PST Contributor: Des Boodram
August 6th, 2016
The Gators were good enough last season, but far from great. Don’t think coaching matters??? There are plenty of examples of where coaching matters in football, and Jim Harbaugh sets the pace. The San Francisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl a few years ago, and almost the same team failed to make the playoffs last season, the first not coached by Harbaugh, and I don’t need to remind you of the ripples felt in SEC country caused by Harbaugh, and his recruiting tactics.
Gator fans don’t even need to look that far – Jim McElwain posted a 10-4 record including a 7-2, which counts the SEC championship game loss to eventual National Champions Alabama. So that’s losses to LSU, FSU, and Michigan if you’re keeping track at home… all ranked teams. Partner that with no bad losses, and impressive beat downs of Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia and there’s a lot credit owed to McElwain for the quick turnaround of this program.
Championship or Bust?
Moving forward it appears as though the only team that can stop the Florida Gators from making it to the SEC championship game is in fact the Florida Gators. Their schedule is almost identical to last seasons with the major difference being they host LSU and go to FSU. They lost both those games last season, but a split this season, would be a mountain of improvement. Despite the cake non-conference schedule and favorable home, schedule that game at Arkansas is the mother of all trap games. Arkansas is better for one, and secondly the Gators will be making the trip, after the UGA game and before hosting South Carolina.
This game should be circled on the calendar and will no doubt be a tremendous source of tension for Gator Nation this season.
The Gators are unquestionably in a better position than they were last season relative to roster make up. Though they lost 9 players to the NFL from the 2015 roster, there are still playmakers at every level. DE CeCe Jefferson, will anchor the Gator d-line as a sophomore, and red-shirt Junior Caleb Brantley will also be relied on to be a playmaker as well.
As well, Quincy Williams and Jalen Tabor who is believed to be better than Vernon Hargreaves III will hold together the secondary while being exciting to watch. Senior linebacker Alex Anzalone will be the x-factor on this unit as the former 5-star prospect has yet to realize his potential on the field. All in all expect to see a familiar brand of defensive play in Swamp this season.
Can the Offense hold it’s Own?
The offense is packed with upperclassmen, but no one is really expecting anything other than the defense to carry this team. Not to discount the talent and experience on the offensive side of the ball however, it’s just that the defensive unit boasts significantly more playmakers, who are constantly making plays that give the offensive the best starting field position, which a difference maker in the SEC.
When all is said and done, the Gators who are staring down another 10 win season, only need one more fine win on their resume this season, to firmly plant themselves in the middle of the “great” discussion and another SEC championship run.
The Florida Gators are a 36.5 point favorite vs. UMass in week 1, get all of your college football odds in our daily lines section.