TideSports College Football Preview

Coming off back-to-back SEC East Divsiion titles, Jim McElwain and the Florida Gators look to capture the title for the third straight year.

McElwain is the first coach in SEC history to make it to the SEC Championship Game in his first two seasons. Though that is an impressive feat, Florida has plenty to correct before the upcoming season. Florida was the last ranked total offense in the SEC a season ago. A big reason for that was the quarterback position, where Florida has struggled throughout McELwain’s tenure.

Florida returns quarterback Luke Del Rio, who led the gators in passing a year ago. Del Rio will compete with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and Notre Dame Transfer Malik Zaire.

“We’ve got some real options there,” McElwain said at SEC Media Days this summer. “And that’s a good thing. And yet you know, he’s a guy (Zaire) that can light up the room with his smile. He’s excited to be there and excited to compete, and we’re looking forward to what happens this fall.”

Whoever wins the QB competition is going to have a very talented offensive unit.

“We love our running backs, have experience on the offensive line, loaded at wide receiver, and competition going on between quarterbacks,” Florida offensive tackle Martez Ivey said at SEC Media Days. “On the offensive side of the ball, I see that the sky is the limit. It is about execution, doing things right, and how bad we want it. I see us doing big things this fall.”

Defensively, Florida loses leading tackler Jarrad Davis, along with cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, but expectations will remain high for a defense that has ranked near the top of the SEC since McElwain’s arrival.

2017 Schedule
Sept. 2; Michigan (Dallas)
Sept. 9; Northern Colorado
Sept. 16; Tennessee
Sept. 23; at Kentucky
Sept. 30; Vanderbilt
Oct. 7; LSU
Oct. 14; Texas A&M
Oct. 28; Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 4; at Missouri
Nov. 11; at South Carolina
Nov. 18; UAB
Nov. 25; Florida State

2016 Record: 9-4 (6-2 Conf./1st SEC East)
All-time SEC championships: 8
All-time bowl appearances: 43 (22-21)

2016 Results
Sept. 3; Massachusetts W 24-7
Sept. 10; Kentucky W 45-7
Sept. 17; North Texas W 32-0
Sept. 24; at Tennessee L 28-38
Oct. 1; at Vanderbilt W 13-6
Oct. 15; Missouri W 40-14
Oct. 29; Georgia* W 24-10
Nov. 5; at Arkansas L 10-31
Nov. 12; South Carolina W 20-7
Nov. 19; at LSU W 16-10
Nov. 26; at Florida State L 13-31
Dec. 3; Alabama L 54-16
Jan. 2; Iowa W 30-3

Starters returning: 18
Offense: 9
Defense: 6
Specialty: 3

Starters Lost: 8
Offense: 2
Defense: 6
Specialty: 0