GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators pro day that took place on Wednesday in Gainesville.
Andrew Spivey and Ethan Hughes breakdown which guys had big days on Wednesday as several of the Gators players put up big numbers.
Andrew and Ethan also breakdown the latest regarding the Florida Gators basketball team as several guys have announced they’re transferring.
Andrew: Welcome back, Gator Country. Your man Andrew Spivey here with Ethan. Ethan, we’re back, man. Those numbers. That was Urban Meyer’s stopwatch on at Pro Day.
Ethan: Some of those times seemed rather generous, to put it lightly. Marco Wilson, he’s fast. He’s not 4.35 fast. Kyle Pitts probably more of an upper 4.4, lower 4.5 guy. That’s, I guess, the advantage of not having an NFL Combine this year is you don’t have those lasers to time you, so they can kind of rig it a little bit to get the numbers how they want them to be.
Andrew: Yeah. We’ll talk about it more here in a second and talk about, I don’t know your take. You may be for it, but why I think Pro Days are stupid. I’ll spoil my take here in a second and just say that I think Pro Days are stupid. I don’t know. I’m one of those people who says film doesn’t lie, and I think that’s the case. But we do have to talk about what happened out there. The 80-inch wingspan for Kyle Pitts, the best in the last 20 years, breaking DK Metcalf’s record. This is Kyle Pitts here. Let me get this. 6’5”, 245 pounds, 83-inch wingspan, a 4.44, and a 33.5-inch vertical.
Ethan: That will make you a lot of money.
Andrew: Did you invent him on Madden, Ethan?
Ethan: I don’t even know if you could create a player even that good on Madden. I think Mullen probably described it the best way yesterday. He said, if he were a wide receiver, he’d be one of the best wide receivers in the Draft, and as a tight end he’s one of the best tight ends in the Draft. He’s basically getting two players in one with him.
Andrew: Exactly. I think that’s the biggest thing. Somebody said, he’s going to play only wide receiver in the NFL. Cool. Who you matching him up against? You’re not matching him up against a corner.
Ethan: Yeah. I don’t understand why that’s an insult. People like to say that he doesn’t play as a traditional tight end enough. That’s because he’s good enough to play out wide. It’s not because he’s not capable of doing it.
Andrew: Right. When has Rob Gronkowski ever played like a true tight end? Never.
Andrew: Vernon Davis. One of the best tight ends ever. He didn’t play like a traditional tight end. Antonio Gates. He didn’t play like a traditional tight end. Again, why is it an insult? I don’t. I think if you’re Kyle Pitts you probably want to be labeled as a receiver, because there’s more money there. That’s a whole different discussion as to why a receiver gets paid more money than a tight end. If you catch touchdowns, who cares?
But not only did Kyle Pitts have a big day, Kadarius Toney. I’m going to say this, and I may get blasted for this. I’ve known Kadarius since he was a sophomore in high school. Kadarius Toney is super fast. Kadarius Toney is very electric. I am surprised he ran the 4.37, 4.39 that was reported. I thought he was a low 4.4 guy. I know that’s just a couple of seconds, and I know some people are going to say, he’s really fast. He is really fast, but for him to run a 4.39 was really good for him, and then have that 39-inch vertical was good as well. Kadarius did nothing to hurt himself on Wednesday.
Ethan: No. He’s probably going to get himself in the first round, maybe even top 25 or so now. He’s really gone up there. Maybe the third or fourth receiver off the board.
Andrew: I was joking with someone yesterday. Jamar Chase, Waddle, Devonta Smith, Kadarius Toney, and the other receiver from LSU. The name is slipping my mind here. You got those five wide receivers.
Ethan: Terrace Marshall.
Andrew: Terrace Marshall. There you go. Those five wide receivers. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those five in the first round.
Ethan: No. You really can’t. I think it’s pretty clear that Jamar Chase is going to be the first one, and then Devonta Smith will be #2. Then really 3-5 could be gone in any order really.
Andrew: What yesterday surprised you, Ethan, out of Pro Day? Was there anything in particular? Obviously, I call it the underwear Olympics, because that’s basically what it is. Anything that maybe stood out? Kyle Trask five flat? What stood out to you?
