Florida will look to repeat
This is the sixth team in the SEC football preview series:
After back-to-back SEC titles, it may be harder for Florida to grab a threepeat in 2017.
Jim McElwain’s Gators could have a great season with 10 wins and another trip to the SEC championship game.
The Gators are favored over Michigan (52.6 precent chance of winning), Northern Colorado (99.7), Tennessee (62.2), Kentucky (61.9) and Vanderbilt (83.5) before a homecoming sbowdown with LSU (50.6)
After a win over the Tigers and Florida will be favored over Texas A&M (70.8)
The biggest hurdle for a repeat trip to Atlanta is the Georgia Bulldogs (47.4) because the Gators should win over Missouri (66.5), South Carolina (61.3) and Alabama Birmingham.
Florida will fall to rival Florida State (33.1) but a win over Georgia would seal their third straight SEC East title.
But what happens if Michigan wins the opener, Tennessee pulls off an upset and LSU wins in the Swamp?
Add to that Georgia wins in Jacksonville and maybe South Carolina’s Will Muschamp downs his former team – then the Gators season will end at 6-6 with another loss to FSU.
McElwain is just 3–7 against ranked opponents and four foes are in the preseason Top 25.
Last year the defense led the way except their four losses against Tennessee (38-28), Arkansas (31-10), Florida State (31-13) and Alabama (54-16).
The offense has to improve from being 116th in the nation in total offense and scoring just 24 points per game.
Quarterbacks Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio combined for 2,805 yards and 18 touchdowns with 15 picks.
The addition of Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire could be the answer.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks can also make plays and wil battle for the starting spot.
Antonio Callaway, Tyrie Cleveland and Dre Massey are talented receivers who can be game changers.
Tailback Jordan Scarlett gained 889 yards last season and has a good chance to become just Florida’s fourth 1,000-yard rusher in 20 years.
The nation’s No. 1 offensive line recruit in 2015, junior Martez Ivey has All-SEC potential.
Hopefully the offense will be stronger as the defense battles to keep the games close.
Junior end Cece Jefferson and redshirt sophomore end Jabari Zuniga and junior tackle Taven Bryan will lead strong defensive front.
At linebacker, the Gators will be led by David Reese Kylan Johnson and Vosean Joseph.
The secondary will be defended by Duke Dawson, Chauncey Gardner Nick Washington and Marcell Harris.
If the game comes down to special teams – Eddy Pineiro was 21-of-25 on field goals while Johnny Townsend led the nation in punting with a 47.9-yard average.
For the Gators fans making reservations for their third straight SEC title game – you may have to cancel.
Florida Football Schedule
Sept. 2 Michigan
Sept. 9 Northern Colorado
Sept. 16 Tennessee
Sept. 23 at Kentucky
Sept. 30 Vanderbilt
Oct. 7 LSU
Oct. 14 Texas A&M
Oct. 28 Georgia
Nov. 4 at Missouri
Nov. 11 at South Carolina
Nov. 18 UAB
Nov. 25 Florida State