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 (3:59 PM)
Ya'll ready? Let's go.
where do see Greg gilmore end up at
Michael DiRocco (4:00 PM)
dw -- My guess is LSU.
Chris (Naples, FL)
Do the Gators still have a shot at playing Alabama in the BCS Championship?
Michael DiRocco (4:02 PM)
Chris -- They sure do. Mathematically, anyway. But the Gators need a lot of help. Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame have to lose and UF has to really thump FSU. It's actually better for UF not to reach the SEC title game and instead have Georgia get beat by Bama.
Tim McGowan (Kennesaw, GA)
Do you think Florida's receivers can gain some confidence these next two weeks that transfers to a good performance against Florida St?
Michael DiRocco (4:03 PM)
Tim -- If you're looking for some good news about the receivers, you're not going to get it from me. They're just not that good. They'll put up decent numbers the next two weeks because of the level of competition, but they'll struggle against FSU. Nothing's going to change until next season.
Since we are probably going to lose both of our safeties next year, who do you think will step into those 2 spots? Also with VH3 coming in, where does he fit into the DB rotation? And if Dante Fowler was supposed to take over the buck when Powell left, but we will have both next year and Fowler already playing well for a freshman, how do you see that playing out? Sorry for all of the "next year" questions, but having 2 cupcakes in a row there isn't a lot I'm worried about until F$U
Michael DiRocco (4:07 PM)
Matt -- Lot of stuff there. Here goes:De'Ante Saunders and either Valdez Showers or Jabari Gorman will be the favorites to start at safety next year.As for VH3, he's a talented player but he's going to have to really work hard to crack into the DB rotation because the Gators are loaded there. I think he'll get some playing time but mainly be a special teams player.The Fowler-Powell thing is interesting because you have to factor in Jon Bullard, too. He'll be the DE so then you start wondering what the Gators do with Fowler and Powell. You can put them both on the field at the same time on obvious passing downs, but I think for most downs you'll see Powell on the field and Fowler mainly on passing downs if Powell's knee is fine. UF could go from having a pretty average pass rush to a fantastic one in just one season.
Are Andrades and Pittman going to be able to step into leading roles next year? How do you think the young Dlineman look right now, as far as practice and competing?
Michael DiRocco (4:11 PM)
Brandon -- There's four WRs committed right now, so it'll be interesting to see how they fit in. Pittman and Andrades should be main parts of the passing game, along with Dunbar. As for young DLinemen, it's a pretty good group. Little thin at DT but here's a guy to keep an eye out for: Alex McCalister.
do you thank kelvin taylor going to start next year and do you thank breant pease leaves to kentucky
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
sims -- I think Taylor beats out Matt Jones and Adam Lane for the starting job, but I also think Muschamp would like to use his backs like LSU does. In other words, they all get chances in games and one game it might be Taylor with the bulk of the work and Jones in another game.I don't think Pease leaves for Kentucky. He'll have better opportunities than that. It'd be smart to wait around for the best fit.
Who is bigger in this country: Notre Dame football or the Dallas Cowboys?
Michael DiRocco (4:13 PM)
Corey -- Probably Dallas Cowboys. The NFL is the big boy on the block.
What do you think the future has in store for Mr Brissett?
Michael DiRocco (4:14 PM)
Kelley -- I still think he transfers. He's saying all the right things now, but he wants to play. Unless they're going to open the competition up again in the spring, I think he leaves.
Do you think that we can beat Georgia in the SEC East Championship?
Michael DiRocco (4:14 PM)
Chris -- Nope. Georgia should easily beat Auburn on Saturday so that'll seal the division title for the Bulldogs.
Is the bigger issue the WRs or the Oline not holding blocks long enough for plays to develop?
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
David -- I'm not copping out, but it's both. I think the lack of WRs that can make plays is a huge issue because there's no guarantee that's going to change in the next few seasons. UF has missed on so many WRs. The OL will be much better next year with the addition of the transfer OTs and DJ Humphries.
are you a gator fan
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
sims -- Nope. As a journalist, I'm supposed to be objective and I pride myself on that. I went to Jacksonville University so I have no connection to UF.
