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Podcast: Recapping the Florida Gators 31-28 win over USF
18th September 2022 • GatorCountry.com - Your Florida Gators Podcast: Football, Recruiting & All University of Florida Athletics News • GatorCountry.com - The Insider Authority on Florida Gators Sports!
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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators 31-28 over USF on Saturday night.

Andrew Spivey and Nick Marcinko recap what went right and what went wrong for the Gators on offense on Saturday night.

Andrew and Nick also evaluate the play of the defense as they tried to replace Ventrell Miller on Saturday night.

Transcripts

Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nick. Nick, it wasn’t what we expected, my friend. Florida gets out with a win. That’s all that matters at the end of the day, but it wasn’t pretty. It really wasn’t pretty. 31-28 Gators win. South Florida misses a field goal with about 40 seconds to go in the game on a hold that wasn’t there. I don’t know how he even made it as close as he did, but he shanked it to the right a little bit.

A game that just wasn’t pretty. South Florida outgained Florida 402 to 329. Once again, Anthony Richardson struggles, 10 of 18 and throws two interceptions in the game. Not what we expected heading into Tennessee.

Nick: No. It is not what we expected. It is not what we wanted to see from the Gators last night. It was a rough game from start to finish, I thought. I never get like this, but I looked at Gentry in the middle of the third quarter of that game, and I said, “Gentry, we’re going to lose.” I know I texted you about it, Andrew, and I never get like that. I always will defend the Gators until that 0.00 hits on the clock in the fourth quarter. But there was something about that game that felt just like the Kentucky game. To me, I had the same exact feeling that I had watching that game as the Kentucky game. I thought Richardson looked the exact same.

I have yet to go back and watch the game. I’m going to do that after this, but I thought it was kind of the same storyline. Gators came out, looked decent offensively in the first half, put up some points. Came out second half completely flat. Nothing was working. It was not what we wanted to see. There was a great attempt by that USF kicker. He’s pretty good, Shrader. He hit that long field goal earlier in the game, and then nearly made one. I believe the ball was horizontal on the ground when he kicked it.

Andrew: Pretty much.

Nick: That’s insane. Gators were lucky that he was even in a position to kick that field goal. The snap that went over the quarterback’s head for a loss of 14, that was a big moment in the game. Kind of gave the Gators a little break there. At the end of the day, the Gators did win. They found a way to win, although it was not pretty. They have to try to get something going here going to Knoxville next week. College GameDay, going to be a lot of people watching. Napier needs to get the train rolling here.

Andrew: It’s always to be 2-1 than 1-2. That’s the positive. Nick, it continues to show what we kind of expected out of this year. Lot of highs, a lot of lows. You see the running game. Montrell, Etienne, Nay’Quan, they all had touchdowns. They all looked good. I thought Montrell looked really good. I thought Etienne looked really good on that last drive. I thought there were some positives. I thought Austin Barber looked pretty good at right tackles. I though Shemar James played pretty well at middle linebacker.

Then there’s some bad. The linebacker play overall wasn’t very good. The offensive line didn’t protect as well as they had in the past. Anthony Richardson’s accuracy, once again, is off, and the receivers weren’t getting a ton of separation in the game.

Nick: I agree. Richardson didn’t play well, but again, it’s not entirely his fault. I was very critical on the wide receivers again last night. I thought they did some things. I thought they did some good things as well. That Justin Shorter catch in the fourth quarter for 33 yards, that was very impressive.

Andrew: That might have been the play of the game.

Nick: Yeah. That was a very, very impressive snag. Shout out to Justin Shorter. That was incredible. We need to see more of that, right? We need to see guys go up and locate the ball. Go find the ball, go get it.

Andrew: Trent Whittemore appeared.

Nick: Trent Whittemore appeared. How about that? 33 yards. He led the Gators, or tied with Shorter, for yards in the game with one catch. He played on that series, but I don’t think he played much more than that series. Good for him.

Andrew: He did have the one later in the game where Anthony just overthrew him big time.

