The streak. That’s all I have to say about that. The Florida Gators will travel to Lexington but will be accompanied by several questions that could significantly impact the game’s outcome. There are no updates on its nine suspended players at the time that this post was sent to the KSR editorial department. Also, All-SEC cornerback Duke Dawson is listed as a starter but with an “Or” identifier as the elite defensive playmaker sustained a head injury against Tennessee. I fully expect him to play.
Florida kicked off the season with a neutral site loss to Michigan. The Gators were outgained 433 yards to 192. Its only touchdowns were scored by the defense. The Wolverines limited UF to nine first downs and just 11 rush yards. Quarterback Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard Hail Mary pass completion to WR Tyrie Cleveland as time expired beat the questionable play calling Tennessee Volunteers a week ago. UT racked up 23 first downs compared to Florida’s 14. Like Michigan, it outgained the Gators 442-total yards to 380 but lost the game 26-20. Let’s take a look at the Gators personnel and statistics. Please remember this is just a two-game body of work:
Florida mainly operates out of the Pistol formation and utilizes multiple tight ends, unbalanced lines, bunch formations, and motions in order to mask its limited number of proven playmakers. Physical running backs Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson present challenges but true freshman Malik Davis leads the team in rushing. The Gators are listed at 14th or at the bottom of the SEC’s total offense category.
However, talented true freshman quarterback turned receiver Kadarious Toney surfaced against the Vols and could be counted on more against Kentucky. The rookie is dynamic with the football in his hands and could be the playmaker that UF has tried to identify for the past three years. Redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks is the starter and was solid but not spectacular against Tennessee. Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame grad-transfer Malik Zaire will be available if Franks struggles in his first true road start. Franks is not a true runner but can do so if necessary.
Suspended starters WR/KR Antonio Calloway and Jordan Scarlett are said to be missed, but the Gator offense finished 2016 ranked 116th in total offense with that duo in the lineup. It’s scored two touchdowns in two games. This offense is young and consists of two freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors, and one senior. LT Martez Ivey is its best lineman and top NFL prospect.
|Quarterback||Feleipe Franks||6’5, 227 Fr.|
|Running Back||Lamical Perine||5’11, 218 So.|
|Receiver||Josh Hammond||6’1, 187, So.|
|Receiver||Tyrie Cleveland||6’2, 205 So.|
|Receiver||Brandon Powell||5’8, 189 Sr.|
|Tight End||C’yontai Lewis||6’4, 235 Jr.|
|Left Tackle||Martez Ivey||6’5, 315 Jr.|
|Left Guard||Brett Heggie||6’4, 330 Fr.|
|Center||T.J. McCoy||6’1, 308 So.|
|Right Guard||Fred Johnson||6’6, 330 Jr.|
|Right Tackle||Jawaan Taylor||6’5, 334 So.|
|Scoring||21.5 points per game||SEC-14th|
|Rushing||89.5 yards per game||SEC-12th|
|Passing||Feleipe Franks||23/37, 287-yards, 62%, 2 TD, 1 INT|
|Rushing||Malik Davis||5 carries, 105-yards|
|Receiving||Tyrie Cleveland||9 receptions, 199-yds, 1 TD|
Florida is ranked 13th or second to last in the SEC’s total defense category. Much like I thought the South Carolina numbers didn’t paint an accurate picture of the Gamecocks; I feel similarly about the Gators; but in reverse. Randy Shannon’s defense is much better than its listing. It’s young, fast, aggressive, disruptive, and littered with future professionals.
Defensive ends Jabari Zuniga, CeCe Jefferson, Jordan Sherit, and Zachai Polite are disruptive. Linebackers and the secondary are young but also highly talented. LB David Reese is the team’s leading tackler. UF’s secondary has scored three touchdowns; reminder that one more than its offensive counterparts. Led by CB Duke Dawson, the defensive backfield consists of an embarrassing amount of deep, young talent. It also prefers man-to-man coverage especially on the outside.
|Defensive End||Jabari Zuniga||6’3, 246 So.|
|Nose Tackle||Khairi Clark||6’1, 315 Jr.|
|Defensive Tackle||Taven Bryan||6’4, 291 Jr.|
|Defensive End||CeCe Jefferson||6’1, 242 Jr.|
|Linebacker||Jeremiah Moon||6’6, 228 Fr.|
|Linebacker||David Reese||6’1, 239 So.|
|Linebacker||Vosean Joseph||6’1, 227 So.|
|Cornerback||Marco Wilson||6’0, 177 Fr.|
|Cornerback||Duke Dawson||5’10, 202 Sr.|
|Nickel||CJ Henderson||6’1, 186 Fr.|
|Safety||Nick Washington||6’0, 198 Sr.|
|Safety||Chauncey Gardner||6’0, 207 So.|
|Scoring||Allows 26.5 ppg||SEC-12th|
|Tackles for Loss||16||SEC-10th|
|QB Sacks||Jordan Sherit||2|
|Tackles for Loss||Jordan Sherit, CeCe Jefferson||2|
|Interceptions||CJ Henderson, Duke Dawson||2|
|QB Hurries||Jabari Zuniga||4|
Johnny Townsend is considered as one of the best punters in the nation. Kicker Eddie Pineiro is a preseason All-SEC selection. Special teams and field position could decide this game.
|Punter||Johnny Townsend||50.18 per, SEC-1st|
|Kicker||Eddy Pineiro||3/4, SEC-5th|
What does all this mean?
Florida is much better than I expected and definitely more threatening than statistical rankings. Tune into the Depth Chart Podcast for Part II of the Florida scouting report as we dive deeper into scheme, personnel, matchups, and expectation.