Florida Has Much To Prove in 2016
Although the Gators finished last year with a 10-4 record which also had them winning the SEC East for first time since 2009. That year the Gators didn't lose until the SEC title game against Alabama finishing the year at 13-1 with a Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati. In 2012 the Gators came close to winning the SEC East but lost a tie breaker to Georgia as the both teams finished with a 7-1 record in conference play but Georgia beat Florida earlier that year head to head.
Last year the Gators destroyed New Mexico State in there season opener by a score of 61-13 but won there next three games East Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee by a combine 13 points. They did take care of Ole Miss at home, beating the Rebels 38-10 where they were plus 4 in turnovers. But after a 27-3 victory over Georgia the Gators finished the year with a 3-3 record with 3 unimpressive victories over Vanderbilt where they had to kick a field goal in the final seconds to win and a win over South Carolina where they did look good winning 24-14 and then came a overtime victory over a Florida Atlantic team that finished the year with a 3-9 record. But the Gators ended the year losing three games by a combine score of 97-24 to Alabama, Florida State and embarrassing lost to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.
This year the Gators are again not pick to win the SEC East. They return 12 starters (6 offense, 6 defense) with a new quarterback coming into the season as both quarterbacks (Treon Harris and Will Grier) transferred. Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby enter as they too are both transfer Del Rio from Oregon State and Appleby from Purdue along with highly touted freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks and freshman quarterback Kyle Trask. The defense which finished 8th overall in total defense in 2015 still has a lot to prove as they gave up over 200 yards rushing to Tennessee, LSU, Alabama and Michigan last year. The Gators seem to have trouble defending down hill running teams like a LSU, Michigan or Alabama. The Gators did have Dalvin Cook in check but the Florida State running back rushed for 112 yards in the fourth quarter to go over 100 yards rushing in a 27-2 Florida State victory. So what will the Gators do for an encore this year will they improve on offense bringing in a new quarterback and will the defense step up in the running game against downhill running teams like a Arkansas who they will face this year on the road.
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We already think that these teams should compete for championships: Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio State and LSU. But who will be taking that next step to contend.
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