Nick: I thought Richardson, there were some things, honestly, that I saw that I thought he improved on in this game. I’ll give you one example. Kentucky kind of game planned Richardson. Their goal was to force Richardson to roll out to the left to make the across the body throw. I noticed that USF did some of that same stuff. They were blitzing two, sometimes three guys on the right side of the line to try to get Richardson to roll out to the left.

There was on play in particular where he rolled out to the left, made his read. His read wasn’t there, and he took off running, and he got 16 yards. That I thought was an improvement. We can get into Richardson’s running ability later, but I thought that was an improvement by itself, because against Kentucky he didn’t do that. He tried to force the throw somewhere that wasn’t there. I thought that was an improvement, just that play alone.

Then on the goal line, I know everyone, myself included, was not happy when Richardson threw that pass in the end zone to Shorter, and it got picked off. But, to clear things up, it was an RPO. Richardson did have the option to hand the ball off. He said the box was stacked, and even Napier said it was not a bad decision to throw the ball. He had a problem with the throw that he made. So, it wasn’t a great throw. I think if they were to run that play again, maybe he hands it off, but I think he probably still throws it.

Andrew: Here’s the thing with that throw. Not to interrupt you. Justin Shorter’s 6’4”. The DB was 5’11”. Put it at a place where only Justin can go it. That’s not a back shoulder throw there. That’s what he looked like he did. That was not a back shoulder throw. That’s a throw where you throw it to that back pylon, and either Justin gets it, or the ground gets it. That has to be that throw there.

And I haven’t went back and watched it myself either to really know if that was completely the right deal, right play, or not there, but if you look at it, it just is bad decisions. That’s just the best way I can say it. You go back to his other interception. He stares down his receiver, stares down his receiver. It’s not there, so he just blindly throws to where he thinks someone’s going to be, and he throws it off his back foot without setting his feet, and it’s an interception where he had a running back wide open.

You always have that internal clock, and that’s fine, and that’s what you need to have, but you also have to have that internal clock with some, what’s the best word I’m trying to say here? Smartness about you, I guess is the best way to say it. Not to just blindly throw into things. If anything, just take off and run. Don’t throw that football into double coverage.

Nick: I want to know, and, Andrew, I think you’ll have a better answer here than I do, but I want to know what you think about this. I think a lot of QB coaches and a lot of offensive play callers, they’ll tell you, and maybe this is more so in the NFL, but they’ll tell you to stay in the pocket, unless it’s collapsing.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: I watched several times, and I’m very aware that QB coaches will tell you to do that, so let’s get that straight. When I watched that game last night, there were multiple plays where Richardson was sitting in the pocket. Clean pocket. I mean, the offensive line I thought did a good job last night. It was a clean pocket. He was kind of just sitting there waiting for something to happen, and then he got nervous, and that’s when the interception happened. He threw that interception completely flatfooted, had his shoulders completely horizontal, like on the line of scrimmage. Mechanics were terrible.

My point is, if you drop back in the pocket, clean pocket, for three, four seconds, and you’re Anthony Richardson, and I recognize that this can be different for every quarterback, why not just move out of the pocket and take off? If you’re there for three, four, five seconds, you go through your reads, and nothing is there, why don’t you just take off, if you’re Anthony Richardson?

Andrew: Yeah. I agree. I think there’s two ways to look at this a little bit. If you’re Josh Allen, well, Josh Allen’s not the best comparison. If you’re Tom Brady, obviously, you don’t want to get outside the pocket.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: You can’t run. If you’re Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen or Anthony Richardson, running is natural to you. It’s something that you’re good with. Brady’s not good with that. That’s not Brady’s game. You look at Allen. You look at Lamar. You look at Anthony. Those are guys that are comfortable with it. It’s second nature to them to run the ball.

So, I’m okay with it. That’s the thing with Feleipe Franks, and we would say this all the time with Feleipe. Instead of forcing it, take the five yards. Take the five-yard run. Everybody’s good with it. It’s just frustrating, because, in part, it kind of looks like Anthony is not willing to run the ball right now. I know there’s a lot of talk that that’s a coaching decision, and Billy Napier and those guys don’t want him to run. That’s fine, and if that’s the case, that’s a whole different story. But I feel like you’re limiting his game when he’s not able to run the ball.

