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Freshly prepared for your order, limited time and participating shops, terms, taxes and other fees still apply. Cut! Let's continue the Florida conversation. We'll go into swamp territory and bring in a former Gator-wide receiver. Now does a great job, SEC Network. You'd also catch him in the mornings on Sirius XM. And that's Chris Doran. Chris, appreciate the time as always. Are you buying all the hype into Anthony Richardson as well?
Well, I just want to, I'm going to self-promote real quick. I was probably leading the charge for Anthony Richardson heading into last year. You know, there were, if you go back and remember, there were some that were putting together mock drafts that had Emory Jones as a top selection.
Obviously, a part notification that didn't come to fruition. But I was saying that I thought last year in the preseason that it might actually be Anthony Richardson and not Emory Jones. And part of that has to do with, I'm a Gainesville boy. Anthony Richardson went to high school. He's a Gainesville boy.
Somebody that's born and raised in these parts. So I was well aware of what his athleticism was like, what his size was like. And I would agree with Harry, man. He's perfect for the style of offenses that are being run now. I think what you saw last year was some hesitancy to have him in the lineup because he wasn't necessarily that familiar with the offense that Dan Mullen was running.
There were times that I think he was behind in terms of understanding what the reads were. But I think the biggest thing that he does is athleticism keeps plays alive. It negates pass rush. It turns negative plays into positive ones. Puts an incredible amount of pressure on defenses.
And that equaling up of the number count in the box is tough to account for, especially when one of the guys, number 15, is playing at one and a half times the speed that everybody else on the field is playing. He was dominant running the football last week. We know Mark Stoops is a really good coach. They're going to try to take that away. It's easier said than done. If he has to throw that football like 30-something times this upcoming weekend, where do you think his arm is at?
I don't think that's a recipe for success. I don't think that's the way that Florida wants to play necessarily. I think you go back and you look at the MO of this Florida offense.
That's what you're going to see for the rest of the season. That's a ball controlled offense. I think the defense, while better than what they were times last year, is still a little bit of a liability. Particularly on the defensive line where I think Florida is not that deep with talent.
Certainly not to the level of the elite teams in this conference. What you're going to see is Florida trying to stay ahead of the chains, much like the NFL, where you're gaining three yards on first down, pick up four on second down, and let's leave ourselves in third and manageable. If you don't move up on third down, we can always go forward on fourth down because you've got a guy in Anthony Richardson that can make things happen, as he did last week. Florida was 4-4 on fourth down, so you're going to take a couple shots at the game, but largely it's going to be running the football, a lot of read option stuff.
You'll throw some over routes, which I thought that Anthony Richardson did a nice job of, but largely it's not an erred out offense. Even at Louisiana, Billy Napier revolved around the run game, and I think you have a perfect quarterback to run this style of offense that is, again, going to be heavy on the run game, including with the quarterback. Talking to Chris Doran right now, I just can't wait for this game up against Kentucky. Mark Stoops has done a really good job.
Billy Napier started the year off with the bang in his first game at Florida, taking down the seventh team in the country in Utah. Will Levis is a good quarterback as well, and we know for Florida he's a little bit of revenge because last year, they go to Lexington and they lost there for the first time since 1986. I think this is maybe the game this weekend. I know Alabama plays Texas that I'm most intrigued by, Chris. That Alabama-Texas spread is like three touchdowns. Florida-Kentucky, you go back to the history of this rivalry. I was a part of those Florida years of dominance. Florida won 31 years in a row before Kentucky was able to break that streak four years ago. But in the last four games, Kentucky is 2-2, including a win in the swamp a few years back. So this is not a Kentucky team that's going to be intimidated by Florida.
It's not a Kentucky team that's going to be intimidated walking into the swamp. And like you mentioned, I think Mark Stoops is one of the best coaches in the country. I don't think he gets the credit that he deserves.
He's a guy that's had to do more with less. He and his staff are tremendous when it comes to developing talent. Now they're starting to get some better talent because of the visibility that they've gained the last few years, including 10 wins last season. But unfortunately for them, I was a little surprised, at least for one night on Saturday last week. The offensive line was not what we expected.
Remember that group has been nicknamed the Big Blue Wall. They didn't live up to that reputation on Saturday. Levis was on the run a lot. He was sacked four times. They had a hard time picking up the twist. They didn't communicate and pass things off very well. And they didn't run the ball.
And that's the thing that concerns me the most. Obviously, Chris Rodriguez was out last week. You expect him to be out this week on another game suspension.
