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 2 p.m. ET!
Dont want to brag but I called saturdays upset, anyway in your mind is 4 a little bit too high for the gators right now?
Michael DiRocco (2:04 PM)
Zane -- Yes, because the Gators don't pass the "eye" test for me as a top-five team. That being said, it's hard to argue with the resume: road wins at Tennessee and Texas A&M and a physical beating of LSU.
Robert (Fern Park, FL)
Do you think Driskle's limited passing is a result of a prolific rusher in Mike or because of limited ability? Or maybe Pease isn't getting full control of the offense like we thought?
Michael DiRocco (2:05 PM)
Robert -- Against LSU, it was because the OL wasn't able to keep the Tigers' elite rushers out of the backfield. Driskel has improved each week but last week he held onto the ball too long and tried to do too much. He regressed a bit, but he's going to be fine. Pease has total control of the offense.
UF Freshman (Gainesville)
Hey mike! Is my outlook for the next four years gonna be good? Is the state going to produce the talent like usual. Will Florida get that talent?
Michael DiRocco (2:07 PM)
UF Freshman -- I think it's safe to say that Muschamp has the Gators pointed in the right direction for sure. But he has to land some elite skill position players because that's really the only area that the Gators are really deficient in. As for whether UF gets the talent, that's hard to predict. But if UF starts winning big, that would help.
After the Missouri game, do you think playing two teams such as Lou-Laff and Jax St will help with additional prep time for FSU?
Michael DiRocco (2:08 PM)
Julio -- Absolutely, plus it'll give a lot of young players some valuable playing time. Expect starters to play a half -- unless it's a repeat of the Furman game last year. But I think that's not going to happen.
Coming into the season I thought Missouri would be better than they are. To me they are the 3rd most disappointing SEC after Aub and Ark. What are your thoughts on them so far?
Michael DiRocco (2:09 PM)
Bret -- I would put them ahead of Auburn on the disappointing list because I never thought the Tigers' QBs were any good. Missouri's biggest problem, other than an injury to QB James Franklin, is that they don't have the OL and DL to compete in the SEC. The defenses they are facing are much better than what they saw in the Big 12 and they're struggling to consistently make plays.
Who you got in the Tennessee-Mississippi State game this weekend?
Michael DiRocco (2:10 PM)
Bruce -- I like Tennessee, only because I'm not sure how good MSU is. They haven't beaten anyone -- Jackson State, Auburn, Troy, South Alabama and Kentucky.
Lothar (Hill People)
Anything new on the WR position coach long term? I am curious how that will go after the season.
Michael DiRocco (2:11 PM)
Lothar -- Nothing to report as of right now, but I'll say this: That will be an immensely important hire. UF's WRs are really what's holding this offense back. Have to improve there, and finding the right guy is vital.
Mike I guess it looks like the Georgia-Florida game now has SEC Championship implications. Would you agree?
Michael DiRocco (2:12 PM)
Tyler -- It does, provided UF beats South Carolina. If that happens and UF beats Vandy, then the Fla-Ga game is for the division title. As a guy who spent nearly 20 years covering that game for the Jacksonville paper, I'd love to see that. Love that week.
Not that the refs would ever skew their calls to favor Oregon, but I like how they up their pace in getting the ball to the line, ready for play at one pace for Oregon, and a completely different pace for the other teams. They should get the ball to the line at the same pace for all teams.
Michael DiRocco (2:13 PM)
jj -- agreed. I haven't seen much of Oregon but I did notice that a little in the game against Washington last week.
What's the word on Jelani's hamstring and hand? Any chance he sits out this week to rest more for SC?Our whole team had a different attitude and aggression against LSU, but against a team like Vandy are they going to come out and play that hard again?And do they try and let Driskel throw it a little more this week to try and get him some confidence for the SC game?Glad to see another chat Mike, hope all is well!
Michael DiRocco (2:17 PM)
Matt -- He's been limited in practice. Saw him on Monday and he was limping pretty badly. His thumb is still in a cast and will be for a few more weeks. UF has to maintain its emotional level for sure. I think they will because Muschamp, Dillman and Quinn are pretty good motivators.As for Driskel, they'll do what the defense is giving them. They'd like to let Driskel air it out but they're not going to force anything. He didn't throw much last week because the pass rush was pretty stout.
