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Gators and FSU know what lies ahead

Matt Zemek

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It is true that the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles do not inhabit the same worlds of expectations, ceilings, and postseason possibilities.

Florida can realistically win nine games, as flawed as it is.

Florida State has too many warts – and too many losses already (two) – to have a real chance at 9-3. Clemson will beat the Noles. Florida will be a problem. Another game is bound to slip away. FSU is fighting just to go to a bowl and avoid a humiliating two-year stretch without a postseason game.

A 9-3 record could get Florida a “New Year’s Six” bowl. It did last year. Teams in the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are playing themselves out of the NY6, to the SEC could get four NY6 teams… as it did last year with Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama. The same four teams could be New Year’s Six teams this winter.

Having established that the Gators and Seminoles are not playing for the same prizes with the same levels of pressure, they do share one basic point of commonality after four weeks of college football: They are not going to have an easy time of it over the next two months.

That statement might seem obvious, and plenty of people will recognize it for what it is. I am making the point that if FSU and UF fans are emotionally unprepared for an uninterrupted string of messy, nerve-wracking, exasperating games… well, you need to adjust and face reality.

This is simply how it’s going to be. Accept it.

You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to approve of it. You do need to come to terms with it in a fundamental way.

Florida State was all over Louisville, 21-0, before anyone could blink in Tallahassee. “Surely they won’t collapse in the second half AGAIN.”

Well, they did for 20 minutes of the second half before rescuing themselves thanks to a bad Louisville interception thrown deep in Seminole territory. The idea that Florida State is suddenly going to snap into focus and play immaculate second halves this season – when the track record is so unspeakably horrible – seems unrealistic There are too many warts on this team (and too much chaos in the ACC) to think that Florida State will morph into a responsible, steady team.

That kind of team isn’t about to emerge. Talent, coaching and outside factors all have to improve markedly for Florida State to reach a much higher standard. That standard isn’t visible on the distant horizon. It is impossible to see right now.

It is simply going to be – and remain – that kind of year, with every weekend a struggle and a journey into a dark world of uncertainty.

For Florida, the larger nature of the season might not be nearly as grim as it currently is in Tallahassee, but the ugliness of each gameday appears to be a fact of life. Now and in the next two months, Florida is not going to provide aesthetically pleasing, consistent football. It is just not going to happen.

Florida made tons of mistakes against Tennessee. The mistakes weren’t unacceptable; Kyle Trask is a backup-level quarterback for a reason. Dan Mullen can – and does, and will – scheme open receivers on several occasions each game, but over 60 minutes, Trask is going to make inadequate decisions.

This is not a knock on him; this is merely a reflection of his status as a backup quarterback.

Trask is doing the best he can. Yet, if he struggled against Tennessee, imagine what will happen against Auburn and LSU and Georgia.

Not only WILL Florida games be ugly the rest of the way in 2019; the Gators will actually WANT games to be ugly.

If LSU and Georgia play rhythmic, fluid offense, Florida will get crushed. The Gators need to play the “10-7 rock fight” Notre Dame needed to play to win against Georgia on Saturday night. Notre Dame played that game for two and a half quarters, but it was all Georgia in the final one and a half quarters.

Florida will have to find a way to “ugly it up” for four full quarters against UGA and LSU to have any remote hope of winning.

Just relax. Loosen those shoulder muscles. Grab a cold beverage.

Accept the reality that in Tallahassee and Gainesville, it’s going to be that kind of season: not with the same win-loss record, but with ugly and uneven football for two more months.

Take all the precautions you need… but you can’t outrun or ignore reality even when it is unpleasant.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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