Gators ready to prove why they have high expectations

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) and Kadarius Toney (4) celebrate with teammates their touchdown in the first half of the Orange & Blue game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in April. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

Forget about all the offseason issues that potentially could have stalled momentum.

Never mind all the youth and inexperience on the offensive line, or the lack of depth at linebacker, defensive tackle and cornerback, or the demanding schedule that includes Auburn, Georgia and LSU.

None of it seems to matter when it comes to the expectations for this Florida football team. They continue to soar to dizzying heights, and the Gators are doing their part to perpetuate the trend.

There’s no doubt, the Gators are aiming high, really high, in 2019.

“I think that you would be wrong if you weren’t going with expectations of winning a national title,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “I think that you’d be selling yourself short. I think this team is really special. I think that we expect to win games. That’s the Gator Standard and we expect to go out there and win every Saturday and try to make it a playoff contender and win a championship here again. That’s the expectations here every year.”

The expectations are off the charts mainly because of the way last season ended — blowout wins over FSU and Michigan for a 10-win season and a top-10 ranking in Dan Mullen’s first season — and the idea that things will be even better in year two with Mullen now that there is a comfort level for the players with the coaches and the system. And, of course, there are proven playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Franks and others say the offense is way ahead of where it was a year ago.

“(Coach Mullen) was still learning our names (a year ago),” Franks said. “Now we’re comfortable with him. Me personally, more comfortable with his playcalls. He’s more comfortable with me executing the playcalls. And I think that’s most important when you have a head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback and the whole offense on the same page. That just comes with time. That’s just what’s different between now and last year, the comfortability.”

Mullen said earlier this week that Franks has made great improvement since the end of last season, and this is an experienced quarterback now who has multiple weapons around him, at running back, wide receiver and tight end. The vibe coming out of preseason camp is this is going to be an up-tempo, explosive offense that should score a lot of points.

UF, and everyone else, will know more after Saturday’s opener against Miami and its aggressive, athletic defense.

The Gators seem eager to strut their stuff.

“Oh, we’re extremely explosive,” tight end Lucas Krull said. “You look at our depth chart up and down, we got guys on the corner, we got the best wide receiving corps in the nation. That group out there is phenomenal. We got match-up problems all around the board, so I’m really excited for our guys to get out there and show it.

“Our guys are ready to go attack and win. So, that’s what I’m curious to see, is us to get out there and dominate who steps in front of us. I think we’re ready to go and we’re going to dominate.”

The offense has the tools to do that, senior wide receiver Freddie Swain said.

“We have a little talent in the receiver room. We have talent in the running back room,” he said. “The O-line will be pretty good. It’s going to be a good offense to watch.

“It’s a lot of talent. You can just see, everybody is making plays, whether that be a small run turned into a big one or a little catch turned into a big catch. You can see the excitement out of guys and a burst of energy out of guys.”

If the offense turns out to be as potent as the players are predicting, and the defense stays healthy and plays up to its usual high standard, maybe Franks will be right about this team.

It’s special.
That’s certainly the expectation the Gators are embracing.

“I definitely do (think this is a special team),” sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson said. “Over the years I’ve seen a change in how the team interacts with each other, definitely a lot more love for each other. I think that’s really important to go be a championship team.”


Saturday

Who: No. 8 Florida vs. Miami

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

28 COMMENTS

  1. They are talking the talk. Saturday we’ll see if they can walk the walk. It’s put up or shut up time. We as games have heard this before. But with CDM there is a different vibe to the team. Before it was bravado and noise now it seems more like a team. Again it seems. We’ll see come Saturday. GO GATORS! FEEL THE CHOMP! 🐊🐊🐊🐊

  2. Would love to see all that talent at tight end and wideouts be used to used to really stretch the field Saturday and for the rest of the season. Last year, the Gators were way down the list in the number of offensive plays over 40 yards in the Power 5 level rankings. With receivers like Jefferson, Grimes, Copeland and Cleveland along with Tony in the slot and Franks’ improving touch downfield, we should be able to light it up this season. Might even look like a Big 12 offense, except of course, they play in the “NO D” league. GO Gators.

  3. High expectations come first. Success follows. Having those high expectations is what drives a person to get up before the crack of dawn and run until their legs are about to give out– and then run some more. It’s what motivates a guy to keep doing reps even when his arms are burning, the muscles exhausted, feeling gassed and his body wants to stop, but he just keeps pumping and pumping. High expectations are what motives extra time in the film room, on the practice field. This team has worked and worked all off-season because they have high expectations they set for themselves.

