Florida Football: Five takeaways from New Year's Day Bowls for the Gators

No, Florida didn't have a bowl game this year. But Gator fans learned a few things watching others play in their bowl games.
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) looks for an open receiver during the Citrus Bowl NCAA
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) looks for an open receiver during the Citrus Bowl NCAA / Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
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Florida football went 5-7 in 2023 and didn't get to play in a bowl game. The Gators were forced to channel their inner Squidward looking out the window at Spongebob and Patrick meme as the New Year's Day slate of bowl games was packed and entertaining from start to finish.

And so while the Gators didn't play yesterday, there were definitely things the Gators learned that will be relevant to the 2024 season.

Florida Football: Things Learned Watching New Year's Bowl Games

Nico Iamaleava is more dynamic than Joe Milton

Tennessee fans had a lot to be excited for in their Citrus Bowl match-up against Iowa, besides the fact you can't spell citrus with the letters u and t.

The Vols got to formally debut five-star QB Nico Iamaleava to the world on Monday. Iamaleava was the second rated prospect in the entire class of 2023, only behind Arch Manning. Iamaleava red shirted behind Joe Milton this season, but with Milton opted out of their bowl it was time for Iamaleava to get the start.

Playing against a noted stingy defense, Iamaleava was fine for his first start. He was 12 of 19 passing for 151 yards and one touchdown.

But where Iamaleava will provide a boost to Tennessee next season is with his legs. His final rushing numbers weren't necessarily eye popping, running 15 times for 27 yards. But keeping in mind that sack yardage takes away from rushing totals, Tennessee fans will point to the three rushing touchdowns that Iamaleava had, including one from 19-yards out.

With an off season to progress, Iamaleava will at least be a capable pilot for Tennessee's offense in 2024.