The biggest plays that Florida’s had this year in the passing game, especially in the Utah game, were rollouts, were bootlegs. Things that got Anthony on the edge to where he had that dual threat, to throw the ball or run the ball. You’re not seeing that. Again, I don’t think that’s a play call. I don’t think that’s a decision by Anthony. I think it’s just kind of worried about depth behind him a little bit, not wanting him to run, not wanting him to take the hits. But in order for this team to be successful, in order for this team to win some football games, especially this Tennessee game, that has to be Anthony’s game. It just has to be.

Nick: Especially with the lack of explosive playmakers that the Gators currently have at wide receiver. They need that aspect of Anthony Richardson to really come to fruition. They need that to be the case.

Like I said, I was watching the game, and there were so many plays where I thought that he was sitting in the pocket for a long time, which is great. I love to see that, but after a certain time, when it’s very clear you went through your reads and nothing’s open, I don’t know why Richardson just doesn’t move out of the pocket. He doesn’t always have to take off running, but move out of the pocket and see if something opens up. If nothing opens up, throw the ball away.

Andrew: You look at that play, and I hate to interrupt you here.

Nick: Go for it.

Andrew: I want to say it was the second quarter, Nick. I may be wrong. It might be in the third quarter. Anthony was about to run the ball, and then he just dumps it off.

Nick: I think it was the second quarter.

Andrew: It was weird. It was like, whoa, this isn’t the Anthony Richardson I’m accustomed to. Then in the fourth quarter, he runs out of bounds instead of throwing it away, and he took like a six-yard loss. It’s like, what’s going on here? I’m starting to wonder. Again, I’m just basing this off of nothing, except a feeling. Something’s wrong. I don’t know if there’s a nagging injury. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. There’s just something wrong with Richardson right now. I don’t know what it is. It’s just something that’s different about him. This is not the same quarterback we’ve seen.

Granted, he had not started before this year, but that’s not the same guy. The guy who, I don’t want to say has no fear, because you got to have fear when you’re the starting quarterback to not take dumb hits, but I don’t know. There’s something off. I might be completely wrong, but to me something’s off.

Nick: No. I agree with you. Richardson also, the only Gators sack that we’ve allowed was against Kentucky, and it was the same thing. Richardson was rolling out of the pocket, and Jordan Wright was chasing him down. He had five seconds to throw the ball away, and he just took the sack out of bounds for a loss of six yards. It’s the little things like that that I noticed from him, and I agree with you. Something isn’t right. I don’t even know where to begin to come up with an explanation, because I have genuinely no idea. I’m lost.

It’s not the same quarterback that we saw against LSU last year when he led four straight touchdown drives. I mean led them too, not just hand the ball off. Led four straight touchdown drives against LSU. It’s not that quarterback, at least not to this point in the season. I’ll always have hope that he can turn things around, because I’ve seen what he can do. Things need to get better, and they need to get better fast, or else it's going to get ugly in Knoxville next week.

Andrew: Yeah. Again, I just don’t get it. I don’t know. We always knew Anthony was not the most consistent passer. We always knew that. That was secret. We knew. During the game, they even talked a little bit about that. USF’s DC had talked about he’s going to have some balls that he overthrows, and we know that. We knew there was going to be some risk there, but we also knew that he was going to take advantage of some things, and so far he’s not taking advantage of it.

Again, I think that’s what is really holding this offense back. Again, this is not all Anthony’s fault. This is not all AR’s fault. There has been pressure allowed by the offensive line. The receivers haven’t been getting the separation. The tight ends really haven’t been getting the separation. So, all in all, it’s there, but it just seems like something’s off with Anthony. Again, this offense is going to go and come as Anthony Richardson is. It just is what it is. You cannot rely on the running game to be there with no passing game.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: Teams are smarter than that. Defensive coordinators are smarter than that. They’re going to stack the box. Credit to the running game overall. What was it? 217 yards rushing in the game. It did well. It was against a stacked box a lot of times. I remember thinking back in the fourth quarter, when Montrell was in the game. I’m like, how are they going to run the ball against this defense? Because at one point there was eight in the box, and it was five blocking eight. Somehow or another, Montrell made a few guys miss, and he picked up a couple 1st downs.