    Now, they will go out, and we will see what happens, but I guarantee they will never regret setting the bar high and GOING FOR IT instead of just slothing around at half speed telling themselves 7 wins and a spot in the thomas Crapper and Co. Turd Bowl is good enough so why even bother?

    Just look at the people who constantly preach low expectations and know that’s what happens to people who expect and settle for mediocrity.

  4. Canes Diaz in first-ever game as head coach. Williams in first-ever college start. We don’t know what Gators will get but Diaz/Williams should see a lot of Florida defense in SEC speed. The Canes are NOT what they were 20 years ago. Their president wanted choir boys and that’s what she got. Personally, I’ll take the guys who played football before and after church. Choir practice was Wednesday b4 church, as was football practice.

  5. As I said weeks ago, people are going to be surprised at this team this year! I also said, win or lose this team will be in every game, competing to the end, no blowouts. These games WILL be exciting. I also said we have one of the few great college football coaches in the nation. This will feel like a reboot of the Meyer years, maybe even better(not refering to the number of NC’s but to the team atmosphere), (NC’s are too ephemeral to be used as a judgement criteria[we dont have the QB like Meyer nor the train of talent yet like saban], but we do have the heart, and confidence will take you a long way).

    • “This will feel like a reboot of the Meyer years, maybe even better(not refering to the number of NC’s but to the team atmosphere)”

      I’m not sure we want to return to the cavalcade of crime news that was one of the hallmarks of the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ era. The Gators don’t have a squeaky clean guy like Tim Tebow to be the face of the program now. Were it not for Tebow, _ _ _ _ _’s Gators would have had the same reputation as the thug scUM teams of the 80s.

        • You just conveniently ignore the stain of the thugs he brought in and enable, all in the name of winning. You’re one of those “the ends justify the means: folks. I’m not. I would prefer my alma mater not have been associated with thirty-one arrests of football players, many for more than misdemeanors.

          So take your “idiot” comment and stick it in a very, very dark place.

          Now GFY…

  6. Zook, Muschamp, and McElwain had one thing in common: They all recruited well, but could not develop their talented chosen.

    This season for UF might be like the Buc’s 2002 season, which was the most successful season in franchise history, as they won Super Bowl XXXVII. So, do you credit Gruden or Dungy?

    I will say this, my wife and I were at Pete and Shorty’s a couple of years ago in Clearwater, and Gruden walked in with his wife (I hope), who lagged three steps behind and was never acknowledged by her husband (I think.)

    Gruden ordered take out, and the couple left for about 20 minutes, and when they returned to pick up their order, the same thing occurred.

    Coach Jon addressed a few local regulars at Pete and Shorty’s bar, but the woman stayed near the entrance and neither one ordered a beverage.

    Gruden himself, tho, concerning both times he came in to P & S’s that day, sported his unapproachable Chuckie face. I wanted to say, “Hey Mr. McDonough, love your MNF commentary, but I think Gruden would have killed me, blame it on Chuckie.

    As for Dungy, I met him, shook his hand and talked with him a bit at an All-Pro Dads’ event in Tampa. I could sit at talk with him for hours. Kind, intelligent, and dynamic, one of the best men I have ever met.

    Then there was a summer my family spent a couple of weeks on North Redington Beach, where we loved to frequent the Conch Republic restaurant.

    There we were, my wife and I, mid afternoon in August, around 2005, and we are at the bar having a couple of brewskis. There were only two other people at the bar, and I recognized the Bucs DC, Monte Kiffin, who was drinking a bottle of Bud Lite with who turned out to be his son, Chris.

    I had the bartendress take a Bud Lite to coach Monte, he accepted and waved a thank you.

    The next thing I know, he comes over to us and starts talking football, asking questions about the Bucs and what we think.

    And the NEXT thing I know is he came over to actually talk football with my wife, who is quite knowledgeable about football, hailing from Buffalo (have you ever been to a wake and discover there is no actual corps?) and spending our first of three decades with SOS as our HBC.

    Monte belongs in the same breathe with Dungy. I am certain, while they may love him, Monte and Tony are sorely disappointed in Lane’s lame a$$ and his impertinent mouth.

    My point is this: CDM will take the recruited ball players from Muschamp and McElwain and propel them into the CFP discussion and maybe champions, just like Gruden took Dungy’s team and won the Super Bowl AGAINST HIS former team.

  7. my hope is that the team is good enough, that the coaches will feel comfortable to express anger at performance under expectations. read a study that a coach who is angry at halftime outperforms those that aren’t. and I have no doubt nick saban is angry all of the time. so im for doing better if it takes anger to get there.