Ethan: I think what stood out to me the most was I did not realize that Marco Wilson was as athletic as he was. I was not expecting the ninth best vertical jump, or what would have tied the ninth best vertical jump in the history of the NFL Combine, a sub 4.4 40, if the numbers are correct. He just always seemed to be a guy to me, the first couple years, had good athleticism, but he relied more on technique to beat guys. It kind of blew me away that he was as athletic as he was, and yet still somehow struggled last year. Not really understanding what went wrong there.
Andrew: 26 reps on the bench press too. That raises a question, Ethan. This is something that you and I talked about a little bit through text message, and we’ll get into this. I think it’s a two-part question, honestly. Did Todd Grantham do Marco Wilson a disservice by not allowing him to play press man. With him being as strong as he is, and then having the speed and everything else, did Todd Grantham do him a disservice by not making him press man? Then the counterpart of that is when he was one on one, a lot of times he lost the match. He lost the matchup. So, see what you got.
Ethan: That’s kind of what I was about to say. You have to earn the right for the coaches to trust you enough to play press man. A guy like Kaiir Elam has earned that right, because he’s shown consistently that he’s capable of locking down the other team’s best receiver. If Marco Wilson keeps getting beat deep like he was by some no name guy from Texas A&M that ended up tearing his ACL while catching a touchdown against him, you’re not going to keep winding him up in press coverage. You’re going to play him back and try to use some safety help.
Andrew: I guess that’s what’s weird to me. We talk about him playing press man and getting that initial shove, and he did very well at that as a freshman. But again, the Texas A&M play, it’s going to be embarred in our minds forever of the walk-on receiver just out manning Marco for that. Here’s the thing. Do I think Marco Wilson’s a better football player than he showed this year? Absolutely. I’ll also say this. I don’t know that some of these Draft guys having him as 80th best player in the Draft, turn the tape on.
Ethan: I think Mel Kiper from ESPN had him in the top 120, which would put him in the early fourth round or something. There’s no way you could watch his film the last two seasons and think that. There just really isn’t.
Andrew: A time that stood out on the negative for me was Brad Stewart. 4.68. That’s not good. It’s not good. A guy who got some praise, and a couple people have said he’s a guy who’s jumped into that top 120, is Stone Forsythe. 6’8”, 307. Had that 83-inch wingspan as well. Only 25 reps on the bench press though, but ran the 5.14, if that really means anything for an offensive lineman. They don’t run 40-yard dashes very often. Still a guy who’s jumping up some Draft boards. I think when we look at the new age football of tackles, you better be athletic enough and have that wingspan. I’ll say this. I’m a little surprised at how far he’s jumped up, but again, he earned it this year. Turn the tape on. He had a good year.
Ethan: Yeah. He’s a guy, like you mentioned, he’s going to pass all the physical tests you could ever want in an offensive tackle, being 6’8” and 300-however many pounds. He’s got excellent length. I think he maybe gave up one or two sacks all year. He was the one lineman that Trask didn’t have to worry about running for his life if they were protecting him. I also think it’s maybe kind of a perception type thing. Where because the rest of the offensive line was so bad, maybe it made him look a little better by comparison, but I can see him sneaking up and getting taken in the third or fourth round maybe.
Andrew: Here’s the thing. You say maybe it made him look better, but also maybe we look at Stone on the offensive line and say, really, because of how bad the offensive line was. Maybe we look at him and don’t give him enough credit, because when the quarterback gets sacked, we automatically say the offensive line sucks. Again, like you said, Stone was doing his job. It was the other part of the equation on the offensive line that sucked, so maybe we get to the point of blaming it on everybody and not give a guy like Stone the credit that maybe he deserves going forward. I know Fred Johnson’s a little bit bigger than him, but I think Stone is a little ahead of where Fred Johnson was, and Fred Johnson’s on an NFL team right now.
Ethan: They’ve had some good individual linemen that last couple years with Fred Johnson and Jawaan Taylor. Stone’s going to get drafted. Brett Heggie could go late in the Draft. They’ve had some good individual performances. It just doesn’t seem to come together all at the same time in a game, for whatever reason.
Andrew: For whatever reason, it does not come together in a game. Let’s go to the real talk of this and why Pro Days don’t mean anything. I’ll ask you this. Did you learn anything on Wednesday, outside of Marco Wilson being a Combine warrior and putting up numbers, did you learn anything about anybody that you couldn’t have watched on tape or seen with your own eyes last year?