Eight in the box of Tennessee is going to shut it down. You can get away with that a little bit against South Florida, but against Tennessee, against Georgia, against LSU, SEC quality linebackers, they’re going to shut it down. You’ve got to have the threat of the passing game, or it’s going to be trouble. It just is what it is.

Nick: Let me set the record straight here. The only reason the Gators won that game yesterday was because they were able to wear out these USF linebackers and these USF defensive linemen. This is a team coming into that game that was ranked 127th in rush defense.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: If we are playing a team that is just bad, not even really bad, just a bad run defensive team, Gators probably lose that game.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: In the fourth quarter, it was clear to everyone that there was not going to be a passing attack. We were going to run the ball every single play, and we were saying, try to stop it, and they couldn’t. The Bulls could not stop that Gators offensive line. 30 rush attempts for 217 yards. That’s 7.2 yards a clip, and three rushing touchdowns. Great performance by everyone on the line. All three running backs were good. Just an incredible performance by that unit there.

But like I said, let’s just be honest with ourselves. We won that game because it was USF. I don’t mean to disrespect USF, but they’re really bad on run defense. Especially in that fourth quarter, we just wore them out. Montrell Johnson was clipping 10 yards at time. Etienne was as well. The passing attack has to be there, or else we’re going to not win too many games this year in the SEC.

Andrew: Yeah. Again, I’m just flabbergasted a little bit.

Nick: Let me ask you something, Andrew.

Andrew: Okay.

Nick: What do you think it is about the second half for Anthony Richardson? Against USF he was 7 for 9 in the first half. I thought he played a pretty good first half. I don’t think the Gators asked him to do much. I don’t think there was too many plays where Napier was asking to be the hero, make the big-time throw, but I think he played a really good first half. No complaints from me, or at least not too many complaints from the first half.

Then in the second half, he just comes out flat again. It was the same story for Kentucky. I thought he played a good first half. We put up a decent amount of points against Kentucky in the first half, and then just hit the brick wall. What is said in that locker room at halftime? What changes from the first half to the second half to where Richardson just looks lost?

Andrew: That’s the million-dollar question. It’s not like the defense, where they come out flat. I don’t know. I would love to say there was this, and there’s that. Obviously, when I was coaching, we would always talk about not having a letdown at halftime. A lot of that was the energy, but I don’t see that it’s an energy standpoint from Richardson. It just seems like, again, something’s off coming out in the second half.

I guess it is a little bit with the entire offensive line, but then you see the offensive line, and the offensive line is putting some pops out there. The running backs are going there. It’s just it’s tough for the running backs and the offensive line to do much when, again, they have the entire defense coming straight at you, because they don’t respect your passing game. That’s a very big problem there.

Before we go to defense, there’s a particular play I’m sick of seeing. I’m sick of seeing the jet sweep to Henderson, and I’m sick of seeing the wide receiver screen to him.

Nick: I did the research before we went on this podcast. The sweep and screen plays to Henderson has been in play 10 times and has gone for 23 yards. That’s 2.3 yards a carry. The best results from that was a five-yard gain. We have a ceiling of five yards and a floor of -3 with this play through 10 plays. Andrew, is the play working in practice? I’m at a loss.

Andrew: At some point, even if it’s working in practice, it ain’t working in the game.

Nick: That’s my point. 10 plays is I feel like a good understanding of how your team can execute this play. We talked about this earlier, Andrew. We don’t think it’s Henderson’s fault. I don’t even hate the play call. I hate the personnel that they’re using for it. Henderson is not the guy for that play. He is very fast, yes, but he’s not explosive. He’s not elusive. You can see it when he runs. He takes long strides. I think I could name five or six wide receivers that I would like to see that screen thrown to over Henderson. I’m not going to sit here and diss Henderson, but that play is just not for him.

Honestly, we’ve seen Shorter block that play a lot, and he’s not done a great job. Again, it’s not completely Henderson’s fault. He needs the blocks for that play to work. Shorter has to hold his block, or else Henderson doesn’t even have the chance to beat the guy he’s going against. He’s not going to beat two people.