MD, Huge W this past Sat!! Was really loud in that student section even though it was extremely toasty!! Two questions. Can CBS please get somebody else to announce our games instead of the gator bashers in Gary and Verne? Loved watching the recorded game on sunday and our Gators prove Gary wrong that we couldn't run the ball against LSU and make him eat his words. Second, when is my favorite playmaker Jordan Reed gonna get the rock more? It seems every time he touches the ball we move the chains.
Michael DiRocco (2:18 PM)
Matt -- Since I'm in the press box I never hear the announcers so I'm not sure what anyone said. But to be honest, I didn't think UF would be able to run the ball as well as it did against LSU. Reed wasn't involved much last week but then again, nobody was in the passing game. He'll get chances.
Gator N NC (North Carolina)
Mike, I saw that North mentioned a WR will be transferring after this year. Any idea who he was talking about?
Michael DiRocco (2:20 PM)
Gator N NC -- I haven't heard that. I will look into it though. But would it really be a big loss anyway? If you can't get on the field here at WR, where are you gonna go?
Most people in the country see UF dominating Vandy on Saturday, but what's on positional or individual matchup that Gator fans should watch for where Vandy might be able to make it interesting?
Michael DiRocco (2:21 PM)
Jacob -- Keep an eye on WR Jordan Matthews vs. UF's CBs. He caught nine balls for 170 yards and a TD in last year's game.
Jim Nahoom (Tallahassee, FL.)
I have seen both UF and South Carolina play last Saturday. I feel that UF can and will beat South Carolina in Gainesville. The question the Gator Nation asks: How good is Alabama?
Michael DiRocco (2:22 PM)
Jim -- Getting ahead of yourself there, but that's OK. That's what fans do. My take on Alabama: Very, very, very, very good.
Mike - 7th Generation Gator here. I just got married in August; however, I sold off my season tickets for the season prior to the games. My wife has never been to a game at THE SWAMP!!! What game do you think I should take her to before the season wraps up?
Michael DiRocco (2:23 PM)
Kevin -- Congrats on the wedding. Wish you both well. If you can't take her to the SC game, I'd say Missouri. At least that's a conference game. The two non-conference games in November are gonna be blowouts and probably will mean a lot of empty seats. Not exactly the best way to get a feel for how crazy it is in the Swamp.
Tebow's career QB rating after 17 starts=75.0. Sanchez's career QB rating after 52=72.6. Tebow has never had an offseason as a starter- Sanchez has had 5. Not to mention the 700 rushing yds Tebow will give you. Why do you think the Jets are sticking with Sanchez?
Michael DiRocco (2:24 PM)
Eric -- Stubbornness, basically. I would start Timmy. Everyone knows I've been a staunch supporter of his. If he could just have the same offensive coordinator for back-to-back years, he'd be fine.
What do you think needs to happen to improve our yardage on punt returns?
Michael DiRocco (2:25 PM)
Mark -- Whoever is back there has to learn when to catch the ball and let it bounce. And not fair catch it with nobody within 15 yards of him. Blocking has been OK, but that's the biggest issue.
jimmy barber (douglas georgia)
do you think brissett can and will be used as a secret weapon at some point this season. Maybe even some smoking mirrors type plays like the first play of the seson?
Michael DiRocco (2:25 PM)
jimmy barber -- No. Don't see him on the field unless Driskel gets hurt or it's mop-up time against the non-conference teams.
If SC does to Florida what they did to UGA in the first half of the game last week.. will the Gators offense keep it a game? These 2nd half performances, although great, are leaving me with few nails to bite.
Michael DiRocco (2:26 PM)
Justin -- C'mon, you don't like drama? UF's offense surprised me against Tennessee with how many points it scored, but SC's defense is pretty darn good. If the Gamecocks get out to a 21-0 lead, I don't think UF can keep up.
Bryan (Miami, FL)
what are the chances florida can land Marquez North?
Michael DiRocco (2:27 PM)
Bryan -- I think Tennessee is still the leader.
Md, happy to see our gators pull out a big win in the swamp. What's your thoughts on Fla not utilizing driskel in more run option packages after the success they had with the first run early in the game. And what happened with trey burton last Saturday? Was he not 100% healthy or did lsu do a good job counting him?
Michael DiRocco (2:28 PM)
Jeremy -- LSU did a good job containing Burton. What confuses me is why put Burton in the game to run the wildcat. Let Driskel run it. He's better than Burton so why not have your best guy run it? Besides, Burton can't throw out of it and Driskel can.