Ethan: Nothing at all. It’s just a bunch of guys. A lot of the stuff they do isn’t even stuff that would translate to a game setting. How often in a game is Kyle Pitts going to be running 40 yards in a straight line with nobody in his way?
Andrew: Right. Who cares? That’s the thing. Kadarius Toney, how many times is he actually going to run a straight line 40 yards? Never.
Ethan: Or have to jump 11 feet ahead. That one seems the most useless to me.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. I was doing a radio spot yesterday, and they asked me, what did you learn about? I’m like, nothing. I guess the 80-inch wingspan for Kyle Pitts was something I didn’t know, but if I watched him play last year, anything in his range he caught. Did I need Pro Day to tell me Kyle Pitts was a beast? No. Did I need Pro Day to tell me Kadarius Toney is a beast? No. Did I really need to see Kyle Trask run a 40-yard dash? No.
Ethan: I thought it was kind of funny to see some of the national media guys that were like amazed by how well Pitts was doing yesterday. We’ve seen this the last three years. Where have you been?
Andrew: Right. Again, it’s like what did we learn about Kyle Pitts that we couldn’t have? The LSU Pro Day was going on at the same time. We all knew Jamar Chase was a freak. The guy has the most touchdowns ever in a single season by a receiver. That’s all I need to know. Even go to Ohio State with Justin Fields. Justin Fields running a 4.4 meant nothing to me. I know he’s fast. People are knocking on Mac Jones because he underthrew a couple passes in Pro Day. Turn the tape on. The guy makes every throw out there. Kyle Trask makes every throw out there. Pro Days to me are a waste. If an NFL team drafts a player strictly off his Pro Day, his job should be lost.
Ethan: I’m sure most general managers already have a good idea who they’re going to draft before any of this even happens. I don’t know how much of a factor this even is, except for maybe some of the guys that are on the border of getting drafter or going undrafted. Maybe it could sway somebody to take them in the seventh round. For your bigger named guys, like Kyle Pitts, it really doesn’t do anything.
Andrew: I think if anything, like you said, it’s for those lower guys. If anything, a Pro Day can maybe hurt you. But then I go back to let’s say Kadarius Toney ran a 4.45, would that have changed your input on him being fast?
Ethan: No. The only way you can really ruin it would be like Jalen Tabor a couple years ago, where you run like a 4.7 or something. That’s about the only thing you could do to ruin your Draft stock, just completely bomb.
Andrew: Even with Teez though, did we all kind of not know that Jalen was slow? You know what I’m saying? So again, I don’t know. Then with quarterback play, when is Kyle Trask ever going to roll out and just throw a ball off his front foot on a corner route like that? Not very often. A lot of it’s just crazy to me. Again, is Pro Day cool? Sure. It gave us something to write about on the message board yesterday. It gave us something to talk about for a couple hours. It’s cool for me. I enjoy it. Any time I get to watch football, I enjoy it. I just think that it’s a little overrated. Mullen talked afterwards. What did Dan Mullen say on Wednesday after Pro Day?
Ethan: The biggest thing I took away from it is he thought it was a really big day for the program. For the first time in several years, you had a bunch of big time performers. You didn’t just have the one Jeawon Taylor or Vernon Hargreaves or somebody of that caliber and then a bunch of nobodies. You had Kyle Pitts out here doing things that hadn’t been done by tight ends in a Combine setting in 20 years. Then you had Marco Wilson running sub 4.4 40 and jumping out of the gym basically. Then you got Toney out here doing his thing still. He thought it was a big day for the program, because now the younger players on the roster can see what it’s going to take for them to get to that point, or at least they know what the final result looks like. They just have to figure out how to get there.
Then, of course, he said what you would expect him to say about how it could attract future recruits to want to come to Florida, because they know they’re going to get developed, and they see what they’re going to become. That’s kind of what every coach is going to say. But he seemed very pleased with what took place yesterday.
Andrew: 31 of the 32 teams were there. The Rams were the only team that wasn’t there. You had several head coaches there. You had several coordinators there. It was nice to see Urban Meyer back in the building. Brian Johnson was back in the building. Brian Daboll from the Bills.
Ethan: Doug Nussmeier.