That play, get rid of it, if Henderson’s the guy for it, because that just cannot. I’ve seen enough from that play. I guess it’s working in practice, which is not a good sign for our DBs if that play is working in practice. Let me tell you that.

Andrew: It’s the jet sweep there. Florida doesn’t have the tight ends to set the edge. They just don’t. Period. End of discussion. They don’t. Gouraige doesn’t do the best setting the edge either, as far as pulling and setting the edge. When I say pulling, pulling is not the right word. Whenever you’re asking him to go get the linebacker or that defensive end when it’s coming at him. So, again, I just feel like those plays to Henderson are failing multiple times. I think we’re good there.

One play I do think, and I was going to ask you about this. We haven’t seen it yet, and I’m interested to see if could not take the place of a Henderson screen. Where’s the running back screen? We haven’t seen one all year. You have two, three guys. I would say you would want Etienne to get it more than Montrell, but Montrell still showed some good speed on Saturday. Seeing a running screen take the pressure off, maybe that’s something that can replace the wide receiver screen to Henderson.

Nick: I agree. I would love to see Etienne out in space. I think he’s the guy for that. If you get him the ball out, and we kind of saw it. Was it Etienne? They did a pitch play in the redzone.

Andrew: Yes, it was.

Nick: It was Etienne, and that was a great run. I think he went untouched for about five, six yards, and then carried forward. Etienne’s the guy you want in open space. He’s not the fastest running back in the room, but he’s a guy that if you get him out in open space, he’s going to make someone miss.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: We’ve seen it. He’s an incredible athlete. Montrell is as well, but Montrell is more of the top end speed kind of guy. We saw it on his run. He went untouched 62 yards. Completely outran the safety over top. He’s an elite athlete as well. Nay’Quan Wright too could do it. I know there’s people in the Gator Country message boards right now asking to move Nay’Quan Wright to the slot position. While I don’t think the Gators will do that, I do think they should get Nay’Quan a little bit more involved in the pass game. That goes for every running back. I do agree with you there. Take out the Henderson play, and put in a running back screen. I like that idea.

Andrew: I need to see something different. I’m tired of seeing it. Let’s go to the defensive side of the ball. What is the rotation Jay Bateman is looking for there? I don’t get Scooby. Shemar had a great first drive. Then you bring in Scooby. Scooby’s a liability in pass coverage, just like Amari Burney is. I don’t get that. I don’t get it. I don’t get that at all. I’m concerned there about that. Then also, I’m ready to see Devin Moore play more than Avery Helm.

Nick: Yes. I agree with both of those takes from you there, Andrew. I did think it was weird. We all kind of thought Shemar played a pretty good first series, and then I don’t even think he appeared at all in the second series.

Andrew: No.

Nick: If he did, it was for a play or two. That was an interesting thing. Me and Gentry talked about this. We drove home last night from Gainesville to Orlando, so we were talking the entire time. I like Amari Burney. I like him a lot, but to me he kind of just exists there. I don’t mean to disrespect him, but I don’t think he’s an elite run blocker, and he’s not elite in the pass game. I would just like to see some of the younger guys in there.

Obviously, the room isn’t as deep as we thought. Derek Wingo doesn’t look to be ready to play at all. I understand that I don’t think the room is where the Gators would like it to be. I thought Scooby Williams was not good last night. Antoine Powell off the edge, we can get into that later, but, man oh man, he needs to work on it.

Andrew: That whole group needs to work on it. I even said this about Brenton Cox. Brenton had a really good final drive, but outside of that final drive, he didn’t have a good game at all. He’s still, to my knowledge, has not set an edge. They ran option to him all day long, because they knew he was not disciplined enough to play disciplined football there. The #1 rule when guarding the option, and, Nick, I’m sure you know this as well, but pick somebody. Don’t be caught in between. You can’t be trying to play the quarterback but also trying to play the running back. It doesn’t work. You have to pick one or the other.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: Because if you don’t, you’re picking zero, and that’s what’s going to happen. That’s what he did all night. He was trying to defend the quarterback while also keeping a little bit of leverage to go get the running back, and they used it against him every time. Jerry would either fake pitch it and keep it, and Brenton would go tackle the running back, or he would act like he was going to take another step forward, and then he’d pitch it, and Brenton would go after the quarterback. It was all night long.

