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!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think are the Best College Football Players for the Florida Gators in 2012?
Michael DiRocco (3:57 PM)
Chris -- On offense, Mike Gillislee, Jeff Driskel and Jordan Reed. On defense, Matt Elam, Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins.
Does Tyler Moore transferring to Florida affect Trenton Brown or David Dawson's decision to commit?
Michael DiRocco (4:00 PM)
JD -- I don't think so. You can never have too many OL and those kids will have to compete wherever they go anyway.
Will Chaz Green be back for LSU? 100%
Michael DiRocco (4:01 PM)
Bruce -- Muschamp said yes to that today. Green has been bothered by a ankle since the week before UT. Not playing against UK should help that.
According the UF's stats, Kent Taylor played against UK. What do you think his role will be moving forward this season?
Michael DiRocco (4:03 PM)
Julio -- Taylor did play. He was on the field for several snaps. I thought he would have a chance to play a significant role at WR, but with him missing so much time with the concussion may have set him back so far that he makes little or no impact this year.
Mike, $20 says Florida gets hammered by LSU in two weeks. (and I'm a Florida fan)
Michael DiRocco (4:04 PM)
Brandon -- That game will be the measuring stick for the Gators to see how far they are behind the SEC's elite teams. Be competitive and lose a close game and that shows progress. Get hammered and the feeling is the Gators are right where they were last year.
How close to 100% will D. Easley be for the LSU game?
Michael DiRocco (4:05 PM)
Julio -- That one I don't know for sure. He hurt the same knee he had ACL surgery on in the offseason and that's a concern. Muschamp said he would be okay, though.
What are your thoughts on Brent Pease as OC? I am very high on him so far. I can't remember the last time that a coordinator position seemed so improved from one year to the next. I admire how he has used Driskel in the offense so far.
Michael DiRocco (4:06 PM)
Jeremy -- I think Brent Pease has done a great job developing Driskel. Even the WRs have started to make some plays (much to my surprise). If UF can find some consistent playmakers at WR, the Gators could be pretty good offensively next year.
How badly is Florida going to get rocked by LSU? What's your record prediction for the rest of the SEC slate? Thanks
Michael DiRocco (4:07 PM)
Mike -- I think the game will be closer than most people do. Mettenberger did not look good on the road at Auburn and I don't think he's anything special, anyway. The key will be how UF's offensive front handles LSU's front seven. The Tigers are fantastic there.As for record prediction: 3-2 the rest of the way in the SEC.
John (St Pete, FL)
How is Dominique Easley looking healthwise?
Michael DiRocco (4:08 PM)
John -- Muschamp says he'll be OK for the LSU game, but I'm not so sure. He hurt the same knee he had ACL surgery on last December and that's a huge red flag.
Scott Crump (Owensboro, KY)
How do you think the Gators will match up with LSU October 6th?
Michael DiRocco (4:09 PM)
Scott -- I think UF's defense will do an OK job against LSU's offense because I don't think Mettenberger is anything special as a QB. However, I think LSU's defensive front handles UF's offensive line, which will make it tough for the Gators to get yards. The WRs are going to have to be phenomenal for UF to win.
Mike McGrath (Coushatta, LA)
As a gator fan in Louisiana, what do you think Florida's chances of beating LSU are?
Michael DiRocco (4:10 PM)
Mike -- Probably 25 percent, for the reasons I've listed in other answers.
Ryan Mac (Coral Springs, Fl)
What are the key things Florida needs to focus on to at least have a shot at beating LSU?
Michael DiRocco (4:11 PM)
Ryan -- UF has to not turn the ball over on offense, get some outstandig play from its WRs (because I think the ground game struggles), and get pressure on Mettenberger.
Is Kelvin Taylor supposed to be the feature back next year? Matt jones?
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
Casey -- I think Taylor will be the guy. Jones, for as big as he is, isn't a very physical runner. That's what Muschamp wants.
