Photo by James Gilbert | Getty Images

Gators football will make its season debut on August 31 against the Utah Utes. The departure of former Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who proceeded to be the fourth overall pick in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, left the Gators at a wit’s end to find their next QB1.

In March 2023, quarterback Graham Mertz decided to transfer and join the Gators after spending four seasons with Wisconsin. The commitment of Mertz to Gator fans was a concern considering his record at Wisconsin with 19 touchdowns and ten interceptions.

However, Florida head coach Billy Napier announced on August 11 that Mertz would be the starting quarterback for the 2023 season.

Here is what to expect offensively for the Gators:

Now that the season is underway, the run-first offense is expected to stay the same. Napier ran the ball 55 percent of the time last season, and with the same process this season, running backs Trevor Etienne and Montrell Johnson will see the ball a lot.

Running the ball more effectively should make Mertz’s job easier to move the ball and make it difficult for the players in the box on the defensive side who are getting run on by the running backs. This would allow for fewer defensive backs on the field, as the other team would most likely add more players at the line of scrimmage.

Running the ball more means that Mertz will be passing the ball quickly, which is why the offensive lineman are needed to protect him and allow him to find a passing range to make complete passes. The Gators have a solid OL, especially with new talented freshmen, as they will have time to grow into Florida’s offensive scheme.

One freshman offensive lineman that stands out is Knijeah Harris, as he was named on the preseason True Freshman All-American Team by 247 Sports. Harris started at Florida as an early enrollee, and the work he has put in during the spring and summer with Rob Sale has transformed his body. Learning the offensive schemes as a freshman can be tricky, but Harris’s ability and experience playing multiple positions makes him a pivotal player on the offensive line.

While Florida has a solid team, their agenda this season will be different without the flash of Anthony Richardson and some of the notable plays he made last season. This season Napier and Mertz are focusing more on a structure that will move the ball with short passes to Etienne, Johnson, Ricky Pearsall, or Andy Jean.

Quick shots would allow Florida to score against teams that can score high numbers, such as Tennessee and Georgia. If Florida’s offense does what it’s supposed to do and makes quick drives, then they could run the clock on the other teams, giving the Gators a better chance at winning.

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