Florida Gators senior wide receiver Justin Shorter has accepted his invitation to participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Shorter transferred from Penn State for the 2020 season and has been with the Florida program ever since. Shorter is a fifth year senior, and a former five-star recruit.
He has been second on the team in receiving yards the past two years. Shorter had 577 receiving yards in just nine games this past season. He missed three games this year due to a hamstring injury. The improvements he made this season were very apparent. He surpassed his total yardage in three fewer games and increased his yards per reception by 6.5 yards.
Shorter is out of eligibility and will set his sights on the NFL Draft. The beginning of that process for him is in Las Vegas with the Shrine Bowl.
Justin Shorter’s Shrine Bowl Prospects
Justin Shorter is one of the bigger names that has currently accepted their Shrine Bowl invite, although the room is far from full. Currently, Zay Flowers out of Boston College and Jadon Haselwood from Arkansas are the other big names.
Flowers, Haselwood and Shorter are joined at the Shrine Bowl by Jadakis Bonds from Hampton and Dallas Daniels from Jackson State. Clayton Tune from Houston and Aidan O’Connell will play at quarterback in the game.
The East-West Shrine Bowl will take place on February 2, 2023, and is played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. If Shorter is able to impress, he can improve his draft stock dramatically. Shorter has improved as a deep threat, and if he can do that against other NFL prospects it should help his draft stock. Shorter also needs to show his versatility to run a full route tree and to not just be a jump ball receiver. If he can do so, he has a chance to rise up boards.
Florida Gators senior linebacker Ventrell Miller has accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Miller, a sixth year senior, had a resurgent year coming back from injury this past season. Miller still dealt with injuries, including a fractured foot.
The defensive leader for the Gators, Miller was third on the team in total tackles with 74, including 34 solo and 8.5 for loss. For his career, Miller racked up 238 career tackles, 124 of which were solo, over the five seasons he played. The Gators have not had a bowl game announced, and Miller has not said if he will play in it or not, though he will most likely not.
Miller is out of eligibility and will set his sights on the NFL Draft. The beginning of that process starts in Mobile.
Ventrell Miller Needs a Strong Senior Bowl
Miller will look to impress scouts at the week long event that takes place in Mobile, Alabama. Practices begin Tuesday, January 31, 2023. The game takes place on February 4, 2023 at 1:30pm EST.
The linebacker group is an interesting group as currently constructed, with more invites to come. Joining Miller is Auburn linebackers Owen Pappoe and Eku Leota, Texas Longhorn DeMarvion Overshown and Iowa State Cyclone Will McDonald IV. The group also has Dick Butkus Award finalist and Washington State Cougar Daiyan Henley. Smaller school players joining them are Tulane’s Dorian Williams, Jackson State’s Aubrey Miller Jr., and Appalachian State’s Nick Hampton.
Ventrell Miller will need an impressive Senior Bowl to move up in the draft. Miller won’t be an elite tester at the combine. The best way for him to improve his draft stock is to show what he can do on the field at the Senior Bowl, both in the game and in practices. He will be expected to be impressive in meetings during the week as well, which is an important part of the week for participants. Miller must use his football intelligence and experience to stand out. If he can do that, he can rise up draft boards.
Date: September 3, 2022 Time: 7:00pm EST Network: ESPN Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida Spread: Utah -3.0 Over/Under: 51
Florida vs Utah Preview
The #7 Utah Utes travel to the Swamp to face the unranked Florida Gators for each of their opening games of the season. Utah is coming off of a Pac-12 Championship last season, led by a fantastic running game, a tremendous defense, and a quick passing game commanded by quarterback Cam Rising. Utah looks to be an early favorite to repeat as Pac-12 champions, with a few other contenders in Oregon and USC to compete with. The Utes’ toughest non-conference matchup looks to be this opening game. The Florida Gators are coming off a tumultuous season that led to the firing of previous coach Dan Mullen. New head coach Billy Napier looks to lead Florida back to success in his first season. Florida opens the season with a tough stretch with three of the first four games against quality opponents, headlined by Utah.
