separation. He’s shown he can get open deep down the field. I think Jacob Copeland’s going to be the biggest guy on the offense this game, depending on how many times they throw the ball. Shoot, they may even do a lot of speed sweeps with Jacob Copeland. You don’t know that. I think Jacob Copeland’s going to be that guy on offense.
I think the guy on defense is going to be Elam. Kaiir Elam. He’s going to have to step up this game. It’s his money year as well. I think Kaiir Elam picks off the freshman quarterback at least once, hopefully twice. That would be great.
Andrew: That leads us in. It’s your turn to go first. You going Kaiir first with your three players?
David: Yeah. I’m going to pick Kaiir Elam. I think he gets a pick. He might get two picks. It’s a freshman quarterback. You’re at home. The stadium’s rocking. Quarterback, if he’s rattled, he might throw some balls up to the back of the receivers. You know they’re going to have him on Metchie the whole game. It’s going to be Kaiir Elam and Metchie. I think Kaiir Elam gets a pick. I think he gets maybe even two. I think that quarterback’s going to get rattled. I think that defensive line can rattle that quarterback, so I’m going to pick Kaiir Elam.
Andrew: I’m going Malik.
David: Malik Davis.
Andrew: I think Malik’s going to have a big game. I do. If you’re going to beat Alabama, you’re going to get an open field and going to have to make some plays. Dan Mullen knows that. Listen, we talk about money years. It’s Malik’s money year too. He has the opportunity now. Hasn’t had his career as he probably would have liked. I know he wouldn’t have. Malik’s going to have money day on Saturday.
David: I’m having trouble with this one, because I’m going to pick somebody off the defensive line. You know, I’m really high on Zachary Carter. I think I might pick Bogle, defensive line. Depending on, obviously, where he plays, whatever. I think Bogle’s going to have a good game. He’s the fastest of all of them, I think, and he’s the most disruptive. Not the most disruptive. I think Zachary Carter’s the most disruptive, but he’s the most disruptive as far as speed and everything else goes. I’m going with Bogle. I haven’t picked Bogle, and I think he’s going to have a big game. I really do.
Andrew: People laugh at me when I say this, but Bogle’s better than Brenton Cox.
David: I think he is too.
Andrew: Brenton Cox gets the love, because he was a transfer, and he’s a five-star. Khris Bogle’s a better player. That’s just my opinion. I may be the stupidest person in the world. Twitter tells me that all the time. Whatever.
I’m going to go to the defensive line. I’m going to go the guy that you wanted to pick, and that’s my man, Zach Carter, from the 853. Big game. Big time players show out on big time games, and I’m getting fired up. Zach, we’ve talked about it. There is no doubt in my mind Zach Carter is a big time football player that’s going to play for a lot of years on Sunday next year. Your opportunity, big guy. Your opportunity against the best offensive line you’ll face to date, right now, this year. Georgia could be a little bit better. You may see a little bit better, but to the date in this year, that’s the best you’re going to face. I think Zach Carter’s going to have a big day.
David: #3 for me. I’m going to pick this guy for the second time in a row. My man, Jean Delance, baby. Let’s go. Jean Delance. Only allowed one quarterback hurry all year. I’m going with Jean Delance. I have no other reason, rhyme or reason. I think Jean Delance is going to show out. I’m telling you this. If Jean Delance has a good day, I don’t want to hear anything from anybody on Twitter or social media anymore, because you can’t knock the guy. He’s playing the #1 team in the country, and he’s protecting your quarterback, and there’s no quarterback hurry. It’s Jean Delance, baby. Jean Delance.
Andrew: My next pick is going to be the Moon man. Jeremiah Moon.
David: There you go.
Andrew: From Alabama. This is a big game for Moon. Just like Zach Carter, payday, big dog. Jeremiah, you wanted it. Your opportunity now, big dog. You shut up Bryce Young a few times, you put a smacking on Brian Robinson a few times, they’ll remember the name Jeremiah Moon. Moon is pick #3.
David: Moon is pick #3. We’re actually tied. We tied last week, I think. I think I won Week 1. We tied last week.
David: Don’t let me down, Delance. Don’t let me down.
Andrew: Moon and Zach. We got this. We got this, guys. 15 point spread. We’re not going to pick against the spread, just straight up. Gators are tied on Saturday.
David: You’re going to make it hard on me. Let’s see. I think Florida can hold Alabama to 30 points. They should hold Alabama to 30 points. I don’t trust Emory Jones enough to throw the football like he has been. God, I hope there’s no interceptions in this game. I’ll say this. I think Dan Mullen’s going to play around Emory Jones’ strengths this game, because he has to. I think he’s going to force Emory Jones to throw the ball the least bit as he can. I think the defense is going to play better. I think the defense does rattle this quarterback. I think the game is going to be close. I’ll pick, let’s see. Florida 28, Alabama 32. I think Alabama is still going to win. I might as well do that and jinx it.
Andrew: Not so fast, my friend.
David: Not so fast.
Andrew: Not so fast, my friend. 31-27, Gators.
David: That’s what I like to hear.
Andrew: 31-27, Gators. It’s going down, my friend. It’s going down. I feel it. I don’t know why. I got 31-27. Put up or shut up time. Emory puts it up and shuts the haters up. Anthony Richardson maybe does. There’s a gameplan. I don’t know what the gameplan is. I wish I knew. I love gameplans, by the way. There’s nothing better, David, than sitting around a table getting a gameplan together, and then going out and seeing it on Saturday executed. It’s the greatest thing in the world. It’s awesome. It’s awesome to see. I wish I knew the gameplan, but I got 31-27. I don’t know why. The Swamp’s going to be rocking. Bryce Young is going to have some issues moving against a defense who’s pissed off after giving up a lot of points in Atlanta last year. So, it’s time. #1 team goes down in the Swamp. Gators come out victorious.