Roy (Columbia, MO)
What kind of offensive game plan does Pease have to throw at the Tigers next weekend to win that game?
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
Roy -- I think he has to open it up and put a lot more on Driskel's shoulders. LSU's defensive front is scary good and I don't think the Gators will be able to run the ball. Gonna have to make some big plays in the passing game.
I haven't heard much news regarding Tunsil and the Florida Gators, lately? Are we out of the race for his services?
Michael DiRocco (4:13 PM)
EC -- Tunsil has named Georgia and Alabama as his top two schools.
Is Florida strong enough at OL to compete with the LSU DL
Michael DiRocco (4:14 PM)
Ryan -- I don't think so. That LSU front seven rivals FSU's front seven for the best in the country. The Gators won't be able to get much space in the ground game but I think they'll be OK in pass protection.
Brian Gentry (Smiths, AL)
OK two turnovers by LSU and one by UF. Who wins?
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
Brian -- Depends. Is UF's turnover inside its red zone? On a kickoff? Returned for a score? If we go on the premise that both teams turn the ball over between the 20s, then I'll still take LSU. The Gators will have to force the Tigers into several turnovers to help out the offense.
Mike, only 25 percent chance? I know you listed some reasons, but considering that LSU offense isnt the greatest and our defense is quite good, i think we have more so a 40 % (Reid playing a big role), and easley didnt hur the same knee, muschamps words
Michael DiRocco (4:18 PM)
Ross -- I'm looking at the transcript from Monday's interview with Muschamp, and he said "yes" when asked if it was the same knee.LSU's defensive front is really, really good. I think that'll be too much to overcome. The OL is better but it hasn't been tested against that kind of competition.
Philip Johnson (South Florida)
What's going on with Trey Burton? I think he's our most dangerous weapon, but it seems like we hardly utilize him.
Michael DiRocco (4:19 PM)
Phillip -- I expet Burton's role to be bigger the rest of the season. He would have touched the ball a lot against Kentucky but sat out with back spasms.
Mr. DiRocco- first you do a great job so thanks... Second this whole problem with Debose and his work ethic and production... Is it time to completely give up on him?
Michael DiRocco (4:21 PM)
Tracy -- Coaches say they will never give up on a kid, but they do. They gave up on James Wilson. He started last season on an exercise bike because he was too heavy and then worked on the scout team for about half the season before his play got noticed. As for Debose, my opinion is the coaches should move on. He's had three seasons to prove he can work hard and wants to compete. If he hasn't done it by now, it's likely he never will.
what do you think about tyler murphy running some of the wildcat? He is fast and probably throws better than Burton (i stilllike Burton but it would be a change up)
Michael DiRocco (4:22 PM)
phil -- I think it would take an epic event -- like every other QB on the roster getting food poisoning -- for Murphy to get on the field. Even then, they'd probably go with Burton. Murphy is pretty far down on the depth chart and Muschamp said earlier this year the kid wouldn't play.
Mike it was great to see freshman start and play this week and with a even better class coming in next year who do you see playing early on. Also could I get a breakdown of what you think of the two DT we have coming in Ivie and Brantley?
Michael DiRocco (4:28 PM)
Chris -- I think Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane, Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey, Nick Washington and Chris Thompson have a chance to play a lot next season. Especially Taylor, Lane, Fulwood and Thompson because the Gators need offensive playmakers.Ivie is a high-motor guy and those guys tend to find ways to get on the field. He has to bulk up, though, in order to be a DT in the SEC. He's only 271 pounds now and is a bit of a DT/DE hybrid.Brantley has good size (6-3, 304) and is pretty strong. He's got the perfect frame for adding some additional bulk, too. He can become a run-stuffing NT.
