Podcast: Talking Dan Mullen and the state of the program for the Florida Gators


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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk the state of the program for the Florida Gators under Dan Mullen during the bye week.

Andrew Spivey and David Soderquist break down what Dan Mullen had to say during teh SEC Teleconference on Wednesday.

Andrew and David are also joined by Eric Fawcett as we preview the Florida Gators basketball team as Mike White and the Gators get started in November.



David: What’s up folks of Gator Country? This is none other than your body David Soderquist, along with Andrew Spivey. Florida will be on a bye week, and hoops is starting up here soon. We will be having on Eric Fawcett here in a little bit to discuss hoops and Mike White going into another season with the Gators basketball team.

First on the podcast today, a little segment I officially want to call the Bye Week Blues. Spivey, what’s been going on in Florida Gator Nation, besides the little teleconference we had today?

Andrew: Who got fired, Ed Orgeron or Dan Mullen?

David: I don’t know. It feels a little different.

Andrew: It’s hot.

David: It feels a little different, doesn’t it?

Andrew: It does. It feels a little different. Very strange feeling around the program right now. Obviously, Todd Grantham’s all but got a fork in him. I’ll be honest. Heading into the LSU week never would I have thought that the pressure would be this on Mullen if he lost, but the heat’s out there. He was on the teleconference on Wednesday. That’s his only media appearance for the bye week, and that’s normal. He usually doesn’t do very much media during the bye week. Coaches are out on the road. They take Monday off. That’s normal, but he was peppered. He was peppered with questions. He give his normal BS about evaluating this and evaluating that.

I think the one thing that stood out to me, David, was he says both quarterbacks are going to play. He didn’t want to say one guy was going to start with another, but if I was reading that press conference, I would say Emory Jones is your starting quarterback.

David: Don’t say that. Please, don’t say that, Spivey.

Andrew: That would be where I’m at.

David: You know how Dan is though. He’s going to say one thing and then do another thing. The thing is Georgia’s going to prepare for two quarterbacks anyway. It doesn’t matter whether you say Emory Jones is starting, Anthony Richardson is starting. He said he’s going to play both, like he always does. Who cares? Just say Anthony Richardson is starting, if you want him to start. That’s the thing. We don’t know if Dan Mullen wants him to start or not.

Andrew: Here’s the thing for me. I wouldn’t tell you. I wouldn’t tell you a lick. I’d keep it a secret all the way down to the wire. That would just be me. That’s the football coach in me. I wouldn’t say a word. I would say just like he said. You look at it, and obviously it’s gamesmanship. You’re never going to say that. You’re not going to give Georgia any leads whatsoever. If Kirby Smart is smart, which I’m pretty sure Kirby Smart is pretty smart defensive guy, he’s going to prepare for Anthony Richardson to be the starter. Obviously, he knows both quarterbacks pretty well, and he even said that, Kirby did. I get it.

The issue becomes, and we’re going to get into this more after we talk to Eric, but the issue becomes when you get this far down the road that you really are, everything you say is scrutinized to a tee and picked apart to a tee. You’re in a no-win situation. I feel like that’s where he’s at. I think he could tell us the sky was blue, and we’d argue with him.

David: It’s rightfully so though. He brought it onto himself.

Andrew: Agreed.

David: You can’t sit here and recruit lackluster all year and then on top of that, we’ll get into some other recruiting and all that towards the end of this podcast, but you can’t lackluster recruit. You can’t have an anemic defense two years in a row. You can’t lose games you shouldn’t lose, especially whether it’s by three, seven, or two points. It doesn’t matter. You can’t lose games that you’re not supposed to lose. Good coaches close out close games, whether they’re playing Alabama or they’re playing an LSU team that’s hobbled with 30 players. Good coaches, elite coaches, close out close games. You can’t do that on a consistent basis without getting some sort of criticism for it.

Andrew: Agreed.

David: We’ll get into it later on. Dan, the same energy Dan has, you can see it starting to wear on him a little bit.

Andrew: Right.

David: You’re wondering now what’s his response going to be? Is his response going to be it’s going to be the same thing each week, next week, the week after, evaluate this, evaluate that? Or is he going to take another step and say, I need to prove all these people wrong, the pressure’s too much, I need to do something, and then maybe accelerate that into the Jacksonville game? Maybe just start Richardson to begin with and see how he does.

