Chat with Mike DiRocco
Welcome to GatorNation! On Wednesday, reporter Mike DiRocco stops by to chat about the state of Florida football.
DiRocco came to ESPN.com in 2011 after spending more than 10 years covering UF for the Florida Times-Union. He lives in Middleburg, Fla., with his wife and two sons.
Send your questions now and join DiRocco Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Michael DiRocco (4:02 PM)
Welcome. Let's get right to it.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who did Florida Replace the Players who went to the NFL with?
Michael DiRocco (4:03 PM)
Chris, Gators had only two players drafted: DT Jaye Howard and RB Chris Rainey. Stepping into their spots are Damien Jacobs and Mike Gillislee.
MDWhy in the world are we not using Hunter Joyer for short yardage situations? This kid was a beast last year with limited touches!! Why isn't he getting a chance in the 3rd and 2 or 1 situations?
Michael DiRocco (4:06 PM)
CP, He was used on a fourth-and-1 run in the second quarter. They gave him the ball from his FB spot and he got 1 yard. I'd like to see him line up in the TB spot and run the ball some. He can certainly get the job done. But he's a very good blocker and with Gilly looking as good as he did, it's hard to justify not giving Gilly the ball 20 times a game. That means less carries for everyone else.
UFSTUDENT (Gainesville, FL)
Hey Mike! I just enrolled at UF this fall as a freshman. Should I have picked somewhere else, I came mostly for the football. One more question: Who do you see filling out the remainder of our 2013 recruiting class, any more defections?
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
UFSTUDENT,Here's a link to a message board chat that GatorNation's Derek Tyson did last night. It's got a ton of recruiting information in it, including targets and what Derek thinks about UF's chances with several recruits.http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/florida/forums/_/chompions-club#!/topic/1346769780-552-965
Gary (Panama City Beach, FL)
Did Brian Poole get to play at all during the BG game? Also, did Jabari Gorman play? Gorman had a good spring game but I didn't here anything about him last week?
Michael DiRocco (4:14 PM)
Gary,Poole did not play, but DC Dan Quinn said earlier today that he would be someone that will help them in the secondary this year and he doesn't believe Poole will be redshirted. Gorman did play and made one tackle. He didn't make much of an impact.
Why did Fl hamper their offense? or do you think that is just a smokescreen for another bad season?
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
Mike,I don't think it's a smokescreen. I think UF wanted to really pound the football to get the OL some confidence and establish an identity as a physical, tough football team.That being said, the gameplan was somewhat vanilla although the Gators did show a lot of personnel groups that Texas A&M now has to prepare for. But I'm not sure how much they're really going to open up the offense. The WRs aren't very good and the OL is still struggling. I think we'll see a lot of Gillislee all season and I don't expect the passing game to be any better than it was last year.
Mike, after the lackluster performace against Bowling Green, is there any reason to think that this offense can turn it around and perform better? I bleed orange and blue but I'm not sure how much more patience I have with this coaching staff...
Michael DiRocco (4:18 PM)
Matt,I think the biggest issue with the offense is the lack of talent and playmakers on the roster. The WRs aren't very good, the OL has struggled, and neither QB looks like anything more than a game manager right now. That could certainly improve because they're young QBs, but the WRs aren't going to get any better and the OL isn't deep. Gonna take a few years to replenish the talent on that side of the ball. When that happens, let's see how well the offense performs.
What happened to the preseason hype of Letroy Pittman? More importantly, do you think Driskel being declared the starter will allow him to relax and perhaps play to his potential or will his lack of WR talent limit his ability to do so?
Michael DiRocco (4:21 PM)
JR, Pittman was great in the spring because he wasn't given the full offense and was able to go out there and react. In the fall, he got the entire playbook and his head is still reeling a bit. He's thinking instead of reacting on the field, and that's slowing him down a bit. As for Driskel, I think he will be more relaxed and should benefit from getting the majority of first-team reps in practice. But I do think the WRs will hold the offense back.
Did you think Pease and Muschamp held back some of the air attack game bc it was Bowling Green or is just our qb's are not very good? I really dont want to see a repeat of the last two years
Michael DiRocco (4:23 PM)
Stokes,I think it's a little bit of both. Both QBs can get better. They're young and inexperienced. But rotating snaps was going to hinder their development and UF picking Driskel to start should speed up the process because he'll get the majority of practice reps.
Ryan (Birmingham, Al)
How are you sir? I was loving it this week sitting on the couch indulging in hit after hit of college football and then after it was over tuned in to watch the influential "experts" affirm the football I had seen all day. I wasn't surpriesed with the money driven lies, spins and hypothetical non sense I heard from the networks. I don't believe the guys on espn are allowed to give their oppinions B/c marketing purposes. It makes me ill considering this playoff of teams decided for unknown reasons by; unknown people. I don't know what each area of the country is expecting from this playoff, but I do know they won't get it. Do you believe the guys on espn are free to express their true oppinions? and do you see the playoff as progress?
