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Florida Gators

Arguments against Gators winning 10 games this season

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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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:

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.

Florida Gators

Gators dramatic comeback Saturday at Kentucky was “mixed bag”

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Life is complicated. College football is part of life. A very complicated reality greets the Florida Gators, as they head home to Gainesville.

They won a game. They lost their starting quarterback.

They showed they could fight when everything was going against them. They did not show that they are anywhere close to the Georgia Bulldogs, or that they are ready to be a nasty, imposing, overwhelmingly strong team which can go 11-1 in a regular season and feel it left something on the table.

There is a lot to like, and a lot to hate, about the Gators’ situation.

Let’s start with the quarterback situation. Feleipe Franks suffered an ugly leg injury on Saturday night. I won’t play a doctor on Twitter or here in print, so instead of making a guess about his situation, I will simply tell you to stay tuned to Florida Football Insiders for more on his situation as fresh information becomes available.

Franks was supposed to be the guy who led Florida to a higher plateau in 2019, but if he is out, the Gators have to start fresh.

The really good news is that Kyle Trask came off the bench in the fourth quarter and directed two terrific drives as the Gators’ backup quarterback. Trask could not have handled his situation any better.

Backups are told to be ready. Trask was supremely ready. He seized his opportunity. He immediately won over the locker room and his teammates. The offense flowed rhythmically when Trask was in the game. Dan Mullen found plays Trask could execute.

Trask will obviously need to develop if he is to meet the challenges which face him in the weeks ahead. That said, if he could perform under pressure against Kentucky – on the road, at night, trailing in the fourth quarter – it becomes possible to envision a world in which he handles other high-stress situations with poise and composure.

Is Trask ready for the entirely different challenge of being the starter for the rest of the season? Is he talented enough to handle 60-minute wars against Auburn and Georgia and others? We will have to wait to find out, and yes, skepticism is merited before improving the Gators’ odds of challenging Georgia for the SEC East title

I wouldn’t count on Trask being the answer to Florida’s problems – most Gator fans can acknowledge that. Yet, there’s a difference between an unlikely scenario and an absurd one. Trask flourishing for the rest of the season is unlikely… but against Kentucky, he refuted the notion that such a scenario would be absurd. Florida might have gained more than it honestly expected from Trask.

Beyond the quarterback situation, Florida’s mixed bag against Kentucky was manifested in the fact that the Gators continued to make a lot of inexcusable mistakes… and yet won an SEC road game.

The secondary remains inconsistent. The defense did not impose its will on the opposition, on a night when Kentucky played a backup quarterback, Sawyer Smith. Too many untimely penalties are still part of this team’s identity.

This is frustrating… but it also shows that if the Gators can eve clean up their act, their ceiling could be higher than it currently is. No, this does not look like a team which will ever be dominant, but with a 3-0 record in a weak SEC East, the Gators are still in very good position for a New Year’s Six bowl. They might not blow people out, but they could win a bunch of hard-fought slugfests akin to this one.

Fans rightly want Florida to challenge Georgia. That’s where this season seems likely to fall short of its highest aspirations. Yet, the Gators’ win over Kentucky gives them reason to think that they can return to a high-profile bowl game.

This program is not ready to take the next step up the ladder, to the Georgia-LSU tier just below Alabama in the SEC. It also does not appear ready to stumble and lose ground relative to 2018.

Florida could be in a much better situation right now. It could also be in a far worse situation.

That is what a mixed bag looks like.

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Florida Gators

Gators lose QB Feleipe Franks to horrific leg injury

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On a night in Lexington, Kentucky, when the Gators top 10 hopes were coming unraveled, their starting quarterback and leader of their offense went down with a horrible leg injury in a third quarter. And, Feleipe Franks is likely done for the season.

On a fourth-and-one scramble with 3:21 remaining, Franks was sandwiched between multiple Wildcat defenders and being bent backwards. Even though replays weren’t shown, it was clear he had suffered a dislocated right ankle injury.

So bad was the injury, that trainers who came to assist Franks on the turf at Commonwealth Stadium immediately put an air cast on his right leg. Then he was eventually carted off to the locker room after nearly the entire Gator team had surrounded him and wished him well.

All signs pointing to the magnitude of the injury to being severe.

Frank’s has been a “lightning rod of criticism” throughout his Florida career, but did silence a lot of those critics with his play down the stretch of last season. That included a late season comeback win over South Carolina, playing well in the rivalry victory over Florida State, and then, following that up with a good performance in the easy victory in the Peach Bowl over Michigan.

Still coach Dan Mullen has stuck by he junior signal-caller.

We wrote about Franks and the Gators being sloppy in the opening game of the year with Miami. However, some of that could be chalked up to Miami’s aggressive defense and it being a first game.

However, Franks and the offense struggled much of the first three quarters of Saturday night’s SEC opener at Kentucky. At the time he left with an injury he was an efficient 12-17 for 174 yards with a TD pass and 1 INT. Still, they had only put one touchdown on the board while trailing 21 – 10.

Frank’s was replaced by redshirt junior Kyle Trask, who was seeing his first significant action of his Florida career, especially trailing by double figures in a hostile SEC road environment.

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