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Would Malik Zaire solve the Gators QB mediocrity?

Jamil King

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(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

The Florida Gators have reached back to back SEC championship games and both seasons have lost to the national championship Alabama Crimson Tide. What’s holding the Gators back from climbing the mountain and slaying the dragon? The answer is consistency at the most important position, Quarterback.

The Gators haven’t had consistent play at the position since Tim Tebow left Gainesville. They have failed to have a quarterback throw for over 2,000 yards since John Brantley did it in 2011. No single player has thrown for 20 or more touchdowns since Tebow. As a unit they have done it just once since 2009.  2015 saw 19 combined from Treon Harris and Wil Grier and one from wide out Antonio Callaway. Someone needs to step up and lead this team to consistent offensive results.

The question remains who? Returning Luke Del Rio will look to take his job back after being hurt for parts of last season and being out for the Spring. Don’t expect redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks to go down easy after being the #1 option this Spring. Franks led the Orange team to three scores in his four possessions and completed 8 of his 14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Even if Del Rio is ready to go by Fall camp, and the competition between he and Franks is stiff, neither QB up until this point hasn’t shown the flashes to take the program to the next level. 

This is what makes the talk about potential transfer Malik Zaire so intriguing. The former Notre Dame prospect flashed greatness in short work as a member of the Irish. Versus Texas and LSU he showed the potential to be an impact player. In 15 career games he has 816 passing yards with 6 touchdowns. The Gators will be looking for their 3rd straight SEC East title with rival Georgia and Sophomore Quarterback Jacob Eason on the rise the Gators need a leader to guide the offense. 

The SEC recently amended their rules, which would allow Zaire to transfer and play immediately. Though it hasn’t been made official, several reports are linking Zaire to Florida. If he does pull the trigger, Zaire will compete with Del Rio and Franks for the starting job. From a raw skills standpoint, Zaire would have a significant edge. The question is whether his style of play and what he has been use to, will transfer quickly enough to the Gators offense. Or if the Gators believe Zaire’s skill set is so great, could the Gators make adjustments to their offensive system?

All of these questions will be answered in due time. One thing is for certain, Zaire would bring some much needed excitement to a flat offense and could indeed be that one piece the Gators need to finally settle the Crimson Tide.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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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