Nick: That’s where you saw Brenton Cox improve on that final drive. He blew up that read option, and he didn’t do it by trying to tackle both or sitting in between them both. No. He just blew up the running back, who didn’t even have the ball. But what that does is it takes him out of the play. It takes him completely out of the play, and I think Jerry fell forward for like a yard or two. It was a great play by Cox. But earlier in the game, they got Cox there, and they got Antoine Powell there. Like you said, you have to pick somebody and stick to them. You can’t try to play both or kind of try to guess where he’s going to go. Just pick a guy and hit him.

Let me ask you about one play in particular, Andrew. the 4th and 1 where USF went for 50 yards or whatever the run was by their running back. Powell was on the edge there. Why did he not follow the running back?

Andrew: Because he didn’t set the edge. He didn’t play disciplined football.

Nick: I don’t understand.

Andrew: As a defensive end, I always coached tight ends. That was my position. I coached tight ends for five years. We would always tell our tight ends, make sure you block the end, because the end’s #1 responsibility is to always set the edge and allow nothing outside of that. Allow nothing outside of that. That means if the running back goes straight up the middle, guess what? It’s not his fault. It’s not his play. It’s not his assignment. His assignment is simply one thing. Let nothing outside of him. Nothing outside of him. So, he has to set the edge there. I don’t get it.

Nick: I don’t understand. I don’t understand, because how was Antoine Powell going to help a run up the middle in the first place?

Andrew: He wasn’t.

Nick: He wasn’t even going to make the play, so why was he biting so hard on the run up the middle? Why did he not set the edge? Why did he not go and just follow the running back? He makes a tackle for -3 yards, if he just follows the running back. He was right there, and he just crashed. I looked at Gentry. I was like, I can’t believe that that just happened. He didn’t even look at the running back. He just completely sold on the run up the middle, which he would not have even been a factor in the first place.

Shout out to Amari Burney for saving that touchdown on that play. He went toe for toe with Brian Battie and saved the touchdown there. Incredible effort by him to hawk him down. Good play there. I mean, come on. That was an easy play that Powell should have made, and he got completely fooled.

Andrew: That’s the thing, Nick. You know it’s undisciplined football that is allowing some of this stuff. It would be one thing, with Powell I guess you can a little bit blame it to the inexperience, but with Brenton Cox, dude’s in his fifth year. There’s no excuses to be made for that. Your job is simply to keep the edge, big dog, and you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to figure out a way to put it in your brain to set the edge, because teams are using it against you all day long. They’re baiting you to bite, and you are. As soon as you take the bait, they’re going right outside of you. That’s a problem. It was a problem last year. It was a problem the year before. Once again, it’s a problem now. They cannot allow this to continue on. They’ve got to figure it out.

The bad thing about it is I don’t know, because Princely came in. Princely didn’t do a good job of doing it either. Powell didn’t. We didn’t see much of Justus Boone, which was shocking, overall, and they moved Tyreak Sapp inside a little bit. You don’t have that ability there. I don’t know what the answer to that is. I can guarantee one thing. Sean Spencer’s teaching him that, because Sean Spencer’s not a newbie. He understands that. They’ve got to figure out a way, whatever it is, of setting the edge and keeping the edge, because teams are going to use it against them.

If I was Josh Heupel this week, I would put the option in, if it wasn’t already in my gameplan, and I’d run it at Brenton Cox until he stopped it. Guess what? He still ain’t stopped it.

Nick: Right. I agree. One player in particular that I was pleased with was Desmond Watson.

Andrew: Yeah.

Nick: I thought that he played a pretty good game all the way around. There’s always going to be plays where he’s not able to make the play, but for a four-quarter game, I thought he played pretty well. Guess what? The Gators are going to need him to play well if Jalen Lee is going to be a nonfactor.

Andrew: I think you could say where was Gervon a lot of the game.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: In the game he had, let’s see here. Let me see what he had. Did he even record a tackle?

Nick: He was a nonfactor the entire game.

Andrew: He didn’t even record a tackle.

