Podcast: Recapping the Florida Gators 49-42 loss to LSU in Death Valley

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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators 49-42 loss to the LSU Tigers on Saturday in Death Valley.

Andrew Spivey and David Soderquist breakdown what happened on Saturday for the Gators and how things changed when Anthony Richardson took over at quarterback.

Andrew and David also look ahead to the rest of the season as Dan Mullen and his coaching staff will use the bye week to evaluate personnel changes that they will make before Georgia.

TRANSCRIPT:

David:​What’s up folks of Gator Country? This is none other than your boy David Soderquist, along with Andrew Spivey. Unfortunately, we have to do this podcast today, because I know a lot of you fans out there are a little ticked off. I’m a little ticked off. I know Spivey over there doesn’t look happy either, except for the fact that his Braves won this weekend here.

Andrew:​That’s right.

David:​Little bit of good news for him, I guess. Florida goes into LSU Tiger Stadium here and just lays an egg again. Loses 42-49, and I can’t say they completely laid an egg, but as far as defensively, just looked awful.

Andrew:​I don’t know why I had the sneaky suspicion in the back of my mind this game was going to be tough. I had said on the podcast on Friday, if this team came out very hot and just put it on LSU early and gave these guys a lot of doubt, I thought the game could be a blowout. But I had a feeling that Florida would come out slow like they always do, and they would come out slow like they always do at 11:00, Baton Rouge time, and they did. They get the blocked punt from Jordan Pouncey, and you think, this is some changes about to happen here. Florida goes down. They score a touchdown, but they miss the PAT. Then they allow LSU to just come back and continue to march. Tyrion Price Davis, LSU record 287 yards, the most rushing yards ever by a running back against Florida, breaking a record Hershel Walker had. They give 454 yards to an LSU team that has not been very good. 321 of those on the ground.

​David, it wasn’t a complex scheme they were running. They were running a simple counter play, and then they were running a simple lead play with zone blocking, and they were allowing Florida’s defenders to take themselves out of the play. They used Florida against themselves. Florida’s problem this year and in past years have been the defensive ends shoot up the field with no contain. It’s been an issue for years, and it continued on Saturday where they allowed those guys to shoot up the field, and that was cool, because the tackle just pushed him aside. David Price would just cut it up underneath them, and boom, he had 8, 9, 10 yards. The man averaged 8 yards a rush.

​That simply cannot happen. This is an LSU team that’s banged up. They don’t even have their best running back in John Emery playing. This is Max Johnson, who has a noodle of an arm. Threw for 133 yards. For the majority of them, I felt like it was dink and dunk down the field, play action passes.

​Diabate said after the game, we made the adjustments we were told to make. Kind of calling out Grantham and Christian Robinson and those guys, because there was no adjustments to be made. They didn’t have any. They didn’t know what to do. It was a simple counter play. I got an idea for you. Tell your guys to play assignment football. Put guys in at defensive tackle who can clog the gap, and have your safeties understand not to run up field too much, but to be ready in the hole.

David:​It’s just terrible. Florida would have 488 total yards. Zero penalties. We got onto penalties the last two weeks. Zero penalties, 488 yards of offense, and still manages to lose the game by seven points.

Andrew:​It’s one step forward, two steps backwards. It’s every time with this program, David. This program will fix one issue, and another issue arises. It was like last year. They would fix the run defense, pass defense sucked. Then they’d fix the pass defense in practice, and the run defense would suck. They’re fixing penalties now, guess what? Now they can’t run the ball, because the guys can’t get off the ball. Ethan White and Gouraige were whipped all day long.

David:​They were.

Andrew:​By BJ Ojulari and Glen Logan. Ojulari had a career day against Gouraige. Multiple times just flying by him. Gouriage not even touching him. Maybe Gouriage isn’t 100%. I don’t know. But the physicality of this football team, David, from Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3, is gone. There’s no physicality to this football team anymore. I don’t know what went on after that Tennessee game, but whatever went wrong after that Tennessee game, whatever has happened to this team, it’s gone. The physicality of this football team is gone. There’s no more physicality up front from this offensive line to where they’re getting to the second. They’re getting to the third level, and they’re just pushing people around. It’s gone. This team threw for 350 yards on Saturday. That’s great. That’s absolutely great, but that’s not the identity of this football team.

David:​No. Florida historically has had great defenses in the past, and right now Florida has broken defensive records last year that were bad. Not this year they’re breaking even more defensive records that are bad, and this is all ever since Todd Grantham’s got here. If you go to Todd Grantham’s history, let me get started on Todd Grantham. Look at his history at Louisville, at Georgia, at all these other schools that he was defensive coordinator. The defenses have gradually gotten worse each and every single year. I don’t understand why firing a couple of assistants and keeping Todd Grantham helps you improve this defense, because obviously it hasn’t done it.

​The first three games, I started changing my mind and started saying maybe this defense is starting to click, maybe it was Covid from 2020, maybe I just need to slow my roll. Now three more games into the season, I’m saying we’re seeing the same things from last year. This defense has gradually gotten worse, worse, and worse ever since the year has gone on. They’ve not gotten better. Other teams are studying Florida’s defensive schemes, their offensive schemes, and they’re pushing everybody up front. Florida’s not able to run the football now. They know Emory Jones can’t pass the ball.

I’ll get into Emory Jones. I love Emory Jones to death, but right now we’ll get into the quarterback thing. Right now, teams are stacking the box, and they know that Florida cannot play good defense on the ground. LSU just ran draw plays all game. The same play for I don’t know how many times. It seemed like 20 times. Right down the middle. It seemed like LSU, whenever they wanted to get a 5, 10, 8, 20 yard chunk, they could just hand the ball off and do it.

Andrew:​The thing is they were dragging guys as well. The issue is a couple things here. First of all, changing staff members only works to a certain amount. If the scheme sucks, it sucks. It just is what it is. The scheme hasn’t been very good. You’ve gotten away with it earlier in the year to some extent, because of some good players. Here’s the thing, David. This is what everybody forgets. It’s on Todd Grantham too, but it comes back to one thing, David. You know the answer to that?

David:​What’s that?

Andrew:​Starts with an R.

David:​Yeah.

Andrew:​Recruiting. It all starts with recruiting, David. You have no linebackers on this football team anymore. When Ventrell Miller got hurt, you had zero true middle linebackers. Diabate, not a middle linebacker. Jeremiah Moon, one of my favorite players, not a middle linebacker. Ty’Ron Hopper, not a middle linebacker. Derek Wingo, maybe, but not playing, because they don’t trust him or he hasn’t developed enough. You have zero, David. How are you in Year 4 of your program and you have zero true middle linebackers after your starting senior linebacker, who should be gone if it wasn’t for Covid? You have zero. I love Jeremiah Moon to death. I love Diabate to death. Both of them are good players. They shouldn’t be playing Mike linebacker.

David:​No.

Andrew:​You don’t stop football teams when you have no linebackers. The thing is the linebackers has still not filled a gap correctly in four years.

David:​Yeah. What was it? Ventrell Miller is probably our best run stopping linebacker, and now he’s hurt, out for the season. So, who do you got? Who do you have?

Andrew:​You’re playing three guys. You’re playing Hopper, Diabate, and Moon. You’re not playing Wingo, whatever that is. I’ve heard he hasn’t developed very well. Cool. Developing is on you, because you’re supposedly a developing football coaching staff, whatever. What is the issue?

I say this, and I’m not trying to get down on players. You have three defensive players who transferred in. They transferred in for a reason. They didn’t transfer in because they were great football players everywhere else. They transferred in because they were either beat out, wasn’t going to play, or something or another. They transferred in. They’re not making the plays. Gervon Dexter, he had some okay plays. Again, he lost a lot of playing time to three transfer guys. Des Watson didn’t play at all. Didn’t play at all on Saturday. Don’t understand that. Clog the gap a little bit. I don’t know.

It all goes back to recruiting though, David, and that is the end all end all. There’s no getting around it. At the end of the day, it’s all about recruiting. You have to have depth, or you don’t win in this league.

