Earlier today, we chronicled four red flags for Florida football moving forward this season. For those not aware of what is hip and trendy, red flags are flaws that someone has that should be warning signs things aren’t going to work out.
But we don’t want to be a site of just gloom and doom, so we are going to look at three things we think Florida is well and can still propel the Gators to a successful season.
Florida Football Green Flags: Defense success rate
It may not seem like it after the debacle against Kentucky, but there is still reason to have within Florida’s defense.
As we wrote prior to the Kentucky game, Florida is doing a great job on a play-by-play basis of getting stops. As it stands right now, Florida’s defense has a success rate of 69%. This is still top ten in the country.
The success rate basically states a play is defined as successful if:
- It gains at least 50% of the yards required to move the chains on first down
- 70% of yards to gain on second down
- 100% of yards to gain on third or fourth down
So if it’s first and ten, the defense gives up four or fewer yards. If it’s 2nd and eight, the defense gives up less than 5.5 yards. And so on.
This metric is used because it helps reliably predict what will happen on a play-by-play basis. Last season, Florida’s defense only had a success rate of 55%.
Now yes, the flaw with this defense is that on the 31% of plays they aren’t successful on they aren’t failing by a little, they are failing by a lot.
But there are enough soft offenses left on Florida’s schedule to have faith in this defense still.
Trevor Etienne and Tre Wilson
Speaking of explosive plays, Florida does have two “home run hitters” on its offense. Whether Billy Napier starts utilizing Trevor Etienne more over Montrell Johnson is a different question, but there is no denying that Etienne is capable of taking it to the house on any given play.
The concern for Wilson is his health, as he left the Tennessee game early and didn’t play against Charlotte and Tennessee.
But when healthy, Wilson is the key to unlocking Florida’s offense.
Ricky Pearsall has tried to fill the role of running a presnap jet sweep every play, but he isn’t explosive enough for opposing defenses to feel threatened.
If Wilson can stay healthy, it becomes a different story.
Last season, turnovers weren’t a liability to for Florida football, but they weren’t a strength. Florida finished 2022 43rd in interceptions thrown per game.
This season, Graham Mertz has only thrown two interceptions, and both of them have bounced off the hands of a Gator receiver.
Combined with his overall completion percentage that is still 3rd best in the country, and Mertz has at least showcased through five games that is able to take care of the football and, if nothing else, give the defense a chance.