I give the SEC a lot of credit, but when it comes to tv ratings, ticket sales, popularity, hatred etcc.... no team can hold a candle to my Fighting Irish. Despite, everything Notre Dame is still bigger than any team in college Football! Your thoughts?
Michael DiRocco (4:17 PM)
Corey -- ND does have its own network, so you've got that. But I don't think ND has the same cache with recruits and HS players now because the Irish have been down for so long. None of these kids know of a time when ND was a legit national title contender until now.
Can you explain to me why it is so difficult for our receivers to do anything productive? I seem to be at aw how you can not create space against ANY defenses... What is the problem, and how is this possible with the speed at wide receiver?
Michael DiRocco (4:19 PM)
Justin -- Simple answer: They're not that good. That's the bottom line. You've got to be more than just fast. Need to run good routes. Need to be crisp in and out of breaks. Need to understand routes. Need to have good hands. All of them have one or more of those things missing. And the OL's pass protection issues don't help, either.
do you think the Gators should do more of the no-huddle fast offense to get them Going and putting point on the board?
Michael DiRocco (4:20 PM)
Bobby -- I do. I liked that they came out in the no-huddle against Missouri. It worked for two first downs then Andrades dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. I think UF should mix that in throughout games, especially against FSU.
Rob (Tucson, AZ)
Driskel got better and better throughout the first few games this season. What do you think has slowed, or in the Georgia game gotten worse, his progression as a quarterback? I didn't see anything to show me he improved the last 2 games. He still fails to get rid of the ball and makes bad decisions or gets sacked after showing moderate improvements following the Texas A&M game.
Michael DiRocco (4:23 PM)
Rob -- I don't think he has regressed, if that's what you're asking. He didn't take any sacks last week. He threw the ball away, too. I think he's reached a point where he can't develop any further because the offense won't allow him to. By that I mean this: the pass protection issues and lack of help at WR means he can't stand back there, scan the field, and make several reads and deliver the ball. No time for that. If the OL gets better next year (which it should) and if some WRs emerge (iffy), he should be a better QB in 2013.
Thoughts on Alex Anzalone? Sure thought the Gators had him in the bag! What can we expect in South Bend and how much did GatorNation want/need him? Thanks!
Michael DiRocco (4:24 PM)
Andy -- He's a very good player and the Gators certainly need help at LB with the loss of Jon Bostic and likely Jelani Jenkins. Antonio Morrison is a good player. Mike Taylor has issues in coverage so he's a run-down LB.
how much of an impact will ronald powell have next year?
Michael DiRocco (4:25 PM)
ryan - I've heard from numerous people that he was absolutely dominating in the spring and was going to have a monster season until the injury. Not exactly Jarvis Jones, but close, at least what I've told. So if he comes back healthy he has a chance to be the elite pass rusher UF hasn't had since Derrick Harvey.
How much improvement do you see from driskel this offseason? Top 3 or 4 qbs in the conference?
Michael DiRocco (4:26 PM)
Cliff -- Sure, because I think Tyler Bray and Tyler Watts are gone. Manziel and Murray will be back, but Driskel has a chance to be a top 3 QB next year in the SEC.He's a better passer than Manziel.
what are some must have recruits for florida...
Michael DiRocco (4:27 PM)
pete -- To be honest, the must-have recruits are the ones that are already committed. The WRs: Fulwood, Bailey, Hawkins and Thompson. That's UF's biggest need and after missing out on Diggs and Green-Beckham last year, the Gators desperately need help.
Roy (Columbia, MO)
Could UF still be suffering a hangover from the UGA game & get upset this weekend against a pretty decent Louisiana-Layfaeytte team?
Michael DiRocco (4:28 PM)
Roy -- No. ULL may make it close for a while, but UF will win.
i know you give us a slim chance at beating florida state but our d is good as there is and our special team and running game is good we dont know how good florida state offense is havent played a top 50 d yet
Michael DiRocco (4:29 PM)
mark -- The running game has been stymied much of the second half of the season because teams are stacking the box to stop Gilly and Driskel and forcing Driskel to pass. FSU's defensive front may be the best in the nation. If the Gators can't make them pay through the air it could get ugly in terms of offense in Doak.
