Florida enters a new era under coach Dan Mullen in 2018. Many expect this year to be a time of growth for the Gators as the program moves past the disappointment of the Jim McElwain era.
But one expert considers it possible that Florida will return to the SEC Championship Game soon.
Speaking on The Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday, College Football News’ Pete Fiutak said “it might not take that much” for the Gators to make a return trip to Atlanta. Before Georgia broke through for an SEC championship last season, Florida won consecutive SEC East titles in the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
“I’m really, really curious to see what Dan Mullen can do at Florida,” Fiutak told Finebaum. “That seems like a situation that with just a little bit of tweaking — if he can find the right quarterback, if Feleipe Franks turns into the guy — the defense is there. You’ve got a lot of the other good pieces in place. The offensive line just needs a little bit of a boost, but they’ve got enough parts there.
“With the right attitude and the right coach, this is a program still, Florida, that obviously went to the SEC Championship [Game] with some relatively mediocre teams under Jim McElwain. … It might not take that much to get back there again.”
The issues facing Florida are no secret. The Gators struggled offensively under McElwain, who arrived in Gainesville before the 2015 season with a reputation as a strong offensive mind. Last year, Florida was dreadful on that side of the ball during a forgettable 4-7 campaign.
But it’s possible that Mullen will fix what has ailed the Gators. He arrives with a reputation as a quarterback guru, and he understands the pressures involved with leading Florida after serving as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2005-08.
Many assume Georgia will be the SEC East favorite for several seasons to come. But Fiutak is right that Florida will be worth watching if Mullen can improve the Gators’ situation in short order.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) May 15, 2018