Former Florida Football Players Preseason Roundtable

Sep 2, 2021 | 0 comments

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Finally, after months of talk and speculation about what the 2021 Gator football team will look like this season, it's time for the team to put on the pads and hit the field.

We thought we'd take one last stab at some of the top questions facing Florida before they begin the season this Saturday with another edition of The Round Table.

Former Florida football players safety Kyle Jackson, defensive tackle Terron Sanders, offensive lineman Shannon Snell, and tight end Ben Troupe take a look at some of the issues surrounding the team as they answer four burning questions heading into the 2021 season and offer their predictions for the final regular-season record.


1) In your opinion, heading into the season, which area of the team do you feel best about and which concerns you the most?

Jackson: I feel best about our defense and specifically the linebacking group. They're very experienced and very mature. My concern is always the offensive line.

Sanders: I’d have to say I feel the best about the defensive side of the ball, particularly our linebacking group being led by Ventrell Miller. My concerns lie mostly with our quarterback and receiving corps.

Snell: I feel great about the defensive line. There's lots of depth and tons of talent. I’m concerned about the quarterbacks. Replacing Kyle Trask is gonna be a work in progress.

Troupe: I feel the best about the comfort level between Emory Jones and the skill position guys. My concern is the ability and commitment to running the football effectively.

2) What is the biggest obstacle to Florida once again representing the East in the SEC Championship game?

Jackson: Making sure we come together as a team and that we keep our eyes on one goal, and that is to get to and win a National Championship. One Heartbeat, one mindset, and one team! Everything else will take care of itself.

Sanders: Georgia once again. They are returning some key guys and are not going to forget the drubbing we gave them last season.

Snell: Beating Georgia, and consistency. Being able to put the best product on the field every Saturday.

Troupe: The biggest obstacle for Florida is not playing down to lesser competition and playing up to equal or better competition. Gotta be able to adjust and adjust often.

3) Who are the two or three most important players on the team?

Jackson: The most important players are linebacker Ventrell Miller on defense. Quarterback Emory Jones and receiver Jacob Copeland on offense. They have to produce.

Sanders: On offense, left tackle Richard Goruaige and receiver Jacob Copeland. On defense, Buck Brenton Cox and cornerback Kaiir Elam. They are the guys who need to step up and lead their units on the team.

Snell: Quarterback Emory Jones, defensive end Zach Carter, and cornerback Kaiir Elam. The top guys have to play like the top guys.

Troupe: Quarterback Emory Jones, receiver Jacob Copeland, and safety Trey Dean.

4) There's been a lot of speculation, but what do you expect the offense to look like now that Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, and Kadarius Toney have left for the NFL?

Jackson: The offense is going to look the same. It’s the same offense coach Mullen has been running for years. The only difference now are the names of who is throwing and who is catching. It will be exciting to see who steps up and fills those shoes. Who will make a name for themselves this year?

Sanders: I think we are gonna have some surprise players at the tight end and receiving spots. We MAY start out a little slow while they try to find their rhythm but I think once they do we will be more two-dimensional since we have some quarterbacks that pose more of a dual-threat in Jones and Antony Richardson.

Snell: I think we’ll see more scripted quarterback runs, zone reads, and play-action passes. This will be the offense that resembles the Cam Newton/Auburn offense back in 2011.

Troupe: I don't expect it to be a dropoff, just adding the steadiness of the run game and utilizing the running backs in the passing game. I think the wide receivers will be like Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, and Freddie Swain a couple of years ago.


Who is your surprise player on offense and defense?

Jackson: My surprise player offense is Anthony Richardson and defense is Gervon Dexter.

Sanders: On offense, Dameon Pierce and Tre’vez Johnson on defense will be the surprise ballers this year.

Snell: It’s Nayquan Wright and Derek Wingo.

Troupe: The surprise on offense is Keon Zipperer. I think he's ready. On defense, it’s Antonio Valentino.

Which player is unlikely to live up to the expectations of the fans?

Sanders: I’m going with Kaiir Elam because I feel as though he has a lot of expectations looming over him this season and although I think he will have a great season if he gets beat a handful of times our fans aren’t going to let him live that down. It only takes one or two plays to get our fans rowdy one way or another. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Snell: The player that won’t live up to expectations: Emory Jones because too many people expect him to be what Kyle Trask was last year, and that probably won’t happen.

Troupe: Probably Jacob Copeland because the expectation is sometimes not based in reality so J Cope might not live up to it.

Considering his level of play and who else is on the roster, which player is all but irreplaceable?

Jackson: Kaiir Elam is definitely irreplaceable.

Sanders: Linebacker Ventrell Miller because he is/needs to be the heartbeat of our defense. He’s gotta be our captain and the one who puts the defense on his back when they need it the most.

Snell: Cornerback Kaiir Elam. There isn’t another corner on our roster that has his size, skill, and experience.

Troupe: Cornerback Kaiir Elam is all but irreplaceable with what he does for the entire defense, not just the secondary.

Name one freshman to watch out for this season

Sanders: Watch out for Jason Marshall.

Troupe: Tight end Nick Elksnis if he can carve out some playing time for himself, he could be one to watch.

Finally, what is Florida's final regular-season record and why?

Jackson: 11-1 regular season because it’s hard to go undefeated in the SEC.

Sanders: As much as I would love to say 12-0 I think realistically we go 10-2 dropping games to Alabama and LSU, but please prove me wrong boys.

Snell: Worst case 8-4, best case 11-1, most likely 9-3. There’s a ton of new bodies, and still a lot of question marks at various positions. I think Florida will struggle against Alabama, Georgia and maybe lose a game against someone they should beat. I certainly hope I’m wrong about that.

Troupe: 10-2 with losses to Alabama and LSU. I think that we play the Tide hard they are just too much right now and that Bama defense is lights out for the Crimson Tide. LSU on the road proves to be too much and we get it done against UGA in Jax for the second straight year and depending on what happens with UGA might have a fighter's chance to make it back to ATL.

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