It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s Christmas time which means families huddle together around the Christmas tree and open their Christmas presents. Kids are excited to see all of their presents from their wish list. As Christmas rolls along, the college football season is almost coming to a close. It was less than a joyful season for the Florida Gators as they dealt with a losing season, poor quarterback play and numerous injuries and suspensions. With a new head coach at the helm, Gator fans have a few things on their wish list for Santa (Dan Mullen) to deliver.
Another season of poor quarterback play for the Florida Gators. There was a lot preseason hype built around redshirt-freshman Feleipe Franks but he didn’t pan out like most hoped for. The Florida Gators still need to find a quarterback and Dan Mullen might have delivered. Four-star QB and Under Armour All-American Emory Jones signed with Florida after being committed to Ohio State for more than a year. It was a great get for the Gators as he is a very talented and smart football player. He will enroll early and be able to compete in spring camp. Gator fans have waited long enough for solid quarterback play. Could this be the year that the Gators have an offense? Can Dan Mullen get the Gators back to college football royalty?
A better offensive line
During the preseason, the Florida Gators offense line was hyped up to be one of the best. Just like Franks, they were disappointing. They played well in some games, but they were never consistent and healthy. In order to have a good offense, you must have a good offensive line to protect your QB and open up running lanes. Former Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy will try to lead the “Bug Uglies” to dominance. He has some talented players in Brett Heggie and T.J. McCoy but needs help at right guard and possibly at tackle if Martez Ivey leaves for the draft. Hevesy signed two offensive lineman in the early signing period and Noah Banks will be one of the signees competing for a starting job.
Better play calling
Believe it or not, there are some talented players on the Gators offense. It might not seem like it but most of that had to do with horrible play calling. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was not retained by Mullen and Florida fans couldn’t be happier. For the 2018 season, Mullen will be the play caller for the offense like he was at Mississippi State. Mullen has ran a very successful offense at Mississippi State against some of the schools in the country. If he can find a quarterback that can get the ball in his playmaker’s hands, the Gators offense will look a whole lot different. Mullen has also had a few really talented offensive playmakers in the recruiting class like Kyle Pitts and Iverson Clement. He also added two transfers in Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes who are trying to be eligible for next season.
Most expected the Florida Gators defense might take a few steps back after losing a lot of players to the draft. There was more than just a little drop off, there was a huge difference between the 2016 Gators defense and the 2017 Gators defense. One of the biggest differences was the tackling. The Gators defense had major issues with being physical and making tackles. They struggled wrapping up and sometime looked way smaller than the other players. With new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the Gators will look to be more aggressive and physical. Grantham’s defenses are always very aggressive and love to hit people. Florida also hired Nick Savage as their strength and conditioning coach. He had done a terrific job at Mississippi State making their team very physical and tough.
Win just win
Last season was one of the most forgettable seasons in Florida Gators history. It was an extremely tough season for everybody which led to Jim McElwain and the Gators parting ways. Mullen knows what the expectations at the University of Florida are because he was at Florida. If Mullen can win at Mississippi State in the SEC East, Florida fans are hopeful he could win with more talent and in the weaker SEC East. The Gators have a much easier schedule than last season and should be able to have a pretty successful season in his first season as the Gators head coach. Can Santa deliver Florida fans their gifts? Only time will tell.