David: Secret weapon to watch out for this game too, Trey Dean. He wants retribution for that fumbled pick six that he should have had.
Andrew: Throw the handcuffs out, Trey. Come on, man. Bring the handcuffs.
David: Lock it down.
Andrew: Lock it down. Bring the handcuffs.
David: Before we end the podcast, I am bad luck, and I do jinx a lot of teams, so that’s why I picked Alabama for you guys. There you go.
Andrew: See, I’m usually the opposite. I usually say, when my good friend Nick was on here, I would tell Nick before, I’d be like, Florida’s going to win this game, but I’m picking LSU or I’m picking Alabama. But it’s a new chapter, David. It’s a new chapter. I’m just going to come out straight and tell you, Florida’s going to win the game, and that’s what’s going to happen on Saturday.
David: Can we reverse jinx each other?
Andrew: Maybe. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. As my little one says, my four-year-old, he says it. He says, the Gators are going to eat some elephant trunk. He calls it their nose. That’s what’s going to happen on Saturday.
David: Their snoots.
Andrew: Whatever it is. I don’t know. They’re elephants, but they’re washing powders. What’s the deal? They got an elephant as a mascot, and they got washing powder in their name.
David: They never have any cool uniforms. It’s just numbers on their helmets. Come on.
Andrew: Hold on. Hold on. I love it. I love the traditionalist stuff. Me and you may differ here. I like tradition. I think Nick Saban would be crucified if he put them in anything but crimson helmets.
David: Speaking of tradition, after this week, we got Tennessee, so we’ll just have the tradition of beating them down next week.
Andrew: I love to trash Tennessee. There’s nothing better. As they said in Blindside, nothing, nothing do we like about that ugly orange.
David: That’s right.
Andrew: As Butch loved to say, they were definitely life champions. They were five-star hearts.
David: Brick by brick. That’ll be for next week though. We’ll save our insults for next week.
Andrew: We’re ready. I’m fired up.
David: After the game, we got Auburn-Penn State.
Andrew: Yeah. Tons of recruiting, so stay tuned, because we will have that on the website on Saturday. Tons and tons of recruiting updates. I’m excited, man. I am. I told someone this. We took it for granted. Myself, I took it for granted seeing stadiums packed. I am so ready to see the stadium packed. I’m okay with the traffic. I want to see this place rocking Saturday at 3:30. I want to see it rocking, and I want to see the atmosphere just absolutely insane.
David: You’ve heard a lot of recruits in the past that said Florida’s stadium is the loudest, one of the loudest that they’ve ever been to, and they’ve had a good time there. The recruiting list, we’re not going to go over it, because it’s a huge list, but there’s a little over 10 five-stars in attendance, along with a bunch of top 100 guys.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s a huge list. It’s a who’s who list. Evan Stewart’s a big one. Chris McClellan from Oklahoma is a big one. Devin Moore the Notre Dame commit’s coming into town. It’s a big one. It’s a who’s who list. Again, I say it again, and that is you want to fix recruiting, win football games like this. Dan is not the best recruiter. His staff is not the best recruiter, but winning football games like this and beating guys like Nick Saban will help recruiting. It will help some of those weaknesses. Win the game.
David: A lot of those top ranked guys that were USC commits are coming over their coach got fired too, so now’s a good time to capitalize on that one as well.
Andrew: Go out and win the game, man. That’s it. Go win the game.
David: Spivey, you got anything else? I know you’re fired up, man.
Andrew: That’s it right now, man.
David: He said all he could say.
Andrew: I’m excited. I really am. I love seeing good football games. I’m not an Alabama guy. I grew up having to hear about it. I can’t stand Alabama. I respect the heck out of Nick Saban. That’s the honest to God truth. I love watching a Nick Saban coached football team. I love seeing Dan on Saturdays. Dan’s one of the best offensive-minded Saturday football coaches out there. I love to see it. Like I said, I wish I could see the gameplan. Not to tell anybody. Just to see it, to hear the thoughts. I love to see the chess match. The chess match in Atlanta last year was awesome.
David: It was.
Andrew: I’m ready for chess match #2. I’m ready to see it. I know Emory has his struggles. Dan’s not stupid. He sees it. Dan knows better. He’s not dumb. He knows Emory doesn’t throw the ball very well, but I’m ready to see it. I really am. I’m ready to see some of these playmakers. Again, it’s just an opportunity. I say this all the time, not to get on a horse, but you come to Florida for these football games.
David: You do.
Andrew: You come to Florida to win these football games. Figure out a way on Saturday. Figure out a way. Your life as a Gator, not that it’s not going to be good, but it’s so much better when you win these big-time football games and everybody starts talking about you and loving on you.
David: That’s right. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Anthony Richardson. Who knows? 60% chance of rain. 50/50 chance of Anthony Richardson in the Swamp. For Andrew and for David, and me jinxing Alabama for you guys, this will be the end of the GatorCountry.com podcast here. If you want to follow me, you can follow me @SoderquistGC on Twitter, and you can follow Andrew Spivey @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter as well. That’ll wrap it up, folks, for this episode of the GatorCountry.com podcast. Go Gators.