Mr. Dirocco, did A&M not lead the nation in sacks last year? i believe we handled them, and 6 of those 8 sacks were driskel holding onto the ball too long
Michael DiRocco (4:29 PM)
Jordon -- A&M did lead the nation in sacks last year and five of those were on Driskel. But remember, he was scrambling because the protection broke down or the pocket collapsed. And LSU's DL is much better than A
Brian Gentry (Smiths, AL)
Mike, I think I know what you are doing... Tell a kid that he can't do something and he is sure to prove you wrong. Please keep letting our OL know that "they cant do it!" Go Gators! I predict that UF wins 13 to 10 is a great football game!
Michael DiRocco (4:31 PM)
Brian -- I'm not trying to fire the OL up. I'm giving an honest opinion. I think the group is better than last year, tougher, stronger. But I don't think it'll be able to handle LSU's defensive front. Especially at LT. Xavier Nixon has struggled this year and may end up getting benched for true freshman D.J. Humphries. If you're starting a true freshman against LSU and asking him to protect Driskel's blind side, it's not going to be pretty.Maybe the group will prove me wrong. The LSU game will be a measuring stick to see how good it is.
We talked a couple of weeks ago about Driskel running more designed run plays and it has happened. Will that be more important in the October games?
Michael DiRocco (4:32 PM)
David -- Absolutely. The thing I like about Driskel, though, is he's already at the point where he's keeping his eyes down the field when he scrambles instead of automatically taking off to run. He'll have to make some plays with his feet -- some on called runs and some on broken plays -- against the elite defenses he'll face in October to give the Gators a chance to win those games.
Mr. DiRocco, Jeff Driskel is a rising star but he doesn't have players around him like Gaffney, Harvin, Chad Jackson or either of the Caldwell brothers or Hernandez or Ben Troupe like we are used to seeing... Who are the Gators targeting in recruiting to get better playmaking around Driskel or are those days of Flrida dropping 60 on people done?
Michael DiRocco (4:35 PM)
Tracy -- Right now they've got commitmens from WRs Ahmad Fulwood, Chris Thompson and Marqui Hawkins. Fulwood is the best of that group, and Thompson brings some blazing speed to the mix. Plus, they're all 5-11 or bigger.Plus, I expect freshmen Kent Taylor, Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades to continue to develop and become reliable playmakers next season.
phil, grade coach muschamp on the recruiting and coaching job over the past two seasons.
Michael DiRocco (4:36 PM)
rufus -- Phil? Anyway, I think Muschamp's first season was more about cleaning house and fixing attitude and entitlement issues than anything else. He's doing a good job recruiting and we've seen this season that he's a capable game-day coach. Right now I'd give him a B. But if the Gators flop again in October, that grade will drop.
How far away do you think Jeff Driskel is as a finished product? We are all excited but how good can he really be do you think? 1st Rounder?
Michael DiRocco (4:38 PM)
Tracy -- Whoa, whoa, whoa. He's had just 3 starts, remember. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. He's going to have a terrible game sometime this season because all young QBs have them -- sometimes multiple times in a season. That being said, his growth has been impressive in a short time. I think he certainly can be an All-SEC type player if he continues to improve and the Gators surround him with better playmakers.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where is QB John Hartley the QB that Replaced Tim Tebow is Playing with Right Now?
Michael DiRocco (4:38 PM)
Chris -- Brantley isn't playing anywhere right now to my knowledge.
Where do you see Laremy Tunsil headed? Is it really UGA? Just find it hard to believe that they're his #1 when he's in G-Ville's backyard. Not saying it won't happen, thoughts?
Michael DiRocco (4:40 PM)
rbarilla -- It's either Bama or Georgia. And kids these days don't think about hometown teams. They're after early playing time and a shot to go to the NFL and they'll go to whatever school they belive gives them the best shot.
Is there anything we haven't seen the first four weeks that we could see coming up?
Michael DiRocco (4:41 PM)
David -- Maybe Trey Burton passing out of the wildcat. That would be a good trick play, provided it works.
What do you predict as the record for the Gators in the LSU, Vandy, SC, GA set of games?