Michael DiRocco (4:25 PM)
Ryan,Never been told not to offer my opinion when asked. If you see what I've written just today, you can see I'm not holding back on the WRs or QBs.I do see the playoff as progress. Four teams isn't enough, though. Gotta be at least eight, and that will eventually happen. Should have been done years ago.
Chad (Middleburg, FL)
Do you think the gator coaches and players are hearing how everyone thinks they stink again, just like the last two years, or do they not read and hear that stuff? I want them to hear it, I want them to be motivated by it. But so often I hear coaches and players don't read papers or listen to the radio or watch TV.
Michael DiRocco (4:27 PM)
Chad,I always find it amusing when the players and coaches say they don't read the papers or listen to the TV, because somehow if we've written or said something they don't like they complain to us about it. Their response is always: Well, someone told me.I think the players are probably more aware of the criticism than the coaches because they do read the student paper and check out the internet. The coaches generally don't during the season because they're busy, but there's always someone telling them what was written/said.
Mike, is there any chance that Purifoy can make an impact at the receiver position?
Michael DiRocco (4:30 PM)
Brian,Well, he can't be any less of an impact than some of the guys that are there now, can he? He's got good size, speed and long arms. Generally stuff you like in a WR. But can he get open? And how are his hands? I need to see more of that, but it's an indictment of the WRs that they moved him there.
Chad (Middleburg, FL)
Will Antonio Morrison just be a backup, or can he get on the field at the same time as Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins? He was a beast in the spring game. But kept seeing Ball and Taylor on depth charts with Bostic and Jenkins.
Michael DiRocco (4:31 PM)
Chad,The coaching staff LOVES Morrison and as the season progresses he'll be on the field more with Bostic and Jenkins. He just needs to gain experience, which is something Taylor has. Morrison's biggest attribute, other than his physicality, is his versatility. He can play Mike and Will linebacker. He'll play a lot this season.
What do you think is a realistic record for this year's team? Do you think Muschamp will get enough support in Gainesville to allow him to continue to improve the quality of player and develop his system?
Michael DiRocco (4:33 PM)
Brian,I'm sticking with 8-4. I said last week that I thought there were two swing games (SC, GA) that UF could win and get to 10 wins. I'm not sure, now, unless I see something out of the offense.The administration knows what kind of mess the program was in when Muschamp got here. He'll get more time than maybe some fans think. Besides, Jeremy Foley is tied to this hire so he'll want to give Muschamp as much time as he can.
Chad (Middleburg, FL)
Do you think Muschamp will eventually let Pease run the offense he ran at Boise St, or will he meddle and demand the runs up the middle? That would seem foolish as Pease scored 35 on Georgia last year, while the UF offense scored 13. (special teams scored another 7)
Michael DiRocco (4:34 PM)
Chad,I think Muschamp will eventually let Pease run the offense he ran at Boise State -- just not this season. UF doesn't have the personnel at WR or OL to get it done. When the talent level rises, Pease will be able to fling it around.
Ryan (Bham, AL)
All do respect I wasn't refering to you. I am talking about the guys who speak to the whole nation every saturday. When I hear most of them say no sec team in the bcs this year, I get slightly suspicious.
Michael DiRocco (4:36 PM)
Ryan,If they said there would be no SEC team in the BCS title game this year, they must be figuring on teams like USC and FSU going unbeaten. But I maintain that a one-loss SEC team would leap over FSU because of the Noles' weak schedule and the fact that the ACC isn't very good. I've never heard anyone say they were held back from voicing their opinion. I've heard some dumb opinions, but that's another matter :)
Rob (Memphis, TN)
Mike, what kind of WR talent is in the pipeline recruiting wise? Additionally to that, what are the odds that UF lands some of the big name recruits at that position that always seem to defect to Southern Cal, and other SEC competition.
Michael DiRocco (4:40 PM)
Rob,Ahmad Fulwood, Marqui Hawkins, Chris Thompson and Alvin Bailey are committed. Those are four really good players, especially Fulwood and Bailey.I think UF could very well add another WR. All Muschamp has to do is show them tape and they'll know there's plenty of PT available.
Taylor (South FL)
Who do you think will win the game this weekend? Also what is the key matchup going to be that dictates the game?
Michael DiRocco (4:43 PM)
Taylor,I thought before the season that UF would win that game, and when Texas A&M lost its opener I was convinced the Gators would win. Then I saw the offense against Bowling Green. I still think UF wins, but it'll be a tight ballgame.As for the best matchup, it's Florida's OL vs. Texas A
How do you think the Gators will do on this two game road trip? Right now, it's hard to see them winning either game (TAMU or UT). Luckily, A&M has a new QB and coaches, so that may help.