Nick: I had buddies text me during the game asking if he was even playing.

Andrew: He didn’t even have a tackle. McClellan and Des both had really good games, in my opinion.

Nick: Agreed.

Andrew: I thought Chris played really well. I thought Des played well at times. You’re going to see moments from Des where he’s just a nonfactor.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: It is what it is. But you like to see the fact that at times he’s pushing his guy back. You’re that size, and you’re as big as you are, you should be able to push your guy back and just absolutely wipe out that hole. Your hole should be filled. That’s what he is, a space eater. I like that. A couple of times too, he didn’t make the play, but he made the play happen because he would push this guy back. He allowed Amari, he allowed Shemar, to get in there and make plays, and that’s what you want out of Big Des is doing that. If you can see that consistently, that’s a big thing for them. They’ve got to be able to do that.

The one thing that’s concerning is they didn’t get a pass rush.

Nick: Right. Yeah. The one thing that really stood out to me in the game, we mentioned Gervon Dexter, but Jalen Lee was a nonfactor as well.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: I don’t know if he filled a stat in the stat sheet.

Andrew: He didn’t.

Nick: Those are our starting defensive tackles. It is not a bad thing that Chris and Des looked the part. We want those guys to look the part. That’s the future of the room, so that was a good thing. I was very surprised. I know you mentioned Justus Boone. I was surprised to not see him at all. I don’t know what’s going on there. I thought Devin Moore and Jalen Kimber played really good games. I know Devin Moore likely got away with a PI in the endzone there.

Andrew: That was bad.

Nick: We were far. Up in the press box, we were far away from that, but I honestly couldn’t tell. The only thing I could think of is that maybe the ref ruled uncatchable.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: The ball was a little high, so that could have been a factor. The defense, it just needs to get better. Heupel is going to run an up-tempo offense against the Gators. The coaches have to be paying attention to it, because they need to realize what personnel they have on the field, because Heupel’s not going to let you substitute. He’s going to run up-tempo. He’s going to score quickly. The Gators coaches got to be on top of their game, and the players have to realize what’s going on, because they’re a very fast paced team, and they’re going to throw the ball around a lot. The Gators have to be prepared for that as well.

Like Andrew mentioned, they watched that game. Don’t be surprised when they throw a wrinkle in there of a little pitch play or something to keep the Gators defensive ends on their toes.

Andrew: You look at that, like you said. You have to be careful with who you have at D tackle.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: You can’t go a whole drive with Des sucking air or McClellan sucking air or whatever. You’ve got to be quick there with it. I think this is a game where, if Ventrell is out on Saturday, that you have to roll with Shemar and Amari at linebacker. Because they’re going to throw the ball to their tight ends. They’re going to throw the ball to their running backs. Do you want Shemar covering that, or do you want Scooby covering that?

Nick: Right.

Andrew: My answer is easy. You have to be able to do that in this game. You’ve got to figure out a way to get pressure, obviously. I want to see the DBs play press. A lot of times last night, on Saturday night, USF had easy pitch and catch throws, because Avery Helm was 10, 12, 14 yards off the ball.

Nick: Right. I want to see Jaydon Hill in the game. I want to see Devin Moore. I want to see different players. I think I’ve seen enough from Avery Helm. A good kid, but he just seems to get picked on more often than not. Let me ask you this, Andrew. I don’t know if this is true or not. Did Kamari Wilson play a lot more yesterday in place of Torrence? I haven’t seen the snap count.

Andrew: I haven’t seen the snap count yet either. I don’t know that it was a ton more in the game. I think he definitely played a little bit more in the game. I don’t know that it was a ton more. Rashad definitely played a good bit. I did see Kamari a couple times looked lost a little bit in that. I definitely think that that’s going to be something to watch in this Tennessee game as well, because I think Kamari is definitely your better cover guy there. Do they possibly go there with him a little bit more in this game with Tennessee trying to take it over the top?

I will say that the other safety in Trey Dean, listen, I know the struggles Trey Dean has in coverage. I do. But if you can get Trey Dean playing in the box, that’s where Trey Dean makes his money.

Nick: I thought Trey Dean played a great game.

