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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #25 Florida

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 25, 2016

#25 Florida Gators

2015 Recap:

Jim McElwain will take a 10-win season, his first at the helm since moving from Colorado State to Florida. Yes, the Gators were at one time 10-1 and they lost their last three games by a combined score of 97-23, but it was still a success. Going through a new coaching regime and more transition at quarterback to include Will Grier getting suspended by the NCAA, it was a lot for the Gators.


Coaching:
Jim McElwain got immediate results at Florida like he had recived at Colorado State. Prior to Colorado State McElwain was the offensive coordinator at Alabama so coaching in the SEC is not a new thing for McElwain. McElwain was the SEC Coach of the Year for 2015 as Florida got to the title game before losing to Alabama 29-14.


Offense

The season started with so much offensive promise for Florida, something they had been missing for a number of seasons. Then quarterback Will Grier was suspended by the NCAA for using perfermance-enhancing drugs and Treon Harris and the rest of the offense fell a bit flat. Both quarterbacks have since transferred leaving one time walk on Luke Del Rio as the signal caller. Del Rio is the son of Oakland Raiders coach and former NFL linebacker, Jack Del Rio, and the team and his teammates feel very comfortable with his abilities. Purdue transfer Austin Appleby will be available if injury comes into play or Del Rio falters. With running back Kelvin Taylor leaving early for the NFL, Jordan Scarlett will be counted on as the primary back for Florida. Scarlett and backup Jordan Cronkite found the end zone four times rushing last season. Wide receiver Antonio Callway is a star in the making as he led the team in receiving as a freshman in 2015. With Florida its always about the offensive line play and the left side boasts a couple of future NFL talents in tackle David Sharpe and guard Martez Ivey.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Antonio Calloway WR 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration).

                                       Martez Ivey OG 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration).


Defense

The Gators performed well under new coordinator Geoff Collins in 2015 giving up only 18.3 PPG, good for 11th in the nation and ranking 8th in total defense. While Florida was 8th in total defense that was good enough for 4th in the conference, showing you how stout the SEC defenses tradionally are. Despite losing Vernon Hargreaves in the first round of the draft at cornerback, they may have one better in Jalen Tabor. Tabor had 14 breakups to 4 for Hargreaves, though many teams were trying to avoid hargreaves altogether and finding things weren't any easier with Tabor. Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye come back as returning starters in the secondary. Jarrad Davis is one of the best linebackers in the conference and he should be a second day consideration when the Draft rolls around. The defensive line is deep and disruptive like many of the Florida teams of the past.

Best Draft Prospects: Jalen Tabor CB 1st Round 2017 (Early Declaration).

                                      Jarrad Davis LB 3rd Round 2017.


Special Teams:

We already talked about emerging star Antonio Callaway and he will continue to make a special teams impact. Callaway brought a pair of punts back for touchdowns last year and he will be joined by Brandon Powell who is the primary kickoff return man. Johnny Townsend at 45.4 YPK  is a Ray Guy Award finalist and will be on the Draft radar for 2018. Eddy Pineiro gets his chance at kicker.


Schedule:

The first road game on September 24th in Knoxville against the Volunteers could be one of the biggest SEC games early in the season. The schedule is favorable as far as many of the tougher opponents will come at home. The toughest road test looks to be at the end of the year when Florida State is played away from The Swamp.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

Florida is once again loaded and we will start to see the offense gel as a unit and not soley be comprised of wonderful individual players who do not mix as a club. jalen Tabor looks like he will leave school early and be a 1st Round consideration. The line is loaded wit studs that we will hear called early in 2-3 years. The Gators are moving in the right direction.

DJ Boyer