It would be easy for the Gators and their fans to feel a little disrespected following this off-season.
The Gators enter preseason camp on Wednesday as the defending SEC East champions coming off a 10-win season, but you wouldn’t know it by the lack of preseason love the team has received externally.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated writer Gabriel Baumgaertner pushed that narrative a bit further by naming the Gators as one of the biggest wild cards for the upcoming season. Oregon, Houston, Oklahoma State and Nebraska joined the Gators on the list.
His line of logic for included Florida on the list? The Gators know they’ll likely be pretty good on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense is too much of a mystery for Florida to be considered a sure-fire success in 2016.
With starting running back Kelvin Taylor gone and the transfer of quarterback Will Grier (who would have been suspended for half the season anyway), the offense will (again) likely struggle, even with a strong and young offensive line. Should coach Jim McElwain clear suspended star receiver Antonio Callaway, then presumed new starting quarterback Luke Del Rio will have one weapon. The question is whether Del Rio, unlike the since-transferred Treon Harris, can regularly get Callaway the ball.
Florida fans have likely grown accustomed to that narrative. The rebuttal, of course, is that McElwain has a proven track record of putting quality offensive gameplans together as evidenced by the team’s production when Grier was under center.
If Del Rio’s performance looks more like Grier than Harris, the Gators could be in line for another “surprising” trip to Atlanta to compete for the SEC title.