Michael DiRocco (4:46 PM)
Brian,I touched on A&M in my previous answer. I know everyone is raving about UT's offense, but the Vols did it against a below-average ACC team, so I'm not ready to proclaim the Vols back in the division hunt. That being said, Bray and those WRs are really, really good. But UF's defensive strength is the secondary. Great matchup there. It's going to be a tougher task than I thought a couple weeks ago, but I think the Gators can win at both spots. Definitely have to split. Go 0-2 and things will get dicey.
Chad (Middleburg, FL)
Do you have any idea why so many 4 star receivers got run off, especially at a need position, like Dunkley, Jajuan Story and McRoy?
Michael DiRocco (4:49 PM)
Chad,I know people worry about kids that transfer, but they were down on the depth chart. And if they couldn't move past the WRs UF does have now, it's clear that they were struggling or didn't want to work hard. There are some instances where family situations played a role, too.It's just going to take a while to clean out that position and that's a part of it.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What were you happiest with after the Gators Week I performance against Bowling Green? And what areas have you concerned the most going into College Station and the rest of the season? Were there any potential problem areas that you did not anticipate entering the season?
Michael DiRocco (4:51 PM)
Tony,I thought the secondary played pretty well for the most part. A couple dropped INTs and Purifoy missed a couple tackles, but Watkins looked good and so did Roberson.As for problem areas, the WRs and OL top the list. I was expecting the WR issues, but we had been hearing all offseason how tough and strong the OL was now. Didn't see that. I know that UF ran the ball against 8- and 9-man fronts because Muschamp wanted to and that's not really ideal for a lineman, but they didn't seem to get much push and they should have against a team like Bowling Green.
Gators727 (St. Petersburg, FL)
Any indication of how Jonathan Bullard is doing? I didn't really hear his name get called this past Saturday and do you think he can keep up with Dante Fowler Jr.?
Michael DiRocco (4:53 PM)
Gators727,Bullard did OK against Bowling Green. He's going to get plenty of playing time this year. Fowler, once he gets back into the shape the staff wants him, has the potential to be an absolute beast. Bullard looks a little further behind Fowler, but they're going to be UF's bookend rushers of the future.
how short of a leash will jeff d. have in the TAMU game
Michael DiRocco (4:55 PM)
pat,Pretty short, I think. He'll throw the ball probably more than he did against BG, but I'll be shocked if he has more than 25 attempts unless the Gators are getting blown out. Even though Muschamp say the offense will open up, it'll still be heavy doses of Gillislee. The passing game will be short, quick stuff.
Mike...thank you for your time today and for taking my questions. This chat was awesome. Love your work at ESPN. Go Gators!
Michael DiRocco (4:55 PM)
Brian,Thank you for the kind comments. Love doing this kind of thing and interacting with readers.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Did Cordarelle Patterson and Justin Hunter put to rest all doubts they are not healthy and won't be an explosive force to be reckoned with in the SEC?
Michael DiRocco (4:56 PM)
Tony,Looked like it to me. How scary would that unit be if Da'Rick Rodgers was still there?
Mark (Miami, FL)
Will the Gators be able to land Tunsil and Alexander? And is there a surprise recruit that will end up in Gainesville pleasantly surprising Gator Fans?
Michael DiRocco (4:59 PM)
Mark,Looks like Tunsil is a Georgia lean. Alexander is still wide open.
bill (Jacksonville Beach)
MD, with the lack of talent Fla has across the board on offense,Do you see this offense becoming above average in the next couple of years
Michael DiRocco (5:00 PM)
bill, It's going to take another year or so but I do think the Gators will get much better on offense, especially if all four committed WRs sign. The OL will be better next year with Humphries, Dunker and Garcia.
Robert (Palisade, Co.)
In the simulated BCS standings after week 1 the so-called unbiased computers have LSU at an average of .9278, and USC at .8848. All they have to go on is USC beating a fellow FBS school by 39, and LSU beating a FCS (div.2), school by 27. Yet LSU has a higher computer ranking. Tell me that does not have a bias written into the algorithym.
Michael DiRocco (5:02 PM)
Robert,First of all, I don't know what an algorithm is (I'm a communications major, and my math stops at figuring out per-carry averages and batting averages). But it does seem weird. But don't worry, things will shake out in October. I hope USC goes unbeaten because I'd love to see an LSU/Bama vs. USC title game.
Was there something wrong with the previous coaching on WR's? Many of the WR's already on the team were highly rated out of high school, but now they're doing poorly. Was this primarily a coaching problem, or poor choices of recruits? If it was coaching, do you think the new receivers coach can turn it around, or are they looking to hire someone else?
Michael DiRocco (5:04 PM)
Andy,I think it was a mix of both. UF missed on some guys and didn't do enough to develop the ones they did get. The guy coaching them now, Bush Hamdan, was the offensive GA in July. I think they'll probably look for another WRs coach when the season ends.
Michael DiRocco (5:05 PM)
OK, everyone, that's it for this week. Thanks for joining me. Hope to hear from everyone next Wednesday.