Team Capsules: Florida Gators

There was no way Jim McElwain was going to be pinned down and admit this is the best of his three Florida teams, but between the lines, it sounded the way. And it looks that way on paper. Which means it’d be better than teams that went 10-4 and 9-4, albeit in the tepid SEC East. The record might not show it, though. The Gators have bookended the schedule with a neutral-site opener against Michigan and the traditional rivalry game with Florida State. Defensively, three starting linebackers must be replaced, but Florida recruits well enough to reload, not rebuild. The offensive line is big (average 315 pounds in the two-deep), strong and experienced and Jordan Scarlett is a top-level RB. But there’s a QB quandary between Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire and incumbent Luke Del Rio. And wide receiver Antonio Callaway needs to grow up. He’s costing himself big NFL dollars with his behavior. He was suspended from 2016 spring practice after sexual assault charges, was busted for marijuana possession in May and suspended for the opener after selling items purchased fraudulently at the school book store. The Gators can’t let their best player drag them down with him.

Head Coach:  Jim McElwain (third year at Florida, 19-8)

Coordinators: Doug Nussmeier (offense), Randy Shannon (defense)

Social Media: http://www.floridagators.com, @GatorsFB, @CoachMcElwain

2016 Record: 9-4 overall, 6-2 in the SEC, SEC East champion, beat Iowa in Outback Bowl

2017 Schedule:

  • Sept. 2 vs. Michigan (in Arlington, Tex)
  • Sept. 9 Northern Colorado
  • Sept. 16 Tennessee
  • Sept. 23 at Kentucky
  • Sept. 30 Vanderbilt
  • Oct. 7 LSU
  • Oct. 14 Texas A&M
  • Oct. 21 Off
  • Oct. 28 Georgia (in Jacksonville)
  • Nov. 4 at Missouri
  • Nov. 11 at South Carolina
  • Nov. 18 UAB
  • Nov. 25 Florida State

Circle The Date: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Oct. 28 will likely determine the SEC East champion

Top Returnees: WR Antonio Callaway (suspended for opener vs. Michigan), RB Jordan Scarlett, OL Martez Ivey, DB Duke Dawson, TE DeAndre Goolsby

Will Win SEC East If…: Gators get consistent solid play at QB, aren’t disrupted by suspensions and can beat Georgia in the annual rivalry game.

What They Said: “We’re the University of Florida, and college football fans, I think Gator fans in general, they deserve us to go out and play whoever we can at the best of our ability no matter where they’re from. I think it’s really good for college football that two different conferences are playing each other (Florida vs. Michigan) on opening day. It’s something that I agreed to. I wanted to do. … So, I just think it’s the way it should be. I don’t know. Maybe I’m screwed up, I guess.”

What We Say: First in SEC East, Peach Bowl