Andrew: I was listening to someone today. If you start Richardson, and Richardson pulls a shoe out of his hat and wins the game, people are going to be pissed that he hasn’t played all year.

David: Don’t say shoe around here.

Andrew: Whatever. Pull a bone out of a dog. Whatever. Still, if that happens. Again, Dan’s put himself in this position that it is. Everything is scrutinized. He’s 4-6 in his last 10 ballgames. That’s the same thing that Jim McElwain and Will Muschamp were when they got fired.

David: That’s pretty bad.

Andrew: The difference is those two guys got fired with really good recruiting classes coming in. Dan’s recruiting class, and we’re going to talk about this more, but Shemar James decommitted. That was their highest rated guy.

David: It’s falling apart.

Andrew: Probably going to go to Georgia. This class isn’t looking great.

David: No.

Andrew: Where are you planning to go from good to elite? I was reading a story on Wednesday, and they said you can out scheme teams and win eight and nine games, maybe even 10. You can’t out scheme yourself for 12 wins, 13 wins.

David: No.

Andrew: You can’t. Here’s the thing. It has shown. As our man, Wunderlich said, the margin of error for Dan Mullen is zero.

David: You have to be perfect with that roster that you have right now. You have to have no injuries, nothing going on. You don’t have good quality depth. You don’t have elite depth. Who’s going to step in if one of the offensive linemen gets hurt? Who’s going to step in if a corner gets hurt, like Jason Marshall or Kaiir Elam? Who’s stepping in there? You don’t have good quality elite depth. Then you went to the portal to try to band-aid that, and now you got Elijah Blades out of here.

Andrew: Right.

David: Who do you have?

Andrew: You look at it. We’re going to bring on Eric in just a second, after this point real quick.

David: We’ll get into it later.

Andrew: My last point on this is this. Alabama, for instance. Let’s just talk Alabama. The Florida game, their worst game of the year probably. They found a way to win. Great talent. You look at teams when things go wrong, and they’re able to still win games. When things go wrong for Florida, they lose, because they don’t have enough depth to just overcome it. They don’t have enough star power to overcome it. A lot of teams, great teams, can figure out a way to overcome eight penalties. Guess what? They have enough star-studded athletes. They can convert 3rd and 15.

David: You kind of saw it in the LSU game. You have one star, which a quarterback makes a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong. You can be depleted of skill level talent, if you have a good quarterback. You saw it in the LSU game. LSU, they were going to blow us out of the water, until Anthony Richardson stepped in. He’s one of those guys that is a good skill level athlete, but who do you have after? What if Anthony Richardson gets hurt? We got Emory Jones. I’m not trying to trash Emory Jones. Anthony Richardson is leaps and bounds better than Emory Jones, from what I’ve saw. If he gets hurt, who do you have?

Andrew: Here’s the thing I want to say. Emory Jones would be a lot better with last year’s football talent. With Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Emory Jones would look really good. The talent surrounding him is not good. Let’s go. Let’s talk to Eric, David. We’ll talk some basketball, some Mike White. Maybe Eric can cheer everybody up with some Mike White talk.

David: I don’t know about that.

Andrew: Yeah. They may surprise some people.

David: Maybe some other basketball talk.

Andrew: We’ll get Eric. We’ll talk the basketball, and then we’ll come back, and we’re going to break down that video you had on Twitter.

David: Let’s do it, man. Folks, we have on Eric Fawcett, basketball expert over here at GatorCountry.com, covers the Gators basketball team for us in every facet of the game. With all the bad news going on in Gator football, come shed some light on the Gator basketball team for us and give us some good news.

Andrew: Bring us some good news, Eric.

David: Good news. We need good news.

Andrew: We’re over here talking bad about losing to LSU and Kentucky. Bring us some good news, my man. Is Florida going to beat Florida State this year?

Eric: That’s a tough one. You know what, both kind of my general thoughts on the team and what will happen against Florida State are a little bit tied in here. The first thing I’ll say is if you’re looking for an optimistic way of looking at this Florida basketball team, the first thing to look at is that it really does look like a team that’s very different than the Gator teams of these last couple of years.

