UF’s Biggest Positional Questions
As the spring game gets closer and closer, the battle for starting positions arises. The loss of important guys (Anthony Richardson, Ventrell Miller, etc) due to different reasons makes people question how good the Gators’ depth chart is. UF’s biggest positional questions pose the issue of who’s next up.
Who’s the Starting Quarterback?
As Anthony Richardson departs for the NFL, the Gators are left with two solid options to start at quarterback. Jack Miller who played in the bowl game against Oregon State and Graham Mertz the transfer from Wisconsin will both get a look. Mertz who will gear up for his first season at Florida is looking for a fresh start. On the other hand, Miller will look to bounce back after a rough first start for the Gators.
While Mertz is still developing himself, a big thing he brings to the team is experience. Coming from Wisconsin, Mertz has shown he can maintain a competitive attribute against high-level programs. Wisconsin finished the 2022 season at 7-6 and 5th in the Big 10 West division with him under center. No doubt Mertz will have to prove himself a ton before Billy Napier makes any choice about whether to put him under center.
As Mertz looks to earn the starting position, Miller will hope to contest him. Even though Miller’s first career start as a Gator wasn’t a good one, you can tell it was a good learning experience for what’s to come. Miller who sat behind Richardson and Jalen Kitna looks to develop more for the 2023 season.
Another factor that will play into effect will be if Billy Napier shops around for another potential starter. Mertz transferring in was reassurance that Napier has options, but if Napier can find a better guy don’t hesitate to think another name could be added to this list. Positional questions continue to arise for the UF group.
Can Anyone Fill the Loss of O’Cyrus Torrence?
O’Cyrus Torrence was a spectacular offensive lineman for Florida and will be another big loss. Torrence who spent one season at Florida and two seasons at Louisiana is arguably one of the best linemen in the upcoming draft. The big man from Greensburg, Louisiana, will be one of the hardest guys to replace.
Richie Leonard IV will come in to replace Torrence as the starting right guard. The 6-2, 318-pounder will see a lot more time this year with Torrence declaring for the draft. Leonard will get his chance to show what he’s made of, but replicating what Torrence had done a season ago won’t be an easy task.
Who Can Step Up On The Defensive Side Of The Ball?
The Gators lost a lot of good talent on the defensive side of the ball which begs the question who can step up and fill spots? Trey Dean and Ventrell Miller both declared for the NFL draft which was two big-name players.
Despite the loss of Trey Dean at the safety position, younger players will get the opportunity to fill in and play a bigger role. Kamari Wilson who got some playing time this past season as a freshman will look to add more to his stats this coming season. Miguel Mitchell who also saw very few minutes last year should be another player who will see the field a little more and hopefully help out with the loss of Trey Dean.
When it comes to the Linebacker position Shemar James will most likely get a lot more playing time. Antwuan Powell-Ryland Jr. who didn’t play much, but tallied three sacks on the season will be another key guy when thinking of replicating Ventrell Miller’s season.
Other Than Ricky Pearsall, Who Can Step Up At Wide Receiver?
The announcement of Ricky Pearsall staying for his senior year was probably pretty reliving for Gator fans. Pearsall yet again had a great year for UF putting up 661 receiving yards on 33 catches. Even though Pearsall is staying, the question bares as to whether or not another receiver will have a big season for the Gators.
The loss of Justin Shorter doesn’t help the Gators when thinking about who will be a good Wide Receiver two. On the contrary, Xzavier Henderson will likely be the candidate to fill this role with Shorter now going to the NFL. Nonetheless, the Gators will need multiple guys to step up in the passing game if they want to be able to balance their offensive attack.
What’s to Come
With the Spring game nearing the competition for spots will get more and more fierce. For the Gators filling positions and finding the right guys will be imperative to their success this year. Going into a competitive SEC as well as starting with a couple of tough non-conference games for the 2023 season won’t be easy. UF’s positional questions that need to be answered will be something to keep an eye on.
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