With the problems of pass protection, why have we not seen more screens, or just quick slant passes across the middle with all these defenses stacking the box, and/or rushing to stop the run game?
Michael DiRocco (4:30 PM)
Justin -- I think you'll see more screens in the final weeks. Not just to the WRs, either. For whatever reason, UF does not throw slants. I think it's partly because the WRs can't even beat press coverage on slant routes.
Bill (Jax Bch)
Do you really think,besides Fulwood this is a very good REC class for next year
Michael DiRocco (4:33 PM)
Bill -- Tom Luginbill, ESPN's senior recruiting analyst, likes the group. There's potential for some big-time players in there. Fulwood is the big name, but Bailey has a chance to be pretty special. He's a playmaker, which is something UF hasn't had at WR since Riley Cooper.
How high is the ceiling for the OL next couple years?
Michael DiRocco (4:35 PM)
Brandon -- It looks good, especially at OT. UF goes from having one solid tackle (Chaz Green) to having three potentially really good ones: Garcia, Humphries and Moore. The transfers are both guys who started in BCS leagues and Humphries is a developing stud. The question will be what happens at LG next year (Silberman, Dunker?) It takes a few seasons to really rebuild on the LOS and UF appears headed in the right direction.
The biggest game left in the regular season and what stands between Florida and the Sugar Bowl in my opinion is FSU. After last year's embarrassing showing in the Swamp, do you think Florida will come for revenge at Choak Campbell? Would it be dumb to think that the offense is to a point where the whole game plan should be centered around Driskel, Reed, Burton, and Gilly? It would be hard to defend if all were on the field at the same time for a majority of the offensive outings wouldn't you think?
Michael DiRocco (4:42 PM)
Justin -- The offense is what it is at this point: Not going to do much in the passing game. Struggle to run the ball because teams are stacking the LOS. The Gators are going to be conservative and hope to get short fields because of the defense forcing a TO. They'll be able to put one or two long drives together in a game, but that's it. UF's defense will shut down FSU's offense, but that might not be enough to win the game.
what are some flip flops UF could have leading up to signing day or on Signing day...either in their favor or against..
Michael DiRocco (4:46 PM)
Pete -- In talking to GatorNation's recruiting guru, Derek Tyson, it doesn't look like UF will have many openings for guys to pick UF as signing day gets closer. The class is nearly full now. They won't be worrying about guys like they did last year, when they lost out on like six guys on signing day. As for the current class, it seems like a group that's pretty solid and not wavering a bit. I'm sure there will be some, but that usually happens in January so we'll have to see.
do you thank will muschamp a good coach and a long term coach for us
Michael DiRocco (4:47 PM)
james -- I do. He is a fantastic recruiter and he's putting a system in place and getting guys that fit the system. Plus, he's got a plan and he's not wavering from it, even if it means sacrificing short-term success. Can he win championships? I don't know, but I'm pretty confident that he'll have UF in the mix for the national title most seasons.
are you worried about the Gators showing too much of what I'm hearing to be a "more up temp offense?" in the next two weeks before FSU?
Michael DiRocco (4:48 PM)
Nic -- I'm not worried about anything. Fans shouldn't, either. UF has used the up-tempo at various times this season so I'm sure FSU will be preparing for it. At this late stage in the season, you're not going to deviate from what your identity is anyway, so the up-tempo would be a change of pace move and not something that would be used the entire game.
Mike- any reason we havent offered Seals? Seems like someone we would at least put an offer out for.
Michael DiRocco (4:49 PM)
Ross -- All I know is that UF likes the four WRs they have committed and isn't likely to go after any others. It's hard to pry kids out of Texas, anyway.
How many scholarships is each school allowed per year....
Michael DiRocco (4:51 PM)
pete -- Teams can sign up to 25 per year, as long as that doesn't push the total past 85.
Andre (Monticello, FL)
Mike I think we need to cut the receivers some slack. It's not that those guys can't make plays or catch the ball. Driskel has not proved that he can throw the long ball. An excellent mobile quarterback no question and without his mobility there are some they would not been able to put away. Has the OC and qb coach been working on or I guess the question would how are they planning on improving the passing game.