Points Per Game (Rank): 35.8 (13) Total Yards Per Game: 429.8 (39) Passing YPG: 210.6 (85) Rushing YPG: 219.2 (11) Points Per Play: 0.521 (7) Yards Per Play: 6.2 (20) 3rd Down Conversion %: 49.69 (7) 4th Down Conversion %: 50.00 (66) Red Zone Scoring %: 80.00 (88)
Rush Play %: 57.1 (33) Yards Per Carry: 5.6 (2) Runs Per Game: 39.3 (39)
Pass Play %: 42.91 (98) Completion %: 62.63 (48) Yards Per Pass: 7.4 (71) Passes Per Game: 28.6 (90) Interception %: 1.88 (31) QB Sack %: 3.13 (2)
Points Per Game: 23.0 (32) Total Yards Per Game: 349.1 (23) Passing YPG: 223.0 (57) Rushing YPG: 126.1 (21) Points Per Play: 0.337 (38) Yards Per Play: 5.1 (34) 3rd Down Conversion %: 38.12 (56) 4th Down Conversion %: 53.33 (72) Red Zone Scoring %: 79.55 (42)
Rush Play %: 48.31 (13) Yards Per Carry: 3.8 (37) Runs Per Game: 33.0 (16)
Pass Play %: 51.61 (118) Completion %: 61.28 (71) Yards Per Pass: 6.9 (32) Passes Per Game: 32.4 (80) Interception %: 2.14 (89) QB Sack %: 8.28 (25)
2021 tEAM Advanced sTATS
FEI is a per-possession metric to determine the scoring differential between opponents on a neutral field. SP+ is a tempo (plays per game, etc.) and opponent adjusted metric to judge efficiency. F+ combines these two metrics. Offensive F+ (OF+) and Defensive F+ (DF+) break that down to the side of the ball. All five metrics are courtesy of Football Outsiders. PFF’s Point Spread Rating is their version of power rankings.
The Utah Utes are an extremely talented team that is returning a majority of it’s starters from last season. They have a good team culture with coach Kyle Whittingham in his 18th season, and are built to play a bully-ball style of game. They will pound the rock with a vicious barrage of running backs and have plenty of skilled playmakers at the tight end spot to go big. Defensively, their line will look to eat up space to let their new linebackers make plays. The secondary is very talented on the outside, but is a mixed bag at safety. If one of the new safeties can step up, this could be one of the best secondaries in college football. Quarterback Cam Rising will look to play efficiently and deliver the ball to his playmakers quickly to avoid mistakes.
Points Per Game (Rank): 27.4 (61) Total Yards Per Game: 443.0 (20) Passing YPG: 236.6 (61) Rushing YPG: 206.4 (22) Points Per Play: 0.386 (63) Yards Per Play: 6.2 (21) 3rd Down Conversion %: 38.89 (70) 4th Down Conversion %: 56.00 (50) Red Zone Scoring %: 84.44 (54)
Rush Play %: 53.64 (63) Yards Per Carry: 5.4 (6) Runs Per Game: 38.1 (52)
Pass Play %: 46.36 (68) Completion %: 61.94 (59) Yards Per Pass: 7.5 (68) Passes Per Game: 31.8 (55) Interception %: 4.72 (129) QB Sack %: 3.54 (7)
The Florida Gators are helmed by new head coach Billy Napier. Napier will be tested in his opener at the swamp, but his NFL-style offense can be effective against a superior opponent. The Gators will look to use their strong offensive line and deep running back room to move the ball effectively and make the Utes’ linebackers run and chase. Anthony Richardson is unlike any quarterback Napier has ever had, so expect more creativity with the position than he has previously shown.
On the defensive side of the ball, a lack of depth up front will have to be made up for with the star power of Gervon Dexter and Brenton Cox Jr. The Gators do have experience in the secondary, and that group should be talented. Linebacker remains a question, as those with experience lack athleticism, and those with athleticism lack experience.
