1. Florida finished one game back of Georgia in the SEC East standings a season ago. But they got double digit wins in back to back seasons for the first time since the Tim Tebow era. It’s safe to say they’re on the up and up, but what do you see being the key to keep their upward trajectory going in 2020?
Josh Rothenberg: Honestly, if the Gators can avoid any trip ups against inferior teams and play Georgia close I will continue to be confident in their upward trend. I don’t think they have enough high-level depth to overtake UGA just yet but there’s no reason Mullen and co. can’t inch closer this year.
Robert O’Neill: It kinda feels like this is the year for Florida, right? Georgia is good but with their quarterback situation being in a flux at the moment (Jamie Newman opted out, JT Daniels is awaiting medical clearance), Florida has a big chance to strike while the iron is hot and continue their upward trajectory.
Chris Novak: I think this team can win the SEC East, so I do believe that they can keep this upward trajectory going. Georgia is obviously talented in lots of ways, but theirQB situation is a bit murky with Jamie Newman’s departure. Given that UF has the clear advantage at that position, and given how important the QB position is, I sense that that’s going to be the big benefactor.
2. Let’s talk Kyle Trask. Trask emerged as a breakout player last season. Do you see him being able to solidify himself as one of the best SEC quarterbacks this year?
Josh Rothenberg: Trask takes the mantle as the best QB in the SEC almost by default after all of the departures from last year. It’s either him or Mac Jones. If he can make some small improvements on his game from last season he should sit comfortably atop the QB rankings for the conference.
Robert O’Neill: It’s kind of funny, before all of this pandemic stuff happened, I said Trask was my pick for Heisman this year. I thought he would be able to take that next step forward and really develop strongly. That isn’t the case anymore, as picking a Heisman this year will be incredibly tough, but Trask remains the SEC’s best quarterback and there’s no reason to believe he can’t take a step forward here.
Chris Novak: It’s Trask without a doubt. He already is at this point in my opinion, but this season should help him take the next step forward. He has a great corp of guys around him who’ll no doubt help him look great and Dan Mullen’s guidance and teachings should no doubt help his cause too. I am bullish on Kyle Trask and the Gators in general.
3. It’s true that Florida lost Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland. But Kyle Pitts is still around along with Trevon Grimes and Jacob Copeland. How good do you see this WR corp being?
Josh Rothenberg: I really think they are going to be one of the best groups in the conference and might be the difference between a good Florida and a great Florida. If Pitts, Grimes, and Copeland can win their matchups against the elite secondaries on the schedule, it could push the Gators into an SEC title game berth
Robert O’Neill: I think having Pitts is big. It’s hard to question his upside after hauling in 54 catches as a sophomore in a crowded group of receivers. That number could certainly go up going forward as the tight end makes for a big target in big situations. I like Florida’s WR group a lot.
Chris Novak: I think they’ll certainly challenge to be in Tier 1. I like Alabama and Auburn’s receiving corps more from a talent perspective, but this one is no slouch. Especially Kyle Pitts, who’s the best tight end in the conference and certainly one of the best in the nation as well. Pitts may very well give this team dimensions that others don’t, and may certainly help their cause as the season progresses.
4. This team has a very good secondary led by Second Team Preseason All-SEC selections Marco Wilson and Kaiir Elam. If the secondary is the strength of the team, which of the other defensive units do you see elevating their game?
Josh Rothenberg: I don’t know if they will “elevate” their game, as they lose Jonathan Greenard, but I still think this defensive line group is going to be very good for the Gators. Zachary Carter looks like a stud and Brenton Cox Jr. comes over from Georgia with a lot of talent. If those two deliver on the promise Florida should still have the pass-rush necessary to allow Wilson, Elam, and the rest of the secondary to cook.
Robert O’Neill: In a perfect world, a good secondary leads to a lot of coverage sacks which makes your d-line look very good, right? That’s what I’m going with here.
Chris Novak: I do agree with both Josh and Rob here compoundly. The D-Line should be able to play well even with some big losses up front. And that should help this secondary, already a huge strength, become a stronger unit.
5. Predict how the Florida Gators will fare in 2020.
Josh Rothenberg: 8-2
Robert O’Neill: 8-2
Chris Novak: 9-1 (Fortune favors the bold!)