Florida is in complete overhaul and that’s what happens when a team only wins Four Games. New head coach Dan Mullen has a lot of hope riding on him as he comes over from Mississippi State after being the Florida OC from 2005-08. Mullen always seems to get the best out of his quarterbacks and that’ll be super important for the Gators as they haven’t gotten much out of theirs in recent campaigns. The Gators finished 3-5 in SEC play last year and are expected to be in the mix behind Georgia in the East this season with +5500 odds (5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the National Championship.
Coming out of spring, Florida still didn’t know who its starter was with Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask the main choices after both played well in the scrimmage, although freshman Emory Jones is in the mix, as well. Florida fans are looking to move on from Franks after he managed just 6.28 yards per attempt with nine TDs and eight INTs a season ago. This group is expected to be better, but only because of Mullen. To help, the line returns five starters even if those guys don’t return to their respective positions. The skill spots should also have enough talent for this offense to improve on its lowly 22.1 points per Game. At receiver, guys like Tyrie Cleveland, Kadarius Toney and Dre Massey have another year of experience, while LAwrence Wright and Travis McGriff had big plays in the spring. The better news may be that Florida gets back Jordan SCarlett, who led the team in rushing in 2016. Throw in LAmical Perine, who got plenty of work last season, and this group has multiple options.
Assuming the offense improves and the defense is its usual self, the Gators could easily double their win total in 2018. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is moving the group to a 3-4 scheme, which should work out fine with the amount of talent the Gators have.
Linebacker is the most potent unit on the Florida defense with CeCe Jefferson and Jachai Polite on the outside. Throw in Antonneous Clayton on the line and all of these guys can be difference makers in the new formation. The secondary should at least have talent even if it is a bit young. Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson are only sophomores at cornerback, while safety is in a similar situation. Newcomer Amari Burney made a name for himself in the spring and could find some time early in the season in the secondary. As long as the line holds its ground, that may be enough for the secondary to improve statistically this season.
The Gators get a favorable run to start the season and should open with three wins before traveling to Tennessee. The SEC East is expected to be better in 2018, but there still aren’t any truly elite teams outside of Georgia. It’ll be important for Florida to win a road Game or two and that includes the trips to Tennessee and Vandy, but also Mullen taking on his former Miss. State team at the end of September. As long as the Gators can win Games they are supposed to at home, that’ll be enough for seven or even eight wins, assuming quarterback makes a logical progression from a miserable 2017.
2018 Florida Gators Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Charleston Southern
Sept. 8 vs. Kentucky
Sept. 15 vs. Colorado State
Sept. 22 at Tennessee
Sept. 29 at Mississippi State
Oct. 6 vs. LSU
Oct. 13 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 27 vs. Georgia (EverBank Field)
Nov. 3 vs. Missouri
Nov. 10 vs. South Carolina
Nov. 17 vs. Idaho
Nov. 24 at Florida State