#7 Florida Football 2020 Preview

Florida Gators
Overall Rank: #7
#4 SEC
 Florida Logo
Florida has quickly returned to national prominence under the leadership of head coach Dan Mullen and his staff. The Gators have won 21 games over the past two seasons, including two New Year’s Six bowl game wins over Michigan and Virginia, respectively. The next step for Florida is to win the SEC East title and go battle it out for an SEC championship in Atlanta on the first Saturday of December. In order to do that they will have to get past the Georgia Bulldogs who currently are on a run of dominance in the SEC East.
2019 Record: 11-2, 6-2
2019 Bowl: Capital One Orange Bowl vs. Virginia (36-28 W)
Coach: Dan Mullen (21-5 at Florida, 90-51 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Billy Gonzales and Jon Hevesy
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Grantham
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dameon Pierce, RB, 305 yards
Passing:  Kyle Trask, QB, 2,941 yards
Receiving: Kyle Pitts, TE, 649 yards
Tackles: Ventrell Miller, LB, 55
Sacks: Two players with 4.5
Interceptions: Donovan Stiner, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: QB Emory Jones, WR Trevon Grimes, WR Kadarius Toney, DB Shawn Davis, DL Kyree Campbell, LB James Houston IV, DL Zackary Carter, LB Mohamoud Diabate, K Evan McPherson, DB Marco Wilson, DB Kaiir Elam
Key Losses: DB C.J. Henderson, WR Van Jefferson, DE Jabari Zuniga, LB Jonathan Greenard, RB La’Mical Perine, WR Freddie Swain, WR Tyrie Cleveland, WR Josh Hammond, LB David Reese II, P Tommy Townsend
Kyle Trask is back at the controls at quarterback for Florida in 2020 and he will be looking to build off of a great effort during the 2019 season. Trask threw for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions last season. Accuracy is another strength for Trask as he completed 66.95 percent of his passes during the 2019 season. Thus, if Trask can push that number even higher and break 70 percent than things are going to rival the Steve Spurrier “Fun and Gun” days down in Gainesville. Improving the running game is going to be critical in order for the Gators to win the SEC East and potentially make a College Football Playoff appearance in 2020. Opposing defenses limited Florida to just 129.8 rushing yards per game which ranked 107th in the nation and 13th in the SEC. Dameon Pierce is the leading returning rusher from 2019 as he gained 305 yards on 54 carries and had six rushing touchdowns. Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes are the top two returning pass catching targets for Trask as both guys had solid 2019 seasons. Pitts and Grimes combined for 87 receptions, 1,140 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
This unit was the strength of the team in 2019 as they limited teams to just 15.5 points per games and did an excellent job of stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. The Gators only allowed teams to rush for 102.8 yards per game, which was good enough for eighth in the country. They also averaged 3.77 sacks per game and that ranked fourth in the nation in that category. Ventrell Miller is the leading returning tackler from last season with 55, including 5.5 tackles for loss. Zackary Carter and Mahmoud Diabate should see their sack numbers rise from 4.5 as they are going to continue to pose matchup problems all year long. Donovan Stiner is the top returning playmaker in the secondary as he had four interceptions in 2019. Stiner will also have fellow big-time playmakers Shawn Davis, Marco Wilson, and Kaiir Elam back in the secondary as those three guys had nine interceptions between the three of them last season.
The Bottom Line:
Eastern Washington will come to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to open up the season on September 5. It is a game that Florida should comfortably win but if they come out sloppy in the first half, the Eagles are capable of keeping the game interesting in the first half for a little awhile. The rest of the schedule is fairly balanced as a trip to Tennessee on September 26 could be tricky along with a road trip to Ole Miss on October 17. LSU will be the toughest home game on October 10 as the Gators lost in Baton Rouge by a score of 42-28 last year. Georgia will be waiting for Florida on October 31 in Jacksonville for a battle that should end up deciding the SEC East as the Gators lost a hard fought 24-17 battle to the Bulldogs last season. Overall, in 2020 the Gators should post another 10 plus win season and make it to another New Year’s Six bowl game at a minimum.
Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 129.8 (107th in nation, 13th in conference)
Passing Offense: 300.8 (16, 3)
Total Offense: 430.5 (45, 4)
Scoring Offense: 33.2 (28, 3)
Rushing Defense: 102.8 (8, 2)
Pass Defense: 202.1 (32, 6)
Total Defense: 304.8 (9, 2)
Scoring Defense: 15.5 (7, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (33, 4)
Sacks: 3.77 (4, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (58, 8)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#39 Tedarrell Slaton
#52 Kyle Pitts
#68 Kyle Trask