GAINESVILLE, Fla. — I hope you all enjoyed that amazing opening weekend of college football.
This week definitely won’t match that, but the stakes are higher in Gainesville, Fla. SEC play starts for the Gators, which will make for a more entertaining game.
That should undoubtedly attract some recruits to town, as will the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Here are the top five questions from this week:
Heard Alex Leatherwood is out of our reach now. Do we have a chance with Kai-Leon Herbert?
First I’ll touch on Leatherwood, the 5-star offensive tackle from Pensacola, Fla. When the Alabama commit failed to visit UF twice this summer, I took that as him not being serious about the school.
But after speaking with a couple people close to Leatherwood, he is still genuinely interested in the Gators. He told SEC Country they were his No. 2 team two months ago, but I had my doubts after he no-showed for Friday Night Lights.
However, I was recently told Florida is indeed the school Leatherwood would attend if he didn’t go to Alabama. He plans to officially visit the Gators this fall.
Will that trip be enough to sway him from the Crimson Tide? Time will tell as his recruitment plays out. But I’m not saying UF has zero chance like I once did.
That being said, Florida has a better shot with Herbert. He made a surprise visit for the season opener and the Gators’ three commits from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two of whom are Herbert’s teammates, believe UF can flip the Michigan commit.
If the Gators want a 4- or 5-star offensive tackle to go along with Kadeem Telfort, they’ll probably have to flip someone. Calvin Ashley (Auburn) and Navaughn Donaldson (Miami) are the other potential prospects at the position.
How much did Shaun Wade’s visit help Florida? What’s the DB board look like?
The fact that he even showed up is at least encouraging for the Gators. The 5-star cornerback and Ohio State commit hadn’t been to Florida in several months despite living in nearby Jacksonville.
But I like Florida’s chances more with Miami CB commit Chris Henderson, New Orleans cornerback Brad Stewart and Detroit cornerback Ambry Thomas. All three targets plan to officially visit the Gators and their interest level seems much higher than Wade’s.
Gun to my head, I’d say Stewart is the next cornerback pledge for Florida.
Where do you think we’ll see the biggest improvements from Game 1 to this week vs. Kentucky?
Speaking of cornerbacks, future Gator Marco Wilson couldn’t help but notice the need at his position when he attended the UMass game.
Florida is in bad shape without its starters, but Jalen “Teez” Tabor returns to the lineup and will make a huge difference against Kentucky. The Gators grabbed two interceptions against the Wildcats last year. I’m expecting Tabor to come up with a pick Saturday and improve the play of the entire defense.
I see quarterback Luke Del Rio having longer plays through the air, but finishing with less than 250 yards and fewer pass attempts. UF will run the ball more and go for 200 yards on the ground from a now motivated offensive line unit.
This will lead to better balance on offense and make Del Rio’s life easier under center, especially with wide receiver C.J. Worton and tight end C’yontai Lewis both back.
Have you been underwhelmed thus far by Martez Ivey? I know he’s had injuries but he hasn’t looked dominant when he plays.
Ivey is underwhelming because he’s playing the guard position. He’s expected to dominate with his 5-star status, but don’t forget he was the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle out of high school.
He did not come to Florida to be an interior lineman, but is doing so for the benefit of the team. Missing spring football slowed his growth as a guard, and he’s still going through that transition period.
Ivey needs more than one season to get fully acclimated and physically developed for the position. It’s already hard enough for linemen to play their first year, and having to switch spots on the line only complicate matters.
Guard may never be a good fit for Ivey, but give him time before making that call. There’s always the possibility of him moving to tackle after David Sharpe leaves.
Before QB Will Grier was suspended, did you feel last year’s team was special in any way?
I honestly think Florida makes a run at the College Football Playoff if Grier remains the quarterback.
The Gators beat LSU on the road with Grier, and those Florida State and Alabama games certainly get interesting if he’s playing. UF was down 13-0 against FSU after three quarters, and Alabama was only up 15-7 in the third before a Crimson Tide touchdown pass late in the quarter.
At that point in the game, Grier is good for at least one touchdown drive. That totally changes the dynamic of those fourth quarters, and possibly the end result.
Last season was still a memorable year for the Gators, but it could’ve held special significance with better QB play.