Year two for Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators will get underway at later this fall, and there’s obviously anticipation that they can build on a 10-win season that included a Peach Bowl victory over Michigan a year ago.
And of course this time of year, opinions are flying everywhere about what teams will or won’t do before the season begins. To that end, CBSSports.com had a discussion on Thursday night about whether the Gators will be a 10-win team again?
Appearing on the “Sportsline” show, college football insiders Barton Simmons and Barrett Sallee both made arguments against the Gators being able to take those next steps:
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) June 28, 2019
Simmons went with the “under 10 wins” for the Gators season, sighting in particular the inexperienced Florida offensive line and the tough out of conference games with Miami and Florida State book-ending the schedule. Florida must also play against Auburn and at LSU in back to back weeks in the SEC West rotation this season.
Sallee then agreed with Simmons that he believes it will be 9 or less wins in the regular season in Gainesville. He pointed directly to the Auburn and LSU strength on defense in general, but specifically with their defensive line, that will be problems for the Orange and Blue O-Line.
Obviously, Florida does return starting quarterback Feleipe Franks and despite having players like Jachai Polite and Vosean Joseph head to the NFL, they still boast defensive end Jabari Zuniga, linebacker David Reese and safety Jeawan Taylor who are all senior leaders.
And, the good news on the Gators schedule is they will get a bit of a breather after the Miami game 8/24 by playing Tennessee-Martin before their revenge game at Kentucky on September 14th. Florida also has a game with Towson at home on September 28th before the tough stretch of playing Auburn, at LSU, at South Carolina and Georgia in four games.
If the Gators get through that stretch unscathed, they are likely going to be in Atlanta as the SEC East representative in the championship game. However, there are obviously detractors, like the CBS analysts, that don’t believe they will end up unscathed and may take two or three SEC losses this year.
The one thing we know is: Florida overachieved a year ago and got better as the season went on. And Mullen’s hope is they can build on that right out of the gate this season.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.