Michael DiRocco (4:42 PM)
Andy -- 2-2 probably. I think they win at Vandy and at home vs. SC. The Georgia game is a tossup and they could easily win that and go 3-1 in October. But after last year's October, 2-2 is a pretty good month.
Joshua Harris (Gainesville,Fl)
Jelani Jenkins is one of our best, when will he be back and how bad is that hand going to slow him down?
Michael DiRocco (4:43 PM)
Joshua -- Jenkins sees a specialist on Friday to have the pin taken out of his thumb. It's likely he'll return against LSU. The cast will be bothersome for the first few days he wears it to practice, but by the time the game rolls around he should be used to is. Will it impact his ability to make interceptions? He didn't have a cast last year and dropped five.
Mr. DiRocco- Solomon Patton has been a revelation this year thus far... What took so long to figure out that he could play?
Michael DiRocco (4:44 PM)
Tracy -- I think they just needed to find him a role. He's fast and the smallest of the receivers, so he's a natural on the jet sweep.
Hello Mike:Did any of the young DBs get in against Kentucky (Poole, Maye, etc.)? Who do you think the future starters are?
Michael DiRocco (4:47 PM)
Brian -- Several of those guys played. As for the starters in the secondary next season I see Roberson and Watkins at CB and Saunders/Showers/Gorman at safety. That obviously changes based on what happens in spring but that's my best guess now.
What was the true state of the program when Muschamp came in? I think it has been downplayed how much the program was in shambles due to Meyer. Any insight?
Michael DiRocco (4:49 PM)
Steve -- I haven't downplayed it. In fact, I wrote a story about how Muschamp's first year was more about fixing entitlement and attitude issues than anything else. The talent level at certain spots was pathetic -- WR, OL, DL -- and it's going to take a while to get that back. Meyer had lost his players by the end and that's something you can't get back.
which team do you think is the toughest team matchup wise we will face for the remainder of the season
Michael DiRocco (4:49 PM)
rob -- Probably FSU. The Noles' defensive front seven is every bit as good as LSU's (maybe better) and E.J. Manuel appears to have taken the next step as a QB.
Jones (Barnett, NY)
Who you got winning between UGA and South Carolina on Oct. 6?
Michael DiRocco (4:50 PM)
Jones -- I'll take Georgia. The Bulldogs were my pick to win the Eastern Division.
I agree that the UGA/UF game is a toss-up. Game is always close and both teams usually come to play, especially FL in recent years. Do we (the Gators) have an adavantage anywhere on the field over UGA (def, off, qb, sp teams, secondary)? If so, what areas is it?
Michael DiRocco (4:51 PM)
rbarilla -- I think you're better at K and P. Equal at RB, secondary, LB. Behind at QB, WR, OL, DL.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which Players who are Playing for Florida Right Now do you think has the Best Shot of Playing in the NFL in 2013?
Michael DiRocco (4:52 PM)
Chris -- Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley are the top three, but Floyd and Easley had better start making some plays or they won't have a chance to leave early.
Thoughts on Alvin Bailey heard you mention other WR that you think will be good why not him?
Michael DiRocco (4:52 PM)
Chris -- I wasn't saying Bailey wouldn't be good. I just like Fulwood better. Bailey will have as much chance as any of those three guys I mentioned to play. UF needs playmakers at WR and he's certainly a playmaker.
With no Tyrann Mathieu, no Tahj Jones, No Chris faulk and Mettenberger being average can we assume that if LSU gets beat their going to trot out excuses? Their fans being notorious whiners?
Michael DiRocco (4:55 PM)
Tracy -- I don't know about that. But I feel UF's chances are much better at winning now than before the season because of those personnel losses and Mettenberger's play.
Is it wrong to consider Missouri and Vandy as the most important games left on the schedule? Win those, and Florida has already improved on last year's SEC and regular season records. Gators will be pretty big under dogs against UGA, USCe, LSU, and fsu.
