why No. 7 Florida has Best shot at Making National ChampionshiP Next Year
It’s only the second day of February, less than a month after LSU celebrated their title run by knocking off the undefeated Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers. Barely a month in to the new year and before we’ve crowned a Super Bowl champion I have decided to (as every college coach has done following their final games this season) look toward the next year.
Setting the Stage for a Title Run
In just two years under Dan Mullen the Florida Gators football team has gone 10-3 and 11-2 respectively finishing 2nd only to Georgia in the SEC East. The Gators only two losses last year came to the Bulldogs, and the eventual National Champion LSU Tigers. Both of these contests were close as well with the Gators keeping pace against the explosive LSU offense well into the 3rd quarter, and falling just short to Georgia in Jacksonville, nearly edging the comeback 24-17.
The Gators will have to be able to take advantage of a rebuilding Georgia and an LSU weakened by early departures. Couple that with an Alabama team thats in question for the first time in years and an easy SEC schedule that features only one Power 5 team outside the conference in Florida State and you have all the pieces in place for a title run. In order to do this though, Florida is going to have to fill some big shoes on defense as well as recruit some weapons and help for breakout Junior (RS) Kyle Trask.
Presumed LSU and Georgia students entering 2020 NFL Draft
The Gators are returning one of the most experienced O-Line’s in College Football, only losing one member of last years starting rotation and adding depth in their current recruiting class. It seems that Dan Mullen and the Gators will finally be starting a season with a QB they have confidence in with Kyle Trask under center. Trask took over for an injured Feliepe Franks last year in the 3rd game of the season against Kentucky, leading lead the Gators to an epic comeback in Lexington. With Franks’ season over Trask went on to lead the Gators to a 9-2 record and a victory over Virgina in the Peach Bowl. If Florida wants their QB to improve on last year’s impressive ‘come off the bench’ performance, then they will need their WR corps to step up. Last year the Gators had an experienced WR class, with 4 of their top 6 receivers heading to the NFL or graduation they are going to need someone to rise up.
WR Trevon Grimes and TE Kyle Pitts will be key returning stars from 2019, but I believe they need to focus on getting the ball to WR Kadarius Toney more. Toney the Junior wideout battled injury last year but started the 2019 year off with a bang taking a bubble screen to the house in the renewed Miami (FLA) / Florida rivalry. Toney has the mold of a Percy Harvin / Tyreek Hill and should be utilized as much as possible. Both Toney and Pitts have NFL potential and will look to improve their draft stock for 2021. Pitts quickly established himself as one of Kyle Trask’s favorite targets last year and could become an even bigger part of the Florida offense this year now having more time to develop chemistry with Trask.
It’s said that the ground game will be an important facet to the Gators in 2019 as well, even with Senior Lamical Perine heading to the NFL there will be a a crowded backfield in Gainesville. Dameon Pierce (SO) had some flashes last year as a spell to Perine, carrying the ball 54 times, for 305 yards, averaging 5.6 YPC, and 4 TD, but the Gators just acquired former 5 star recruit Lorenzo Lindgard via transfer. I’d also keep an eye on Iverson Clement the redshirt Freshman was a 4 star recruit out of high school in 2018 and in the limited time he’s shown great vision and ball carrying skills averaging 9.2 yards on 7 collegiate carries. Though a limited sample size look for Clement to be a great spell for whoever totes the rock next year. Don’t forget about Malik Davis who showed great promise as a freshman but has struggled to stay on the field battling various injuries since 2017
Defense is going to be key for the Gators in 2020 if they want to compete with the offensive powerhouses of LSU, Clemson, and Oklahoma. Florida, who bolstered one of the conferences best defenses and finished Top 10 in the NCAA for yards allowed, will need the same elite level of play they received last year in order to the make college football playoffs and return to the National Championship for the first time since 2008. They have a lot of talent leaving from last years roster but they will be returning some key players as well with a few rising stars and a strong incoming class.
Florida Gators 2019 Defensive Stats
|Total Yards /Game||299.0||10th/2nd|
|Passing Yards / Game||192.0||18th/5th|
|Rushing Yards / Game||107.0||12th/2nd|
|Points Per Game||14.4||8th/2nd|
Departing Defensive Starters
|LB||David Reese II||SR.|
The good news for Florida is that CB Marco Wilson and S Brad Stewart will be foregoing the draft and returning for their senior seasons. This is a huge boost to the Gators secondary which takes a huge blow losing CJ Henderson early to the NFL. Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard are going to be huge shoes to fill in the Florida pass rush but incoming 5-Star recruit Gervon Dexter and transfer Brenton Cox are prime candidates to take over. Dexter the Nation’s #3 DT and 12th overall prospect has already enrolled on campus and expressed his confidence in the team via twitter. Meanwhile Brenton Cox was the Nation’s #2 EDGE prospect in 2018 and comes from rival Georgia to the swamp this year. If the Florida defense can keep pace or outperform last years class than Gators will be a force to reckon with and feared throughout the SEC.
Current 2020 Recruiting Highlights
The Gators currently hold the Nation’s 8th ranked recruiting class and the 6th in the SEC. Notable signees include:
|Pos.||Name||Ht / Wt||Rank (Nat/Pos/St)||Caliber|
|DT||Gervon Dexter||6-6 / 286||12 / 3 / 1||★★★★★|
|OLB||Brenton Cox*||6-4 / 245||23 / 2 / 5||★★★★★|
|RB||Lorenzo Lingard*||6-0 / 190||25 / 2 / 6||★★★★★|
|OLB||Derek Wingo||6-2 / 210||63 / 5 / 13||★★★★|
|WR||Xzavier Henderson**||6-3 / 180||66 / 11 / 14||★★★★|
|CB||Jahari Rogers||6-0 / 170||86 / 7 / 11||★★★★|
|WR||Jaquavion Fraziars**||6-3 / 194||154 / 26 / 23||★★★★|
|OL||Issiah Walker Jr.||6-4 / 309||156 / 15 / 24||★★★★|
|CB||Ethan Pouncey||6-1 / 160||174 / 11 / 26||★★★★|
|WDE||Antwaun Powell||6-3 / 234||182 / 10 / 3||★★★★|
|DUAL (QB)||Anthony Richardson||6-4 / 224||201 / 9 / 30||★★★★|
|DT||Johnnie Brown||6-2 / 250||226 / 22 / 34||★★★★|
|ATH||Marc Britt*||6-2 / 190||267 / 9 / 44||★★★★|
|OL||Joshua Braun||6-6 / 335||269 / 21 / 45||★★★★|
KEYS TO THE SEASON
MVP: Kyle Trask
Trask was everything the Gators could hope for and more coming off the bench last year, with an entire year to prepare as the starter Trask could be a Heisman sleeper.
Rising Star: Kadarius Toney
Toney has the ability to be Florida’s top offensive weapon if he can stay healthy and develop a good rapport with Kyle Trask
Top Newcomer: Gervon dexter
Dexter, the Gators incoming gem, looks to be next on the list of great Florida pass rushers. Dante Fowler, Jevon Kearse, Jack Youngblood and Kevin Carter come to mind. Dexter can be an All-American and a generational talent at Florida in the near future
X-Factor / Breakout Alert: Lorenzo Lindgard
The the Nation’s #2 RB coming out of HS in 2018. Lindgard battled a knee injury his freshman year at Miami (Fla), and saw limited action in 2019 receiving a redshirt. Lingard entered the transfer portal this year and pending a letter of intent from NCAA will look to lead a crowded but unsettled UF backfield
Florida Gators 2020 Schedule