Andrew: Nussmeier was there. You had a lot of guys that were there, and it’s always good to have those guys around the program. Good to see a lot of former players. Lamical Perine was back. Freddy Swain was back. Hammond was back. I saw Tyrie Cleveland and Fred Johnson. A lot of former players were back there, and it’s always good to see that. Like Dan Mullen said, it’s good to have that national attention. You had three hours of free publicity on the SEC Network yesterday. Granted, a lot of the prospects were in school, but they probably watched it on Rewind. The SEC Network will probably only show it 70 billion times again. The quote about Kyle Trask stood out to me. Do you remember that quote?
Ethan: Not off the top of my head. I don’t know which one you’re referring to.
Andrew: About him having a long career.
Ethan: Yeah. He said that he might not be the highest rated guy right now, like some places have him the seventh best quarterback prospect in this Draft, but he said, 10, 15 years from now you might look back, and he’s one of the best quarterbacks that come from this class.
Andrew: Right. I’m a diehard Falcons fan. Diehard Falcons fan. Usually I’m pretty honest in saying I don’t want them to take this person or that person. If the third round comes, and Kyle Trask is on the board, and he can sit behind Matt Ryan for two years, cool. I’ll say this. This may not be popular. Mac Jones and Kyle Trask both will have long careers. Trevor Lawrence may. He may. He probably will. I think after Trevor, Mac and Kyle probably have the longest careers out of this Draft class. That’s more than Justin Fields. Justin Fields is more of a runner. He’s more injury prone. The BYU kid and then Trey Lance from North Dakota or South Dakota, whatever it is, I think both of those guys will have longer careers than them. That’s just me. I think both of those guys are great NFL quarterbacks down the road.
Ethan: I would agree. I think for Kyle it would probably be best to go to a place kind of like Atlanta or New Orleans or Tampa Bay. Someplace where they’ve got an older quarterback that’s on his way out, and then you can kind of transition into that offense in a couple years. I think him following Drew Brees in New Orleans, they’re kind of similar players in a way. That would maybe be the best fit for him.
Andrew: We all want to say Tom Brady. We all want to say these guys are the next Tom Brady. There’s no Tom Brady. Tom Brady is a once in a lifetime quarterback. He’s the best quarterback of all time. I don’t care what anybody says. But I’ll say Matt Ryan, for instance. Matt Ryan gets a lot of heat because of not winning a Super Bowl, but Matt Ryan will go down as having one of the best careers, stat wise, in history. That’s what these two guys do for me. It’ll be interesting.
Then it’ll be interesting to see Kyle Pitts. You know one is going to be Trevor Lawrence. It looks like the Jets at two are probably going to take a quarterback. San Francisco trading up to three, probably take a quarterback. My Falcons sit at four. Do they quarterback, or do they go a guy like Kyle Pitts? There’s no doubt in my mind Kyle Pitts is the best player in the Draft, outside of Trevor Lawrence.
Ethan: He’s the best player in this Draft. He’s going to go #4, whether it’s the Falcons or somebody trading up to take the Falcons’ spot. Somebody is taking him at #4.
Andrew: Where do you see the rest of it going? Do you see Kadarius going late first round? Where do you see Kyle Trask?
Ethan: Toney probably 25-30 in the first round, maybe. Then Trask, he’ll go on Day 2 to somebody. Either somebody will get kind of desperate for a quarterback, and they’ll tak him Round 2, or he’ll fall to Round 3. Somebody’s going to see what Gators fans got to see the last couple of years, and they’ll take him in the second or third round and groom him for a year or two, until he’s ready to take over, hopefully.
Andrew: I think what you said is accurate. I think teams are going to get desperate. Let’s just say Kyle Pitts drops to five, and you get a run of quarterbacks, where they go 1, 2, 3, 4. I say Mac Jones. There’s talk San Francisco is going to draft him at 3, which would be bizarre, but whatever. I do think he’s better than Trey Lance, but still. Let’s say they go 1-4. Then your next tier quarterbacks are Kyle Trask and whoever didn’t get drafted in the top four. There’s a lot of teams that need quarterbacks. The Panthers need a quarterback. The Patriots need a quarterback. There’s a lot of teams around the NFL that need quarterbacks. Like you said, do they get desperate and trade up to take a Kyle Trask, trade up to take that other quarterback, just hoping that someone doesn’t take them before? Do you get a run on quarterbacks where maybe you have six quarterbacks gone in the first two rounds?
Ethan: For whatever reason, I just get the feeling that Kyle Trask is ending up in New England. He just has the Bill Belichick special written all over him. Everybody else outsmarts themselves, and Belichick ends up just taking one of the best players available in Round 2. That’s what he’s known for.
