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 (4:01 PM)
OK everyone, let's get to it.
What do you like most about Muschamp? Quinn? Pease?
Michael DiRocco (4:02 PM)
Brandon -- On a personal level, they're all really great to deal with. They're personable and treat us like we're human beings -- something that some coaches don't seem to recognize.
Michael DiRocco (4:06 PM)
Brandon -- You've got a bunch of questions right in a row so I'll try and answer them all here. Yes, Powell can be a leader. He was filling that role before he got hurt. I think UF will be fine at safety next year with Gorman and Showers, plus Riggs can play safety, too. Watkins has played there some, too, so if things really break down he could fill in there. As for the freshmen TEs, Taylor needs to get bigger and stronger, but he'll be a pass-catching TE. Thompson is more of a blocker but he'll be a factor in the passing game, too. Much more so than Burton or Westbrook, I think. The staff loves McCalister's motor and athleticism.
Bert (St.Augustine, FL)
Hello Mike, Any feeling on which underclassmen may stay or go? What kind of incentives can Coach Boom deliver to get them to stay?
Michael DiRocco (4:08 PM)
Bert -- I think Floyd, Elam, Easley leave. Not sure on Reed or Jenkins, yet. As for incentive to stay, I'm not sure how many kids are enticed by staying to win a national title. That's pretty much all he can offer, plus the chance to improve their draft position. But if a kid wants to go, he's going to go.
Do you think Easley will be back next year? I assume if he comes back he will play DT, where do you think his natural position is? (Maybe DE in a 3-4?)
Michael DiRocco (4:09 PM)
Andy -- I don't think he stays. But if he does, he will rotate between DE and DT. I thought he was going to excel at DE this year but he didn't. I think he might be better off at DT.
Dan (Fayetteville, AR)
How ridiculous is it that not a single Florida defensive player was named to the All-American team? Not even Kyle Christy or Caleb Sturgis? NOBODY was a better punter than Kyle this year, I don't care what the numbers tell you.
Michael DiRocco (4:11 PM)
Dan -- I'm not sure where you're getting that information from. Elam, Floyd and Sturgis were named AP and/or SI All-Americans this week. As for Christy, he did have a phenomenal year. I think people just look at averages when voting, and he finished 6th nationally (which is fantastic) but people may have voted for the guys ahead of him.
james cooper (new york)
do you believe Ronald Powell will play next year? and how good you think he will be
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
james -- Absolutely he'll play. He should be poised for a good year, too. He'll have had plenty of time to rehab. Barring any setbacks he should be completely healthy by August.
Mike- with all the bogus chatter earlier in the year about a college team playing the worst NFL team, how do you think a team composed of first, second, and third team All-Americans would fair against the Jaguars?
Michael DiRocco (4:13 PM)
JT -- It probably would be a better game, but the Jaguars will still win it. Remember, just because you're an All-American in college doesn't mean you'll be a good pro.
As you have noted, WR was probably the weakest position this year. How do you feel about Joker Phillips coming in to coach them up?
Michael DiRocco (4:15 PM)
Bruce -- I like the hire. He did a good job with UK's receivers before getting hired as OC and head coach. He worked with Randall Cobb and you can see how well he has played for the Packers. Phillips has to work a lot of magic with the incoming freshmen, though, for the Gators' offense to be better than it was this season. That may be too much to ask, because it's hard for a freshman to make an impact there. Only truly elite players do.
Heard through the grape vein Easley isn't leaving for the draft this year, is it true? Can Gator Nation rejoice yet?
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
Justin -- Until the deadline passes (Jan. 15), I don't believe anything any kid ever says about going to the NFL or returning. And Easley has never said anything publicly. It's just been rumored that he told teammates he was coming back, which I don't believe for a minute. It's easy for kids to say in November they're coming back, but wait until paperwork comes back and agents and relatives get in a kid's ear -- then see what he says.
It looks like we won't lose any assistant coaches this offseason but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Michael DiRocco (4:18 PM)
Julio -- The only one I see as a possibility is Durkin, but I don't think it happens this year. But he's destined for a coordinator's job eventually. Keep an eye on Quinn, though. The Bucs came after him last season and he stayed. He may get other NFL offers after what he did with the defense this season.
If Easley comes back do you think he would move inside?
Michael DiRocco (4:18 PM)
Bret -- I think he moves between DE and DT. He's versatile enough to be able to do that.
Nick (New Mexico)
Al Golden to Wisconsin?
Michael DiRocco (4:19 PM)
Nick -- I have no idea, but I haven't heard that rumor. But Golden would be wise to get out ASAP because the NCAA is getting ready to hammer Miami.
Benjamin (Fort Lauderdale)
With players leaving early, graduating, attrition, etc. do you see Florida maintaining their dominant defense next year and will they need it with maybe an improved offense?