Randy (Belmont, NC)
Why so little Burton lately and what happened to DeBose?
Michael DiRocco (2:29 PM)
Randy -- The offense has been pretty much Gillislee. They used Burton last week in the wildcat a couple times and it didn't get much. Debose isn't working hard enough or consistently enough in practice. Once he does that, he'll start to get more opportunities.
Im a bit worried about the Gator pass rush. McCray isnt a natural DE/Buck. Have you seen much improvement from freshman Fowler or Bullard? PS Fowler looks huge!
Michael DiRocco (2:30 PM)
Nick -- Haven't seen significant improvement from Fowler or Bullard. It's hard for freshmen to come in and be a factor on the DL right away. It can be done, but it takes a special player. Both guys look like they'll be good players eventually. The lack of an elite pass rusher is the only thing missing from this defense.
Do you think South Carolina's huge victory over Georgia is a good snapshot of how good USC is, perhaps proof that Georgia isn't as good as everyone thought, or maybe the score was somewhat inflated by a couple of Georgia mistakes in the first quarter - remember the last 3 quarters were a 14-7 ball game...
Michael DiRocco (2:31 PM)
Chris - yes to all of that. The one thing that sticks out for me, though, is that Georgia's defense was supposed to be pretty darn good, especially when Rambo and Ogletree got back. Hasn't happened.
Were people ragging on Tebow's arm in college?
Michael DiRocco (2:33 PM)
Eric -- Not that I can recall. It's not a cannon but it's pretty strong.
Devon (Johannesburg, RSA)
What do you attribute the struggle UF receivers are having to? It seems like that is the biggest area holding the team back. Do you think they unit will improve with this season and another off season in Pease's system?
Michael DiRocco (2:35 PM)
Devon -- I think it's a combination of not getting good coaching and not getting developed and guys not being as talented as the rankings said they were. The group has to be better next year or the offense will struggle again.
Hey Mike. It's great to be a gator in dawg country! To kind of go along with what Matt said, how do you think UF is going about their business in getting ready for Vandy? This game scares the ba-jesus out of me. Vandy is coming off a big win at Mizzou and so how does Muschamp handle the team without overlooking the dores and looking ahead to the SC game?
Michael DiRocco (2:36 PM)
Kyle -- It's a concern for sure, but all Muschamp has to do is remind the Gators of what happened last year against Vandy and what happened last October. It being a road game I think is actually a help because that helps the team focus more.
Josh (Birmingham AL )
2 of the worst teams in the SEC meet this weekend. Arkansas is coming off of a win from Auburn. Can they pull off this win @ home against Kentucky?
Michael DiRocco (2:37 PM)
Josh -- I sure hope so. Kentucky is just devastated by injuries, including two QBs. If they can't beat the Wildcats with a third-string QB taking snaps ....
Bradley (Panama City, FL)
whats wrong with UF special teams? I know its a different coaching staff with a different philosphy when it comes to special teams but our punt blocks used to be frequent and now we cannot get any returns much less any pressure on the punters..
Michael DiRocco (2:38 PM)
Bradley -- The return game is more of a concern than the punt blocks. Rainey and Demps were special players with elite sprinter speed and they had a knack for doing it. The returners have to do a better job of catching the ball and not letting it bounce and getting upfield quickly.
I think before you gator fans get to excited, you have to take a hard look at LSU and how bad their offense is and the defense was on the field for most of the game is why fla. was able to run the ball!
Michael DiRocco (2:40 PM)
stephan -- That's true, but you also have to look at the fact that UF physically dominated both lines of scrimmage. That's something that rarely happens against LSU.
MD, I'd like to see the Gators utilize the screen game more against more aggressive front sevens. Gilly only has 2 catches out of the backfield in 5 games. Your thought?
Michael DiRocco (2:41 PM)
Tyler -- I've wondered why they don't use more screens, too. I don't know if there's any proof of this, but in my experience I haven't seen many running QBs who were good at throwing the screen. Maybe that's part of it. But I also don't think any of the RBs are really good receivers, either.
What is your guess, the South Carolina game at the 3:30 CBS spot or perhaps a 7:00 ESPN start time? I am hoping for the night game but CBS might be hard pressed to pass us up.
