Florida Football: 3 reasons the Gators could make playoff in 2021

Emory Jones, Florida football
Emory Jones, Florida football /
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Dan Mullen was this (*holds index finger and thumb close together*) close to making the College Football Playoff a year ago, but an ill-advised shoe toss cost Florida football against LSU along with a late-game meltdown against Texas A&M after leading 28-17 late in the third quarter.

If Florida wins both of those games — which they should have — we could be talking about how the Gators are fresh off their first playoff appearance in school history. Instead, we’re talking about how Florida melted down at the end of the season and finished with four losses after flirting with the playoff for most of the year.

Now that Kyle Trask, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Pitts are gone, the Gators face an uphill battle to get back into that conversation in 2021.

But here’s why I think Florida could actually make the four-team field this season.

3. The defense can only get better

Over the years, Florida has been known for its stingy defense. In 2020, that was the complete opposite.

The Gators took about 10 steps back as Todd Grantham was the focus of Dan Mullen’s sideline fury on more than one occasion. He’s getting another chance after leading a talented group of players to the No. 83 total defense in the country, allowing 428 yards per game. The Gators also had the 74th-ranked scoring defense.

Zachary Carter, Kaiir Elam, Ventrell Miller, Brenton Cox Jr., and Gervon Dexter should all make the defense better than it was in 2020. And the secondary, ranked 100th against the pass last season, legitimately cannot get any worse.

Florida’s defense will probably be in that top-50 range and if that’s the case while the offense stays solid, the Gators will be really tough to beat.