It’s the best time of the year and it’s here again. Time to wake up on Saturday mornings and turn on Gameday. Time to hear Desmond Howard continue to slander the Gators year in and year out. Time for the Noles and Volunteers to be scratching for a .500 season. Time for *insert Georgia QB* to be a Heisman favorite. Time for those Gators to make a defense of their run to Atlanta in 2020. Let’s breakdown what 2021 is going to look like.
Usual Suspects at the top
New season, Same names. As we kick off the 2021 season, the names at the top of most polls and expectations shouldn’t surprise anyone. Alabama, coming off of another Saban title is poised to make another run—though it will be with some new faces. Talent is never lacking there, but experience is so we will see how they hold up. Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia round up the top 5 in the Preseason AP Poll. Teams 1-4 make all the sense in the world given their track records, and their head coaches proven niche for winning ball games. Georgia? Has anybody done less with more than Kirby Smart? The guy has a LOADED roster, and consistently year after year under performs. I expect the Georgia hype train to be derailed just one week into the season, along with any dreams JT Daniels and the media had of him winning the Heisman.
Speaking of the Heisman, none of the Heisman finalists from 2020 returned to school this year. Whoever steps up and wins that coveted award will be a first time finalist. Some of the names mentioned as way too early Heisman "front runners" are Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma, Sam Howell of UNC (lol @ FSU), D’Eriq King, and JT Daniels (again lol). Don’t be surprised to see some other names pop up through the course of the season. One I am particularly interested in watching is Chris Olave from Ohio State. He will have a new QB this year in CJ Stroud, but if he can make some throws look out for Olave to be up there especially after a WR won it last year in Devonta Smith. He routinely dominated last year with Fields as his QB, and if Stroud can play up to his hype, expect more of the same from Olave. He’s my darkhorse Heisman candidate.
What about the Gators?
Florida is coming off of a 2020 season which featured them earning a trip to Atlanta for the first time since 2016. An electric offense, a Heisman finalist, a Mackey Award winner, and another top 20 pick allowed Dan Mullen to trust his offense and bring fun back to Florida football. The defense? Many of us are wondering how Grantham still had a job….but it can’t be worse right? The Gators come into the season as the 13th ranked team in the country, which I think is reasonable considering the number of new faces all over the projected starting lineups. Primarily at QB with Emory Jones. Emory has waited his turn, and the team is his. Expect the offense to be more balanced this year with the ability of Jones to run. At the receiver position Florida is still deep, and you know Billy G will have those guys coached right. Justin Shorter, Jacob Copeland, Xzavier Henderson, and Trent Whittemore will be the primary targets for Jones this year. On the defensive side, I believe we see addition by subtraction. I fully expect Florida’s defense to improve this year and get back to what we all know and expect.
My prediction for the Gators season is 11–1 because the young talent will find somewhere to slip up. I have us repeating as Eastern Division champs, and facing Alabama in the SEC Championship. Another year for Dan Mullen, and a fourth straight trip to a NY6 Bowl. The question becomes for Gators fans, is that going to be enough? Are we content with NY6 and 10-11 wins a year? Only time will tell.