There are truths and untruths in the world of sports. And there are also opinions that are worth discussing. You may agree or disagree. Just do it with decorum. So begins this occasional feature as Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun embrace the debate:
Item No. 1
Florida will have a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time since Taylor Jacobs in 2002.
Andreu: This ultimately could be determined by how many games are played this season. If it turns out to be a full 12-game regular season, the Gators will have a 1,000-yard receiver. And I’m going to tell you who it’s going to be — junior tight end Kyle Pitts. Last season, he led the Gators in receptions (54) and was second in yards receiving (676), and that was in an offense where the ball was spread around to those four productive senior wide receivers and others. With Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland, Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond gone, Pitts becomes the go-to guy in the passing game. And he’s going to come up big in 2020. FACT.
Dooley: Here’s the thing — if Florida didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver with an offense that hardly ran the ball, it probably won’t happen this year. Florida had a track record last year of getting a receiver hot and then the defense would take him away. That opened it up for other receivers. Florida had seven different receivers (not including Lamical Perine) catch at least 250 yards worth of passes, but Van Jefferson led the team with 657. So I don’t think the offense is conducive to producing a 1,000-yard receiver. FICTION.
Item No. 2
Florida will finish better than 13th in the SEC in rushing this season.
Andreu: Had Lamical Perine not broken off some long touchdown runs — most notably the 88-yarder in the win over Auburn — the Gators would have been the league’s worst rushing team last season. So, with Perine gone to the NFL, how can the Gators hope to be better? The big thing, literally, is the offensive line, which has experience across the board (except at center) and should be significantly better, especially creating push in the running game. Perine will be missed, but there’s still a great deal of talent and potential in that running back room, led by Dameon Pierce, a healthy Malik Davis and former five-star recruit Lorenzo Lingard. FACT.
Dooley: The Gators finished the season ahead of only Vanderbilt and 17.4 yards a game behind 12th-place Arkansas despite some big runs by Perine. At the Orange Bowl, line coach John Hevesy said the Gators have to get more balance, but they don’t have a tailback as good as Perine. Even without spring practice, I think Dan Mullen will find creative ways to pile up rushing yards, including quarterback runs. FACT.
Item No. 3
All 14 SEC head coaches will be back next season.
Andreu: There’s no such thing as job security for coaches in college football, but 12 coaches in the SEC have what amounts to it, at least for this season. The other two — Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp — enter 2020 on the hot seat. Mason’s seat is a whole lot hotter than Muschamp’s and if the Commodores are as inept as they were last season, Mason is out the door. Muschamp should survive for at least one more season, but he likely needs a winning record in 2020 just to make sure. FICTION.
Dooley: Because of the financial situations all around the conference, it’s difficult to see a team letting a head coach go and paying a big buyout. The four new coaches are safe and there is only one you would consider being on a hot seat — Derek Mason at Vanderbilt. He is 10-38 in SEC games and another bowl-less 3-9 season might be enough to say goodbye. And there’s always the way Auburn’s Gus Malzahn finds his way to the hot seat at a place that fired a coach two years after he won the national title. In the end, I think Mason will not survive. FICTION.