By Tyler Martin

After a 10-win first year in Gainesville, head coach Dan Mullen is ready to see some consistency in year two.

“We have had a great offseason,” Mullen said at SEC Media Days in July. “We need to take a huge step forward this year. I think we had a lot of success last year, but our consistency of performance is something I want to see us change to perform at a high level, every single game, every single week, and every single play.”

The Gators will return 17 starters — six on offense, eight on defense, and three on special teams from a season ago. One of those offensive starters is junior quarterback Feleipe Franks, who took a huge leap forward in his first year under Mullen improving his numbers to 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns.

“Feleipe has come a long way,” Mullen said. “He continues to develop, continues to grow, and continues to take steps in the right direction.”

Replacing four starters, who made a combined 141 starts, on the offensive is no easy task. Senior center Nick Buchanan is the lone returning starter who will anchor the line of scrimmage. The leading rusher from last year, senior running back Lamical Perine, will look to build off of a stellar junior campaign. Franks will have an experienced three-headed monster at wide receiver with seniors Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, and Tyrie Cleveland all coming back.

Returning eight starters from a defense that finished seventh in takeaways and 23rd in total defense is a sigh of relief.

Up front, the Gators are led by seniors defensive end Jabari Zuniga and defensive tackle Adam Shuler. Junior defensive back C.J. Henderson, who led the SEC with 12 forced incompletions last year, is back as a shutdown corner. This team full of veterans bodes well for Mullen’s chances to set the right pieces in order to build a championship contender in Gainesville.

“I want to build a program, at the University of Florida, that not only wins, but competes for championships on a consistent basis,” Mullen said. “To do that it takes time, and I guess it’s good to see people are looking in and saying, hey, if we feel comfortable with the direction our program is headed, we are going to be patient, and give this coach an opportunity to go and build it to have success over the long haul.”

2018 record: 10-3 (5-3 SEC/T-2nd in SEC East)
All-time SEC championships: 9
All-time bowl appearances: 44

2018 results
Sept. 1 vs. Charleston Southern W 53-6
Sept. 8 vs. Kentucky L 16-27
Sept. 15 vs. Colorado State W 48-10
Sept. 22 at Tennessee W 47-21
Sept. 29 at Mississippi State W 13-6
Oct. 6 vs. LSU W 27-19
Oct. 13 at. Vanderbilt W 37-27
Oct. 27 vs. Georgia L 17-36
Nov. 3 vs. Missouri L 17-38
Nov. 10 vs. South Carolina W 35-31
Nov. 17 vs. Idaho W 63-10
Nov. 24 at. Florida State W 41-14
Dec. 29 vs. Michigan (Peach Bowl) W 41-15

Starters returning: 17 Offense: 6 Defense: 8 Specialty: 3
Starters lost: 9 Offense: 5 Defense: 3 Specialty: 1
Returning offensive starters: Felepie Franks (QB. JR), Lamical Perine (RB. SR), Van Jefferson (WR. SR), Tyrie Cleveland (WR. SR), Josh Hammond (WR. SR), Nick Buchanan (OL. SR)
Returning defensive starters: Jabari Zuniga (DE. SR), Adam Shuler (DT. SR), Kyree Campbell (DT. JR), David Reese II (LB. SR), Jeawon Taylor (DB. SR), C.J. Henderson (DB. JR), Trey Dean (DB. SO), Brad Stewart, Jr. (DB. JR)

Returning statistical leaders
Rushing Att Yards Avg TD
Lamical Perine 134 826 6.2 7
Passing Att Yards Avg TD
Feleipe Franks 188-322 2457 7.6 24
Receiving Att Yards Avg TD
Van Jefferson 35 503 14.4 6
Tackles Total Int Sack TFL
David Reese II 81 0 0 2.5

2019 schedule
Aug. 24 vs. Miami (Orlando, FL)
Sept. 7 vs. TN-Martin
Sept. 14 at. Kentucky
Sept. 21 vs. Tennessee
Sept. 28 vs. Towson
Oct. 5 vs. Auburn
Oct. 12 at. LSU
Oct. 19 at. South Carolina
Nov. 2 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 9 vs Vanderbilt
Nov. 16 at. Missouri
Nov. 30 vs. Florida State