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Former Florida Football Player 2020 Pre-Season Survey III

September 24, 2020
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With Florida's 2020 season opener against Ole Miss a little over a day away, Inside the Gators has turned to former Gators football players to get their take on the upcoming season. We asked numerous former players for their take on the following 10 questions - plus a bonus.

We will publish the results as they are returned.

Here in part three, we have responses from former players, receiver Jacquez Green, linebacker Darrin Kitchens, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, and defensive end Earl Okine.

1) In your opinion, what do you think about holding a college football season during the pandemic? 

  • Green: If it is professional football, then it’s another story, but I don’t believe in putting student-athletes at risk to play a sport. Therefore, it seems as if they are essential workers and should be compensated for driving the economy.
  • Jacobs: Holding the season in the midst of a pandemic may have some ups and downs, but I think we are all ready to try and move forward with the new normal.
  • Kitchens: I think the safety of the players, staff, and fans should be the first priority. I would not mind if the season was canceled for safety concerns. However, if football games, practices, meetings, etc can be held while keeping the participants safe then I'm fine with it.
  • Okine: It’s dangerous, but very necessary for the mental well being of fans and Americans.

2) What is your take on social issues entering the world of college athletics?

  • Green: It’s a good thing for people to understand each other. It has been the ‘elephant in the room’ for years. Kids in the black community feel that coaches only care about them because of their athletic ability. I think the players should handle the situation however they like, what works for one person may not work for the next, such as kneeling, marching, or whatever it may be.
  • Jacobs: I believe when you have so many issues and examples of issues being displayed, some light must be shed on that. I think the magnitude of college football is one of the platforms that may be able to bring changes quicker than most imagine. This is a tough task on young men at that age and I think they are handling It really well given the circumstances.
  • Kitchens: Social issues entering the world of college athletics is a good thing. Athletes are not one-dimensional people who do not exist outside of their respective sports. Athletes have to deal with social issues on top of a full class and workload, which leaves very little time to handle the mental and emotional trauma that comes with social issues; all while being expected to perform as if they are not affected. It appears that UF players have been handling it appropriately.
  • Okine: I think players should do what is best for them. If their message is very
    Important to them, then they should explore it. 

3) In your opinion, what is Florida's best position group this season? 

  • Green: It’s probably safety, They appear to be the deepest with a lot of players returning who have had a lot of playing time.
  • Jacobs: That’s a tough question! I want to say the quarterback position, simply because we are experienced and I’m personally excited to watch the progress of Kyle Trask and Emory Jones.
  • Kitchens: I'm not sure if they are the best, but I'm most excited to see the quarterbacks play. I think we have a group of good prospects.
  • Okine: Quarterback.

4) What position group are you worried most about? 

  • Green: The offensive line. That’s been the difference between us and the teams like Alabama and Clemson. We have to be able to control the frontline in top tier SEC games.
  • Jacobs: Saying I am worried about any of them would be a bad term because I think we have a solid team across the board.
  • Kitchens: I am not worried about any particular position group, but I am looking forward to seeing how the running backs perform this season.
  • Okine: None of them!

5) Is there a player - at any position - that you are most looking forward to watching this season?

  • Green: It’s probably Jacob Copeland and Justin Shorter. I want to see if they take the next step and have the production to match their hype.
  • Jacobs: Two of my favorites are Kyle Pitts and Malik Davis.
  • Kitchens: Defensive end Brenton Cox. In my opinion Brenton, like some others, has a world of potential. I also rushed off the edge in a three-point stance in high school and it gives me a nostalgic excitement to see him.
  • Okine: The quarterbacks. Kyle Trask.

6) What are your thoughts on your former position group as we head into the season?

  • Green: I think we have some depth at the receiver position, but I wish we had different body types. We need to mix in a few more quick and elusive guys who can play in space.
  • Jacobs: I think the defensive line is solid and has been for years. We have some youth and big shoes to fill, but it just seems like we always step up!
  • Kitchens: I'm looking forward to seeing the chemistry of the linebacker group without David Reese.
  • Okine: The defensive ends are athletic and now with the departure of the two starting ends from last year they’re young. They’ll be active in my opinion.

7) On a 1-to-10 scale, what is your confidence level in Kyle Trask as the starting quarterback?

  • Green: Probably an 8, I think he is more consistent than given credit for. With all the expectations this coming season, can he handle it, especially if the offensive line doesn’t perform better and we can’t run the ball.
  • Jacobs: I would give Trask an 8 on a scale from 1-10.
  • Kitchens: 7.5. I think Trask did a good job taking over the starting quarterback job after the unfortunate injury to Feleipe Franks. In my experience as a viewer, quarterbacks tend to perform better when they have to step up to the starting role after an injury than when they start off as the number one guy the following season.
  • Okine: 10. He is special.

8) At the end of the season, which player will the fan base be talking about the most? 

  • Green: The kid at cornernerback, Kaiir Elam. I think he has the athletic ability and size to be a big-time corner.
  • Jacobs: Quarterback Kyle Trask.
  • Kitchens: The starting quarterback and his production, good or bad.
  • Okine: Both Kyle Trask and Kadarius Toney.

9) Taking everything into consideration, record, program building, recruiting, etc... what grade would you give Dan Mullen heading into the season? 

  • Green: I would give him a B. The only reason he doesn’t receive an A is that we haven’t pulled off a big win over a top tier team yet. We have improved each year and we were very productive last year despite not being able to run the ball. We have also been competitive in big games.
  • Jacobs: Well I’d say a B, I think we could improve in the recruiting game.
  • Kitchens: B+ I think coach Mullen does a good job. I haven't been around the program during this pandemic, but from what I’ve seen the only thing left to do is win a championship as UF's head coach. Afterwards, he'll be rated A by my standards.
  • Okine: A+ without a doubt.

10) Is this the year that Florida finally beats Georgia?

  • Green: Yes. I feel we have been gaining on them the last few times we’ve played them. I think they have quarterback issues, to go with Covid-19 interrupting the ability of their new offensive coordinator to implement his new system.
  • Jacobs: Yes I think we beat Georgia this year! I think we have a more confident team that knows we are ready to take a step, Georgia is one of those steps in the way.
  • Kitchens: Of course we will beat Georgia. I expect us to beat Georgia every year.
  • Okine: Yes, because Trask is the most consistently dominant quarterback we’ve had in a while.

Bonus) What is your record prediction for the 10 game regular season?

  • Green: 8-2 or 9-1 It’s just hard to go undefeated in this conference. Also, it’s hard to get kids to focus week in and week out.
  • Jacobs: I think we win 9 or 10 games. We have the roster to compete with anyone in the conference, and our quarterback situation is better than it has been in a while.
  • Kitchens: 8-2. We have a bad habit of sometimes playing down to the level of opponents that we should beat decisively. I predict we will beat our toughest opponents and maybe give up a win to an underdog.
  • Okine: 9-1. After the loss, it will make them push through to win out.

Former Florida Football Player 2020 Pre-Season Survey III

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