Florida Gators Keys to Victory
Effective Anthony Richardson – 300+ Total Yards, 2+ Total TDs
Run the Ball Effectively – 5.0 + YPC, 200 Total Yards
Limit Turnovers – Turnover Margin Within 1
Explosive Plays – year’s3 25+ yard plays
Gets Stops On 3rd Down – Under last years average of 49.67% conversion rate
The Florida Gators head coach position is once again up for grabs. There are a few different types of head coach candidates the Florida Gators could go with. They could go with a power five head coach from a lower-end or mid-level school, a strong group of five head coach, a coordinator from a high-end power five school, a NFL assistant, or a retired head coach.
The rumor mill for this coaching hire has a variety of coaches, some of which should never be considered, while others should only be worst-case scenario hires, and some won’t even be interested.
Power Five Head Coaches
Dave Aranda: Baylor, 2nd Season, 11-9 career, 9-2 season
Dave Aranda has done really well in his second season at Baylor. His first season they won just two games, but this year they have only lost twice, including beating Oklahoma.
Aranda has SEC experience, as he was the defensive coordinator at LSU for four years, including their National Championship season. Baylor’s recruiting class is ranked just five spots lower than Florida according to 247sports and eight spots higher according to Rivals.
Lane Kiffin: Ole Miss, 2nd Season, 10th overall season, 75-41 career, 14-7 @ Ole Miss, 9-2 season, 2 years in NFL, 5-15 record
Lane Kiffin has had a lot of success at four different stops in his career. He has shown the ability to succeed in the SEC, with a 7-6 year at Tennessee and also going 14-7 thus far at Ole Miss, including 9-2 this year. Kiffin currently has the 38th ranked recruiting class according to 247sports, after having the 17th ranked recruiting class the previous year.
Both of these are slightly below Florida’s rankings. While that does invite concern, the better quality of program could allow Kiffin to do better than he is at a mid-tier SEC program currently.
Mark Stoops: Kentucky, 9th Season, 57-53 career, 8-3 season
Under Mark Stoops, this Kentucky program has steadily climbed, and is currently sitting at 8-3 and 2nd place in the SEC East. They currently have 247sports 16th ranked recruiting class. Mark Stoops has been able to recruit at a consistent top 35 ranking for the past few years despite a relative lack of resources as compared to Florida.
Stoops has also proven himself to be a quality defensive mind, and could be the answer to fix that side of the ball that has struggled under Mullen except for 2019. Stoops is not a top choice, but should be on the long list.
Unlikely to Be Interested
Mario Cristobal: Oregon, 4th season, 10th overall season, 61-59 career, 34-12 @ Oregon, 9-2 season
Mario Cristobal would bring a lot of what the Florida program needs: offensive line competence and a great recruiter. Cristobal’s worst recruiting season was his first, where he finished 13th in the country.
For comparison, Mullen’s best seasons recruiting were 2019 and 2020, where he finished 9th both years. If they were able to get him, it would be a very good hire, but it would take a lot to pull him away from a good job with great facilities and a much easier path to the College Football Playoff. However, Cristobal does have a lot of roots in the south, and particularly Florida.
Cristobal played in college at Miami, was a graduate assistant there, and later a tight end and offensive line coach. He spent six seasons as FIU’s head coach, and before he went to be an assistant at Oregon, spent four years as an assistant head coach for Alabama.
Matt Campbell: Iowa State, 5th season, 9th overall season, 76-48 career, 41-33 @ Iowa State, 6-5 season
Iowa State has been a solid program under Campbell. However, he hasn’t had as much success as a lot of the other coaches in terms of recruiting, and that is a must for whoever Florida hires. He turned around a very bad program, but he just is not the best option for Florida.
James Franklin: Penn State, 8th season, 11th overall season, 91-47 career, 67-32 @ Penn State, 7-4 season
James Franklin has had a successful tenure at Penn State after having relative success at Vanderbilt. However, it looks like Franklin has peaked and can’t get over the hump that is Ohio State. He is a good recruiter, but just is not a very good game day manager. It’s hard not to feel that if he were to come to Florida, he wouldn’t face similar issues with Georgia as he does currently with Ohio State.
Jeff Hafley: Boston College, 2nd season, 12-10 career, 6-5 season
Jeff Hafley has had moderate success given his circumstances, and was a quality assistant coach. However, he just does not have the experience or the track record to justify Florida hiring him.