Michael DiRocco (2:43 PM)
Larry -- If UF and SC win this weekend, I'd be stunned if CBS didn't take it for 3:30. I'd still take the game at 3:30 if I were a CBS exec regardless of what happens this weekend. Spurrier going back to Gainesville? Can't pass that up.
Bryan L (Miami, FL)
Do you see Stephen Alli contributing at all?
Michael DiRocco (2:43 PM)
Bryan -- Nope. If he hasn't been part of the passing game by now, don't expect him to.
Mike--who do you see winning between South carolina and LSU? As bad as the LSU offense is playing, I just can't see the Mad Hatter loing 2 in a row. Plus wondering after being so amped up to nail UGA how much intensity is left in the USC tank. Plus the game is in Death Valley. I see USC in a little let down in a close game where a Mad Hatter 4th QTR play tips the game in their favor.
Michael DiRocco (2:44 PM)
Ron -- I agree with everything you said. It's hard for a team to have a huge, emotional win and then follow that up with another huge win on the road against a very good team. Unless, of course, you're an elite team. We'll see if SC is one of those teams.
Will Muschamp (Gainesville)
I know I got Vandy this week but How do I stop that Clowney fella from South Carolina?
Michael DiRocco (2:45 PM)
Will -- Give the SC team bus driver wrong directions.
Steve Clarke (Jax, FL)
What's the latest news on Freshman WR Latroy Pittman. Will he get more playing time in the future?
Michael DiRocco (2:46 PM)
Steve -- Pittman has been on the field more and more, usually as a blocker. He and Andrades are getting better as the season progresses and I expect them to be big contributors next season.
jimbo (douglas georgia)
I know this is gillys year, but how do you think mack brown will do in the future? There is much hype surrounding him
Michael DiRocco (2:46 PM)
jimbo -- With Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane coming in next year (if they do indeed sign), Brown's going to have a tough time winning the job. He's been solid this season and likely will get carries, but I don't see him being the main back.
Chris (Washington DC)
Can our offense score on South Carolina enough, to win next week?
Michael DiRocco (2:47 PM)
Chris -- I think that'll be similar to the LSU game. Not going to be a lot of points on either side. The passing game has to be better in order for UF to win.
Michael DiRocco (2:49 PM)
I know some of you had recruiting questions that I didn't answer, so here's a link to Derek Tyson's latest recruiting mailbag. I tried to get the football questions in first and Derek does a much better job with recruiting than I do. You can hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org, too.http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/florida/forums/_/chompions-club#!/topic/1349190778-155-732
dj (Jacksonville fl)
What do you think about the play of matt elam so far??
Michael DiRocco (2:50 PM)
dj -- Thought he played his best game last week against LSU. He's been very good this year. It's his contract year because he's eligible to enter the NFL draft after this season.
Do you think Pease will ever run more of the QB draw like South Carolina does so successfully with Shaw? Everytime I see it, I say Driskel can do that! I also think it would be smart to have Driskel run the option once. Just to see how it goes, and to make defenses have to waste practice time preparing for it. (And I agree with your wildcat idea, no need for burton, driskel is fine)
Michael DiRocco (2:55 PM)
Chad -- I think the QB draw with Driskel would be a good idea. I think he called his own number one time against LSU and ran a sneak when LSU lined up without a LB in the middle. As for the option stuff, that's a good idea as well. I don't know how comfortable Driskel is with it, though, and if a QB isn't comfortable with it the option is a disaster. Remember Grossman in 2002 under Zaunbrecher?
Donnie (Alpharetta, GA)
I have to admit, the play of the OL has been a real surprise bright spot for this team this year for me. While their pass blocking still needs work, they are really breaking the will of the other teams we have played late in the games. My concern is depth. Do we have enough talented backups to step in if something happens to one of the starting 5? I assume the OT position is even more thin than the interior linemen if we want to try and redshirt the freshmen. Thoughts?
Michael DiRocco (2:57 PM)
Donnie -- The OL depth is better than it was last year, but it still needs to improve. DJ Humphries and Kyle Koehne could step in at tackle. Koehne also can play guard. Ian Silberman has shown me something with his work in the jumbo package and he might get some PT at guard if needed, too. Matt Patchan is supposed to return sometime this season (suuuuuuure) and that will help the depth at OT.
Michael DiRocco (2:57 PM)
OK everyone, that's it for this week. I've got to head over to basketball media day.We'll be back to our regular 4 p.m. start time next week. Might be a big game to talk about, huh?
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