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Gators “New Year’s Six” bowl chances hurt by end schedule

Florida Football Insiders

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators are making a case to be an important bowl game, but their end of the year schedule isn’t going to help them. Off the Tuesday night ranking reveal by the College Football Playoff selection committee, Florida is at #11.

And, the worse news is, off not playing this week, beating FSU is only going to help you a little.

Sure, they lost to No.1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia, but the Gators don’t/won’t have an important win down the stretch. They took out their one-touchdown loss to Georgia on the Commodores, beating Vanderbilt 56-0. Then they went right after Mizzou and smashed a tough Tigers team 23-6, showcasing a formidable SEC defense.

So, now the only test left for the Florida Gators is their instate rivals, the Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffen Stadium.

So, while Minnesota finishes with teams like Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and maybe Ohio State in the Big Ten Title game strengthening their “New Year’s Six” bowl argument, Florida’s end of season competition (post Georgia) is hurting them.

Back to the FSU matchup, we’ll have to wait a little bit to see how the betting sites handicap this one, but both teams will come into this latest edition of their rivalry well-rested. The Noles just faced the Alabama State Hornets, and and rolled to an easy 40-12 victory that ensured FSU a bowl game.

James Blackman put up 246 passing yards and three touchdowns against one interception. Jordan Travis even stepped in and put up 71 yards on just 3 completions on 7 attempts. Touches on the ground were also shared well. Khalen Lanorn got the bulk of the carries, and he netted himself two touchdowns and 55 rushing yards. But, Travis had a couple of more explosive runs too, as the QB put up 69 yards on the ground in just 4 rushes.

Blackman also got into the running game with 53 yards on 4 attempts … Deonte Sheffield rounded it out with another 31 yards gained. All in all, just over 200 yards were gained on the ground, albeit against an FCS team at home.

Missouri was an entirely different type of opponent for Florida. They are a legitimate SEC team, but still, the Gators put up 330 yards through the air on them with Kyle Trask dropping two in for touchdowns. Bigger, no major mistakes were made, as Trask’s best trait is that he hasn’t been the reason that Florida loses.

Now, Florida still struggled with only 79 yards gained on the ground … and then Trask getting brought down behind the line for -17 and Trevor Grimes getting one negative carry for -4 leaves a rushing stat of just 58 yards.

Now to an advance of next week, the Gators are putting up 33.30 points per game against SEC defenses, while the Seminoles are averaging 28.30 against a very weak ACC conference. Unfortunately for the Noles, they are allowing 29 points per game against those same foes, where Florida is allowing just 15 points per game, making them a top ten defense in Division I Football – No. 9.

Even with Clemson, Florida State has not met a defense like this yet this season. So there is a good chance that they will be a little shell-shocked in the Swamp with the big UF defensive front starts crashing down.

The matchup stats get worse when we look at FSU’s road stats versus Florida’s home stats. The Noles have only managed to put up 24 points per game on the road this season against lesser competition. They average 136.2 rushing yards and a respectable 252.5 passing yards.

But, they’ll be going up against the No. 2 ranked home defense in college football. The Gators have allowed just 6.67 points per game in Gainesville this season. Just 83.5 yards per game on the ground and 162.5 through the air. Where they are particularly tough is in the red zone, they just don’t allow you to score.

To make matters worse for the Noles, the Gators also play much better on offense at home. They are averaging 35.67 points per game on 303.33 passing yards and 137 on the ground.

The Seminoles are simply outclassed in the matchup. They are allowing 32.25 points per game on the road, which falls right into the Gators’ offensive stats and only scoring 24 against much weaker teams. This has all the makings of a double-digit trouncing.

Because this is a rivalry game, FSU may hang in early and score better than Floridas 6 point defensive average, with perhaps 14 points. But the Gators are going to put up over 30, easily.

So, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving weekend. Start taking the Gators to win easily, now.

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Florida Gators

Former Gators QB Franks transfers to Arkansas

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks has decided on a new spot for his final year of eligibility and he won’t even leave the SEC. The Gators starting quarterback on and off for the last three years announced on Monday night that he will be transferring to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Frank’s ended several weeks of speculation as to where he might land by announcing his plans on social media:

Franks help lead the Gators resurgence two years ago under first-year coach Dan Mullen, including a Peach Bowl New Year’s Six game victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Florida finished 10-3 with momentum headed into this season.

However, with sky high expectations for Franks, Mullen and the Gators this past season (they were a preseason top 10 team)  Franks played inconsistently for a lot of the early part of the season. Then, things ended horrifically as Franks suffered a nasty fractured leg at Kentucky ending his season.

The 6’6 Franks finished his Gator career with 28 starts 4,500+ yards passing and 28 TDs. However, his at times poor play, including crucial interceptions enraged Gator fans. Next, he announced December 1st that he would be transferring for one more season, as a graduate to be eligible immediately.

Arkansas is in desperation to rebuild after having fired coach Chad Morris after two horrible seasons. They hired Georgia former offensive line coach Sam Pittman at their head coach and Franks will be playing for new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who spent last season with FSU.

Arkansas is in desperate need of a quality proven quarterback, as they had just three scholarship signal caller options in senior Jack Lindsey, redshirt-sophomore John Stephen Jones and redshirt-freshman K.J. Jefferson. Jones, who is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is considered the most experienced of the group. But to show how bad it is, he’s thrown for just 106 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions in six career games.

So, clearly Franks, if/when fully healed from the ankle fracture will be heavily counted on for 2020.

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Florida Gators

Gators face annual challenge of who’s leaving?

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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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