No. 16 – The Florida Gators finished 2016 9-4, losing to Alabama in the SEC championship before stomping Iowa 30-3 in the Outback Bowl. Jim McElwain will bring in the 13th best class in the country.
They open up their season against Big 10 powerhouse Michigan and they enter that game with questions at quarterback. The current battle is locked in between Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. Zaire looks to become the starter somewhere down the line, but with only three weeks to learn the Offense, it seems that Franks will have a chance to start and compete to keep the job. Zaire never made strides at Notre Dame playing under Deshone Kizer.
The Gators finished dead last in the SEC in rushing yards per game with a lowly 128 a game and are returning their three leading rushers. For the Gators sake, Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson will need to be much better. Scarlett will look to build on a nearly 900 yard campaign as the feature back.
One big question on the defensive side of the ball is the hole left by Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie’s departures. One player the Gators expect to step up is redshirt junior Khairi Clark, who has played in 27 games but only started 3. Last season, the 320-pound Nose Tackle had 16 tackles and a sack. Another guy on the line ready to step up for the Gators is the “Wyoming Wild Man” Taven Bryan. At 6’5, 300, Bryan is a behemoth of a man, and will replace Brantley across from the guards. He led the Gators last season in forced fumbles and recoveries.
Along with the D-Line, the Gators will have to find a solution for top-returning tackler safety Marcell Harris who will miss the 2017 season with a torn Achilles.
Some key games for the Gators
- Sep. 2 – Florida vs. Michigan – Dallas, Tx
- Oct. 28 – Florida vs. Georgia – Gainesville, FL
- 25-Nov – Florida vs. Florida State –Gainesville, FL
Marty Cohen from Gator Bait joined the mMm Ranch earlier to discuss University of Florida football: