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Tagged: Compete for Championships
January 7, 2019 at 8:44 am #41288
With the ultimate prize in college football on full on display tonight, it seems an opportune time to start a discussion about our expectations for the Gators next season.
Given the magnitude of the turnaround experienced by the Gator football team in 2018 thanks to the tremendous efforts of Coach Dan Mullen and his excellent staff, is it too much for Gator Nation to expect our Gators to challenge for an SEC Championship and/or a spot in the CFP final four in 2019? How about beyond 2019, what should Gator Nation’s expectations be for our football team every season?
January 7, 2019 at 2:26 pm #41294
I believe coach Mullen is serious about his expectations to compete and win championships every year at UF. My head tells me that we are probably a year or two away from having the top to bottom depth that some of our competition does, but my eyeballs tell me that with what Dan was able to do with the flawed roster he inherited here that he can get us there sooner than later. He seems to have a knack for squeezing out every bit of talent from a roster and also is a great resource manager in knowing how to talk certain kids into redshirting for better development, etc. Also did a great job of identifying holes in the roster and bringing in transfers to fill them very nicely. I honestly believe that if he can consistently keep our recruiting in the top 10ish area, we are going to be a contender very soon and possibly even next season, because he coaches and develops with the best of them and is a fantastic game day planner and play caller.
January 7, 2019 at 4:43 pm #41296
Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Do you realize the last time CDM took over the Gator offense, they were coming off a 3-year coaching debacle and had a QB that didn’t fit his system. They finished that season with 3 losses, ranked #12 and beating a Big 10 team in a bowl game? This 2018 team will finish ranked HIGHER than that one.
I’m not saying next year’s Gators will win a NC, but… Gator Nation should never abandon the dream!
January 7, 2019 at 8:13 pm #41299
January 9, 2019 at 12:31 pm #41317
I believe anything is possible in 2019. Including the CFP.
Clemson has the sixth ranked roster in the 2018 247-Sports team talent composite. They just won the national championship. Alabama had 63 elite players on its roster. Clemson had 46. The Gators had 35. Clemson excels at player development. And wanted it more. And was better coached.
Like Kentucky, Clemson had a special program year with a group of returning seniors. In Clemson’s case, several elite and experienced defensive linemen decided to forgo the NFL draft and come back for their senior season. This kind of stuff makes a major difference. And while Trevor Lawrence is an exceptional talent, the real keys to the NC game were Clemson’s defensive plan against Alabama’s offense and an Alabama secondary that got torched by Fromm, Murray and Lawrence in succession.
But back to the Gators. My point is that a team with the 2018 sixth ranked roster in talent just won a national championship with exceptional coaching and player development. While we may not be back to top five recruiting classes yet (we actually are for 2020 and 2021 in the early going), we’re close enough to be competitive. As for star ratings, Henderson and Steele are borderline 5-stars on a point score basis.
Heck, the Georgia game could have gone either way this year if Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson had both been healthy. BOTH were out for that game. For 2019 we’ll go from three elite cornerbacks (with one who missed almost the entire year and one true freshman) to either four or five (if we get Elam) elite CBs, with two true freshman. Also, as an aside, did anyone else notice that Tyron Hopper was everywhere in the All-American Bowl, and generally knocking the living crap out of people?
I agree that the next NC is probably not until 2020 or 2021. But the Gators are back.
January 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm #41320
Great analysis Nashville! You’re correct. In terms of talent and excellent coaching, this Gator squad is a lot closer to contending for a playoff spot than most people realize. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to beat both Clemson and Alabama next season to claim a NC. Nonetheless, making the CFP final 4 IS attainable IF the OL comes together early and the team doesn’t suffer a rash of injuries to key players.
Now, that DOESN’T mean that if the Gators were to lose to Georgia (again), end the 2019 regular season at 10-2, out of the SEC Championship game and out of the CFP field, I’d be looking to form a posse to go round up CDM and his staff and lynch them from the nearest trees. It DOES mean that after going from unranked 4-7 to 7th ranked 10-3 in the span of one year, it’s NOT unrealistic to believe that this Gator squad, led by CDM and his staff, can go from 7th ranked now to 4th ranked and in the playoff in the span of another year.
January 10, 2019 at 10:07 am #41328
As they say, the SEC is a line of scrimmage league. Success next year is going to depend on the development of the O-line. How fast Savage can mold their bodies? and how fast can Hevesy develop their technique and chemistry? They did wonders with an underachieving bunch last year. However, the group had a ton of experience, albeit not necessarily good experience. I’m not as worried about the number of elite players recruited on the o-line as lineman are typically lower ranked in the recruiting services as compared to skill positions. I’m a little more concerned about the lack of elite recruits on the d-line. While I believe they will be a solid group, they may not be the elite group required to shutdown an explosive offense like Georgia, OSU, Alabama and Clemson. Clemson showed Alabama what an elite group of d-lineman can do to a high powered offense.
While I would never be one to turn down a championship, I would be happy to see progressive development of the o-line and d-line into elite units that are necessary to win championships. Given the tough road games next year plus Auburn, I would be happy if Florida kept the same record next year. I believe it would setup Florida for a championship in 2020.
January 11, 2019 at 4:48 pm #41343
Nashville has a great point about the senior leadership at Clemson and that it can’t be overlooked, in fact I believe our biggest weakness this year besides some obvious depth issues on the roster was locker room leadership. We forget sometimes what a young roster we had this year, especially at the beginning of the year. You could literally see the team maturing and leaders being forged in the heat of battle as the season wore on and I personally believe that a crucible was reached in the SC game. I was there and it was a tangible feeling in the swamp that day. It wasn’t just FF that came out of that game a believer, you could see it in the entire team as a whole and how they played with confidence the rest of the way. While I think a natty next year is improbable but not impossible, I do believe that if they can just get close enough to sniff it next year it may be enough to convince most of the draft eligible juniors to hang around for that “special season” that we could see in 2020 when WE are the team led by seniors to great things.
January 11, 2019 at 6:25 pm #41344
That’s another valid point Pappa. The 2018 Gator squad only had 12 seniors, so senior leadership was hard to come by.
The 2019 Gator squad has a more typical number of potential seniors at 20. That’ll be after losing 5 juniors to the NFL draft, picking up 1 grad
transfer, and before knowing if any potential seniors decide to transfer out after spring practice.
Just another indicator pointing toward a better finish for the Gators next season. Looking forward to seeing how they match up against Auburn, LSU and Georgia.
January 12, 2019 at 1:08 am #41350
Coach Mullen and staff squeezed a lot of performance out of the Gator program this season. My expectation for next season is ten-wins and to be competitive with the top conferences teams.
Franks developed nicely over the season. If he can stay healthy, we’ll have a good year and show even more offensive prowess. The offense is taking hold and climbing out of the statistical cellar. Still, there’s a lot of talent being replaced up front. There’s going to be a steep learning curve in the pre-season.
The defense took some lumps early and then settled into the scheme. I see a similar pattern playing out again with so many key players being replaced. Depth and experienced backups concerns me with the linebackers and secondary.
We still may be a season away from having all the elements and players for a championship run. Coach Mullen is a hard-working opportunist that will leverage what talent we have every year to be competitive. From there, a little luck and some favorable bounces can go a long way.
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