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Florida Gators

Gators crack Top Ten of preseason coaches poll

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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It is officially the month that college football will be kicking off and USA Today released the 2019 preseason Amway coaches poll. While almost any fan of college football could take a guess at which teams landed in spots 1 and 2, it is important to note that for the first time in 4 seasons, the crimson tide is not in first place, the reigning national champion, Clemson, has taken their place.

Further down the list are two Florida teams with the Gators coming in at number 8, and UCF at 17.

For the Gators this years preseason poll is the first time Florida has ranked in the top 10 since the 2013 season. They landed at spot 8 with 1103 points. They are one of six SEC teams, four of which are also in the Top 10, and the only Power 5 school in the state of Florida in the preseason poll.

The Gators were ranked #8 on another preseason poll earlier this summer that projected where teams should fall at the end of the season.

UCF tied with Wisconsin at 17th in the nation with 436 points. This marks the second straight year that the Knights have been ranked in the top 25 to start a season, moving up six spots from the previous season. The Knights are impressively the only non P5 school that made it on the list and are projected to take their conference for the third straight year, but it may be a while before they find themselves in the Top 10 without regularly facing more elite competition.

While the Coaches Poll does not impact the College Football Playoff rankings, major polls that this one have been known to predict the eventual semifinalists accurately.

According to USA Today, the coaches who vote are selected by random draw and each coach submits a Top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.

Later this month, the AP preseason rankings will be released. It is likely that it will closely resemble the coaches rankings we see here.

Abbey is a native Floridan who grew up a fan of all Tampa Bay sports teams. She’s recently graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Media Communication Studies. In her time at FSU, she was an In-Game Host for the Basketball and Baseball teams, and reported for Seminole Sports Magazine, producing feature stories that appeared on Fox Sports Sun. She’s excited to share her perspective on all of Florida’s Football teams, especially the Seminoles.

Florida Gators

Gators maintain top spot with others moving up our rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in Florida, we were given another gift with numerous programs winning! In college, the Gators, Canes, Owls, and even FSU came out on top. It wasn’t all good news; however, with USF and UCF taking weeknight losses. And in the NFL, the Jags had a week off, while the Bucs and Dolphins were both victorious.

With some shocking results, this is how the top 5 looks in the state.

Florida Gators- The Gators keep the top spot after demolishing Vanderbilt over the weekend. Florida flexed all of their muscles in this one putting up 56 points and shutting out the Commodores. Kyle Trask had a career day with 363 passing yards and three touchdowns. Emory Jones also got into the action with three rushing touchdowns.

The defense was also a part of the scoring with Jonathan Greenard getting a scoop and score. The Gators turned it on in the second half with 28 points scored. The Gators will finish their SEC schedule next week, traveling to Missouri.

Florida Atlantic Owls- The Owls won a huge game over the weekend, defeating rival Florida International. The Owls rode the hot hand of running back Malcolm Davidson to a 37-7 victory. Davidson had 144 yards and three scores to lead the Owls to the “Shula Bowl” win.

The win keeps the Owls in striking distance for a C-USA east division crown. They still need Marshall to drop one of their next three games. Regardless, Lane Kiffin has done a terrific job this season, turning the Owls into one of the best teams in the conference.

Miami Hurricanes- The Canes have turned things around since the embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech. “The U” has now won three games in a row and looks like a whole new team. QB Jaren Williams had a career game with six touchdowns. The Miami offense is starting to look more like the offense many fans thought it would be to start the year with the addition of Dan Enos.

The Canes will take this win streak into their next game against cross-city rival, FIU.

Florida State Seminoles- Credit where credit is due, the Noles didn’t quit. After going down 14-3 in the second quarter, FSU could have laid down and rolled over. Instead, they rallied and put up 21 points in a row. Then, Boston College came back from two scores down, and the Noles once again rose to the challenge winning the game 38-31.

On a day where Cam Akers was held in check, two QBs stepped up for FSU. James Blackman, and Tamorrion Terry destroyed the BC secondary, while third-string Jordan Travis took to carries and turned them into 12 points. The win puts the Noles in a position to become bowl eligible, something they failed to do last year.

Odell Haggins has this team playing with heart and will look to continue that this weekend against Alabama State.

Miami Dolphins- Who would have thought we would be saying this, but the Dolphins have won two games in a row. Facing back up Brian Hoyer, the defense forced three interceptions and keyed in on RB Marlon Mack. On offense, they did just enough with Ryan Fitzpatrick running in a touchdown and Jason Sanders nailing three field goals.

The Phins struggled to do anything on the ground with out Mark Walton in this one. Ryan Fitzpatrick also only threw for 169 yards.