Andrew: Have you seen the joke? I know you’ve seen the meme of Bill Belichick shaking his head when Mac Jones missed the throw. Now the conspiracy theory out there is that Bill Belichick told Mac Jones not to look good, so that he’ll drop to New England.
Ethan: They’ve done far more suspicious things to gain a competitive advantage before, so who knows?
Andrew: I think one of those two do end up in New England. That was the positive segment. Let’s get ready for the negative segment. Grab your wine or whatever you drink, or your headset, and get your naptime ready, and your blood pressure medicine, because things are going to get a little wild on here. Mike White doesn’t have a basketball team anymore.
Ethan: No. I think four transfers and an NBA declaration.
Andrew: Two NBA.
Ethan: One that’s definitely staying and one that’s probably coming back.
Andrew: Still. That’s six guys. You’re looking at this roster here, and you’re thinking there’s not a lot left. This is where I look at it, Ethan. I may be wrong. There was a stat that a lot of these teams that are still left in the tournament, in the Final Four, have a lot of transfers. UCLA, Houston, Baylor, all those schools have a lot of transfers. Obviously, the transfer portal now makes it different. Just you feel like this team is now going to have to just rebuild in general, and you wonder how.
For instance, a guy like Noah Locke. The guy is a Gator through and through and is transferring. Now you’re telling me a transfer from Furman, and I don’t know if it’s going to be a Furman guy, but a transfer from a mid-major is going to be better than a guy who’s a three year SEC starter. To me, Ethan, that’s just what blows my mind of how they think next year’s team full of pretty much transfers is supposed to be better than a team that is full of SEC starters.
Ethan: Other than the X’s and O’s, which people like to talk about Mike White not being good at game management or X’s and O’s, and some of that is warranted criticism, but the next biggest thing that I’ve noticed that’s wrong with this program right now is just the roster management doesn’t really make sense. In Mike White’s tenure, six years now, I think Tre Mann became the first player that he recruited out of high school to finish his college career at Florida, in six years. So, they’re basically, feels like they’re trying to play the Duke, Kentucky, one and done model, but with worse players, and that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
When the Gator program was at its best under Billy Donovan, you saw senior classes that had some good players, but also some players that were flawed and didn’t get drafted early in their careers or go to schools like Kentucky or Kansas. Then by the time they were seniors, they were able to beat other teams. Not because they had more raw talent than them, but because they had good players who played together and knew how to play the game. Now it just doesn’t even feel like a program anymore. It just feels like every March, April it’s let throw together next year’s team and hope for the best. That strategy, it’s not going to win anything. I’m not even sure what the long term goal is here.
Andrew: Especially when you have a coach who struggles with an identity of offense and an identity of the program. Let’s just go through this. Samson’s back. Duruji’s back. Keyontae Johnson is highly questionable. Colin Castleton is 50/50. Probably coming back. You have Tyree Appleby and Scottie Lewis and Niels Lane. Has Jason Jitoboh?
Ethan: He’s back, I think. He hasn’t said anything, so I assume he’s back.
Andrew: Okay. So, you have Lane, Jitoboh, Lewis, Appleby, Castleton, and Duruji and Samson back. Appleby, he’s good at times. Turnover prone at times. Who’s your guy next year? Mike White’s basketball team does not do well with having to go through the post and Colin Castleton. We learned that this year. Mike White likes to push the pace and go. So, I don’t know. I’ll ask you this, Ethan. Is it Mike White just lost control of the program, or is this a plan?
Ethan: It feels like he’s control. I mean, there’s no thread that runs through any of their offseason move. It just seems like random chaos happening. Then you look at the way they lost in the NCAA Tournament, since we haven’t had a chance to talk about it since it happened. Your best player takes two shots over the final 17 minutes or something, and you just stop pushing the tempo for no reason at all. A lot of the stuff that is going on just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. There’s not even a way you could see this turning around. It just keeps going on this never ending spiral to nowhere.
Andrew: It’s the same way they lose every single time. Go ahead.
Ethan: I knew exactly how they were going to lose in the NCAA Tournament. They were going to win the first game, look good, play well for about a half in the second game, and then blow it. That’s how they’ve lost pretty much the last three NCAA Tournament games that they’ve lost.
