While we ‘uns are on the subject, if in the back of your mind you question the optimism shown by some projecting Gator prowess this season, allow this SI.com piece to calm you.
How could Florida fall short of nine wins in 2019? Let me count the ways.
- Luck. “Let’s examine last year a little closer. Florida went 3-0 in games decided by one score, and that’s not including a 37-27 win over Vanderbilt in which the Gators trailed 21-3 in the second quarter and Vandy star tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn left due to injury in the first half. Florida had the seventh-best turnover margin in the country (+12), however that was aided by recovering an insane 75% of opponent’s fumbles. That’s the big reason why Bill Connelly’s expected turnover margin for the Gators was 5.2, so definitely expect regression in that department this season. Additionally, all of those takeaways were a major help to the offense, as the Gators ranked sixth in average starting field position.”
- You know who be gone. “Florida returns a good amount of production on both sides of the ball, but the one position that features huge turnover is the offensive line. The Gators have to replace four offensive linemen that racked up a whopping 141 starts. Those four (Martez Ivey, Jawaan Taylor, Tyler Jordan and Fred Johnson) started a combined 51 games last season.”
- Felipe Franks loves a challenge. “When Franks was pressured, though, positive developments rarely happened. He completed 25.3% of his throws (which was dead-last among qualified Power 5 quarterbacks) and had a 62.3 passer rating (53 out of 64), per ESPN’s David Hale. Breaking in four new starters along the offensive line will open things up for opposing pass rushers.”
- Third and Grantham. “But with Grantham loving to dial up blitzes often, that made Florida’s defense vulnerable to explosive plays (68th in IsoPPP in 2018) and third-down conversions (53rd). The Gators will be a force on defense, but ultimately one of the best ways to become elite is to limit big plays. Under Grantham, defenses tend to be more “boom or bust,” as Florida’s defense made big plays, but also surrendered them (tied for 51st in plays allowed for at least 40 yards).”
Sure, you can’t expect all of those problems to kick in — not that I would complain if they did — but as conclusions go, “The Gators would likely need Franks to play like a borderline Heisman candidate, and I don’t think he has that in him when being protected by a revamped offensive line” is certainly one we should be able to live with.