David:​Talk about offensive line and recruiting. I was talking to, I believe it was Will Miles in private message, and it may not have been Will Miles. Probably somebody else. I forget who I was talking to. They said, minus Tony Livingston, John Hevesy at a star level has not recruited past a three-star offensive line or offensive tackle, unless it’s come from the portal. In high school.

Andrew:​Tony Livingston’s not an offensive lineman.

David:​Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew:​He’s a tight end.

David:​Right. He’s a basketball player.

Andrew:​And he’s not even playing with his team right now.

David:​Right. Anyway, like you said, it comes down to recruiting. I said it on Twitter. I said this is what happens when Miami’s down, Florida State’s down, and you don’t take advantage of both those programs being down and get the guys that are in state. The elite prospects that are in state are still going to Alabama. They’re still going to Clemson. They’re still going to Georgia.

Georgia, they’re just cherry-picking from your own state, a state that you should be able to go up to a recruit and say, your family can come down here, 100 miles, 50 miles, maybe even 150 at the most, travel to see you play just about every game. Instead, they’re all flying out to see their families play a game in Alabama, Tuscaloosa, South Carolina, and in Georgia. They’re traveling 400-500 miles to see their kids play, as opposed to just traveling 50 or 100, because they don’t want to come to the University of Florida. That’s a problem. Most of the talent comes from the state of Florida. We all know that. Why can’t you get any elite recruits from here?

Andrew:​It goes back to a couple things. Don’t recruit well. Your guys don’t build good relationships there. Here’s the thing. Stop with the excuses that it’s the facilities.

David:​Yeah.

Andrew:​First of all, you’ve got way more facilities right now than any previous coach at Florida has ever had.

David:​More than Miami.

Andrew:​More than Miami’s got. You’ve got an indoor practice facility that you can show off that’s about to be there. Stop. Just stop with the excuses. We’ll get into more of that in a minute. That’s defensively. Offensively, what’s going on? Where is Dan Mullen, the football coach who schemed up a great game against Alabama last year, Georgia last year, Alabama this year? Where’s that guy?

David:​Yeah. You don’t see it. Plus, we’ll get onto offense. Let’s do this. I want to get into quarterback play. It’s going to be the big talk right now, quarterback play. Anthony Richardson comes into this game. Struggling Emory Jones, he throws two picks. One of them was a pick six. He puts Anthony Richardson in around 14 minutes and 21 seconds in the third quarter. This is right after halftime, right after Emory throws a pick right after we get the ball. He puts Anthony Richardson in, and he starts Anthony Richardson the rest of the game.

Anthony Richardson for two quarters would lead the team in total passing yards, 167. Total rushing yards he would lead, 37. Total touchdowns he would lead, three. He wouldn’t come into the game, like I said, until 14 minutes and 12 seconds in the third quarter. He would also account for 29 of the 42 points, which is 70% almost of the points scored all game. He would also score 29 points in 13 minutes and 21 seconds, less than one quarter. Why isn’t this kid starting at quarterback?

Andrew:​I have to think about it. I mean, I don’t have to think about this. I have to slow my roll about this for a second. I think there’s a couple things here. I think there’s a couple things in play. First of all, Dan Mullen has not put Emory Jones in a good position to win a football game yet, and that’s on Dan. Second thing, I don’t know that answer. I wish I knew that answer. I don’t know that answer. I will say this. Anthony had two picks too, and both of those were really bad throws.

David:​Ill advised throws. Yeah.

Andrew:​But I will say this, and your backup quarterback is always your favorite guy on the team. That is what it is. Now, whether or not it was because they were down in this game, and then Anthony came in, the team did look more energized when Anthony Richardson came in the game.

David:​The offense did.

Andrew:​The thing about it is I don’t know why it is, but Dan turned the playbook loose when Anthony came in. There’s a couple of questions that have to be asked here, David. I don’t mean to filibuster your question. There’s a couple questions that have to be asked. Does Mullen trust Anthony more with the playbook than Emory? That’s Question 1. Question 2 is, if the answer is yes, why is he not starting? If the answer is no, then why doesn’t Emory have the entire playbook? You can’t tell me the playbook Anthony Richardson had and the playbook Emory Jones had was the same. I’m not trying to be an Emory apologist, because stats speak for itself, and he didn’t play well, but both quarterbacks are not given the same opportunities and the same playbook. It’s confusing to me. It’s frustrating to me.