What I mean by that is you look at the last couple of years, and there’s been a couple of returning players that the Gators like, whether that was KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza or Kerry Blackshear or last year with Keyontae Johnson. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way, but with Keyontae Johnson and Tre Mann. All those teams had a couple returning pieces that you liked, but then there was a whole lot of young players, fairly highly thought of recruits, that were going to be really heavily relied on. What we have kind of seen with the last couple years is if you rely on young players, that’s just often not going to work in college basketball, where everyone is trying to get older and more experienced.

You look at this year’s Florida team, and they’ve got a hell of a five-star recruit in Kowacie Reeves , who I love a whole lot, 6’7” shotmaker, but you know he’s going to have to be relied upon, because the Gators have Colin Castleton coming back. They have Tyree Appleby coming back as a fifth-year point guard, Anthony Duruji coming back as a fifth-year player. Then all the graduate transfers they’re bringing in, that I’m sure we’ll get to, Brandon McKissic and Myreon Jones and Phlandrous Fleming and CJ Felder. They have a bunch of players that are older, have already shown that they can contribute, a couple of them at the high major level, a couple of them just at a high level at some lower leagues.

Again, I just look at this Florida team, and it looks a lot different than these last couple of years, where Florida was going to need to get a whole lot of production from some very young players, and banking on that in college basketball, not just at Florida but around the entire sport, that has a recipe for experience. You can really look at them in a little bit of a different way than some of these past teams.

As that relates to Florida State, one thing that’s nice is that the Gators get to play Florida State in the second game of the season. You look at Florida. They are definitely the more experienced team. More new younger pieces for Florida State. They’ve got a lot of talent. They’ve got some really good recruits coming in, some good younger transfers, but Florida is the older team. So, I think when you look at a game that’s being played second game of the season, oftentimes those matchups are going to benefit the more experienced team.

That’s also I’ll say part of the reason why Florida State has really dominated the rivalry recently was because Florida State was always the older team, and then Florida’s bringing all these young players first or second game of the season. The Gators don’t know how to play together yet, and Florida State just comes out and blitzes them. I don’t think that’s going to be the case. If Florida is going to catch Florida State, it’s probably going to be this team, with the much older more experienced roster.

Andrew: Two-part question for you. A, can Florida go more than seven or eight deep, like they were last year, where it seemed like it was a limited group? Then based off of what you know, who do you think roles out as that starting five?

Eric: This has been a good question. There’s the starting five that I think would be the best five, and then the starting five that I think Mike White is going to play, just kind of based off what he has done in the past.

Andrew: Can you give him the starting five that’s going to win games? That’s what we want, Eric.

Eric: This is the starting five that I think will win games. Starting at point guard I’d have Tyree Appleby, fifth-year player. We saw him do pretty well next to Tre Mann last year, and now he’s going to be a lot more suited to his skillset, so I think we see a big year out of him. I see Myreon Jones, the Penn State transfer, 15 points a game, proven high major guy, at shooting guard. I see Kowacie Reeves, the five-star freshman, 6’7” shotmaker, at small forward. I see CJ Felder, 6’7” physical power forward, unlike anyone that the Gators have really had on their roster recently and a proven ACC player, played in one of the best leagues in college basketball the last two years. Proved he can contribute at a high level. I see him at power forward. And I see Colin Castleton, of course, preseason first team All-SEC, at center.

The lineup that I think the Gators are going to play, just based off of what Mike White normally does. Tyree Appleby at point guard. Brandon McKissic, UMKC transfer, combo guard, smaller guy, can really defend at the point of attack, shoots threes, and then I would say Myreon Jones at the three. That would be three 6’3” and under guards on the perimeter. Then I would see Anthony Duruji at the four. Mike White has always loved playing smaller, kind of more stretchy guys at the four than traditional power forwards. Then Colin Castleton at the five.

That’s the five I’m expecting to see when they open the season against Elon. I mentioned the starting five that I think is going to kind of emerge as the best one by the end of the season. You know what, Andrew, this is very easily the most depth that a Mike White team has had. As much as I say this is the starting five I think should happen, and this is the starting five I think is going to happen, I don’t hate the starting five I think Mike White is going to roll out. Let’s just roll with the starting five that I think Mike White’s going to roll out.

Andrew: Do you think that helps get to the pace of play Mike White wants to play?

Eric: It certainly helps. You look at the Gators that...

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