2020 Season Preview: Florida Gators
Over the course of the next several weeks, the SoBros Network crew will be going around the landscape of the SEC, team by team, previewing the upcoming American tackle football season. Up next, our 2020 Florida preview!
2020 FLORIDA PREVIEW
This season is exactly what you hired Dan Mullen for. There ought to be high hopes in Gainesville in 2020, folks, and I’ll say it – there’s good reason for that. This could be the year. The Gators have scored 400 points the last two seasons under Mullen, something that hasn’t been done since the Tim Tebow era. There’s no doubt that he has this program heading in the right direction, but it all comes down to execution, and the Gators have their fair share of question marks.
The story of the offense has to be quarterback Kyle Trask, who is as seasoned and experienced as they come. It’s his time, and it’s his season. But, he’s proven capable of taking the reins and orchestrating this offense wonderfully. The Gators lost their top two receivers, leaving question marks in the receiving corps – who’s going to step up and make the plays? Can the Gators survive if no one does? Can it all reside on Trask’s season?
The Gators do have a decent offensive line that improved in 2019 and can get the job done in 2010 if they continue to develop. There’s a potential steamrolling backfield that can bring balance to the offense. So, steady play across the board and a little more balance like the team had in 2018 could help mitigate the loss of those play-makers.
Then, there’s the defense – there, I think it’s fair to ask whether or not there was too much turnover. They lost their most explosive pass rushers, their top tackler, and a rare talent at cornerback in CJ Henderson to the NFL. That said, there’s still a lot of talent on this Gators defense, specifically at safety. Florida should once again have one of the nation’s best secondaries. But, the key cog in it all that gives you confidence is DC Todd Grantham. He’s definitely a guy you trust moving forward, and is really good at creating pressure out of mismatches and moving his players around to gain an advantage. His approach to the defense could mask all of the losses.
This is going to be an interesting season for the Florida program – things are set up for a run for the ages in Gainesville.
2020 Gators Schedule
9/5, vs. Eastern Washington – I mean, this is a glorified preseason game, right?
9/12, vs. Kentucky – This Wildcats team could surprise some people in 2020, but unfortunately, this one’s taking place on Florida’s turf.
9/19, vs. South Alabama – Another tune-up for an SEC East opponent. Should be a 3-0 start for Florida.
9/26, @ Tennessee – This one’s going to be a bit trickier than people are giving the Vols credit for. But, ultimately, I don’t think the Vols are going to be able to score with this Gators offense.
10/3, vs. South Carolina – The Gamecocks showed spoiler potential a season ago, but I think this is the year the bottom falls out for Will Muschamp, including getting creamed by the Gators.
10/10, vs. LSU – The final score might not indicate it, but I think the Gators deserve a little more credit for playing the Tigers so well a year ago. This year, the game’s at home, and Joe Burrow will be playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. Should be a win for a team that has playoff aspirations.
10/17, @ Ole Miss – I just don’t think the Rebels are going to be ready to beat an opponent like this in Year 1 of Lane Kiffin.
10/24 – (BYE)
10/31, vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville) – This is it – this is the big game….once again, I think this one’s going to decide the SEC East. The Bulldogs have enough questions on offense that it trips them up as this Gators defense has really had time to come together.
11/7, @ Vanderbilt – Nah.
11/14, vs. Missouri – Another program in transition that comes to the swamp. That doesn’t bode well for the Tigers.
11/21, vs. New Mexico State – Little more than a tune-up for Rivalry Week.
11/28, @ Florida State – The Gators have to travel to Florida State, but they’re simply lightyears ahead of the rebuilding Seminoles.
Georgia is still the slight favorite to win the SEC East, but I think the Gators capitalize on that turnover on the Bulldogs offense and claim the division. The schedule sets up unbelievably for the Gators – their two biggest games take place in the state of Florida, and their toughest road trip is to Knoxville. They should enter the LSU game at 5-0, and will get a nice three-week cushion before it’s time for the Georgia game. Unless they slip up somewhere they shouldn’t, we’re talking a potential one-loss or even no-loss regular season campaign.
Because of the leadership at Florida, I tend to think of this Gators team as a solid roster from a talent standpoint that has room to grow together. That’s different, and more optimistic, than the generic “inexperienced” tag. These Gators will get better as the season goes on and with the cushy first bit of the schedule, could really be in position to make a run if they can get past Georgia. If they do, I think they’re equipped to hang with whoever wins the SEC West, too. This is one of my dark horse National Championship contenders.
OTHER 2020 SEASON PREVIEWS
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley