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2021 Florida Gators: A Lot to Fix
Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

2021 Florida Gators: A Lot to Fix

It appears to me Florida might take a step back in 2021. They lost a record-setting QB(and they’ve had some pretty dang good ones), will have to rebuild the offense, and defensively they struggled in 2020 and will need to make major improvements. Add to those problems a very difficult schedule and it all points to a struggle to remain at the top. But it is Florida and coach Dan Mullen has recruited well.

Offense: The first order of business is how do you replace Kyle Trask and the top-ranked passing attack in the country? The answer is you don’t with Emory Jones taking the reins at QB. He is more run-oriented so it stands to reason the Gators will build around that and a strong stable of running backs led by Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, and Nay’Quin Wright. They also will be joined by explosive transfer Demarkcus Bowman from Clemson. The receiving group was hard hit and lost their top three guys. Jacob Copeland and Justin Shorter caught 48 balls between them with 6 touchdowns so the cupboard isn’t exactly bare. The offensive line lost their two best players from a year ago but their is depth from the returnees and they can rebuild.

Defense: Probably the key to the season will be if Florida can get their defense back to the level of good Florida teams of the past.. The worst of the problems in 2020 stemmed from a secondary that looked lost too many times. Mullen fired both assistant coaches in the secondary to try and plug the leaks in the back end. The front seven returns defensive ends Zachary Carter and Brenton Cox and will welcome Penn State transfer Antonio Shelton and DaQuan Newkirk from Auburn. Both linebackers return led by Vontrell Miller. But the secondary lost everyone (and that is probably a good thing) except Kalir Elam. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 Florida Atlantic

9/11 at South Florida

11/13 Samford

11/27 Florida State

The first three games are must wins and by the time they play Florida State if they have the problems straightened out from the early season they should be able to handle the Seminoles but it is a rivalry game so anything can happen.

Conference Schedule:

9/18 Alabama

9/25 Tennessee

10/2 at Kentucky

10/9 Vanderbilt

10/16 at LSU

10/30 Georgia at Jacksonville

11/6 at South Carolina

11/20 at Missouri

The conference schedule is brutal and includes Alabama and LSU from the West. They only have three home games in the Swamp and one of those is Alabama. The good thing about the Alabama game is it is in early September and maybe they can catch them early. The other games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt are must wins. The road games are all potential losses if the Gators aren’t ready to play. They have been lucky and pulled out games at Kentucky before and might need too again. They should beat South Carolina but Missouri has throttled them in Columbia before. Then there is that other game in Baton Rouge against LSU probably at night. And did I mention Georgia in Jacksonville. If they win all of these games they are national championship caliber.

Summary: Florida is not championship caliber and that schedule is too much to overcome. They lost a ton on offense when Kyle Trask went to the NFL. There may be chemistry problems among the defensive staff and that all adds up to a probable step back.

Predicted Finish: 3rd Place in the SEC East

Overall Record: 8-4

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