Florida Team News

Easy road schedule should benefit Jim McElwain, Florida’s offense in 2017

Jim McElwain vs. Vandy 2015
KIM KLEMENT/USA TODAY SPORTS

Florida finally will have an offense again next season.

No more living in triple digits – you know, having an offense nationally ranked 116th in total yards and 107th in scoring.

The reason is simple. It has nothing to do with promising redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks or even coach Jim McElwain. The Gators will score because they won’t have 90,000 lunatics (or more) screaming at them.

Florida’s road schedule couldn’t be friendlier, thanks to LSU’s insensitive response to Hurricane Matthew in October.

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva’s astonishing lack of cooperation will serve the 2017 Gators well. Now, UF doesn’t have to play in front of the usually stout Tigers defense and the always-stout LSU faithful.

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The road schedule is a cakewalk: Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina. That’s it; those are Florida’s road games next season.

There are two neutral-site games – Michigan in Arlington, Texas, and Georgia in Jacksonville – and seven home games. In league play, Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU and Vanderbilt visit Gainesville.

Of the road games, South Carolina might be the roughest environment; the Gamecocks ranked eighth in the conference in attendance at 77,000. Kentucky averaged 53,600 fans per game this season, while Missouri was at 52,200.

Tennessee, Texas A&M and LSU averaged more than 100,000 fans.

The schedule makes Florida a great buy-low team heading into the fall. The Gators also get Florida State in the Swamp.

Frankly, the most difficult environment could be the neutral-site opener against Michigan. The game, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, could tilt toward a Wolverines crowd edge based on UF’s uninspiring bowl-attendance reputation. Then again, the Gators’ fan contingent could be excellent, considering this is the first time UF has played a blockbuster opener in decades.

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Trask or Franks will go a full season without stepping foot in a snake-pit road venue. The words “silent count” aren’t likely to be uttered by a Gator in 2017. What an amazing luxury for McElwain.

If McElwain can’t get the offense revved up with this slate, it’s fair to question if he ever can. He might be having trouble landing five-star recruits on offense, but he has a five-star schedule in 2017.

(You can follow Hays Carlyon on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)

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