The Florida Gators finished sixth in the SEC East in 2021 above only Vanderbilt. This is simply not good enough for a program of this stature and it cost head coach Dan Mullen his job. Billy Napier is the next man up and is tasked with returning Florida to the top of the SEC.
By Steve Wright
Here are three keys for Florida to leave the Mullen era behind in 2022:
Anthony Richardson is the Real Deal
The Florida quarterback situation was a mess in 2021. Mullen started Emory Jones for the majority of the season, but Jones is now gone after transferring to Arizona State. That means that the Gators’ immediate future is in the hands of electric redshirt sophomore Anthony Richardson.
The fans wanted Richardson in 2021 but injuries held him back. The 6-foot-4, 236-pounder is a legit dual-threat and can take over with his arm or his legs. Consistency will be everything for Richardson. If he is the real deal the SEC needs to watch out.
Florida Style Defense Returns
The Florida defense in the last couple of years of the Todd Grantham era was a disaster. After being a perennial top 25 force for decades, the Grantham-led unit spent the last two years outside the top 50. That included the debacle last November when FCS middlers Samford scored 52 points in The Swamp. Grantham is gone. The recruiting has been outstanding (that was never an issue). The question is if the pieces and parts that are left can meld together to form a solid unit. Watch for Gervon Dexter to lead a much-improved unit from defensive tackle.
The Running Game Must Take Over
Richardson will be good to outstanding on a weekly basis but there isn’t a ton of obvious playmaking at wide receiver. The running back group, however, is loaded. The offensive line has the ability to be a force and even with Dameon Price – the nation’s most effective running back per Pro Football Focus – gone, the running game will deliver. Nay’Quan Wright is the likely starter but watch for Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard to make some noise as part of a strong rotation.
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