The eyes of the college football world will be on the Florida Gators this week as the team kicks off the 150th celebration of college football in a Week 0 game against in-state rivals the Miami Hurricanes.
There’s a lot to prepare for with the game quickly approaching and Gator Bait Media is here to keep you up to date with it all. Here are some of the quicker news bits in your Monday news recap.
GAME WEEK EXCITEMENT IS FLOWING
The Gators are pretty much going to be the only show on television this week (save Arizona vs. Hawaii on the late slate) so ESPN and the SEC Network is going all out to given ample coverage to their Week 0 opener. As such the team has had an accelerated schedule this fall camp and are rolling into game week while other teams are still in training mode.
After going 10-3 in 2018 despite being doubted for most of the season, quarterback Feleipe Franks says no matter the outside noise this season, they have clear expectations for themselves.
“Within the team, I think, going into a year I think that you would be wrong if you weren’t going with expectations of winning a national title. I think that you’d be selling yourself short and I think this team is really special. I think that we expect to win games, I think that’s the Gator Standard and we expect to go out there and win every Saturday and try to make it a playoff contender and win a championship here again. That’s the expectations here every year.”
With the opportunity to renew the once revered rivalry against Miami, Mullen and players say the excitement has already been flowing.
Says Mullen, “Everybody in the country is ready for college football, excited for college football. It's Saturday so a lot of teams aren't practicing and a lot of teams haven't started their game week yet. To me one of the great things is not just the fans but all the other teams are watching us. What are they going to see? What's our stamp? When every college person in the country turns on their TV what's their thought when they see the Florida Gators. We have to go out there and live up to that on the field. Everybody is watching…what do you want them to think about you?”
Adds redshirt sophomore corner Marco Wilson, “We’ve always been focused. Mind’s been wired on getting better every day, going hard every day, giving your all. Because in the back of my mind, we know what’s ahead of us and we know we have a team to go play. So I think if your mind was changing today then you’re too late.”
And from Lamical Perine, “If the coaches got to get us excited for this game, then we shouldn’t even be able to play it. I feel like everybody’s excited right now and juiced up, tired of hitting each other and ready to go hit some Hurricanes.”
GATORS RANKED 8TH IN AP POLL
The Gators open the season ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press pre-season poll. Dan Mullen’s squad finished the season at No. 7 after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 41-15 in the Peach Bowl. The Wolverines are one spot ahead at No. 7 in the preseason poll. As the poll currently stands, the Gators will face three Top 25 teams (No. 3 Georgia, No. 6 LSU and No. 16 Auburn). Their season opener, Miami, is not ranked but is in the “others receiving votes” subsection.
This is the the Gators first preseason Top 10 appearance since 2013 when Florida was ranked No. 10. Ironically that season featured a week two loss to Miami. This is the highest preseason ranking for the Gators overall since 2010 when UF clocked in at No. 4.
Senior running back Lamical Perine admit that the ranking is a nice recognition of what this team has done and is expected to do this season.
“I feel like now we’re getting a lot more respect than we’re used to getting in the AP polls. We probably would be ranked 20, 25th in the nation, maybe not even ranked. It’s good that being No. 8 in the country, man, and showing a lot of hard work paying off. There’s just more to come from this team.”
That should come, according to Perine, thanks to the off the field effort the guys have put in this summer.
“A lot of guys bond with each other real well. A lot of guys outside of football hang together and things like that, building a lot of chemistry. That’s something Coach Mullen has been trying to build since he got here, so just being able to have chemistry between the team helps out when we’re in games.”
DEPTH CHART RELEASED
Mullen and company have released the unofficial depth chart for Saturday’s game. There aren’t too many surprises as all returning starters still have a lock on their position. Those that were going to see turnover have stayed consistent with what we saw in spring practice and fall camp. In everyone’s favorite depth chart game, we counted 15 “OR”’s indicating there were two—and sometimes three—players all considered on the same string at their given position.