Florida Faculty Soccer 2021 Preview: Can the Gators Return to the SEC Championship Recreation?

With an array of offensive weapons at their disposal, the Florida Gators rode one of the nation’s most explosive assaults on an SEC East title in 2020, their first league crown since 2016.

The year showed the continuing potential of what Dan Mullen had built since arriving in Gainesville in 2018. Future NFL draft picks in the early round of 2021 Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney dominated on a vertical offensive that led the nation on the fly (378.6 yards per game) and mostly covered for a defense that tended to to give up even explosive moves.

UF entered the month of December as a contender for the College Football Playoffs with an 8-1 record, stumbled over the end of the year, notoriously lost to LSU over tossed shoes, and fell 52-46 in an SEC championship shootout against Alabama before they completely failed to show the Cotton bowl against Oklahoma.

Mullens Gators are now entering the 2021 season with the aim of claiming their place at the top of the SEC East with new staff on either side of the ball, including a new QB to run the show.

Season review 2020

  • 8-4, 8-2 SEC, conference runner-up, lost 55-20 to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl
  • Florida played well on the offensive with its competition and went 4-0 in overs in games against ranked opponents and 3-0 as an outsider.

2021 talent

2021 247Sport composite ranking: 12.12
ESPN Returning Production: 55% overall (108th place): 41% attack (125th), 70% defense (67th)
Recurring Talent Index: Negative, 9th
Recurring starters: 5/11 attack, 4/11 defense
* All rankings from 130 FBS schools

Key player

Quarterback: Emory Jones (Junior)

Emory Jones, who was one of Mullen’s early signers when he arrived in Gainesville, will replace Kyle Trask under the middle for the blues and oranges in 2021.

Jones came from a loaded QB recruiting course in Georgia that included both Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields and spent three years in Gainesville as a substitute to familiarize himself with the Gators’ program, surrounding staff, and scheme to familiarize yourself with the offensive. As a result, he is already firmly committed to the case as a locker room manager.

The former Heard County High School standout has been used sporadically in special packages throughout his time in Gainesville, racking up seven touchdowns as a passer and, in particular, 6.4 yards per carry and six touchdowns as a runner in the past two seasons. His two-threat abilities will be harnessed when Florida changes the pace from the pass-dominant offensive under Trask, and should Florida maintain its explosiveness on offense, he could quickly become one of the most dynamic players in college football this season.

Attack (Non-QB): RB Dameon Pierce (Senior)

Florida’s fatal pass attack was just enough to cover its pedestrian run game, an attack that averaged just 131.2 yards per game at 4.3 yards per carry.

Dameon Pierce was the leader of this group, starting 10 games and racking up 503 yards and four touchdowns during the 2020 season. With a mobile QB like Jones snapping photos, Mullen, along with Co-OC’s Billy Gonzales and John Hervesy, are looking to get more power out of their ground attack, and that opens the door to prosperity for a veteran like Pierce.

Defense: DL Zachary Carter (Senior)

Florida’s defense in 2020 gave up almost as many yards as its offensive gained, and much-maligned coordinator Todd Grantham must see his units improve in 2021 or face a pink slip in the near future.

That improvement starts on the line where Zachary Carter will be the front runner. The Tampa native started 11 games on defensive tackles for the Gators in 2020 and came up with 36 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and five sacks along with a scoop-n-score touchdown.

Team statistics projections

2020 SP + final: 6th overall ranking: 4th offensive, 33rd defensive, 2nd special teams
2021 SP + projection: 12th overall: 5th offensive, 29th defensive

To win the national title: +4000
To win SEC: +1400
Total profit: 9 (over +100, under -125)

2020 against the spread: 5-7
Overall score 2020: About 8-4

Florida Football Schedule 2021

date opponent Time (ET) / TV Distribution / total
date opponent Time (ET) / TV Distribution / total
Saturday 4th September Florida Atlantic 7:30 p.m. / SECN UF -24.5
Saturday September 11th at USF 1:00 p.m. / ABC N / A
Saturday, September 18 Alabama 3:30 p.m. / CBS UF +13.5
Saturday September 25th Tennessee TBA UF -15
Saturday October 2nd in Kentucky TBA N / A
Saturday October 9th Vanderbilt TBA N / A
Saturday October 16 at the LSU TBA UF +1.5
Saturday 23 October TO OPEN TBA N / A
Saturday October 30th Georgia (TIAA Bank Field, Jax) 3:30 p.m. / CBS UF +7.5
Saturday 6th November in South Carolina TBA N / A
Saturday November 13th Samford TBA N / A
Saturday 20th November in Missouri TBA N / A
Saturday November 27th State of Florida TBA N / A

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