Andrew: Yeah. I think so too. He had a couple plays where it’s like, ugh.

Nick: But like you mentioned, he’s always going to have those. There’s always going to be two or three plays where Dean just looks out of place, because he is out of place. We talked about this a little bit in the game. I think he needs to play forward a little bit more. He makes his best plays when he’s playing forward. I didn’t really have too many complaints from Dean last night. I thought he was pretty solid all game long.

Andrew: I agree. I think he was, for the most part. Again, I like him being closer to the box. That’s where he makes his money. That is what it is. That’s where he makes his money is closer to the box. He’s a Keanu Neal kind of guy. He’s going to knock your head off. Definitely not to Kiki’s level, but he’s definitely that strong safety more so than free safety type of player.

Overall, to kind of wrap up the USF talk a little bit, got to play better. Got to play better in so many different ways. The penalties, you’ve got to cut down on some of these penalties. The dumb wait hit by Derek Wingo, that can’t happen. Come on. Some of that. Some of the stuff that just is dumb has got to cut down. You can’t go into this Tennessee game and have interceptions. You just can’t. Anthony Richardson has as many tackles as he does interceptions on the year, and he has no touchdown passes on the year. Through three games, Florida still hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass. That has to change.

It’s going to be a hostile crowd up in Knoxville. GameDay is there, like you said. That place is going to be rocking. It’s their Super Bowl. Heupel has to win this game.

Nick: Right. I want to point out one quick thought that I meant to bring up earlier. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the special teams unit for the Gators received so many penalties. I don’t understand it, and here’s why. The players playing on special teams are fighting for a role on the team. We’ve seen penalties from Derek Wingo and Chief Borders two weeks in a row on kick returns. That’s two guys that are not on the two deep. You would think they’re going to really try not to have these undisciplined penalties, because I’m pretty sure they want to play. They want playing time, but if I’m Napier, how am I putting those guys in the game if they’re getting personal fouls on kick returns?

Andrew: Yeah.

Nick: You have one job on a kick return, and it’s to make a block.

Andrew: Right. Here’s the thing. It’s a difference of trying to make a play and trying to show out, and then making dumb penalties. Especially last night was just a dumb penalty.

Nick: It’s just not the impression you want to make though. If you’re on kick return, you want to be able to do your job, so that the staff notices. I know Austin Barber played a great game, but didn’t he have a personal foul right away?

Andrew: Yeah, but that was a personal foul that I almost tell him, good job. He was just whipping guys out his ass. He was whipping it and whipping it, and then the whistle blew, and he whipped it one more time.

Nick: Right.

Andrew: That was one of those that was more so an offensive lineman being an offensive lineman and just going at it. I’m okay with that. That’s what I’m saying. There’s certain penalties that you say you’re okay with. You don’t love them, but you’re okay with. Then there’s certain penalties that are just you being dumb.

Nick: It’s the kick off returns that bothers me the most. Starting at your 10-yard line is extremely hard. It’s extremely hard to score when you start at the 10-yard line.

Andrew: Yeah.

Nick: It bothers me so much, and it’s something that we have not seen an improvement from through three games.

Andrew: Right.

Nick: I don’t know what’s going on there. They got to get that unit going.

Andrew: Exactly.

Nick: At this point, it’s a win to just take the ball to 25 every single time. Just put 11 guys out there, and just have them field the ball and just get to the 20 or get to the 25. At this point in the season, that’s a win for this unit.

Andrew: Right. Agreed. Well, you don’t have much faith in the returners anyway. Nick, we’re going to bounce out of here. We will be back on Friday, as we bring you our prediction podcast for hate week. We’ll have plenty of good stuff all throughout the week, as Billy Napier recaps the USF game a little more on Monday and also looks forward to the Tennessee game. We’ll have some recruiting stuff as well. We’ll have lots of things coming your way, as Florida gets ready to travel up to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, in what is the most important game of the year, because it’s the next game of the year.

Nick: Yes, sir. Got to get to Tennessee.

Andrew: Absolutely. Nick, we will talk on Friday, as we get ready to break down this Florida-Tennessee game on Saturday afternoon up in Knoxville.

Nick: Yes, sir. Can’t wait.