Andrew: It’s the same recipe. They get a lead, and they sit on it. Score 100.
Ethan: Everyone remembers the one elite run, where Chiozza made that miracle shot in the Sweet 16. What people don’t remember about that game is they had an 11-point lead over Wisconsin with like six minutes left in regulation, and they did the same thing and blew it there and just got bailed out by a once in a lifetime type of shot.
Ethan: Really, every NCAA Tournament they’ve lost or should have lost because of the exact same mistake. It doesn’t show any signs of getting better any time soon.
Andrew: The Virginia Tech game should have never went to overtime. The Tennessee game in the SEC Tournament. They were controlling the game early. What are you doing? What are you doing in these games? It’s the same thing over and over. They have zero half court offense. They have no rhythm. Eric and I have talked about it. Eric does the stats. Eric says in the NCAA Tournament in that second round they played their worst lineup for more minutes in the game than they played their best lineup. Now, I love Eric to death. Eric’s a smart guy. but you can’t tell me that Eric knows those numbers and Mike White doesn’t know those numbers.
Ethan: Yeah. Even if he doesn’t have somebody on the bench telling him all these advanced numbers, you can just tell by watching it with your eyes that that lineup was not working.
Ethan: It was going to cost them the game, and it just kept going with it.
Andrew: It’s mindboggling. Listen, I’m not the person who says fire this person, fire that. I love Mike White. I think Mike White is a fabulous person. I think Mike White had a tremendous amount of stress this year with Keyontae Johnson. I cannot imagine what he went through, what his team went through, with Keyontae Johnson. I can’t. The Covid stuff, I can’t. The problem with the whole situation and the issue I have is I have not seen improvements in his in-game coaching from Year 1 to now. It’s the same old stuff. It’s the same old way of losing. It’s the same old way of just looking pathetic in games, and then the next game you look amazing. It’s the most inconsistent team. I say it all the time. It depends on what side of the bed they wake up on how they’re going to play.
At the University of Florida, it should not be that way. At any high level, it should not be that way of two different teams. If you’re going to push the ball, then you have to push the ball for 40 minutes of the game and go. Because you know once you slow it down, you’re going to lose. Everybody in the world knows that. We don’t even have to be basketball smart. I am the furthest thing from basketball smart, and I know when they slow it down they’re in trouble.
Ethan: His explanation for slowing it down didn’t really make you feel a whole lot better either, because he basically said, we wanted to slow it down so our guys could spend more of their energy on defense. So either you have a terrible strength and conditioning program that your players can’t play both ends of the court for 40 minutes, or you’ve basically just sent a message to your team that what we do on offense from here on doesn’t matter, just play defense. Either way, that’s not conducive to wining.
Andrew: And it tells you you have no depth, because all your depth keeps transferring. That’s what it is. The only guy that didn’t play, and I say the only, he was their best player, was Keyontae Johnson. Ques Glover didn’t play at all in the NCAA Tournament. He’s transferring. Why’d you recruit him? Okay. All these guys. Scottie Lewis is supposed to be this phenomenal player, and he can’t put it together. He’s not even playing in big minutes. Duruji fouls three point guys, so he doesn’t play down the stretch, because you got him in the doghouse because of that. I don’t know what to tell you. Recruit better depth. Keep your depth.
Ethan: It feels like they’re playing with a smaller roster than other teams at times, because you have guys like a Jason Jitoboh or Ques Glover that are on the bench but don’t really do anything. You are essentially playing with an eight-man roster when you get to big games like that.
Andrew: Samson comes in, and at times he looks okay, but every time he gets the ball it feels like it’s hot potato, and he’s got to shoot it real quick. Cool. Whatever. That’s you. Do what you got to do, big dog. You’re right. It does. You wonder the development of this team. You have Jordan Mincy going to Jacksonville. He was kind of the offensive guy. It’s time to get you a guy to come in and get things going. He was also one of your better recruiters. Not the best recipe. People continue to ask me, what’s going on? Your answer is as good as mine. The way I look at it is the program has lost control.
Ethan: Yeah. The player development, I think you could look at it and say there were two players during Mike White’s tenure so far, other than players that he inherited from Billy Donovan, there have been two players he’s recruited that have gotten better from the time they first got to Mike White to now, and that would be Tre Mann and Keyontae Johnson. Other than that, everybody else has either stayed the same, or they’ve gotten worse.
