2016 Florida Gators
OUtside of closing last season on a three-Game losing streak, there wasn’t too much to complain about for the Gators. They surpassed expectations en route to 10 wins and easily winning the SEC East with just one Conference loss. Even with an offense that scored 23.2 points per Game, it was impressive for them to make the SEC title Game.
At this early writing in the spring, the Gators are listed at odds of 55 to 1 to win the National Championship at 5 dimes sportsbook. Odds change, so be sure to check in with 5 dimes and betonline for the lastest updates.
And this year, things could be even better if the Gators can actually find some consistency at quarterback. That’s their top goal in the offseason and after their spring Game, LUke Del Rio looks set to be the starter, although that’s not set in stone. He dominated the spring Game, albeit against the second-team defense. As long as Del Rio (or whoever is at QB) can play better than Treon Harris did down the stretch last year, the Gators should be much better offensively. Purdue transfer Austin Appleby is also in the running.
Even with running back Kelvin Taylor gone, JUCO transfer Mark Thompson looks ready to step up, as well as sophomore Jordan Cronkrite. In the receiving Game, Antonio Callaway returns, who led the team with 678 yards and Four touchdowns a year ago, along with Brandon Powell. But the main thing is at quarterback. With simply average play, Florida should Scoremore points than in 2015.
The Gators lost multiple players to the NFL on the defensive end, but like most years, that shouldn’t be a major problem with plenty of talent coming in. The secondary lost the majority of its core, but Jalen Tabor is the next great Florida corner and they have enough experience at safety. This team won via a dominant defense a year ago, and with enough talent to go around, even a small step backward in that department should be enough to have them competing for the East again. Even then, the Gators should have a solid line with CeCe Jefferson and Caleb Brantley wreaking havoc.
To give the offense an even bigger boost, it looks like the Gators finally have a kicker that can make field goals, which was a major issue last year.
Florida’s Schedule is a bit tougher overall this year, but hosting LSU may come in handy. An early road test at Tennessee and later on at Arkansas will likely make-or-break their season, as well as the usual meeting with Georgia. The Gators were fortunate to walk away with a 28-27 win in last year’s meeting with the Volunteers, and playing them on the road this year won’t be easy.
If the Gators can get better quarterback play out of Del Rio (or Appleby), Jim McElwain should be in for another solid record and another shot at the SEC East in his second season. But if that position remains a question, winning 10 Games seems unlikely. Divisional Games against Tennessee and Georgia will ultimately decide if they can reach that number or not.
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2016 Florida Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Massachusetts
Sept 10 vs. Kentucky
Sept. 17 vs. North Texas
Sept. 24 at Tennessee
Oct. 1 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 8 vs. LSU
Oct. 15 vs. Missouri
Oct. 29 vs. Georgia (EverBank Field)
Nov. 5 at Arkansas
Nov. 12 vs. South Carolina
Nov. 19 vs. Presbyterian
Nov. 26 at Florida State