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Gators will trust Del Rio….for now

(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)
Christopher Fischer

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Luke Del Rio

(Gators R-So. QB, Luke Del Rio)

If you take a dart and throw it at a map of the Southeastern Conference, there’s a good chance you’ll land on a program breaking in a new quarterback.

Only three schools return signal callers who started at least 12 games last season.

Luke Del Rio at Florida will be among the fresh faces taking center stage on Saturday’s in the SEC.

The journeyman redshirt sophomore’s goal of being a starter has taken him 40 times more miles than yards he’s passed for in college football. Stops in Alabama and Oregon State have matured him in to the leader in Gainesville and he’s the son of Oakland Raiders Head Coach, Jack Del Rio.

“(Del Rio) seems to be a settling in there as the voice in the huddle which is a good thing, as we continue to move forward that leadership,” said Gators’ Head Coach Jim McElwain.

Del Rio’s inside track to the starting job was paved in Tuscaloosa nearly eight years ago. There he learned in a McElwain led summer camp as an eighth grader, before later walking on for the Crimson Tide when Doug Nussmeier (Gators’ Offensive Coordinator) ran their attack.

That comfortability with the one another and the offensive scheme allowed Del Rio to flourish in training camp.

“Nuss (Nussmeier) and I talk about quite a bit, you kind of forget this is his first go around, said McElwain. It’s almost like we asked him to do things a little bit like a veteran about how he approaches it and the decisions he makes.”

Del Rio was able to look on and learn last season as a transfer. Yet admittedly felt helpless as the Gators struggled to the finish.

“Anytime you finish 0-3 it’s the worst taste in your mouth that’s tough to swallow, said Del Rio. I would say now more so than in camp or summer were focused on this year and just going 1-0 every week.”

Gator fans will also demand a better offensive showing than the 83rd ranked unit of a season ago. And, McElwain and Nussmeier believe the journeyman quarterback will finally bring their offensive scheme to fruition.

They’re right in the fact Del Rio is a veteran, but only in new beginnings. Saturday against 35 -point underdog UMass will mark his first collegiate start.

McElwain is hoping it’s a fresh start from last season’s Will Grier and Treon Harris debacle.

One way for Gator fans to forget about that? Seeing Del Rio throw darts.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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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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