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Russell Report: Gators finish regular season in similar fashion to last season

Gainesville WCJB-TV logo Gainesville WCJB-TV 11/28/2022 WCJB Staff
Russell Report: Gators finish regular season in similar fashion to last season © Provided by Gainesville WCJB-TV Russell Report: Gators finish regular season in similar fashion to last season

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The regular season is over for Gator football, and it ends up just as last year’s season did, with a 6 and 6 record and many questions. The first question to be answered, and perhaps the most important one, is the future of quarterback Anthony Richardson. If he stays another year, can he develop into a true dual threat quarterback that can throw with consistency and run? We all know the big play capability he flashes but to truly move this offense, AR has to develop into a Jayden Daniels, Jordan Travis type guy and be a better and more consistent thrower of the football. If he leaves, one would think a transfer portal guy would be where the Gators would look to provide immediate help at this most critical position.

The run game is in good hands with Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne, a dynamic one/two punch that should only get better behind an offensive line that for the most part performed well. If O’Cyrus Torrence goes pro that will hurt but this group took some positive steps forward this year. The wide receiver room was a mess because of all the injuries but Ricky Pearsall proved to be the real deal in the transfer portal and a bunch of young receivers that showed promise should all return better for their experiences this year.

On the defensive side of the ball, the problem last year for some was coordinator Todd Grantham; for some this year it was first year coordinator Patrick Toney. The common denominator for the two seasons is the personnel. Veteran players in the secondary were often victimized by big plays by opposing offenses and the defense just could not get teams off the field on third down. That simply has to get better whether by scheme, by personnel or by a combination of both.

If you judge a college football program by what players might be drafted by the NFL, Florida just doesn’t have a lot of big-time talent the league is drooling over. O’Cyrus Torrence might be a first rounder, Richardson could be in theory but after that, is a Gervon Dexter or a Ventrell Miller going to be a high draft? There just aren’t enough top end NFL draft prospects and that’s got to change for better success.

The good news here is that some young players who got their feet wet this year, the Jason Marshalls, Kamari Wilsons, Austin Barbers, Marcus Burkes and Caleb Douglasses will be back with a year of experience. Florida is also on its way to a nice signing class for 2023 that addresses areas of need. But the place the gators must make an impact is in the transfer portal and to some degree, with name, image, and likeness as well to bring in better talent right away. The roster needs an overhaul, and you will probably see a lot of players leave and a lot come on board. It will definitely be an interesting off season as Coach Napier reshapes and rebuilds the program that has now gone 14 years without an SEC Championship. I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

RELATED: Russell Report: Gators fall further in the rankings after falling to the Commodores

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