Albert Alberta Florida Gator mascots

Albert and Alberta

Coach’s corner

Head coach: Dan Mullen

Age: 48

Record at school: 21-5

--

Breaking it down

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,458)

All-time record: 708-411-37

Mascots: Albert, Alberta

Last conference title appearance: 2016

Returning starters: 12 (7 offense, 5 defense)

--

Four-down territory

1. Trask’s turn: Senior quarterback Kyle Trask returns after a great 2019 after he took over for an injured Felipe Franks in the third game of the season. Trask finished with 2,941 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions, plus four rushing touchdowns. Trask will have options to throw to in 2020, including junior tight end Kyle Pitts, who had 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns, along with senior receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney.

2. Must-win in Jacksonville: Although Florida has increased its win total exponentially over the last two years, the Gators still haven’t cleared the hurdle that is beating Georgia in their annual matchup in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs should once again boast a strong team, especially on defense. However, this year, Florida might have enough to upset the Bulldogs.

3. Another year, another good defense: The Gators return three players on the defensive line that played significantly last season: Kyree Campbell, Zachary Carter and Tedarrell Slaton. Florida will also have Georgia transfer and defensive end Brenton Cox, now eligible after he sat out last season. The Gators also have a lot of talent on the back end. Defensive back Marco Wilson returns, along with Kaiir Elam, who had significant playing time as a freshman.

4. Running back tandem emerging?: The Gators have used several running backs in recent years under head coach Dan Mullen. Dameon Pierce and Lamical Perine headlined the Gators’ running game in 2019 and now with Perine in the NFL, it's a chance for redshirt sophomore Malik Davis to carve out a role, as well. Davis suffered season-ending injuries in 2017 and 2018 and played sparingly last season, but Mullen was impressed with him early in camp. Pierce played primarily in relief for Perine in 2019, totaling 305 yards and four touchdowns.

--

Extra point

Junior kicker Evan McPherson was 17-for-19 on field goals last season, ranking 10th nationally and first in the SEC. A member of the Lou Groza Award watch list, given to the nation’s best kicker, McPherson should be a big weapon for Florida. With a full SEC schedule, the Gators may have to win some close games that could be decided by a field goal.

--

Upset special

Cheer: Georgia. The series has taken a turn in the last three seasons, as Florida had the Bulldogs’ number for the early part of the 2010s, but Georgia coach Kirby Smart and company have taken the last three. The Florida offense struggled to move the ball in 2019, losing 24-17. This year, however, with experience returning on offense and a defense primed to be solid, the Gators might be able to leave Jacksonville happy.

Jeer: Tennessee. The Gators might be able to get over one hump by potentially beating Georgia, but Tennessee might have an upset in mind of its own. The Volunteers return several starters and have added depth on both sides of the ball in coach Jeremy Pruitt’s third year. Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida since 2016 — and before that since 2005 — but the Volunteers might be smelling upset to close the season on Dec. 5.

--

Crystal Ball

8-2: Florida has a team capable of making an SEC championship run, but this year’s modified schedule might present a challenge. A road trip to Texas A&M followed by a home game against LSU is a tough two-game stretch, looking likely that the Gators will lose at least one of those contests. The Gators can beat Georgia, but closing the season against solid teams in Kentucky and Tennessee may be more difficult than people think. 

--

Did you know?

The Gators won’t play Florida State this season for the first time since 1957. The series has been defined by decades, which was once a perennial top-10 matchup in the 1990s, and has gone through series of dominance from one side. Urban Meyer’s Florida team won the majority of games in the 2000s, while Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles won most games in the 2010s. 

--

Quotebook

"I'm a huge player safety guy. We're sitting there making sure we're keeping everybody safe. I can't sit there right now and say we've missed a lot of this physicality, so we're just going to go smash everybody every single day. That's not what we're looking for with the health of the players."

— Mullen

--

2019 results

(11-2, 6-2 SEC)

vs. Miami; W, 24-20

UT-Martin; W, 45-0

at Kentucky; W, 29-21

Tennessee; W, 34-3

Towson; W, 38-0

Auburn; W, 24-13

at LSU; L, 42-28

at South Carolina; W, 38-27

vs. Georgia; L, 24-17

Vanderbilt; W, 56-0

Missouri; W, 23-6

Florida State; W, 40-17

Orange Bowl

vs. Virginia; W, 36-28

--

2020 schedule

Sept. 26; at Ole Miss

Oct. 3; South Carolina

Oct. 10; at Texas A&M

Oct. 17; LSU

Oct. 24; Missouri

Nov. 7; vs. Georgia

Nov. 14; Arkansas

Nov. 21; at Vanderbilt

Nov. 28; Kentucky

Dec. 5; at Tennessee

Get Unlimited Access
$3 for 3 Months
Subscribe Now

After the initial selected subscription period your subscription rate will auto renew at $8.00 per month.

michael.hebert@timesdaily.com. or 256-740-5737. Twitter @md_hebert55

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.