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.