Florida Gators Football: South Florida Won’t Pass UF In 2017

It’s been written that the South Florida Bulls will surpass the Florida Gators football team in 2017. Here’s why that won’t happen so soon.


There was recently an article published about how the South Florida Bulls could be better than the Florida Gators in 2017. The writer of this article acknowledged that some early polls have them ranked higher than Florida.

Then the writer gave his explanation on how he thinks these people perceive both teams. It might be the reason why they have the early edge in the polls, but it’s silly to think South Florida will be better in 2017 than Florida.

I’m not attacking the writer of this article, as he was just pointing something out that he noticed and thought it would be interesting to write about it. My purpose of writing this is to show how silly it is think that USF could be better than Florida, and pointing out the reasons why.

Jan 2, 2017; Tampa , FL, USA; Florida Gators tight end DeAndre Goolsby (30) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown catch against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. The Gators won 30-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 2, 2017; Tampa , FL, USA; Florida Gators tight end DeAndre Goolsby (30) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown catch against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. The Gators won 30-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

Overview: I am not going to convince anyone that Florida has a better offense than South Florida, because that simply isn’t true.  However, there’s reason to believe that the gap might get a little tighter next year.

Florida:

It’s fair to question the Florida Gators’ offense due to its quarterback issues. The main issue for their lack of quarterback success is inconsistency at the position. Only one quarterback has start 10 or more games in a season for Florida since 2012. Whether it was because of poor play, injuries, or PED usage, Florida had bad luck with keeping one guy at QB.

If they can get Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, or even Luke Del Rio to play an entire year, it would do wonders for this offense.

They still have down the field threats with Antonio Callaway and Tyrie Cleveland, as well as an excellent slot receiver with Brandon Powell. In addition, they have young receivers Freddie Swain, Josh Hammond, and Dre Massey for depth.

At tight end, Florida has vertical two threats with C’yontai Lewis and DeAndre Goolsby. In the backfield, Florida has a fierce rushing attack led by Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine, who will be able to help whoever is under center next year.

Mixed with a young and growing offensive line led by Martez Ivey, T.J. McCoy, and Jawaan Taylor, Florida’s offense should be watchable next year.

South Florida:

Without a doubt, South Florida was one of the most effective running teams in the country this year. That group is led by an amazing athlete in quarterback Quinton Flowers. They will also be getting back three starting offensive lineman.

The issue with the offense is Flowers is not a great passing quarterback. His consistency is an issue at times, and he will be playing without their leading rusher in Marlon Mack—as far as running backs are concerned since Flowers led the team in rushing—as well as leading receiver Rodney Adams, which is a big loss.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this offense will be electric and fun to watch. Florida only losing one starter and South Florida losing their best playmakers not named Quinton Flowers will tighten the gap a bit.

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Defense

Overview: Overall, Florida’s defense is much, much better than South Florida’s. Not many people would debate that. The thing that people are debating is how effective Florida’s defense will be after losing nine key players on defense. If history shows anything, Florida should be alright.

Florida:

It’s true that Florida will lose a number of key players this year, maybe more than usual. The thing is: we’ve seen this movie before.

Florida is one of those teams that doesn’t rebuild, but reloads on defense. Since 2008, Florida has ranked 15th or better in yards allowed per game in every single season. They’ve ranked 15th or better six times at points per game and eight times in defensive efficiency.

At one point this year, Florida was playing without seven starters on defense. True freshmen such as Vosean Joseph, David Reese, Kylan Johnson, Jabari Zuniga, and Chauncey Gardner all benefited from this.

Returning standouts Duke Dawson, Marcell Harris, Nick Washington, and CeCe Jefferson should keep Florida’s drop off at the minimum.

South Florida:

It’s no secret that South Florida doesn’t have a dynamite defense. They are below average at best this year, but there’s hope still for next year.

They’ll have a ton of experience coming back next year including having their defensive leader Auggie Sanchez back—most likely—for a senior season. As well as hoping for the returns of Deadrin Senat, and Deatrick Nichols, as well.

When you are a team like South Florida, who doesn’t get top recruits left and right, experience is worth a lot. But even with all the experience, it will be tough to surpass their offense as far as media attention, and be in the same conversation as Florida.

Nov 12, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain during the first quarter against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain during the first quarter against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coaching

Overview: I like the hire of Charlie Strong to South Florida, but it’s not a home run hire. Despite my criticism of both Mac and Strong, I believe they’re still good coaches, and just need more time to get things set up the way they want. But it is ridiculous to be questioning McElwain after only being at the program for two years at Florida as what he’s done in two years is simply amazing.

Florida:

When Jim McElwain came to Florida, their offense was a dumpster fire. For those who haven’t watched a lot of Gators football this year, a lot of their best players who contributed on offense were true freshman or true sophomores.

That means some of Florida’s best players were Coach Mac’s recruits.

While he needs to find a quarterback—which they might have already—and finish strong with this year’s recruiting class, it’s hard not feel good about where Florida is heading. He was also able to keep the defense at an elite level, developing some young stars on that side of the ball.

He also got the best kicker in college football, which is a much bigger deal than people think. This year will be a big year for Coach McElwain, and if they under perform on offense again, it will cause some concern.

Up until this point, however, he’s done a good job in Gainesville.

South Florida:

As I said before, Charlie Strong is a good hire for South Florida. He has the pipeline in Florida, especially in Miami, to keep up with other teams in the state.

Issue is this is his first year. He hasn’t had a full recruiting cycle to get his players, set up the coaching staff the way he wants it, or be able to install his style of play for the offense or defense.

So why are we giving him the benefit of the doubt over a guy who has established himself? There’s usually a learning curve wherever you go, no matter the experience. Even Nick Saban went 7-6 in his first year at Alabama.

I think Strong is capable of doing a fine job, but it would be silly to say he’s already better than a guy who has been at his respective program for two years.

Conclusion

I’m not trying to trash South Florida, nor trying to praise the Florida Gators. I like both teams very much, and have for years. I watched every Florida game, and all but one South Florida game, only missing their game against Navy.

I’m just pointing out the flaws in the argument that South Florida will be the better the team in 2017. I still hope both programs do well this year.

The fact is, unless they play in a bowl game—or the CFP for kicks and giggles—it will be hard to determine which team is actually better.

But looking at each team’s roster, coaching staff, and level of competition, it’s hard to ignore that Florida is better on paper.

This article originally appeared on