Florida Gators 2023 College Football Preview
August 1, 2023
Record – 6-7
ATS – 7-6
It was a tough slog in year one of the Billy Napier era as the Gators failed to win more than two games in a row at any point during the season. Things got off to a great start with a dramatic home victory over Utah but they crapped the bed the following week and lost at home to Kentucky. That was the theme of the season. Look good at times, mediocre on other occasions. They didn’t end the year on a good note as they lost their final two regular season games and one of those defeats came at the hands of mighty Vanderbilt. Oregon St gave them the HOW TO and the WHAT FOR in the Las Vegas bowl to end the campaign (L 30-3).
Florida Gators 2023 Outlook
The Gators move on from QB Anthony Richardson who was taken in the top-five (!) of the NFL draft but our DEEP SEC INSIDERS believe that he was somewhat ALL HAT and NO CATTLE. Richardson had a mediocre campaign throwing the football LY (54%, 17-9 TD to INT) but at least he was devastating with his legs (719, 6 TD). The problem isn’t losing Richardson, it’s replacing him with Graham Mertz (Wisconsin) who’s got a stinky 38-26 career TD to INT ratio. Maybe youngster Jack Miller is ready to go? We’ll see what happens. The good news is that the RB group is phenomenal and they retain their 1-2 punch of Montrell Johnson (841, 10 TD, 5.4) and Trevor Etienne (719, 6 TD, 6.1). There’s also excellent depth within the RB room. WR Ricky Pearsall is a legit #1 option and HOME RUN HITTER (661, 5 TD, 20.0) but we’re not crazy about the depth at WR/TE. The OL could be a problem area as they only return a pair of starters and will need some transfer portal bodies to step up right away. We expect similar overall production compared to the prior year but the floor is low and the ceiling is relatively high. <grabs popcorn>
Time flies, yo. We’re old enough to remember when Florida played something that resembled “defense” but they allowed 28.8 PPG LY which ranked #10 in the SEC (#11, #8 previous two years). They tallied a mere 23 sacks (#10) which was their lowest total since the 2017 campaign when they finished 4-7. Five starters are back for battle but the Gators lose their top-five (!) tacklers so they’ll be relying heavily upon youngsters and transfers to mold the stop unit. That makes it very difficult to accurately predict how things will go in 2023. Some players to keep an eye on include NT Cam Jackson who’s a yuuuge run-stuffing presence (6-6, 355), DE/LB Prince Umanmielen (9.5 TFL, 5 QBH), CB Jason Marshall (8 PBU), and former Michigan safety RJ Moten. The Gators have good size in the interior of the DL and an athletic secondary so there’s definitely reason to hope for improvement. Stay tuned!
The Gators have one of the best special teams units in the SEC as they return everyone from LY’s group that ranked #38 according to the intrepid PHIL STEELE. Florida boasts an excellent punter in Jeremy Crawshaw (2nd Team SEC, 47.9) and PK Adam Mihalek had a decent 2022 season (14-21 FG, 11-15 inside 50Y). They’ve also got dangerous bodies at PR and KR.
Overall – Yikes. They’ve got a pair of STRUGGLE SESSIONS lined up in non-conference play (at Utah, Florida St) and draw a road date with LSU from the West. They’ve got a chance to get hot before they battle the Georgia Bulldogs on October 28th.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Utah (Aug 31)
The Utes will be FROTHING at the MOUTH ** to get another shot at the Gators who beat them in the SWAMP last season. It’s incredibly tough for visiting teams to play in Salt Lake City and it’s definitely not the trip you wanna make in game one with a new starting QB and remodeled defense.
** fact check into the future: yup, that will indeed be the case
Season Win Total
Market consensus August 1
Over 5.5 -150
Under 5.5 +120
It’s all about the number. The vast majority of our 37 models project them to get to a bowl game.
The Gators have participated in a whopping 13 (!) SEC Championship Games and emerged victorious in 7 of those contests. Only ROLL TIDE has done a better job (14, 10).
The Gators are a clear notch below Georgia and Tennessee in terms of overall talent but there’s no reason they can’t exceed expectations and finish 3rd in a rapidly-improving SEC East. That won’t be an easy goal to achieve but it’s certainly possible. Given all the roster turnover and the dicey QB prognosis we’ll call for seven wins and a bowl game. CHOMP CHOMP! Good luck, Gators!