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Florida Gators

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 face annual challenge of who’s leaving?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators end to the season was just as predicted, and now, so too is the leaving of significant players for the NFL, etc.

Florida ended up getting the Virginia Cavaliers in the Orange Bowl and the second-best team in the weakest conference in Power 5 football was no match for the strong talented Gators.

Just before the conference championship games, it was predicted almost everywehre that Virginia would get trounced by the Clemson Tigers, but still be the most likely candidate to face the Gators in a “New Year’s Six Bowl”.

Once the game was confirmed and the lines came out, the Gators were listed as massive 16 point favorites at the best Sportsbooks around the nation.

And, when it came time to tee it up? Florida delivered a win.

The final score was 36-28, as Virginia hung tough by scoring 14 in the 4th quarter and got the backdoor cover on the point spread. Still, the Gators finished sandwiched between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Oregon Ducks at No.6 in the AP Top 25. But, will the Gators still be as good next season?

Will they be better? And who might they be missing?

That brings us to a few key players that have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s start by taking a look at them.

It seems that as receivers get bigger, corners have been getting smaller. So, C.J. Henderson (above) at 6’1” and 191 pounds is almost an oddity nowadays. He is long, athletic and extremely fast. In short, he was one of the best corners in college football. He’s declared for the 2020 draft and could go in the first round.

But with so much talent at QB, we could see Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagavoilva all go in the Top-10. Then, when you factor in team needs and a few other great corners from Alabama, LSU, and Clemson in Treveon Diggs, Kristian Fulton, and A.J. Terrell, Henderson could fall into the second round. And, it could end up being a steal for some lucky team if that happened.

That said, the Broncos, Seahawks, Vikings, 49ers, and Dolphins all need help at corner. And the Seahawks would be a great landing spot, as they may favor him over some of the other top contenders for his excellent ability in man coverage. That is, if they don’t fill another position need such as DE or OLB – which would make sense as well since they had the leagues lowest number of sacks during the regular season.

Seniors who will go on are Van Jefferson, Josh Grimes, Freddie Swain, and Tyrie Cleveland. And the Gators will lose some talent in their TE depth with Lucas Krull hitting the bricks. He was usurped by Kyle Pitts but still caught nine balls for nearly 110 yards.

It isn’t a huge loss, as Pitts is one of the best TE in the SEC. But not having that extra option with experience at TE will hurt a bit. A handful of QBs will also be leaving. For starters Nick Sproles, a walk-on back-up out of Winter Park has been sitting behind both Franks and Trask. So, he elected to hit the transfer portal and take off.

QB Feleipe Franks will also step through the transfer portal to another school. His horrible ankle injury opened the door for Kyle Trask to take over. Now, we very well could see Franks move over to Kansas, as he had originally committed to former LSU coach, Les Miles, who’s now there.

Although Trask is on the rise, this does hurt the depth chart. Emory Jones is reliable, but he’s no Franks … at least not yet.

On top of this, Chris Bleich and Umstead Sanders both hit the transfer list. But, the Gators actually are not hurt by this, as they picked up Brenton Cox at OLB which is probably a big part of why Umstead elected to transfer.

Cox has solid experience at Georgia and will likely earn a starting spot with the Gators. He tallied 20 tackles, a sack, a pair for loss, and six tackles in the Sugar Bowl alone! Then, he also racked up three pass deflections on top of all that.

The Gators lost a lot of depth at receiver, but they pick up one with Jordan Pouncy. He’s big at 6’2” and 205 and has decent speed.

All in all, the Gators won’t be too much worse for the wear. And, with the shift in emphasis to the SEC West, they have great shot at winning the East and to play for the SEC title next season.

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Florida Gators

How legit are Dan Mullen to Cowboys rumors?

Florida Football Insiders

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Spruce Derden- USA Today Sports

The Cowboys finally made the move to fire longtime coach Jason Garrett on Thursday night and there has been great debate about whether Oklahoma college coach Lincoln Riley will be his replacement? Now, comes more speculation that the Cowboys may be going with a college coach, but not Riley. Rather, it’s a name that’s very familiar in our state.

With the understanding that no one has credibly tied Gators coach Dan Mullen to the Cowboys vacancy, as of yet. There are rumors and speculation in the Dallas Market and around Mullen in Gainesville that there is mutual interest in him potentially heading to Big D. And there, he would be reuniting with his star college protege’ from Mississippi State, Dak Prescott.

Prescott took over has the Cowboys starter unexpectedly in his rookie year (2016), when Tony Romo suffered a back injury. And, Prescott has had a very successful four year career in Dallas going 40-24 as a starter in the regular season, and including leading them to the playoffs and a playoff victory a year ago.

However, the Cowboys faltered down the stretch of the season and Prescott has been mostly blame for the offensive struggles. They lost head-to-head with the Eagles in week 16 and ended up finishing 8-8 losing the NFC East leading to Garrett’s dismissal.

Another factor is Prescott is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after only making $2 million this year, and clearly, the Cowboys have to commit to him first before any rumored reuniting with Mullen could take place.

As for Mullen, he clearly has resurrected the Gators program over his two years since coming to Gainesville from Mississippi State. They have won 10 or more games in each of the seasons and won a “New Year’s Six” bowl game over Michigan and Virginia in those two years.

It’s unknown how much Mullen would value heading to the Cowboys vs. staying in Gainesville, but clearly he would make more money coaching for Jerry Jones in the NFL. Perhaps, he’d get as much as double his believed $6 million salary for the Gators.

Mullen and Prescott turned Mississippi State into a national power in 2014. That’s when Prescott broke 12 school records, and finished eighth in the Heisman voting as Mississippi State ascended to the number one ranking in the country in October of that year.

The Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, as Prescott had over 500 yards of total offense in that game. He came back for a senior season in 2015 under Mullen and was first team All-SEC as well as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, while accumulating 4,300 yards of offense and 39 combined touchdowns.

By the time Prescott left Starkville he owned 38 school records and was a two-time All-American. Mullen and his staff deserve a good deal of credit for helping him with that.

So, on the surface, it makes sense that the Cowboys might have interest in Mullen, but then again, Jones has been infatuated previously with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and now with Riley.

And, Riley produced back-to-back Heisman winning number one overall draft picks with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray the last two years. And, it’s expected that his quarterback from this past season, Jalen Hurts, will also be drafted, if not in the first round, at some point.

Now, we wait to see if the rumors are just that, or if the Prescott-Mullen previous connection gains traction on Mullen heading to the NFL

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