The Florida Gators annual Orange and Blue Game is back for this weekend as Florida ends their spring camp. There will be more hype around this game as the Gators are coming off a terrific first season under Dan Mullen. The 2018 Florida Gators went 10-4 including a Peach Bowl win against the Michigan Wolverines. During that season, Florida had their best offensive production since Tim Tebow graduated. Florida returns a lot of their key starters from last season like Feleipe Franks, Lamical Perine, Van Jefferson, C.J. Henderson , and Jabari Zuniga. Here are three things to keep an eye on during the Orange and Blue Game.
The Florida Gators did not lose a whole lot from last season except at offensive line. The Gators lost four out of their five starters from last season to graduation or the NFL Draft. The only returning starter from 2018 is center Nick Buchanan. The Gators need two new guards and tackles which is never an easy task. But with John Hevesy as Florida’s offensive line coach, he should have his guys ready for the season opener versus Miami. Players like Stone Forsythe, Brett Heggie, and Jean Delance need to step up and become the starters Florida needs them to be. Florida has also had some freshmen enroll early who are fighting for a starting role. Some freshmen to keep an eye on are Ethan White, Kingsley Eguakun, and Michael Tarquin.
At last, there isn’t a quarterback battle going on at Florida, but the QBs will catch everyone’s attention. Feleipe Franks is coming off a very solid season and looks to make a name for himself in the college football world. With Dan Mullen at the helm, Franks has high expectations for the 2019 season. Another quarterback to watch in the Orange and Blue Game is Emory Jones. The former Under Armour All-American is battling for the backup job and seems to be the favorite once Franks is gone. Jones was a highly routed quarterback in high school and showed flashes of how good he could be once he’s the starter.
The fan base will also have an eye on some of Florida’s new starters on defense. The Gators lost three defensive starters from last season in Jachai Polite, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Vosean Joseph to the NFL. In order for Florida’s defense to continue their dominance, they’ll need some of the young guys to fill in and become key contributors. Trey Dean is expected to play the STAR position with Gardner-Johnson going to the NFL. Dean is a tall, long defensive back that should fill in that role very nicely. Amari Burney is expected to replace Joseph at linebacker as he’s a sure tackler and solid in coverage. Polite will be the toughest to replace because of how disruptive he was in the backfield. Louisville transfer Jon Greenard should fill in nicely with some other players like Zachary Carter and Andrew Chatfield.