He had a couple of other injuries in that running back room. But this Ritz-Gangarillo offense revolves around running the football and then having success off of the run with the play-action pass. If you can't run the football, this is going to be a long night for Kentucky.
So I think I'm intrigued by that battle within the battle on Saturday. I know it's year one for Billy Napier at Florida, but how good do you think year one can be, especially what they showed on Saturday? I was of the opinion that you needed to be patient, particularly with the schedule that Florida played in the preseason.
You start with Utah. You've got to come right back with another physical game against Kentucky. Your West opponents were A&M and LSU. Obviously, LSU is not looking as daunting as it was prior to Sunday. Florida State is going to be better at the end of the year. I honestly believe in the preseason that an 8-4 record would have been a really good accomplishment. After what I've seen at least in one week, with Florida being a little more surprising to me and how good they were, I thought in addition to Richardson, the offensive line was really good. They got a nice push up front.
The trio of running backs ran hard and were very physical. I think Florida feeling may be a little higher now. I think if they can win nine games, that would probably be a really successful season, but the future is bright for the Gators. They've got the right guy named Billy Napier. He's already doing a great job on the recruiting trail. You look at where they focused primarily recently on the defensive line.
That's one of the spots they need to upgrade the most, but they've got a number of commitments over the last month. I think people are really excited about where the trajectory of this program is under his guidance. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if they're 7-0 going into that Georgia game. We know Alabama and Georgia are the two best teams in college football. They're the two best teams in the SEC. Can Florida be that third best team in the SEC this year?
Yeah, I think that third best team question was one that we talked an awful lot about at Media Days about a month and a half ago or so. It's wide open behind those two teams. I thought it was Alabama and then a little bit of a gap, and then Georgia.
With their performance on Saturday, with the defense picking up right where they left off, not missing a beat despite losing all that talent, with Seth and Bennett looking like he was in full control over an offense that looks to open it up a little bit. I think those two teams are neck and neck, but I do think it's wide open. I think Florida is in that consideration. They've got a tough game at the end of this month heading to Knoxville against another team that I think could be the third best team. Let's not overlook this Kentucky team this weekend. In the preseason, I thought Kentucky was the third best team in the conference.
They have a chance to assert themselves on Saturday night if they're able to come to the swamp and knock the Gators off. I'm also intrigued this weekend Tennessee at Pitt. Pitt, a great way to start off the year at the backyard brawl. I like Keaton Slovis and Hendon Hooker has done a nice job so far at Tennessee. How do you give me a little preview of that matchup?
I think it's all about revenge. That was a game that Tennessee let get away last year at home. Obviously this year they're having to travel to Pittsburgh to play there in their home field. I really like this Tennessee team. The offense is really difficult to stop. They play at such a high breakneck speed that it's tough for defenses to get aligned.
Even if they're aligned, they really can't disguise much for fear of getting caught out of position. Hendon Hooker has been executing that offense really well. I think they scored points on six of their first seven possessions on last Thursday night's game and threw it to eight different receivers. They're spreading the ball around.
They're very difficult to stop. I think the defense has gotten a little bit better from last year. I really think that's a team you need to keep an eye on this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hendon Hooker in the Heisman conversation as we get into November.
Talking to Chris Doering right now. How about South Carolina-Arkansas this weekend? I called the South Carolina game last week and everybody around these parts was excited about the debut of Spencer Rattler in the SEC.
The problem is that Spencer Rattler can't beat Spencer Rattler if he doesn't have time to throw the football. The offensive line was really one of the main disappointments that I saw in that game on Saturday. The defense was lights out. Special teams with the difference with two block kicks. They were able to scoop and score a couple fifty yards plus field goals. A seventy-three yard punt. That Beamer ball runs in the family for sure, but the offense is going to be limited until they can shore things up on the offensive line. Spencer was on the run the entire night. Even some of the big passing plays they hit came off the scramble. I'm worried about that matchup with Arkansas with as disciplined and physical as Barry Odom's defenses typically are.
It could be a long afternoon for Spencer Rattler if they don't shore things up on the O-line. I've also been impressed with the hire of Sam Pittman and what he's been able to do. When that hire was made, a lot of people made fun of it. I like the way he's been coaching. I think you're looking at two coaches that are very similar with two athletic directors that made hires not because they had great resumes, but because they knew they were great fits for those individual cultures.
These guys are CEOs. Shane Beamer had never been a head coach or a coordinator for that matter before being hired, but he was on those ceasefire staff that went eleven seasons back to back to back. He understood the culture of that part of the country. I think the same can be said for Sam Pittman. The turnaround in Fayetteville has been remarkable. Hunter Yuracek, just in general as the athletic director, has put together a tremendous group of coaches. You feel the synergy there. They've had such success with Muff on the basketball court, with Dave Van Horn on the diamond.
