The Florida Gators are ranked 17th in the nation.
They named redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks the starting quarterback.
They have 10 players suspended for the season opener Saturday against the 11th-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
What a way to start a football preview for a team.
Many thought graduate transfer Malik Zaire was a lock at starting quarterback, especially with his strong arm and ability to run, which departed quarterback Austin Appleby did not possess. Chances are the Gators will play the transfer from Notre Dame this season.
The Gators’ leading receiver Antonio Callaway, who is their speed threat on the perimeter, is one of the 10 players suspended for the season opener versus the Wolverines. The next man up will have to step up for the Gators. Florida head coach Jim McElwain is calm and ready for the Wolverines. “We have a pretty tight group right now,” McElwain stated. Callaway always found a way to get open, now the go-to target will be Tyrie Cleveland, who has some size and can run.
The Gators’ running game is their strength however their leading rusher is suspended also. 5-foot-10, 213-pound junior Jordan Scarlett will be missed in an offense that ranked 105th last season in yards per play.
The Gators indefinitely suspended starting running back Scarlett and wide receiver Rick Wells. Their suspensions are connected to those of seven other Florida players, including star wide receiver Callaway, for making improper charges on their student IDs at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash, school officials conveyed to ESPN.
(Pay the players please…sigh).
Five of the 10 players have been in trouble before, including Scarlett and Wells.
Defense is where the Gators chomp at you. Will the defense change much with first-year coordinator Randy Shannon taking over for Geoff Collins? They might not be as deep at the safety positions with senior safety Marcell Harris out for the year with a torn Achilles tendon however they will make any opposing quarterback think twice before throwing into coverage. Cece Jefferson might be the underrated one at defensive end since moving from the tackle position. Jabari Zuniga will have scouts salivating at times.
Florida has won 27 straight season openers dating back to 1990. This is the first time they face an AP ranked team to begin the year since losing to Miami in 1987. The Gators may not be favored in all of their big games nor huge underdogs this year, however home games against LSU and FSU are possible wins. It all begins with Michigan at Jerry’s World in Texas. Big wins and the must wins will have the Gators talking playoffs.