With one month of college football behind us, has the Florida team met or failed expectations thus far?
I believe Florida has measured up to expectations and exceeded them a bit. Winning two road games to start SEC play in hostile environments wasn't what most Gator fans thought would happen. A convincing win at Tennessee and three dominating second halves of the three SEC contests were real surprises so far.
What one player has been the key factor in the first 3-4 games?
Senior running back Mike Gillislee is playing the best, but the key factor so far has to be sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel. The quarterback position was the big question coming into the season. Driskel currently ranks 25th nationally in pass efficiency after playing two teams ranked in the top 20 in pass efficiency defense.
Driskel has just four touchdown passes in four games to one interception, but is only throwing the ball an average of 20 times per game this season. His steady play with some spectacular throws and running ability have made him a weapon that coordinators have to adjust to now.
What are the key improvements that need to be made in order to ensure a successful season?
Florida had a good game against Kentucky converting third downs at 12 for 17. They were hitting right at 25% before the 38-0 game with the Wildcats, a miserable percentage. With Driskel's growth, the longer third down conversions will come, but the Gators have struggled also in short yardage. This is where things still need to get a lot better and maybe some more changes need to be made.
How would your team define "success" this season?
Before the season, anyone complaining about an 8-4 season really hasn't understood this team over the previous two years, or the roster issues this staff has had to overcome. The Gators are 4-0 now, ranked 11th nationally, and at least eight wins seems most likely at this point.
Still, the Gators have to play teams ranked third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the country in these last eight games. They have No. 3 LSU and No. 6 South Carolina at home. They play No. 4 Florida State in Tallahassee and No. 5 Georgia in Jacksonville. All four games are in the state of Florida, and only the FSU crowd will be a crowd impartial against the Gators.
Can the Gators win two of those? It's a tough call, but I would say winning at least one is a decent bet at this time.
What is the most dominant headline the remainder of the season?
This will probably surprise some, but I am going to say Mike Gillislee winning the SEC rushing title. He has been hurt for most of the first four games and played through it. He is currently ranked second in the SEC in rushing and just 4 total yards behind freshman Todd Gurley at Georgia.
Florida has been trying to force Driskel to grow up and trust Gillislee to do his thing. Gillislee has a bye week to heal his aches and pains, and I expect the Gators to lean on him quite a bit more. The running game will open up with Driskel's emergence.
Teams have keyed on Gillislee so far this season, yet he has just nine negative yards in 69 carries. With the passing game opening up, teams will not be able to key on him as much.
Thanks to Fightin' Gators' Bob Redman for his in-depth contribution to this report.