Fact or Fiction: Florida’s Davis will emerge as one of SEC’s elite safeties

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Florida Gators defensive back Shawn Davis (31) almost intercepts a pass during the annual Florida Georgia rivalry game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Nov. 2, 2019. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

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’s Shawn Davis will emerge as one of the SEC’s elite safeties.

Andreu: He’s definitely headed in that direction with the way he played the second half of last season. Not only was he sound in coverage and carrying out assignments, he emerged as a physical presence in the UF secondary, making some monstrous, intimidating hits. He’s been playing and producing since his true freshman season and now has the confidence — and ability — to take his game to the next level. FACT.

Dooley: He had better. Safety play was a weakness in an otherwise stellar defensive season. Too many missed assignments, too many guys running wide open way down the field. The good thing is that Davis is a hitter who bolsters the run game, but he needs to play more like Reggie Nelson and less like Lawrence Wright. Don’t get me wrong. L-Dog was a great player. But Davis has to show me better ability to erase big plays rather than hope the quarterback overthrows open receivers. FICTION. 

Item No. 2

The LSU-Alabama game will decide the Western Division. 

Andreu: With LSU losing so many players and so much elite talent to the NFL, the Tigers are going to be in rebuild mode. That means some talented teams in the West — Texas A&M and Auburn, in particular — are going to be a difficult challenge. Then, of course, LSU has to travel to The Swamp. Even if the Tigers win at UF and beat Alabama at home, they still have to finish the season against A&M and Auburn. And guess what? Alabama also closes with A&M and Auburn. So, chances are good the LSU-Alabama game won’t be for the West title. FICTION. 

Dooley: I’m not buying A&M and I’m not buying Auburn. What I am buying is that Alabama will be in Atlanta and the game against LSU — in Baton Rouge, by the way — will be another Game of the Century. The prevailing thought that LSU is in trouble because of all it lost is a bit exaggerated. I still think LSU has the second best talent in the league and definitely has a receiver who could win a second straight Biletnikoff in JA’Marr Chase. At the end of the race, there may be teams with the same second-place record as the Tigers, but we will all know which game was for the SEC West title. FACT.

Item No. 3

 Either LSU’s Myles Brennan or Georgia’s Jamie Newman will lose his starting quarterback job this year.

Andreu:  Everyone seems to think Newman, the Wake Forest transfer, and Brennan, a highly rated prospect coming out of high school, are going to be big-time QBs in 2020. Maybe, but I have my doubts about that. But even if one, or both, struggle, who steps in? Both are in a similar position in that  there are no proven players behind them. The only way I see one of these guys lose their starting job is by injury or suspension. FICTION.

Dooley: Let’s not factor in injuries because they can change a quarterback room and Florida is the perfect example. If there were any quarterbacks behind either of these two, I would bank on it. But these two quarterbacks have incredible job security unless a head coach gets antsy because of high expectations. Brennan waited for his chance and Newman jumped at his. It’s not going to be easy for either one succeeding the quarterbacks who were starting last year, and if there was a solid backup I would guarantee one would lose his job. But there is not. FICTION.