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Predicting the 2015 SEC Football Season: Florida Gators

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With almost two weeks until the college football season begins, it's never too early to look at the 2015 football schedules and make wild blind predictions.

New coach Jim McElwain has a long row to hoe.
New coach Jim McElwain has a long row to hoe.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eighth installment in the series takes us to Tebowville:

florida square
chomp-chomp, y'all

Coach: Jim McElwain (0-0 in first season at Florida; 0-0 in SEC)
2014 record: 7-5* (4-4 in SEC, 3rd in East Division)
* Idaho game stopped because of lightning was not rescheduled.
CB969 2014 Prediction: 8-4 "Head coach Will Muschamp, entering his fourth season in Gainesville, is on the hottest of hot seats."

Look back: It seems fitting that the first time that the Gators took the field in 2014 that the skies opened up and pounded the Swamp with bitter rain, lightning and thunder. Despite the dark clouds that stayed with them throughout the year, it was not really that bad of a season in retrospect (see * Fun Fact below). The losses came to the SEC West and East champs (Bama, Mizzou), a second playoff team (FSU), and two bowl teams (LSU, South Carolina). Bright spots included a victory at Tennessee (everyone's 2015 darling) and ruining UGA's season. Blowing a late lead against the Gamecocks at home, sealed Will Muschamp's fate.

Key losses: DL Dante Fowler, (Round 1, Jaguars), OT D.J. Humphries (Round 1, Cardinals), OT Chaz Green (Round 3, Cowboys), RB Matt Jones (Round 3, Redskins), C Max Garcia (Round 4, Broncos), LB Neiron Ball (Round 5, Raiders), WR Andre Debose (Round 7, Raiders), OG Trenton Brown (Round 7, 49ers).
Returning starters: 4 on offense, 7 on defense.
Top returnees:
CB Vernon Hargreaves, LB Antonio Morrison, WR Demarcus Robinson, DE Jonathan Bullard, RB Kelvin Taylor, CB Brian Poole, S Keanu Neal, WR Ahmad Fulwood.
Top newcomers: Head Coach Jim McElwain, OC Doug Nussmeier, OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL), DE CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, FL), RB Jordan Scarlett (Fort Lauderdale, FL), ATH/RB Jordan Cronkrite (Miami, FL), WR Antonio Callaway (Miami, FL), C T.J. McCoy (NC State transfer, eligible this fall), LT Mason Halter (grad-transfer from Fordham, two-time FCS All-American).

Strengths: Secondary, WR, D-Line, playing UK and Vandy every year.
Weaknesses: Offensive line, QB, LBs outside of Morrison, depth, all kicking, starting over.

Outlook: This is a tough situation for McElwain. One task is rebuilding an offensive line with one returning starter including tight ends... Figuring out who can quarterback his pro-style scheme and see if anyone can throw the deep ball is on the agenda as well... Treon Harris replaced Jeff Driskel a year ago at QB but may be replaced himself by RS freshman Will Grier... The Gators secondary may be one of the best in the SEC... UF will need to depend on some young guys to fill in the holes on the roster.

2015 Schedule:

Sept. 5 New Mexico State - W
Sept. 12 East Carolina - W
Sept. 19 at Kentucky - W
Sept. 26 Tennessee - L - should be a close one.
Oct. 3 Ole Miss - L - may give the Rebs fits but an 'L' in the end.
Oct. 10 at Missouri - L - tough to win on the road in rebuilding mode.
Oct. 17 at LSU - L
Oct. 24 off week
Oct. 31 Georgia * - L - UGA has this game circled after the Gators' upset a year ago.
Nov. 5 Vanderbilt - W
Nov. 14 at South Carolina - W - This game could mean the difference between a bowl game and a losing season.
Nov. 21 Florida Atlantic - W - FAU!
Nov. 28 Florida State - L - ya never know in rivalry games.
*Jacksonville, FL

Let's go Bowling! If they can win in Columbia they will squeak their way into Shreveport or Birmingham.

The three non-SEC/non-FSU games coupled with UK and Vandy meetings should add up to five victories. Don't be surprised if McElwain outcoaches someone looking ahead and gets that sixth win that makes them bowl eligible.

* Fun Fact: The Gators would have finished 8-5 (4-4) if they had rescheduled Idaho. That would have left them with the same record as Auburn and LSU plus a better result than Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt - all of whom retained their coaches for 2015.

.......

Other previews:

  • LSWho?
  • Aggieland
  • SOOIE, PIG! (may have to edit this one after the announcement that RB Jonathan Williams is out for the season)
  • "That Throw-Up Orange"
  • UGA Dawgs
  • Missy State Clanga-Clangs
  • Ole Miss Rebel Ackbar Black Bears

    #RollTide