Michael DiRocco (4:53 PM)
Andre -- The WRs were not good in 2010, 2011 or this year. I like the kids. Frankie Hammond in particular. But they're not good. Driskel deserves some blame, for sure, as does the OL, but the WRs are not making plays on any kind of consistent basis. The offense can't evolve any further. It is what it is and it will be this limited until next season, provided the OL and WRs improve.
If we fire Chizik, where are some of our top commits likely to go?
Michael DiRocco (4:53 PM)
Gerald -- Some of those guys will stick around, some with sign with Bama, and other schools will come sniffing around. I'm hearing that Chizik might be safe for another year, though. So it may be moot.
Roy (Columbia, MO)
Has UF hired a new wide receiver coach yet, since the departure of Aubrey Hill? And, if not, couldn't this be a big reason for the lack of a passing game?
Michael DiRocco (4:54 PM)
Roy -- GA Bush Hamdan has been working with the WRs this year. It's not his fault they have struggled. They weren't good the past two seasons, either.
Ivo (Jax, FL)
What have you heard about Alex McCalister? Difference maker? Who are starting LBs next yr? Thanks.
Michael DiRocco (4:55 PM)
Ivo -- The staff loves -- LOVES -- McCalister. He needs to put on weight, but they're excited about springing him loose next year. Athletically he's phenomenal. I'd guess the starting LBs would be: Powell, Taylor, Morrison and Jenkins (should he return, which I think he will).
is work ethic the only reason that debose doesnt see much time on offense? we are lacking at the receiving position and he led the team in receiving yards last year.It seems like he gets open on every play hes in on. i wish we would play him more
Michael DiRocco (4:56 PM)
chris -- work ethic is the No 1 issue. And since it hasn't gotten better in 3 years, it's not likely to next year, either.
other than tunsil, which uncommitted OL players are we shooting for... and do we have a shot with them?
Michael DiRocco (4:58 PM)
Jon -- Trenton Brown is one of the top OL recruits the Gators are pursuing for 2013. Pretty good shot from what I hear. But again, it's hard for freshmen to make an impact on OL.
I'm a huge advocate of taking care of your own business and only worrying about that, but with UF done with their SEC schedule...how much of a chance are we giving Auburn to upset Georgia in your opinion?
Michael DiRocco (4:59 PM)
Nic -- Zip. That team has so many issues I'd be stunned if they're within 3 TDs of Georgia.
mike i remember when 4.3 /4.4 speed was a must , at most a nice luxury , but i see alot of high 4.59-4.72 receivers and backs that are getting alot love , is this a trend now, are we moving from big play threats to chain movers...
Michael DiRocco (5:00 PM)
pete -- No, not necessarily. The bottom line about WRs is they've got to do two things to be good players: beat press coverage and get open. Sounds simple, but it's not. If they can do that, it doesn't matter how fast they are. OJ Small was not the fastest guy at all, but he caught 50-plus passes one season for UF. He would be a star on this team.
Will easley turn pro? Doesn't seem like he's as ready as say Floyd
Michael DiRocco (5:01 PM)
Perry -- I agree with you about him not being as ready as Floyd. But I expect him to leave for the NFL. He just had a son, too, so that's added incentive to get paid.
any coaching changes coming at uf? albeing coordinators or whatever?
Michael DiRocco (5:02 PM)
Brandon -- UF will hire a WRs coach, and I expect Kentucky to at least sniff around Pease, but I don't believe Pease will leave. The guys you should be worried about leaving this year are Quinn (Bucs approached him last year) and Durkin (he'll get a coordinator shot somewhere).
Ivo (Jax, FL)
Jafarr Mann is transferring. Not a shocker. Guesses on any others?
Michael DiRocco (5:03 PM)
Ivo -- Obviously I think Brissett leaves. Don't want to mention any names because it's just rumor, but I'm hearing a couple DBs might be thinking about it.
when is kirby smart getting his own team...any rumors out there..
Michael DiRocco (5:04 PM)
pete -- He's the ultimate example of waiting for the perfect situation. He can afford to be choosy. The Tennessee job might be intriguing but I don't think he takes the Auburn job (if it comes open) or the Arky job.
Michael DiRocco (5:05 PM)
OK, everyone, that's it for this week. Same time next week.