Andrew: I would agree with that. I would agree with that for sure. I don’t know that anybody has. Scottie Lewis has declined, for sure.
Ethan: He’s unplayable now basically down the stretch, because his defense isn’t even as good as what it was last year, and he’s just an airball machine on offense.
Andrew: Yeah. We heard the talk all year about Tyree Appleby was this amazing point guard and everything else, and at times he is, but at times he’s just out of control. So, I don’t know, Ethan. It’s gut check time in Gainesville. If Mike White’s returning, it needs to be on a short leash, and it needs to be with some guaranteed promise to change and to get right. At the same time, you kind of are what you are. The only thing that I say is this. Mike White, if you truly are the guy who wants to just run and run and run, then just run and run and run, and don’t think anything else about anything else.
Ethan: That’s what he was at Louisiana Tech, which is what doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s kind of like in football you’ll see a guy who’s a really good offensive coordinator get a head coaching job, and then they’ll give the play calling duties to someone else. Do what got you this job to begin with.
Andrew: Exactly. Do what got you there. I don’t know. Ethan, anything else you want to touch on? We’ll touch on it. We’re recording this on Thursday. Baseball plays tonight against South Carolina. You’re listening to this on Friday, so you already know the outcome.
Ethan: Ole Miss, not South Carolina.
Andrew: Ole Miss. Yes. South Carolina was last week.
Ethan: We won’t want to talk about South Carolina.
Andrew: That’s what I wanted to do. We’ll talk about that. Ole Miss is on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, due to the Easter holiday on Sunday. You already know the Thursday. Shake up in the rotation. Friday, Saturday guys are sitting on the bench?
Ethan: Yeah. Sounds like we might get to see the opener strategy that’s used by several teams in MLB finally trickle its way down to college. Franco Aleman is going to make his first start of the year on Thursday night, so those you listening to this, you already know how that went. Then it sounds like Tommy Mace will come in in relief maybe the third or fourth inning. Then same thing on Friday night. Christian Scott will get the start before Jack Leftwich comes in. We’ll see how this works. I’m not generally a fan of this kind of a strategy, just because what happens if you get into a one-run game in the ninth inning, and you’ve already used Aleman? You can’t use Scott, because you’re saving him for the next day. Then Mace is done for the day. You’re using your bottom of the bullpen guys in the most pressure packed situations, potentially.
It works the best in MLB when you have a lefthanded opener followed by a hard throwing righty long relief guy, because then the other team has to decide whether they want to put their lefty lineup in and just not have the matchups in their favor for a couple innings and then be set up for the longer guy, or do they go for the advantage early and sacrifice the bulk guy having the handedness advantage versus them. What the Gators are doing, where you have Aleman and Mace and then Scott and Leftwich, you’re basically putting two similar guys back to back, so I’m not really sure what it’s trying to accomplish, other than maybe just shaking things up and hoping that it sparks something in the pitching staff and in the dugout that hasn’t been clicking the last week or so.
Andrew: I hate it. I hate the opener. Can’t stand it. The thing that bothers me more than anything is Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich hadn’t really been your problem. Have they been ace caliber high Draft picks in the MLB like we all thought they would? Maybe not. But they haven’t been bad. It’s your defense is terrible. You can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Jud Fabian, 13 strikeouts against South Carolina last weekend. Jeez, man. Come on. I think you need a shakeup there. I don’t know what it is. Some people are critical of the team. I just think that they’re not focused. I’ll be honest. I just think they’re not focused. Baseball is a team game. As much as people do not believe it’s a team game, it’s a team game, and they’re not playing as a team right now.
Ethan: It’s kind of like basketball, like we’re talking about. Just inconsistency. There just isn’t one phase of the game that consistently does anything well. They start the year, for the first five weeks the starting pitching was really good, other than you had one poor start from Hunter Barco. Other than that, their first five starts you could consistently depend on them to give you six or seven really quality innings, and the offense was averaging seven or eight runs a game. It was just a matter of whether the bullpen would be able to hold it together on a given night and get you the win.
Then last week at South Carolina, it was the complete opposite. The starters, Mace made it through four. I think Leftwich went four and a third. Barco gave up four homeruns in five innings. The offense hit like .170-something for the series. Struck out a million times. But the bullpen looked much better.
