The Florida Gators are poised to be a force in the world of college football once again in 2019. After a remarkable first season under head coach Dan Mullen that led to a Top-10 finish, the Gators have every reason to believe the second year in the system will be even better.
But even the best teams in the nation enter each new season with a plethora of concerns. In this article, we will take a look at the most glaring ones for each position group.
Some give more reason for worry than others (looking at you, offensive line), but all are things Florida’s coaching staff is likely losing sleep over this summer.
Normally, the biggest concern here would be “who is even going to be the quarterback?” For the first time in a long time, the Gators actually enter the season with no doubt of who will take the first snap.
Feleipe Franks excelled in 2018 compared to his less than stellar redshirt freshman campaign in Jim McElwain’s final season. Rather than being the liability Florida has come to know all too well at the position, Franks became the lifeblood of the offense.
In his third year as a starter, he could very well be one of the elite signal callers in the country.
The main thing here is for Franks to stay the course. Too often, players fall into the trap of standing still after a breakout season rather than continuing to put in the extra work and improve.
This certainly does not seem to be the case for Franks based on his demeanor throughout the spring. It just needs to stay that way.
Florida is in very good shape here. The only thing that could derail that is injury, so the other hope is that backups Kyle Trask and Emory Jones also step their games up and are ready to play meaningful SEC snaps if the time comes.
This is another position Florida is pretty well set at. Barring injury or off-the-field issues, La’Mical Perine will be the bell cow.
He and Jordan Scarlett shared that role a season ago, but it is likely Perine will get a greater majority of the snaps as a senior. That is, unless Dameon Pierce or Malik Davis make such strides Mullen and staff can’t keep them off the field.
Both of those guys should get their fair share of opportunities considering the Gators like to keep legs as fresh as possible. The question is, what is the right balance at running back?
That is something that will have to be determined, and will likely be tweaked as the season goes on.
All of Florida’s backs have unique skill sets and it is important to know when, where and how to take advantage of them.
With so much talent, the only real thing standing in the way of that is out of the running backs’ control. That is, of course, the offensive line. They can only create so many holes without needing some assistance against the top defensive fronts in football.
An entire story could be (and has been) written on this, so there is no need to continue to harp on all the possible woes of the offensive line this fall.
The obvious concern here is youth and inexperience. There is no solution to that besides getting guys on the field and letting them take their lumps.
Last season, John Hevesy turned a line of misfits and career underachievers into a strength. Believing this unit will become a strength in 2019 is probably a stretch, but with so much young talent at Florida’s disposal, that is a real possibility in the years to come.
Until then, the Gators will have to rely on the little experience they do have there. The first string was not horrible in the spring, and a summer of training under Nick Savage can make a world of difference.
So, no need to have an anxiety attack over the offensive front in June. Florida just might have to make some strategy adjustments while those guys get their feet wet.
If the progress isn’t evident by October, let the panic commence.
It is quite easy to name off several questions going into the season at each position, but this is a tough one. The Gators are stacked at wide receiver in 2019.
Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain are as reliable as anyone on the team. Kadarius Toney is electric, and finally learning the ins and outs of being a receiver. Tyrie Cleveland made some big strides in the spring. Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes check off the deep threat box. Kyle Pitts is a matchup nightmare and the red zone target Florida has been missing.
That’s pretty much everything any team could wish for.
The Gators are set for this season, but there will be some serious uncertainty heading into next season. All of the players mentioned above (besides Pitts) are graduating or likely off to the next level.
If Florida can’t get some younger guys like Jacob Copeland up to speed, it will really be scrambling this time next year. But for now, all is well with the receiving corps, and it should be fun to watch.
As of now, the most concerning thing is replacing the seniors lost from the 2018 team. That likely won’t be a concern for long.
Sure, former starting tight end C’yontai Lewis had the edge in experience to the current options. And Moral Stephens was a pleasant surprise in his final season in Gainesville.
But the talent and potential at the position now is far beyond where it was then.
Kemore Gamble has some of the best hands on the team, and that will likely earn him a starting role as a redshirt sophomore. Lucas Krull is, well, if you’ve ever seen him, you know.
Then, the Gators always have the option to slide Pitts back over if needed.
The point is, where Florida lacks in experience, it makes up for in ability. If for whatever reason that doesn’t translate under the lights, then there could be a problem.
Well, that covers all the offensive positions. We will move onto the defense next time around.