Ten suspensions to start the season, Gator Nation!
Seriously. It does border on absurd. We will get into that shortly. I wish they had moved the game up to noon Wednesday so that we don’t lose any more players between then and 3:30pm EST on Saturday…but that is just me being selfish. I actually have no issues with the suspensions and this is the game for them to be adjudicated, and maybe also the next one. Without waiting for the investigation process to fully complete itself, I believe this is Coach Mac’s way of saying “we know they did it, so I’m moving forward with the punishment.” Ultimately, Coach Mac gets the last laugh with Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh over the roster because who knows who will be available by game time. Let’s talk some football…
All right, I just checked….no more suspensions…yet. No, seriously, I just checked. That means we’re going with what we have at this point. Felipe Franks was named the starter a few days ago. Color me very not surprised, Batman! If you have followed the Gators since Franks was recruited, Coach Mac has positioned him for this moment. The transfer and acquisition of Malik Zaire from Notre Dame helped bolster our QB depths and having an experienced QB in Luke Del Rio doesn’t hurt. I’m also not on the bandwagon that Del Rio had his chance and we don’t need him. Yes we do. In games he was healthy last year, he played solid. He can reliably lead the offense if he isn’t running for his life. Our O-Line will be much improved and I think the QB’s will have adequate protection and plenty of playmakers around them. Franks just has more of an upside overall and Coach Mac knows that, so into the spotlight he goes. This is actually the game to do it and it is a good decision. I think there will be plenty of playing time for Zaire in different packages. Del Rio is the backup and be glad we have him.
Michigan is only returning five starters and to hear all the talk by the analysts there should be no drop off whatsoever by these new starters. In fact, with Harbaugh at the helm these Wolverines will be better than last year. He has recruited well the last two years and they will be good to go. Riiiiiiiiggghhhhhhtt. To be fair, Harbaugh’s ability to take poor performing teams and make them great right away is legendary. He has recruited well (if memory serves so have we). There is no doubt that he brings intensity, excitement and the intangibles to the game. I don’t think that will be enough and I don’t think, even with a returning QB in Wilton Speight, Michigan will have enough. They will be good, but they won’t have enough. Not for the first game. Not with all the suspensions. Not with the perceived loss of institutional control at UF. I think this will still be a showcases for the Gators and I think we may see a bright future ahead.
Depending on whether we win big or win by just enough will be about our defense. The defense returns 12 players who started at least one game lat year. We will have a noticeable drop in the secondary, but not earth-shattering. Our D-Line should be stronger than ever and we may be actually able to field a stable of Linebackers this season…..after they serve their suspensions. If we can be solid and reliable in our secondary, our run defense should be very, very strong. It will be a different defense this year, but it will be good. At least, good enough for now.
Our offense will be fine with Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett. I consider Lamical Perine and Malik Davis suitable backups at running back and we are not without a shortage at receiver. The more troubling issue is how much time and energy has been dedicated to what has to be a considerable distraction at practice. This is where Coach Mac is going to earn his salary. Can he get the team focused on what they need to do to win? Can he instill some control over a program in disarray? Truthfully, I have thoughts on who is really at fault in all of this, but that is a lengthy debate for another time and venue. I don’t debate whether the suspensions should happen or be increased in length. You make bad choices and their are consequences. We will be fine and missing a non-SEC game is better if you are a fan and being not objective at all in this discussion.
I just honestly believe that Year Three of the Coach McElwain is going to be a big year. He has talent and depth which has not existed in the past two years. We just have to go out and win. We will win against Michigan. Florida 34 Michigan 21. We won’t be without some tense moments. I’m also sure we will see highlights from our past three losses as well…but no CBS or Gary and Vern (Win!!). Game time 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST. Game on ABC. Join your local Gator Club where a Victory over Michigan for the first time EVER will be EPIC and best enjoyed with your fellow Gators! ‘Nuff said.