#10 Florida Football 2019 Preview

Florida Gators
Overall Rank: #10
#4 SEC
 Florida Logo
Florida made a quick turnaround in year one under Dan Mullen in 2018 as the Gators won 10 games and contended for the SEC East title most of the way until a 36-17 loss to Georgia on October 27th in Jacksonville. Florida then capped off the 2018 season with a 41-15 win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl, which should give them plenty of confidence heading into the 2019 season as they return 12 starters and both specialists.
2018 Record: 10-3, 5-3
2018 Bowl: Peach Bowl vs. Michigan (41-15 W)
Coach: Dan Mullen, (10-3 at Florida, 79-49 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Billy Gonzales, John Hevesy
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Grantham
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Lamical Perine RB, 826 yards
Passing: Felipe Franks, QB, 2,457 yards
Receiving: Van Jefferson, WR, 503 yards
Tackles: David Reese, LB, 77
Sacks: Jabari Zuniga, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Donovan Stiner, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Tyrie Cleveland, WR Josh Hammond, C Nick Buchanan, NT Adam Shuler, DT Kyree Campbell, CB CJ Henderson, Star Trey Dean III, S Donovan Stiner, K Evan McPherson, P Tommy Townsend, CB Marco Wilson
Key Losses: DE Jachai Polite, OT Jawaan Taylor, CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, RB Jordan Scarlett, LB Vosean Joseph, DE Cece Jefferson, OL Martez Ivey
Felipe Franks took a pretty nice step forward as a sophomore last season. Franks threw for 2,457 yards, 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. That ratio of 4-1 between touchdown passes and interceptions needs to be replicated by Franks in 2019 if the Gators are going to win ten games. Lamical Perine will stabilize the running game as he had a solid 2018 season, rushing for 826 yards and seven touchdowns. Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, and Tyrie Cleveland are back for their senior season, along with talented guys like Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes, that should provide for plenty of fireworks all year long. The offensive line needs some work as Florida has to replace four starters and a combined 141 starts. Nick Buchanan is the lone returning starter at center and will need help from players like Stone Forsythe at left tackle and Brett Heggie, Jean Delance and a group of a highly talented freshmen.
Keeping defensive coordinator Todd Grantham away from the NFL in the offseason was a big win for the Florida program. Jabari Zuniga is back at defensive end and is in a position to be the next elite edge rusher for the Gators. Zuniga collected 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss and will have help in the middle to free him up to go after the quarterback. Adam Shuler and Kyree Campbell will be in the middle of the defensive line and they combined for 76 tackles, including a combined seven tackles for loss between the two. David Reese will need to pick up the slack for the lost production of Vosean Joseph as he is the most experienced linebacker returning this season. Reese collected 77 tackles and will lead a young but talented group of fellow linebackers in 2019.  The secondary will be strong, led by C.J Henderson and Marco Wilson out at the cornerback spots. If they are back to full strength, the unit should be able to provide lock down pass coverage. Donovan Stiner and Brad Stewart Jr. are back at safety and are also in position for big time seasons.
The Bottom Line:
The schedule starts off with a neutral site game against Miami in Orlando on August 24th in what should set up nicely for Florida to get off to a 1-0 start. Road trips to Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina will be tricky for the Gators but if they can go 2-1 or 3-0 in those games, they will get their shot against Georgia to try and win the SEC East. On November 16th there is a trap at Missouri against a Tigers team led by Kelly Bryant that could create some headaches for the Florida defense. In addition, the Gators also lost to Missouri by three touchdowns in Gainesville last season so there will be a bit of a revenge factor involved with that game. Overall, the offensive line uncertainty will limit Florida to about nine to ten wins and a second place SEC East finish.
Projected Bowl: Sugar Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 213.2 (27th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 213.5 (83, 10)
Total Offense: 426.7 (42, 6)
Scoring Offense: 35.0 (22, 5)
Rushing Defense: 162.5 (65, 10)
Pass Defense: 180.8 (13, 3)
Total Defense: 343.3 (28, 6)
Scoring Defense: 20.0 (20, 6)
Turnover Margin: +0.92 (7, 1)
Sacks: 2.85 (20, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.38 (21, 3)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#23 CJ Henderson
#51 David Reese
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#42 Chris Steele
#47 Kaiir Elam
#89 Tyron Hopper
#104 Keon Zipperer
#122 Arjei Henderson
#126 Mohamoud Diabate
#161 Deyavie Hammond
#199 Lloyd Summerall