2020 Record: 8-4
1st in the East
The Gators had high hopes of a playoff appearance in 2020 and came relatively close. Despite an early season hiccup against Texas A&M, the Gators were ranked 6th going into the final week with a match coming against Alabama. Win and get in.
Instead they received an embarrassing upset at the hands of a weak LSU team, then failed to complete the upset of Alabama in a closely contested championship game. The Gators finished by laying down dead in the bowl game as Oklahoma thumped them 55-20.
Who’s the Playmaker on Offense?
The offense in general is going to be questionable after what 2020 accomplished. Florida is gutted of the players who scored the second most in the SEC. Trask and all of his targets are gone which provided the bulk of those points.
I wouldn’t be too worried about the quarterback situation. Emory Jones has scouted as a very capable talent. Dan Mullen has been high on him, plus he adds mobility that Trask never had. Mullen is also very good at getting the most out of his quarterbacks, and Jones is the highest recruited quarterback he’s managed to bring in over his career. He should be fine.
The ground game should be improved. There are no standouts but guys like Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis will share a backfield that needs to improve upon it’s lackluster numbers over the last couple years. Jacob Copeland returns as the lone standout at wide receiver from last year and could be the next big playmaker this offense will need.
If The Defense Doesn’t Improve This Season Will Be A Disaster
It goes without saying but the Florida defense has to improve. The Gators allowed an atrocious 30.8 points per game along with 428 yards. They allowed four more passing touchdowns than any other SEC team. The worst defense since the WWII era got bailed out by a tremendous offense. There’s no such luck of that in 2021.
Mullen made a handful of changes to address the issues which included the firing of two assistants and the hiring of veteran coach Wesley McGriff to coach safeties. The secondary will be boosted All-SEC cornerback Kaiir Elam who was a rare shiny spot last year.
The strongest asset is going to be linebackers for Florida. Ventrell Miller, Mohamoud Diabate and Amari Burney return the bulk of Florida’s tackles from last year as well as a combined 17 TFL’s. Throw in First Team All-SEC lineman Zachary Carter and the front seven leaves some hope for a stronger defensive performance.
The good news is there’s plenty of talent on this team. The negative being of course being that a lot of it is untested. Offensively will likely fall a lot on Emory Jones and the new style of offense going to be played. If his feet can help make up for the lack of playmakers at receiver that transition will be a lot smoother.
Defensively the main concern comes in the secondary. The personnel changes will hopefully pay dividends. The front seven will be improved and should help stop the run better than 2020 where they had some struggles.
Overall Florida likely isn’t looking at flirting with the playoff again this year. The best they can hope for is contending with Georgia for the SEC East title. As of now I’d give Georgia the edge there but a lot remains to be seen from this Florida team.
“From Our Haus to Yours”