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Florida Football: Offseason Outlook For The Gators

We will never know what kind of season Florida could have had if Marco Wilson hadn’t thrown that cleat. Would a College Football Playoff spot been on the horizon? Probably not, but that unexpected loss to LSU all but ended any chance at a debate.

Now, the Gators are losing some of college football’s most impressive offensive firepower, including Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney. All of those losses leaves us wondering just how good — or bad — this team can be in 2021.

OutKick continues our offseason look at all 14 SEC teams. So far, we have covered Alabama and Georgia. Now it’s time to shift focus towards Dan Mullen and Florida, a team that will face the conference favorite from the East and the West this season.

For other offseason outlooks from around the SEC, click here.

Key Losses: QB Kyle Trask; TE Kyle Pitts; WR Kadarius Toney; WR Trevon Grimes; OL Brett Heggie; OL Stone Forsythe; LB Ventrell Miller; CB Marco Wilson; S Donovan Stiner; S Shawn Davis; S Brad Stewart; OC Brian Johnson

Key Returning: QB Emory Jones; RB Dameon Pierce; WR Jacob Copeland; OL Stewart Reese; OL Ethan White; DL Zachary Carter; EDGE Brenton Cox; EDGE Khris Bogle; EDGE Jeremiah Moon; CB Kaiir Elam; CB Jaydon Hill; S Trey Dean

Key Additions: CB Jason Marshall (5-star); WDE Jeremiah Williams (4); SDE Tyreak Sapp (4); S Corey Collier (4); TE Arik Gilbert (LSU transfer); IDL Daquan Newkirk (Auburn); RB Demarkcus Bowman (Clemson); IDL Antonio Shelton (Penn State); K Jace Christmann (Miss State)

Key Games: vs. Alabama (Sept. 18); at LSU (Oct. 16); vs. Georgia (Oct. 30); at Missouri (Nov. 20); vs. Florida State (Nov. 27)

Outlook: It’s difficult to gauge this Florida team. On one hand, the losses are significant. However, if Mullen continues to show that he can develop quarterbacks, then Emory Jones is poised for a breakout season.

Unfortunately, we got a glimpse of this offense without the Pitts-Toney combination in the Sugar Bowl, and let’s just say there was a lot left to be desired.

That side of the ball will certainly improve with an entire offseason to adjust, but the program will also be breaking in a new offensive coordinator. While Mullen may still be running the show overall, it’s yet another question that needs to be answered.

The arrival of former five-star tight end Arik Gilbert could not have come at a better time.

Defensively, things already hit rock bottom in 2020, but the past doesn’t have to equal the present. There is some depth at the right spots, and the arrival of several impressive freshmen should help the massive turnover in the secondary.

How are fans feeling about the return of Todd Grantham, though? If things go south again (which is very possible), he could be an early scapegoat.

The schedule doesn’t seem overly difficult, but it’s unfortunate timing that the Gators will play the favorite in the SEC East (Georgia) and the West (Alabama) while also having a road trip to Baton Rouge.

Look, Florida is still going to be a good team, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a step back towards the middle of the pack. A lot is going to depend on Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn, Missouri and Ole Miss.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Written by Clint Lamb

Clint Lamb is a College Football Writer for OutKick. Managing Editor for Roll Tide Wire. Sports radio host for The Bullpen on 730/103.9 The UMP. Co-host for The 'Bama Beat podcast through The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com.

9 Comments

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  1. UF won’t be as good next year w/out Trask. They’ll have a solid season but won’t make the playoff and Dan Mullen will head to the NFL. Meanwhile, Coach Norvell will make strides next season in Tallahassee and FSU won’t suck so much ass. Then it’s back to scalpin in 2022.

  2. Mullen raided the portal and got himself at least a few head cases in there. He is a lazy recruiter and the portal should actually be named after him. They will need lightening in a bottle to get through that schedule, but if they do, they deserve to be called champ. But they won’t, so crown Georgia in the east.

    • Many of those players are five and four star recruits, that were part of supposed ‘elite recruiter’ coaches’ hauls that helped allow them to solidify their reputations as recruiters. We really should be adding them to Florida’s respective recruiting class ratings.

  3. Florida missed their chance last year, and now they’re 2 seasons away from contending again with UGA for the East. UGA is a heavy favorite going in. Florida is looking like a 7-8 win team, barely top 25. It’s basically the Cotton Bowl team that made OU look way better than they were, but minus Trask. Not good. They lost a TON of weapons.

  4. Ventrell Miller, perhaps Florida’s most important piece on defense as the Middle Linebacker, is coming back.

    The Gators, overall, should be a better team, despite the key losses. Their offense may not be as explosive, at least in the passing game, as last year, but they will be more balanced and should set the team up better for overall success. The current personnel serves Dan Mullen’s scheme perfectly, as you will see much closer to 50/50 split running/passing and better ball control. Defenses are still going to have fits preparing for Florida, especially since the look will be a 180 from last year. This obviously can also have a huge effect on the defense. In theory, on defense, Florida should be much improved. They lose Zachary Carter in the middle (but he will be replaced by two stout DT transfers from PSU and Auburn), and quite honestly, the rest of the guys leaving are addition by subtraction. Special teams will amount to about the same, as McPherson, Florida’s all-SEC kicker pretty much choked in big situations last year. It’s worth pointing out that the team has improved successively every year under Mullen’s lead. Expecting the same for 2021 – I think 10-2, +-1 is a fair prediction for this team.

    • That’s good insight on the D side. My outlook for them was based on losing multiple, integral, playmakers and a veteran QB on offense. They were not the same team in the bowl game without them. They will need the D to “dramatically” improve to get to a 10 win status if what we saw in the bowl on offense is what they’re coming with in 21. It can happen, but I don’t think they can do it playing the style we saw in 2020. Good take.

  5. Appreciate it. To your point about Florida losing multiple, integral playmakers and veteran QB on offense, my expectations are high because (1) Jones has been in the QB room now for 3 years and is eager to get going (he may not be as good as a passer/pre-snap signal caller as Trask at first, but he brings danger with his legs), (2) in additional to Arik Gilbert replacing Pitts, Florida also has 5 star backs Lingard and Demarcus Bowman and a number of high caliber WRs in waiting (Pitts and Toney are irreplaceable in the type of offense Florida ran last year, but Florida has plenty of playmakers to get the job done in a number of different ways this year), and (3) the Bowl game against Oklahoma was nowhere near what you will actually see in 2021 – that was COVID/opt out driven put forth at the end of a crazy and disappointing season. 9-3 is probably a more likely expectation, but Florida should not lot lose more than 3 games in my opinion. Gator fans will be all over Mullen for an 8-4 season. We will see how long before Mullen leaves for the NFL.

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