SEC Nation crew talks Gators

Marcus Spears, Tim Tebow and Joe Tessitore from SEC Nation spoke to the media on Friday in Gainesville. Here's a Q&A with their thoughts on the Florida offense and the landscape of college football.

JOE TESSITORE

Q: “What do you think about Florida?”

A: “A good looking football team, a healthy football team, which is probably nice, with a great offensive coordinator.”

Q: “How does the Florida offense look to you?”

A: “I came down here in the spring, and Tim and I came down about a month ago. Having broadcast a Florida game on ESPN late in the season last year at South Carolina, I don’t think people across the country realized what they were dealing with on injuries and how they were patchworking the team. Bringing Kurt Roper in, which was one of the best hires in the country this offseason, seeing Driskel healthy and advancing himself, the offense was awesome. I know it was Eastern Michigan, but the offense was absolutely awesome. I know this is a very good football team with a chance to develop to become a great football team. The schedule is hard, but it’s a schedule you could still lose a couple games on and be a good football team. It’s noticeable that Florida is back.”

Q: “What are your early thoughts on SEC Nation, working with former players like Marcus Spears and Tim Tebow?”

A: “I’ve worked on every single sport category there is on ABC and ESPN. Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears are the guys earliest in their careers that I’ve been most impressed with in terms of getting it. They are already very, very good at what they do, and they’re going to be stars at this. Tim is already a mega star. But they’re going to be star broadcasters. They’re committed to work. I’ve got a lot of comments, ‘hey you guys have been on the air for a month, I can’t believe how good the chemistry is.’ We are flattered by things Sports Illustrated and the New York Times wrote. But we’ve been going out to dinner, having phone calls, hanging out and traveling since last winter. For us, it just so happens that now we’re on TV a few hours a week. We’ve been hanging out and having football conversations since last winter. They’re very, very good because they put the work in. Both put the same work in that they did in their college and pro careers that they do into being a broadcaster with us. It shows up on the air. They’re very talented. You guys hear Tim speak and know he’s great. Marcus has a personality that’s huge. He’s got a little Charles Barkley in him, a little Kirk Herbstreit, a lot of Jon Gruden.”

Q: “What has it been like to be around Tebow returning to Gainesville?”

A: “These are his people, right? When he walks out of that bus, it’s a sight to be seen. It’s wonderful. It’s the difference between college and every other sport we have. This is (Florida fans’) blood, this is their life. It’s their identity. (Tebow) loves soaking it in.”

Q: “With the Big 10’s horrible week last week, how does it impact the SEC getting one or two teams in the playoff?”

A: “The way it’s playing right now, the SEC champion is in, I don’t care what their record is. You can’t work around this league. If you win this league, you cannot tell me you’re not one of the top four teams. I think the conversation has shifted to, is one team in from the SEC or is there a possibility or two? The Big 10 to me, I’m sorry, but they’re out of the race. There is nothing that can be accomplished now in that league by playing each other that’s getting them back in the mix. It would take a minor miracle. The SEC, Florida is back, Georgia is good, we’ll see which South Carolina team shows up (Saturday). The west is ridiculous. The west is the best division, not in college football, but in sports. Outside of Arkansas, and Arkansas is improved, everybody is capable of beating anybody in college football. The SEC champion is in. To me, it’s does the SEC get two teams in?”

MARCUS SPEARS

Q: “What’s it like to be back in Gainesville with Tim Tebow?”

A: “I’m glad to be back with him to see how it went down when he was here. You can tell he left an indelible mark and impression here. We had a girl crying. I mean, when you make someone cry, you’re kind of a big deal. The dude is a big deal.”

Q: “How did you get involved with SEC Nation?”

“A tweet. I tweeted the executive producer and told them I was the best man for the job, I’d probably be better than Tim for this job. Joe Tessitore has been in this business for almost 30 years and he doesn’t have half of what I’ve got (laughs). It was something I always wanted. I played for the Cowboys for eight years, I was around media all the time. I thought this was a great opportunity to come back home and talk about football and talk about the conference that I love, which I think is the best, hands down. I get to do that every Saturday. It’s not a job. It’s a party.”

Q: “Any early highlights of the job?”

A: “Experiencing the schools, the campuses. When you’re a player, you don’t see what goes on Thursday or Friday before a game. Being around the culture of the SEC has shown me why people gravitate to it so much. The time and preparation people put into getting ready to tailgate for these games, it’s unbelievable. I’m enjoying it. I’m eating good. I’m doing a tailgate segment every week where they try to fatten me up.”

Q: “Is it unique for you and Tebow cover the league you played in?”

A: “It’s a unique opportunity for us because we can talk about things we didn’t get a chance to see and go back and forth on football. He has perspective of offense, I have a perspective of playing up front. Tim has done a lot of things beyond his career at Florida, but it touches him more to be back in this culture. These are the people that saw him take the ascent and rise up. It’s fun to watch him and watch people’s reaction and to be around the culture that raised both of us.”

Q: “Do you have a favorite memory in Gainesville?”

A: “Oh yeah, picking off Rex Grossman.”

Q: “You played for Will Muschamp at LSU. What kind of coach is he to play for?”

A: “It’s fun. He’s a fiery guy. We still have a great relationship. He’s a big part of why I was able to have success in college. He taught me the guy, how to play the game and how to approach it. You want to play for him. I call them brick wall coaches. I want to run through the brick wall for Will Muschamp. I think the guys here respond to him the same way. The pressure doesn’t get to him. I know we had the talk about him on the hot seat and not having a great season, but Will is a football coach. He deals with football. He doesn’t deal with outside elements, and that’s what I respect about him the most.”

Q: “What do you think of this year’s Florida team?”

A: “They needed to generate points. They’ve ben real good on defense, real good. The defense has been overshadowed by the lack of production on offense. Kurt Roper being here on offense is a big deal. A really big deal. He’s put Driskel in a level of comfort in the shotgun. He can create now with athletes all over the field. You had to structure that and get guys in the right place. Fortunately for Will and UF, they got a guy in that can do that. You know, 65 points is hard to score. I know they played Eastern Michigan and they’re terrible, but it’s still football. When you can do that and make the progression they made to this year, it helps the confidence and the team.”

TIM TEBOW

Q: “What stands out about the Kentucky-Florida matchup?”

A: “I think it’s Kentucky’s offensive line and receivers. Patrick Towles is a quarterback with a lot of talent that can be really good. The biggest key is that Florida will pressure Kentucky. Can he handle it? I believe Florida will pressure him. When that happens, can the receivers win in man-to-man situations? Will they be able to give him a few seconds to get the ball off? When Ohio pressured him last week, he was 5-9 for 36 yards and two sacks.”

How do you think Chris Leak will handle being a receivers coach at Florida this year?

“I think he’s going to do a good job. One of the biggest things for receivers is to understand what’s going through the quarterback’s mind, especially in an offense like Kurt Roper’s. It’s so multi-dimensional. They have to understand what the quarterback is thinking, and Chris can really share that with these receivers.”


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