Thursday, February 23, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Florida Gators

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Florida Gators
9-4 (6-2)

Beat U Mass 24-7
Beat Kentucky 45-7
Beat North Texas 32-0
Lost to Tennessee 38-28
Beat Vanderbilt 13-6
Beat Missouri 40-14
Beat Georgia 24-10
Lost to Arkansas 31-10
Beat South Carolina 20-7
Beat LSU 16-10
Lost to Florida State 31-13
Lost to Alabama 54-16 (SEC Title Game)
Beat Iowa 30-3 (Outback Bowl)

MVP Offense: None
Despite winning the SEC East, the Gators were a train wreck on offense. I could not identify one area where things are headed in the right direction, including the QB position, where Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby, both transfers, struggled.
Florida averaged 215 yards passing per game, but both QBs combined to toss 18 TDs and 15 INTs, hardly a ratio to write home about.
The Gators were also held to just 128 yards rushing per game.
MVP Defense: DL Jabari Zuniga
Despite only allowing 16.8 points per game, there were not a ton of stand out performances from individuals, as this was more of a team effort. Sophomore Jabari Zuniga did show some growth and promise, as he led the team with 5 sacks, and finished 8.5 TFLs. He also registered 11 QB hurries.
Others of Note
Luke Del Rio was the better of the two QBs who played last fall, but lasted just 6 games before he was injured. He averaged 226.3 yards per game, but otherwise was average or not so great across the board. This is still a position where the Gators are hurting.
Sophomore RB Jordan Scarlett is showing signs of growth, and rushed for 889 yards and 6 scores. He averaged just 13.77 carries per game, so it may be time to take the leash off.
Only four receivers caught 20 or more passes in 2016. Antonio Callaway was the leader with a line of 54-721-3
DB Marcell Harris led the Gators with 73 tackles. He also picked off a pair of passes.
DE Caleb Brantley led the team with 9.5 TFLs.
Sophomore Eddy Piniero had a strong effort at PK, as he hit 21/25 FG attempts.
Johnny Townsend had a cannon for a leg in 2016, as he averaged over 47 yards per punt.
Best Win: Beat Georgia 24-10, Beat Iowa 30-3
The Big Cocktail game was the final win in a three game winning streak for the Gators, and beating the Bulldogs is how you keep your job at Florida.
The Bowl win over Iowa was a combination of an offensive domination and a defensive stranglehold for the Gators, one of the few times that the Gators played a complete game on both sides of the football all season.
Worst Loss: Alabama 54-16
The loss to the Tide, by 38 points, just continues to show the desparity in the SEC between not only Alabama and the Gators, but between Alabama and everyone else in the SEC right now. If not for Alabama, this would have been a very average conference in 2016.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Michigan @ Arlington, TX, 11/18 UAB, 11/25 Florida State
Only three of four non conference games had been posted at publishing time, and two of these three games are brutal. The opener with Michigan in Texas will be a huge test for the Gators, while the Florida State finale could be coming up against a national semi finalist.

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