Dave Clawson: Wake Forest, 8th season, 22nd overall season, 139-126 career, 49-47 @ Wake Forest, 9-2 season
Dave Clawson has been .500 or better at all four schools he has coached at. However, he has just barely hit that mark. While his teams have improved year-over-year and eventually hit their peak as a program, he just hasn’t shown the ability to recruit at a higher level. The best path to a high-end job would be to take a minor step up (say a Virginia Tech or Miami) and then prove himself there once again.
Group of Five Head Coaches
Luke Fickell: Cincinnati, 5th season, 6th overall season 52-21 career, 46-14 @ Cincinnati, 11-0 season
Luke Fickell struggled in his one year as interim head coach at Ohio State, but after spending six additional seasons as the defensive coordinator there, he has turned around a Cincinnati program that was struggling to replace Brian Kelly. After going 4-8 his first season, they have won double digit games every year except for the COVID-shortened 2020 season where they only lost one game.
On top of that, they are currently undefeated and look to be in playoff contention. While he doesn’t have experience in this part of the country, he would still be a good hire.
Billy Napier: Louisiana, 4th season, 38-12 career, 10-1 season
Billy Napier looks to be the favorite in the clubhouse as the end of the season nears. Napier has been a very successful coach in his four years at Louisiana. He has had the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt the past three years. Prior to Louisiana, he spent a year as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and before that was Alabama’s wide receivers coach for four years.
Not only has he been a great recruiter, but he has had offensive success at multiple schools. On top of this, he was able to change the way the program was built at Louisiana to help with recruiting due to a larger staff. He would be a great hire if they chose him.
Jamey Chadwell: Coastal Carolina, 4th season (1 interim), 12th overall season, 88-54 career, 28-19 @ Coastal Carolina, 9-2 season
Chadwell has had mixed success over the years at multiple stops. As of late, Coastal Carolina has been successful and Chadwell has recruited well, including being projected to have the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt. However, inconsistencies and a lack of experience at a high level make it a very risky hire for anyone at a large program.
Power Five Assistants
The assistants will probably be discussed and possibly given a look, but it is very unlikely that Florida goes this route unless they miss out on several of their top options.
Mike Elko: 4th season as Texas A&M defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Bill O’Brien: 1st season as Alabama offensive coordinator, two seasons at Penn State, 15-9 career, seven seasons w/ Houston Texans, 52-48 career
Todd Monken: 2nd season as Georgia offensive coordinator, three seasons at Southern Miss, 13-25 career
Pete Golding: 3rd season as Alabama defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Dan Lanning: 3rd season as Georgia defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Holmon Wiggins: 3rd season as Alabama WR coach (1st as assistant head coach), no head coaching experience
Both NFL assistants with a background at Florida, it is unlikely that either of them wish to make a return to the college ranks. If one were to do it, Brian Johnson would be more likely, but probably not at Florida.
Dan Quinn: 1st season as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, six seasons as Atlanta Falcons head coach, 43-42 record
Brian Johnson: 1st season as Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach, no head coaching experience
Bob Stoops: 18 years as head coach at Oklahoma, 190-48 career record
Head Coach Hire Tiers
Tier One: Home Run Hires
Mario Cristobal: Head Coach, Oregon
Billy Napier: Head Coach, Louisiana
Luke Fickell: Head Coach, Cincinnati
Tier Two: Good Hires
Dave Aranda: Head Coach, Baylor
Lane Kiffin: Head Coach, Ole Miss
Tier Three: Decent Hires
Mark Stoops: Head Coach, Kentucky
Bob Stoops: Retired, Former Head Coach, Oklahoma
Tier Four: Shaky Hires
James Franklin: Head Coach, Penn State
Jamey Chadwell: Head Coach, Coastal Carolina
Dave Clawson: Head Coach, Wake Forest
Bill O’Brien: Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
Matt Campbell: Head Coach, Iowa State
Tier Five: Bad Hires
Jeff Hafley: Head Coach, Boston College
Dan Quinn: Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Mike Elko: Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
Todd Monken: Offensive Coordinator, Georgia
Pete Golding: Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Dan Lanning: Defensive Coordinator, Georgia
Brian Johnson: Quarterbacks Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
Last week, Florida lost to Georgia 34-7. The Gators lack of offense was not a major surprise given the Bulldog’s elite defense. Anthony Richardson got the start, but left the game with an injury. He finished the day 12/20 for 82 yards and added 26 yards on the ground. Emory Jones finished the game, and completed 10 of 14 passes for 112 yards and added 22 yards on the ground. The running game was stifled as compared to normal weeks, averaging just 4.1 yards per carry. They still gained 161 yards rushing, but this was due to 39 carries as a team. Dameon Pierce was by far the best running back last week, gaining 69 yards on just 9 carries.