You look at Courtney Dyfel on the softball diamond. They just are so well connected. You can't say enough about what a great job Hunter Yuracek has done and what a great fit that Sam Pittman is for that culture there. Chris Doering, what do you expect out of Texas A&M this year? I wasn't buying the A&M hype as much as a lot of people were trying to sell in the offseason. I certainly have to respect the recruiting job that Jimbo Fisher has done. They stacked some really good recruiting classes, including the number one class in the country last year. Let's not forget, this is a league that has some really experienced players in it, particularly in the Western Division.
I think A&M's year may be next year and beyond. I don't buy the hype that they're a number six team in the country right now. I think the defense was looking really good on Saturday. They've got a lot of young players that have filled some spots of need.
But James King was not all that impressive. The offensive line banged up a little bit, didn't necessarily allow the running game to do what they typically would have done. The jury's still out on the wide receivers too. I think A&M's on the right track, but to think they're a college football playoff this year is a little bit overly optimistic in my opinion. When we get to LSU, I know it's one game, but that's a devastating way to lose a ball game up against Florida State, where your team goes down the field 99 yards and then you get an extra point blocked. For Brian Kelly, we know he's a really good football coach, a damn good football coach, but the fit to me, Chris, is bizarre at LSU.
How about yourself? I think on the surface level it is bizarre. I respect Brian Kelly for wanting to come into the SEC and test his wares in the most difficult division of all of college football. Other coaches kind of went the other direction, but he wanted to be a part of the SEC and I respect that. I'm a little surprised though, to be honest with you, because I really thought that LSU would be better than what they looked on Saturday. Obviously the offensive line is an absolute mess, and probably the reason why Jayden Daniels won that starting job at least for the first game of the season. But the thing that surprised me, I thought Brian Kelly would come in, I thought he would unify that locker room, they got a bunch of talent on the roster that he inherited, and I thought they would play with great discipline, but it was quite the opposite. It was very sloppy, you had a couple muffs on special teams, you get a couple block kicks with your field goal kicking team, you get penalties down in the red zone, you got mistakes down in that part of the field, you're coming off the sideline out of a timeout and have to call another timeout offensively, it just didn't really look like a Brian Kelly coach team in my opinion.
You said they lost a close one, they were lucky to be in the ballgame. They were down 14 points with 6 minutes to go, and thanks to Florida State trying to help them out, both in terms of playing defense and fumbling the ball on the 1-yard line, LSU had an opportunity, but I look at the deficiencies they have, particularly on the offensive line, and I look at that schedule they face, you can't tell me now that there's a sure win on the SEC schedule for the Tigers, given what we expect to be a struggle up front offensively for them the rest of the year. Before we let you run, you know what this conversation is all about, Chris Doering, it's who's going to be the four teams in the playoff at the end of the year, what's your best guess on this right now? I wasn't impressed with Clemson the other night, I'd say that much, that was surprising to me, I know they got the defense to do it, but offensively, something to be desired there.
And Chris, it's more than just the quarterback too, that line stinks, and the receivers, they drop every pass it seems like. Yeah, it definitely is weird to think about where Clemson is after having such dominance in recent history, but I think it probably ends up being Alabama and Georgia, the two best teams in the country, Ohio State probably gets there, maybe Utah, maybe they find a way to work themselves back in, although the Pac-12's reputation took a big hit in Week 1. Big 12 by any chance? I don't know, maybe one of those two, I think Texas takes a beat down this week, maybe Oklahoma, maybe Baylor, but right now, it really is about the two biggest conferences, the SEC and the Big Ten, in my opinion, than everybody else. What do you think Quinton Ewers is going to do this year, before we let you run, Chris Doering? I was impressed with his opening week performance, he's facing another beast this week though, I mean this is a different animal between what Will Anderson will present and Dallas Turner on the other side, he's going to be under some pressure, so I'm anxious to see how he fares against this Alabama defense, who I feel like could be one of those generational type units, you know we saw the Georgia defense was a generational unit last year, Alabama's offense in 2020 was a generational unit, LSU's offense in 2019 was a generational type unit, I believe this Alabama defense can be right in that same kind of category, and it'll be interesting to see how we talk about Quinton Ewers after this Saturday game against the Crimson Tide. Chris, always great to have you on, Chris Doering, thanks so much. Thank you man, take care, bye bye.
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