Michael DiRocco (4:20 PM)
Benjamin -- There will be some dropoff, but not a lot. There's a ton of young talent on the roster. The secondary, while losing two guys in Elam and Evans, is LOADED, so I think the defense will be pretty darn good next season. Everything -- everything -- about the offense hinges on the receivers next season. If they're not any good, the Gators will struggle again.
What freshman will play next year the most?
Michael DiRocco (4:21 PM)
david -- A lot of them will play on special teams, but in terms of offense or defense, I think the guy who plays the most is WR Ahmad Fulwood. The Gators need one of those freshmen WR to step up and he's probably the most ready to do it.
On paper, Florida, Alabama, TA&M, Georgia (if Murray stays) and LSU should potentially improve next year. 2013 will be a monster SEC season.
Michael DiRocco (4:22 PM)
Josh -- Absolutely. If the SEC doesn't win the national title this year and the streak gets snapped, the league will start it up again after 2013. Even if Murray comes back, I'm picking UF-Bama in the SEC title game right now.
Sorry about the spelling on that last post, I have a final exam at 5:30 has been a long week of studying. What bowl game are you looking forward to the most this bowl season, and your thoughts on the LSU/Clemson Chikafila Bowl?
Michael DiRocco (4:25 PM)
Justin -- Other than the BCS title game I'm looking forward to the Outback (South Carolina-Michigan), Fiesta (Oregon-K State), Capital One (Georgia-Nebraska) the most. The LSU-Clemson game is intriguing from this standpoint: Will Clemson be like every other ACC team and get beat down by an SEC opponent?
Who do you see UF closing with in their current recruiting class?
Michael DiRocco (4:27 PM)
Chris -- Derek Tyson, GatorNation's recruiting guru, ran two pieces addressing your question. There's much more in-depth information than I can give you here. Here are the links:http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/florida/post?id=11587http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/florida/post?id=11576
Victor (Palo Alto, CA)
With the loss of Evans and possibly Elam and the addition of Hargreaves, who do you project to start in the secondary next year?
Michael DiRocco (4:29 PM)
Victor -- Probably Showers and Gorman right now, but there will be a lot of competition from Brian Poole, Cody Riggs, Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter.
Is Brissett a sure transfer after this year? If so who is the next QB in line after Driskel is done?
Michael DiRocco (4:30 PM)
Ted -- I don't know if Brissett is a "sure" transfer but I think he's going to leave. Commit Max Staver is probably the most likely candidate. He'll have a redshirt season and possibly one other season to get ready. If UF signs Will Grier in 2014, though, I expect him and Staver to battle it out for the job.
I believe our staff is looking for another Buck and big body DT in this class. Who do you see filling those two spots?
Michael DiRocco (4:33 PM)
David -- The Gators are going after DT Montravius Adams and DE Ebenezer Ogundeko pretty hard.
Victor (Palo Alto, CA)
Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane. Who gets the most carries next year?
Michael DiRocco (4:34 PM)
Victor -- Right now I'd say Matt Jones. Taylor and Lane will get a lot of work, though. Unless something changes and he starts practicing better, Brown will be at the bottom of that list.
What sophomores now do you see leaving early next year as juniors?
Michael DiRocco (4:37 PM)
AJ -- Good question. As of right now, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy are the only two who I believe will be good enough to have a chance to leave early.
Adam (Richfield, Utah)
Would there be any benefit to the SEC ( from a Gators point of view )to allow Florida State to join the conference?Yes....there are alot of us Gator Fans in Utah !
Michael DiRocco (4:39 PM)
Adam -- It doesn't surprise me that there are a lot of Gators fans in Utah. Gator Nation is everywhere, right? As for your question, no, there is no benefit. One reason is recruiting. UF can use the fact that the ACC is falling apart and you won't have a chance to win a national title if you play in the ACC as a recruiting tool. It's kind of moot, really, because UF would not allow FSU into the SEC. They'll do everything they could to block that move, as would South Carolina to Clemson.
Is Kelvin Taylor going to make an immediate impact or will he need a year to develop behind Matt Jones?
Michael DiRocco (4:40 PM)
Ryan -- If you're asking will Taylor be the No. 1 RB and have a chance to rush for 1,000 yards, my answer is no. But if you're asking if he'll play significant minutes and get carries, then yes. I think Jones, with the improvement he has made late in the season, is going to be the No. 1 back next season.
What are your thoughts/prediction on the sugar bowl?
Michael DiRocco (4:41 PM)
joshsa -- UF wins the game rather easily. I don't think Louisville has seen a defense anywhere close to what Florida will put on the field.
Coop (St Augustine )
Everyone says we need more play makers well um hellllllllllo....? Will Andre debose's talent finally be sought out by joker or they still set on his practice etiquette ?
Michael DiRocco (4:42 PM)
Coop -- Debose's chance to be a part of the offense is gone, I believe. Unless he completely changes his attitude/work ethic/practice habits/life, he won't see the field much, if at all.