David:​Let me ask you this. Are the plays being executed better by Anthony Richardson than they are by Emory Jones? A lot of times I saw yesterday where Emory Jones progressed through his reads, would get confused, take off running with the football or do something, do whatever else. When Anthony Richardson was in the game, he was able to look off safeties. He was able to go through his reads quick, toss the football where it needed to go, and it was for the most part pretty accurate. He threw two picks.

​My opinion here is this. You can answer that question in a second. My opinion is Emory Jones, and I love Emory Jones to death. I’m not going to say he’s a bad quarterback. I don’t think he’s a bad quarterback. I don’t think he’s the quarterback that you need for this team right now, the way that they’re playing on defense, to win football games. Emory Jones is not a guy that’s going to dig you out of a 14 to 21 to 28 point hole and lead his team back to a victory, or even tie the game.

Andrew:​Right.

David:​Anthony Richardson is the type of guy that he’s going to have his warts. It’s going to be pretty much his first year starting as well. He’s going to make his mistakes, but what do you do now?

Andrew:​The thing is this. Here’s what you have to do. I’m sorry to cut you off. I get fired up.

David:​We’re all fired up here today.

Andrew:​What is next year? This year’s gone.

David:​Exactly.

Andrew:​This year is gone. What is next year? Is next year Emory Jones your starting quarterback, or is Anthony Richardson your starting quarterback next year? Here’s the thing, and remember this, whichever guy you pick, the other guy is probably going to transfer.

David:​He’s probably gone.

Andrew:​That’s not me starting rumors or anything else. That’s facts. That’s the day and age we live in. Sorry. It just is. Don’t think for a second if Anthony Richardson is the starter Emory’s not looking for other places to play. It’d be dumb on Emory’s part. Don’t think for a second it’s the opposite way around. If Emory starts, and Anthony doesn’t start the rest of the year, don’t think for a second Anthony’s not going to look for other places to play.

​It’s a question that has to be asked. I think the answer’s pretty simple here. I think though it’s this too, David. Again, I know I sound like an Emory apologist, and I’m not trying to be, but, yes, this is a quarterback problem, but, yes, this is an offense problem for Florida. This offense is not very good. There’s not a receiver on this team that can get open. When you look at the game in the first half, even in the second half at times, nobody was getting open. Nobody was getting open. Emory does throw some balls behind it. Anthony did throw some balls behind it. The receivers give them no help. There’s no help. There’s no separation.

David:​I think I saw one.

Andrew:​It goes back to one thing, David. Recruiting.

David:​Recruiting. I think I saw one play where they got separation. That was that Jacob Copeland pass for a touchdown that tied the game 42-42. I believe that one was the only play I saw some kind of separation on.

Andrew:​That was a double move.

David:​It was a double move, and the ball was kind of late a little bit on that play too. But still made it from Anthony Richardson. My thing is this. Anthony Richardson gives you the best chance to win football games right now. That’s not me saying that Emory Jones is a bad quarterback or whatever. Anthony Richardson is the bigger guy. He’s faster on his feet. I think he might have just about as good an arm as Emory Jones, probably better. He’s a bigger guy. But he goes through his reads and progresses through his reads a lot better than Emory Jones.

I just saw him lead a team that was down by almost three touchdowns and looked checked out and came back and almost won them the football game. Usually when a quarterback can energize his offense and energize his players around him to lead a spark into the offense, to get these guys back in the football game, usually the defense comes out with fire and wants to get a stop. You didn’t see that.

Every time it seemed like Anthony Richardson scored, Florida would just give up another touchdown on defense, and Anthony Richardson would have to roll back out there. There’s no question in my mind right now, if you threw Anthony Richardson out there at the beginning of the game and let him play all the way to the end, Florida could have scored at least 60 or 70 points on LSU.

Andrew:​Yes. Probably. But you have to take it for what it is, and that is he played in the second half. We don’t know. We don’t know what changes LSU would have made. You got away from the...

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