The Florida Gators kick off the 2019 season in one day against the Miami Hurricanes. It’s the second season in Dan Mullen’s program and expectations are high coming off of a 10-win season and Peach Bowl victory.
With the season just around the corner Gator Country is ready to make some bets and predictions for the season. Let us know what you think in each category on the message board and in the comments.
Feleipe Franks 30 passing touchdowns: Over
Feleipe Franks is coming off of his best season to date. The redshirt junior threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns last year. This is his second year in the system and Franks has used a strong finish to propel him throughout the offseason. Dan Mullen says his quarterback has grown more from January to August more than he did during the entire 2019 season. Franks should be easily able to accomplish the over year. In fact, when we look back
Lamical Perine 1,000 rush yards: OVER
There have only been four 1,000-yard rushers at the University of Florida since 2000 (Kelvin Taylor, Mike Gillislee, Ciatrick Fason, Earnest Graham). Perine was 174 yards short of the milestone last year, while sharing carries with Jordan Scarlett. The Gators have a talented backfield once again but I think Perine will be most of the carries. He’s a true three-down back who is proficient in pass protection and has the best hands catching the ball. Davis is listed as the backup and he provides a change of pace, while Dameon Pierce will likely perform in a closer type of role playing later in games like he did in 2018. This is Perine’s year to be the workhorse in the backfield and he has his eyes set on hitting that 1,000-yard mark.
A receiver will have 50+ receptions this season: UNDER
This isn’t for a lack of talent, rather the opposite. The Gators return all of their receivers and there are a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game. Senior Van Jefferson is the leading returning pass catcher (35), while the Gators have six other players returning who had double-digit receptions. 50 receptions would have tied you for 11th best in the conference in 2018 but the Gators have too many weapons to hone in on just one guy. Jacob Copeland only had one catch last season but a healthy Copeland will demand far more than that in 2019. Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes, Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland will all need to touch the ball and don’t forget about Lucas Krull, Kyle Pitts and Kemore Gamble at tight end. There’s so much talent and I expect Mullen to use all of it.
The offense will score 35 points per game: UNDER
The Gators scored 455 points in 2018. That averaged out to exactly 35 points per game. Our question here is simply; will they score more in 2019?
In 2018 the Gators were held under 20 points four times (Kentucky, Mississippi State, Georgia, Missouri). They scored 40 or more six times. This season’s schedule is a bit more challenging. The Gators got to play Charleston Southern, Colorado State and Idaho in 2018 and they bludgeoned those overmatched opponents, scoring 164 points. That’s 36% of your total season scoring against just three teams. In 2019 they don’t have the luxury of those cupcakes, even if Florida State might resemble one at the end of November. You also add Auburn and its formidable defense to the schedule. The Gators are loaded with talent and it’s year two of the system. They’ll score points and get close to what they did last year but won’t surpass the total.
Will the defense allow 21 points per game?: UNDER
Florida allowed 260 points in 2018, 20 points per game. Florida lost two big playmakers in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Jachai Polite. That loss has been the talk of the national media but I feel more than comfortable with the guys replacing them. Trey Dean is every bit of his listed height (6’3”) and weight (194). If you look how Gardner-Johnson was used in 2018 Dean is an even better fit for what Grantham asks from the star position. Dean enjoys getting his hands on guys and he’ll be able to do that in his new role. He can also blitz and break up screens, something Gardner-Johnson had a real knack for. Jon Greenard replaces Polite and the Gators are lucky to have him. Not only is Greenard a great pass rusher and a veteran but he enrolled at Florida with knowledge of the playbook. Greenard had his most productive season when Grantham was his defensive coordinator at Louisville and I expect him to more than replace Polite’s production.
The Gators cornerbacks may be thin but you can match up their starting three of Dean, CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson with any in the country and you won’t find on better. There have been a lot of questions about the Gators’ defense but I think they’ll actually out perform the 2018 group.
Now on to some bold predictions for the season. As always feel free to add your own in the comments or the message board and hold me accountable at the end of the season!
Breakout player: Amari Burney
Burney’s freshman season was mostly spent on special teams but he showed promise as the season went on. This year Burney is spending time in the linebacker and safety meetings rooms and his versatility will not only be utilized, it will be needed. I think he becomes a household name in SEC Country after this season.
No respect: Marco Wilson
I mean, I get it. He went down very early in the season last year and CJ Henderson had a terrific season, while Trey Dean introduced himself. But, c’mon. This is the same Marco Wilson that started the season opener as a freshman, joining only Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Roberson in that elite group. You haven’t seen him in a while but he’s healthy and he’ll earn your respect in 2019.
Best kept secret: Stone Forsythe
Forsythe is the Gators’ starting left tackle. He’s started just three games during his career, all at right tackle, but has been entrenched at left tackle since Martez Ivey’s departure. Forsythe is solid. He may not be an All-American but he’s a good player and someone nobody is talking about.
Bold prediction: Florida wins the East and goes to Atlanta
I said bold and I meant it.
Most of the country has Georgia and Alabama playing for the SEC Championship and with it a berth in the College Football Playoff. I think Florida could have beat Georgia last year with a healthy CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson and they’ll be a better team in 2019. Obviously a lot will be contingent on injuries and how healthy the Gators are when they get to Jacksonville for the game but I think the winner in Jacksonville will represent the East in Atlanta.