Ken (Ft Lauderdale)
With regard to current coaching staff are they all considered top flight recruiters or is Muschamp the closer on the big name kids?
Michael DiRocco (4:43 PM)
Ken -- The assistants are good recruiters. They wouldn't be on Muschamp's staff if they weren't. That being said, Muschamp is the closer for sure.
Does Muschamp seem like a long term coach in Gainesville, or does he have a "dream" job that you know of?
Michael DiRocco (4:44 PM)
Justin -- He's never spoken of a "dream job" although some people are convinced it's Georgia since he played there. But I don't believe that. I think he'll be here for as long as he wants to be, whether that's 5 years or 10 or 20.
harry (brandon fl)
will fla be ranked in the top five next year
Michael DiRocco (4:44 PM)
harry -- I think they'll be a preseason top five team.
There has been alot of chatter latley about Demarcus Robinson making a switch to UF in the coming days. What do you feel are the chances that happens and what do you think of him as a player?
Michael DiRocco (4:48 PM)
Bryce -- Robinson and Treadwell are the Gators' top two targets in terms of WRs now. Robinson has decent size (6-2, 200) but what I like about him is that he plays bigger than that. That's always a huge plus when it comes to receivers because it means they can out-muscle DBs and are guys who make plays on the ball in the air -- something the Gators don't have right now.
Thought Id change it up and break away from bowl season and recruiting.Huge debate between friends from back home about next years Ga Southern game, they are confident that they can put up 300+ rushing yards on a Gator D that should be every bit as good next year as it was this year, and with more depth. Given the historical trends (UF Run D allowing &lt;100 yds/gm over 2 years; GS putting up 300 on Bama
Michael DiRocco (4:50 PM)
Chris -- That's way, way in the future, but I'll say this: That's a tough offense to handle when you don't see it regularly and practice against it. UF won't be spending extra time preparing for it, so it's possible Georgia Southern will have success on the ground because they are pretty good at running that offense. But 300 yards might be a bit too much to expect.
Smash (Parts Unknown)
Think Jarvis Jones and the Georgia QB will go early to the NFL?
Michael DiRocco (4:52 PM)
Smash -- Jones is projected to be the No. 1 draft pick, so yeah, he's gone. As for Murray, his size is a question mark for NFL teams. Nothing he can do about that, but it doesn't make him a high pick so he'll probably come back.
How good will Marcus Maye be?
Michael DiRocco (4:52 PM)
ken -- He's got a chance to be pretty good. He'll be in the mix at safety next season with the loss of Evans and the expected loss of Elam.
Mark (Palm Beach)
are any O line players leaving this year, and do you see the line improving for next year or staying about the same, not outstanding but solid for the most part?
Michael DiRocco (4:54 PM)
Mark -- Nixon and Wilson graduate, but the rest of the guys return. Add in Max Garcia, Trenton Brown and Tyler Moore and the Gators should be much better along the offensive line in 2013.
Will our offensive line be A LOT better next year or about the same? and will Trenton Brown or Tyler Moore see the field next year?
Michael DiRocco (4:55 PM)
Anthony -- See my previous answer about the line being better next season. I expect Moore to have a chance to win the starting RT spot. Brown will be in the mix provided he's in shape. That's a concern.
Who do the coaches like as far as a player whos been on the team and hasn't had a chance to shine, but think will be a big contributer next year? Not including transfers and incoming freshman.I'd guess Pittman on O and Poole on D.
Michael DiRocco (4:56 PM)
David -- The staff really likes DE Alex McCalister and LB Jeremi Powell. Those two guys will get a lot of playing time next season.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the Gators have a hard time getting up for Louisville? As oppposed to an Oklahoma who many anticipated would be their opponent in the Sugar Bowl prior to the official bowl announcements. Does Muschamp have to guard against an Alabama-Utah situation with his team?
Michael DiRocco (4:58 PM)
Tony -- I don't think the Gators will have any trouble getting up for this game. Not after what they went through last season. They've got a chance to finish in the top 3 in the AP poll, which is a heck of an accomplishment.
Is there any truth about the rumor that surfaced about Andre Debose and Pop Saunders being kicked off the team?
Michael DiRocco (4:59 PM)
Justin -- As of now, they're both on the team.
Can you give me your starting 11 on D for next year? How about O? Thanks Mike!
Michael DiRocco (5:02 PM)
Brandon -- My way too early starting lineup next season:QB DriskelRB JonesFB JoyerWR DunbarWR PittmanWR AndradesLT HumphriesLG GarciaC HarrisonRG HalapioRT MooreTE ReedDE BullardNT OrrDT JacobsDE/Buck FowlerOLB MorrisonILB TaylorOLB JenkinsCB RobersonCB WatkinsS RiggsS Gorman
Michael DiRocco (5:03 PM)
OK everyone, thanks for another great chat. If you didn't see your question answered, check the transcript because there were a lot of duplicate questions.Same time next week.Mike