Ethan: There’s not anything that you can depend on going into, like we know this part of our game’s going to be good, and we can lean on this to get some wins. It’s just you never know what part of the team’s going to show up on a given game.
Andrew: Florida has struck out 206 times on the year already. Jud Fabian has struck out 40 times out of 96 at bats.
Ethan: I think he’s played in 21 of the 24 games.
Andrew: 23 games. He’s played in all 23 games so far, and he has 40 strikeouts, almost two a game. You’re just not going to win very much with that. Again, like I said, is the pitching great right now with Mace and Leftwich? No, it’s not, but those are your two dudes. You need those two dudes to set the pace. Maybe the opener works out. Sully’s a lot smarter than me. I watch a lot of baseball though, and I feel like I’m pretty baseball smart. I wonder how those guys are going to be able to even take that role. Starters have a routine. Usually they’re out 40 minutes before jogging, stretching, all that stuff. How do they even react to it? Is it going to be a complete disaster? We don’t know. These guys haven’t done it before, come in after an opener to be a starter. There’s a lot of questions. The thing about it is Ole Miss isn’t a team to play with.
Ethan: No. #3 in the country, undefeated in SEC play. This is one of those moves where it feels like it’s high risk, high reward, because if it works out you’ve got to stick with it the rest of the year. You can’t go back to starting Mace and Leftwich, because you’re not going to mess up something that’s working. If it backfires in Sully’s face, you basically have to admit that you’re wrong, and that could cause your pitchers to lose trust of you. Then you’ve really got a problem on your hands. Sully has earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt. He’s made some moves pitching wise that didn’t always seem popular at first but ended up working out in the end. Just have to hope for the Gator’s sake that this is another one of them.
Andrew: Like you say, he’s earned the right. He’s a National Champion coach. He’s done it before. He has earned the right. He’s definitely earned the right. It’s just a head scratcher to me. We’ll see. That’s all I can say. Softball did go out and sweep LSU last weekend. LSU’s a pretty solid team overall, one of the best hitting teams. Went out and swept them. Big series for them against Georgia this weekend. Gymnastics are up in Athens for the first part of the NCAA regional. Didn’t do as well in the SEC Tournament, but they’re there. Ethan, if that’s all you got, we’re going to get out of here. We’ll be back next week. I hope you guys liked it. Let us know if there’s anything we can improve on. Ethan and I will be knocking these podcasts out here on a weekly basis. Getting video here soon. We just wanted to knock out an audio version this week.
Ethan: I guess we could talk about Jahari Rogers entering the transfer portal.
Andrew: There you go. Give me some.
Ethan: It’s kind of a surprising move, I guess, just because he’s a former top 100 recruit. He’s only been here for a year, and he got some first team reps, from what we got to see this spring. I guess either he just wanted to go back home to Texas really badly, or he just was one of those guys who wanted to be a starter this year, and when it became apparent that wasn’t going to be the case, he just decided to leave.
Andrew: A couple things I had heard about him was just that he was going to be just a guy. While he was getting some first team reps, he was just going to be a guy, and that they didn’t believe he’d ever be a true SEC starter. He was more of an athlete coming out of high school, still trying to polish that up. The only problem there is it leaves you with five corners. It leaves you with some serious depth issues at that corner spot. You’re going to have to rely on some guys. You’re going to have to hope Elam and Jason Marshall and Jaydon Hill and those three guys can really just kind of take the minutes right now and next year the snaps, because you don’t feel good about your depth after those three guys.
Ethan: As long as they stay healthy, everything will be fine. If Elam goes down or Marshall, now you’re getting into some pretty big issues, because you’re looking at a possibility of a guy coming off major injury in Ethan Pouncey or Avery Helm, who wasn’t the most highly regarded guy coming out of high school.
Andrew: And still coming back from an ACL injury himself. Or you go back to like the Cotton Bowl, where you’re playing walk-ons.
Ethan: Or you move Trey Dean back out there, which the sample size on that isn’t great.
Andrew: Maybe you’re hitting the transfer portal for some depth there. I think that’s it. Ethan, we will get back next week. As always, follow us at GatorCountry.com. Myself @AndrewSpiveyGC. Ethan, throw your Twitter handle.
Ethan: It’s @EHughes97.
Andrew: There you go. Follow all of us. We’ll be back next week. Make sure to hit us up on the message board and let us know how we did here. As always, we appreciate it, guys. Thank you.