Michael DiRocco (4:56 PM)
Brian -- This sounds like a cliche, but every SEC game is important. That being said, the Gators should always beat Vandy and losing to the Commodores, even on the road, would be devastating. Missouri has shown already it can't compete with the league's better teams. That's a home game you have to win.
Thanks again for another great chat. Way to go Phil!
Michael DiRocco (4:57 PM)
Miquel Guillermo Mota Gonzales (Mexico City)
Better chances of happening FSU winning national chamionship or Florida winning SEC East
Michael DiRocco (4:58 PM)
Miquel -- Intriguing question. FSU has already beaten its toughest ACC foe but still has to play the Gators. The problem with FSU is that its non-conference schedule stinks (not their fault, WVU pulled out) and they won't get any juice for winning the weak ACC. UF, however, has a tough road with SC, FSU, LSU and GA ahead -- all of whom are ranked in the top 10.
hey mike, the biggest problem i have seen with uf's program has been just a total lack of discipline. it appear that we are getting better with less penalties per game but this team seems to always shoot itself in the foot by doing something stupid like late hits or taunting. looks like CM would get this stuff in hand before the season starts. this team has done nothing to brag about up to now but the way these guys act (especially easley) you'd think they were world champions. just make a play, keep your head up, and get ready for the next down.
Michael DiRocco (5:02 PM)
rufus -- Muschamp has admitted that the Gators are an undisciplined team on defense. You're right about stupid penalties. Nixon taking his helmet off was the dumbest thing I've seen in a long time. Of UF's 32 penalties, I'd classify 22 of them as stupid (false start, delay of game, roughing the passer, personal fouls, offside, unsportsmanlike contduct, illegal blocks, illegal procedure).
Who has been the better player so far- Bullard or Fowler, Jr. ?
Michael DiRocco (5:03 PM)
Tracy -- Neither has been particularly impressive, but I'd say Bullard.
Osceola (Nole Nation)
Over/Under 4 losses for Florida this year? I don't see them getting by LSU, UGA, SC, and FSU is going to embarrass them.
Michael DiRocco (5:04 PM)
Osceola -- I've picked UF to go 8-4. If you're making me take one, I'd take the under. GA and SC aren't significantly better than the Gators. UF had a hobbled QB and nearly beat GA last year. FSU will win yes, and it could be by a lot. That's a very good defensive front.
How big of a get was Tyler Moore? He was pretty highly rated out of HS in Florida, and seemed to back that up at Nebraska.
Michael DiRocco (5:05 PM)
Brian -- Huge get. The Gators can add two experience tackles in Moore and Garcia to Chaz Green and D.J. Humphries. That's a pretty good lineup.
Tlingas Bohr (The Netherhands)
What do you think our chances with Wayne Selden are like?
Michael DiRocco (5:07 PM)
Tlingas -- The Gators are in his six finalists and he hasn't named a favorite yet. He'd be a good fit at Florida next season. UF loses Kenny Boynton and he could come in with Hill and give UF some size and athleticism to pair with what should be a dominant front court.
Ivo (Jacksonville, FL)
Are Gators still recruiting at WR Coley?
Michael DiRocco (5:09 PM)
Ivo -- I know they're going after Treadwell.
Was there a beef between Charlie Weis and Muschamp or did Weis just not like it at Florida?
Michael DiRocco (5:10 PM)
Tracy -- I wouldn't call it a beef. It was not a good fit. Weis wasn't able to be a hands-on coach because of his health and his personality was not a good fit with the coaches and players.
Why is Florida getting runover by opponents? I was under the impression that we had a stout DL that could stop the run.
Michael DiRocco (5:11 PM)
Ed -- The defensive line, while better, still has a ways to go. Damien Jacobs is a guy to watch, especially next season. UF needs more impact players there.
Michael DiRocco (5:11 PM)
OK everyone, thanks for another great chat. We'll be back next week and we'll have a big game to talk about.