Phil Steele is one the greatest authorities on college football as he publishes a magazine every year previewing the season for all D-I teams and has excellent insight. That’s why some people are probably going to be surprised he went with a team that has too many questions on offense to become his darkhorse title contender.
Steele talked about his surprise title contender on WJOX 94.5 FM’s radio program The RoundTable:
“When I look at Florida this year, here’s what I like about them, start on the defensive side of the ball. These guys are always good on defense, right? Well last year they lost quite a few guys to injury in the second half of the year, they had to play a lot of freshmen, guys like Jabari Zuniga up front at the defensive end spot, they gained experience. So even though they lose a lot of talented players off the defense, a lot of guys only started seven or eight games. They have a lot of the guys that gained experience back, I think they’ll be strong.”
While defense does win championships, offense still helps you get there and the Gator offense still doesn’t have a surefire quarterback. They did just announce the official enrollment of Malik Zaire from Notre Dame, but he still has only one great game to point to on his resume. Florida’s offensive line also isn’t set in stone and without a good one of those it’s going to be hard to keep the quarterback upright and create lanes for running backs on the ground.
It’s definitely not a bad pick as the Gators have an incredibly favorable schedule with Tennessee, Florida State, LSU, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M at home with a couple more cupcakes squeezed in there. Their biggest test of the season might be against Michigan in Dallas Cowboys Stadium though to start the season. If they can win that game and carry some momentum throughout the season then they should be in great shape.