However, a win is a win, and the Phins have two of those in a row. They could also be ending their chances to get the number one pick. Next, they will host the Buffalo Bills, and a win there would be a big win for the team but also the fatal blow to their odds at the number one or two pick.

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Florida Gators

Gators defense missed great opportunity Saturday

Matt Zemek

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In discussions of politics, you will hear references to “The Two Americas” This can refer to various divides in our nation, but the most central one is the division between ideological visions which give rise to red states and blue states.

In college football, fans of the Florida Gators are confronted with a non-ideological but very real problem after Saturday’s 24-17 loss to Georgia.

Yes, Georgia had to win this game and Florida did not – at least not with the same level of urgency. Yes, Georgia had Jake Fromm and Florida had Kyle Trask. Yes, Georgia has achieved at a level in recent years which Florida has not matched.

Yet, even though Georgia has built itself into a noticeably stronger program – with Florida trying to play catch-up – it was still discouraging to see how the Gators lost on Saturday.

No, the offense’s limitations do not represent the most alarming part of this loss. They need to be addressed, but part of this offense’s low ceiling comes from Feleipe Franks not being on the field with his equation-changing speed and running ability.

On a broader level, it is beyond obvious that Mullen hasn’t yet found his ideal quarterback. He better find one soon – which is another conversation for another time – but given the talent we saw on Saturday in Jacksonville, it was never realistic to expect UF to score a lot against Kirby Smart’s defense.

Hoping UF’s offense would thrive? Great – we always should hope.

Expecting UF’s offense to flourish? Not in a reasonable universe.

The Florida path to victory always needed to run through coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense. This was true mostly because Georgia’s offense had been atrocious the previous few weeks against South Carolina and Kentucky, but partly because the Gators were getting back two outstanding defensive players, Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga.

Florida figured to have the pass rush it needed to keep Georgia contained… and make Jake Fromm eat dirt.

Well, we all saw how THAT turned out. Georgia was able to protect Fromm on one third down after another. Third-down conversions were the difference in the game.

Yet, as bad as the third-down pass rush was, the secondary was equally bad. Trey Dean got lost on several occasions, and his teammates either suffered coverage busts or were half a step slow, or didn’t pick up the flight of the ball in time to deflect a Fromm pass.

It wasn’t one component of secondary play which killed Florida – it was every component of secondary play.

Georgia’s slumbering defense found an awakening against Florida. The Gators did nothing to keep Georgia fast asleep. That was the missed opportunity for UF on Saturday.

So, as we look to the future – and I am thinking about 2020, not the next month – Dan Mullen has a real choice to make, a choice only he can know how to handle.

If Mullen knows he can develop a high-quality quarterback – think of Will Grier under Jim McElwain; we don’t have to expect Danny Wuerffel or Tim Tebow – he can reasonably say that his offense will eventually be able to figure out Kirby Smart, the coach Mullen has to beat if he eventually wants to win SEC East championships and go to Atlanta in December.

However, if Mullen knows he won’t have that high-end QB (which is its own problem, but can’t be wished away if events break in the wrong direction), he has to think about firing Grantham.

No, Grantham isn’t terrible. He takes advantage of bad offenses, but against moderately good or great offenses, Grantham falls short. We saw a perfect example against Georgia.

Mullen has to weigh the resources of his offense versus the capability of his defense. If the offense figures to be limited, Mullen needs to get a rock-star defensive coordinator.

Florida shouldn’t be settling for a coordinator who can’t pounce on Georgia when the Bulldogs are vulnerable. Florida needs a defensive coordinator who can throttle SEC opponents with noticeable weaknesses.

No, I wouldn’t expect Grantham or any UF defensive coordinator to stop this year’s Alabama or LSU offenses… but Todd Grantham, if he is to earn his paycheck, has to be able to handle every other 2019 SEC offense.

On that score, he has clearly fallen short.

If Mullen develops his offense to an elite level, Grantham’s defense would be perfectly fine for this program. With a high-powered offense, Florida would have a lot of leads, which would mean a lot of must-pass situations for opposing teams, which would mean Grantham could unleash his blitzes and have fun.

But… if Florida can’t play that way, there is no sense in keeping Grantham around. Find a better mastermind for a defense which needed to bring some bite, but didn’t even have any bark against the Dawgs.

These are “The Two Floridas.”

Not just offense and defense, but the Gators Dan Mullen WANTS, versus the Gators Dan Mullen HAS, and will have in 2020.

Mullen needs to be honest with himself about the team he will have next year. That calculus ought to determine whether Mullen retains Todd Grantham for next season.

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