James Bates starred at the University of Florida from 1993-1996 and earned ALL-SEC honors from the linebacker position during the 1996 season. Bates, who now works for the ACC Network, joined “XL Primetime” and was asked how good he believes Florida is right now.
“I think we are good enough to beat anybody out there,” Bates told 1010XL. “I really feel like we are good enough defensively to where we can shut people down and we can turn the football over. Offensively, we have got some guys that can make some plays and we need to take care of the football. If we were to play clean, crisp football offensively, I think our team could hang with anybody.
“I don’t think we are where we want to be across the board. Depth wise and personnel wise I think it would be a lie to say we are where we need to be, but we are in a really good spot tight now and I believe in our guys this weekend.”
Speaking of this weekend, the Gators head out to the bayou playing an undefeated LSU team; Bates talked about what the Gators need to do to win on Saturday night.
“It will be even tougher than the Auburn game was, but when you have a group of guys that believe in each other and you can say what you want about the atmosphere, but as much as I loved playing in The Swamp, I don’t know if there’s anything better than to go on the road with your buddies and just have that gladiator feeling of you and your buddies taking on the whole world,” Bates said. “That to me is really what college football is all about, so I’m excited to see how they respond in enemy territory this weekend.
What’s the Gators’ gameplan?
“Make them take long drives, because no matter how good they are at the end of the day they’re college football players and anything can happen,” Bates said. “That ball can bounce any which way, but if you give up big plays and let that stadium get loud and rocking, then you could be in some trouble.”
Finally Bates was asked about his time at Florida and what the LSU game meant back then as opposed to what it means now.
“I feel like we were cheated because we went and played in Death Valley twice and we never got the full feel of Death Valley,” Bates said. “We never went in there on Saturday night and just wore them out. We never got the true taste of this rivalry, although I did go to the game back in 1997 and that was a rocking house that night.
“This is why you go to LSU and to the University of Florida, to be a part of games like this on Saturday night.”
Florida and LSU are set for an 8:00 kickoff this Saturday and the game will be televised on ESPN.
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)