This time last year if someone were to tell me the Gators would be finishing the regular season at 9-3 and most likely awaiting a New Year’s Six Bowl bid, I’d say that sounds a little bit unrealistic…. given the fact that they went 4-7 last season.
Flash forward, here we are now and Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators are #9 in the country. If that doesn’t scream improvement, then I don’t know what does.
Arriving in Gainesville Coach Mullen knew what he was walking into. Not only did he have a football team to coach, but he also had a fan base to win over. The University of Florida’s Athletic Program is one of the greatest in the country. Expectations are high and when those expectations aren’t met fans aren’t happy. After last season’s struggle the Gators needed a breath of fresh air. Dan Mullen seems to have brought just that.
The Gators went from scoring, on average, 22 points a game to 34.5. Offensively they finished with 5120 total yards, quite an improvement from the 3695 they had in 2017. Not to mention, the Gators were able to run over a hundred more plays than the previous year. Despite some rough patches and criticism, quarterback Feleipe Franks also showed significant improvements. Recall, Franks ended the 2017 season with just 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. This year he’s finishing the regular season with 23 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The stats speak for themselves, but I think it’s safe to say the Swamp has finally found some offensive rhythm.
Kentucky. Georgia. Missouri. None of these losses were necessarily pretty, but each proved something about Mullen’s football team. They aren’t quitters. They didn’t allow a loss to define the rest of their season. Following a battle with Kentucky, the Gators had back to back road wins against Tennessee and Mississippi State. Then, they beat #5 LSU with over 90,000 fans in attendance. Both the Georgia and Missouri losses were rough, but it did not mean the season was over. Florida later beat in-state rival Florida State for the first time in five years. Now, the Gators are awaiting their, most likely, New Year’s Day bowl bid. Who would have predicted that?