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State Of The Gators Address

If I would've told you that the Florida Gators would be 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC at the bye week, every fan would've called me crazy. The same fans would also be happy with the results up to this point as well. There's a lot of things that I've seen from the team through 7 games that I've liked, and also didn't like. Florida is one of the youngest teams in the country, playing a 11 true freshmen per game, and they're all making major impacts on each side of the ball. The team goes into the bye week coming off an exciting win on the road against South Carolina and a matchup with Georgia is coming up next week.

Before the season, the Gators hit the transfer portal to get a quarterback to replace Anthony Richardson, who was the #4 overall pick. There were several options including Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz, Grayson McCall, Devin Leary and Payton Thorne. Billy Napier ultimately decided to go with Mertz, and that decision has paid off nicely so far. He's been ranked as one of the top quarterback transfers with the way he's been playing this season. Mertz has completed 76% of his passes (170-223) for 1,897 yards with 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. A lot of Gator fans weren't initially happy with the staff's decision to go with Mertz based on how he looked at , but they saw something in him that the fans didn't see. Ricky Pearsall has been Florida's best receiver and has made big plays all season, but true freshman Eugene Wilson III has been their most explosive playmaker. Redshirt freshmen tight ends Arlis Boardingham and Hayden Hansen have stepped up big time for the offense as well. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne have been a consistent 1-2 punch, finding ways to make plays all season long.

The biggest improvement of the team this season is the defense. They haven't played as well in 2 of the last 3 games, but defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has come in and clearly made a huge impact with his scheme. Memphis transfer Cam'Ron Jackson has been great as a run stuffer while Princely Umanmielen and Tyreak Sapp have generated pressure off the edge. Shemar James and Scooby Williams have been one of the best linebacker duos in the SEC all season. The secondary has had moments where they've given up a few big plays, but Jason Marshall and Jalen Kimber have been playing pretty well for most of the year. True freshman Jordan Castell has really come on strong as a starter in the secondary and made some big plays for the Gators. Miguel Mitchell has been a little up and down, but he's also made plays, including the game sealing interception last week against South Carolina. The defense has been one of the strengths of the team, and I expect that to continue to be the case.

The Florida Gators finally have a kicker with Trey Smack taking over as the starter. He's 11/12 on the season with a long of 54 yards. Adam Mihalek was the initial starter at the beginning of the season, but was quickly pulled during the game against then #11 Tennessee for the aforementioned Smack after missing 2 PATs. Smack also handles the kickoffs duties and has 35 touchbacks on the season.

Overall, the Florida Gators have played some really good football this season. As I've mentioned, they're one of the youngest teams in the country, and there have been some growing pains throughout the season. What I love about watching them play is the fact that they don't get discouraged if they make a mistake. They continue to keep playing, and the freshmen in particular are growing up before our eyes. All of the experience they're getting this season is gonna make them a better team next season even though they have a tougher schedule. If they can continue to make plays and the freshmen continue to mature on the field, they'll have a chance to win some big time games later on this season.

Stay tuned to for more on the Florida Gators.

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