The defense played well all things considered. They gave up 161 yards through the air on 19 attempts and had two interceptions, both by Rashad Torrence II. They gave up 193 yards on the ground, which is another poor performance against the run, after a similar result against LSU. Trey Dean III led the team in both tackles and tackles for loss, with 8 tackles and the only tackle for loss, which was a sack.
What to Watch
Florida’s Front 7 Against the Run
Florida has struggled as of late stopping the run. The Gators linebacker core has been without Ventrell Miller for the entire season, but that has been the only major injury in the front seven. The defensive line is full of solid players that at times have each shined, yet recently this group has struggled to stop the run. South Carolina on the other hand, has struggled to run the ball, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. This is a classic case of a stoppable force meeting a movable object.
The Gators have yet to really have any singular receiver pop to fill the voids of Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts. The leading receiver is Jacob Copeland, who has 25 catches for 450 yards. The yardage by him is solid, but nothing exceptional. Justin Shorter is second with 23 catches for 279 yards. No one else has over 200 yards.
Keys to Success
Quarterback play has been a big concern as of late. Anthony Richardson struggled in his limited action against Georgia. Emory Jones had been struggling in his last couple starts, and was mediocre against Georgia. Jones may start against the Gamecocks with Anthony Richardson recovering from a concussion. Jones on the year is 129/190 for 1417 yards and 10 touchdowns with 9 interceptions, and has added 517 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. South Carolina is not a good defense, so Jones has to have a great performance to prove he deserves to play the rest of the year. The Gators need to find consistent play out of one of them, and this may be Emory Jones’s last chance.
On the season, Florida is -7 in terms of turnover margin. This is 123rd in the country. They have forced 9 turnovers, 3 fumbles and 6 interceptions. They have turned the ball over 16 times. The Gators have only fumbled twice but have 14 interceptions. It is very difficult to win games when you are turning the ball over almost twice as much as opponents are. The interceptions have also often resulted in opponents’ touchdowns and have frequently occurred in clutch situations. The Gators desperately need to cut down on turnovers.
Last week against Georgia, the Gators had just one sack and it was by a safety. The defensive front was unable to affect the game at all in any aspect. Florida should go out to an early lead, and to keep that lead an effective pass rush is a necessity. Brenton Cox Jr was extremely ineffective last week and has yet to have a big game this season. Zach Carter has been up and down, and those downs have occurred in the last few games. On the interior, Gervon Dexter has been solid but has not added a ton as a pass rusher. Daquan Newkirk and the rest of the defensive tackle group aren’t freak athletes or skilled pass rushers, so the burden falls on Dexter and the defensive ends.
Florida vs South Carolina Score Prediction
Gators 42 – Commodores 21
PrizePicks operates in EVERY US state and Canada EXCEPT for the following: AZ CO DE HI ID IN IA LA MD ME MS MO MT NV NH NJ OH PA TN VA WA.
Use promo code “ATB” to receive a 100% instant deposit match up to $100
PrizePicks is the simplest fantasy game on the market.
You pick 2-5 players and can win up 10x on any entry.
PrizePicks has no sharks, optimizers, or mass-multi entry (It’s just you vs. the projection).
Allows mixed-sport entries (You can take the OVER on Lebron parlayed with the UNDER on Mahomes).
PrizePicks has a slick easy to use mobile app, both on the App Store and Google Play