The beginning of the Florida Gators football season is just days away from starting against the Miami Hurricanes.
After ending the season with four straight wins, with an average score of 45-17, expectations are high in Gainesville for the flagship football team of the state.
Entering season two under head Dan Mullen, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, and redshirt junior quarterback Feleipe Franks – there is no longer just a hope of quality football being produced week after week, but there are now sights set on the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff.
With expectations now much higher, what statistics could define the Gators 2019 season?
Feleipe Franks Passing
We saw a completely different Feleipe Franks in the last 14 quarters of the season, but one thing that was consistent throughout the whole season was that if Feleipe Franks threw for at least 7.0 yards per attempt, the Gators would win (he had one win, LSU, where he averaged 6.3 yards), compared to his three losses Kentucky (6.1), Georgia (5.0) and Missouri (3.8). In fact, Franks won only two games in his 14 win career where he has thrown for less than 7.0 yards per attempt (LSU (2018) and UAB (2017)), while he has thrown for more than 7.0 yards per attempt in just two of his 10 career losses (but only threw for 75 yards (Michigan (2017))) and 98 yards (Missouri (2017)).
The Gators had 37 sacks last season, 35 of them came in wins. Despite losing their leading sack getter, Jachai Polite (11 sacks), the Gators are going to rely on newcomer Louisville transfer Jonathan Grennard (10.5 career sacks) and senior Jabari Zuniga (15.5 career sacks) to pick up the slack.
Numbers are obvious – sack the quarterback, win the ballgame.
Similar to sacks, the Gators had just one interception (out of 14) in a loss, while they grabbed seven in their last four games, with 235 of their 266 return yards and three of their four-interception touchdowns. The Gators are replacing their top in interceptor from last season (Chauncey Gardner-Johnson), the Gators do bring back redshirt sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson.
Third-Down Conversion Percentage
In games that the Gators won last season (10), the Gators were 58-of-133 (43.7%) on third-down conversions. However, in games they lost, they were 14-of-40 (35%). Those numbers, while yes 20% higher in wins is a bit flawed, Florida ranked 75th in third-down conversion percentage in wins and 66th in losses. So, while we see Florida can win with a bad third-down conversion rate, it is playing with fire. Third-down conversion ranks fifth (out of 39 offensive statistics that I track) in correlation to winning.