Dooley’s Dozen: How Florida football can win each game in 2023

There certainly has been a heaping dung pile of negativity piled up on the Gator Nation this offseason as Florida fans try to negotiate Rashada Fatigue.

It hasn’t slowed down Billy Napier, but the momentum that was built during his first offseason has been slowed down to a crawl. It doesn’t mean he’s perplexed or befuddled. He will figure things out.

At least, those Gator fans who trust their coach feel that way.

That number may have taken some hits in this new year, and the Doom and Gloom Club is sitting in the front row of the debate.

But I am here to give you a reason to cheer up. Hey, it’s gymnastics season. And small ball sports are right around the corner. And, well, we always have track and field.

But you want football, which means you want to know why you should be fired up for September. Or August if they move the Utah game to a Thursday.

Dooley’s Dozen is here to tell you how Florida can win all 12 games on the schedule next year. There may be some reaches, but here we go.

At Utah – A rusty Rising

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes go as quarterback Cam Rising goes and he is back for a sixth season. He suffered a leg injury in the Rose Bowl and is expected to be ready for the opener, but he is going to have to deal with a lot of rehab. It’s unlikely he’ll be the same guy you saw in the Swamp last year and we know the defense is solvable.

McNeese St. – It’s McNeese State

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Come on. It’s the home opener, McNeese won four games last year and the best win was over Lamar. Gary Goff is only in his second season and his team did win its last three games of 2022, but come on. This isn’t who you are recruiting against.

Tennessee – This one is on the Swamp

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols think this is a rivalry again now that they snapped the Gators’ winning streak. But if Tennessee thinks it can play defense like it did a year ago allowing almost 400 yards a game and be elite, they have another thing coming. This crowd will be electric and nasty and hopefully affect the game in a positive way for UF.

Charlotte – The Mike Hill game

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Hill was at Florida for a hundred years before getting the athletic director’s job at Charlotte. That’s why the game was scheduled. The 49ers won three games last year. That’s why they have a new coach. His name is Biff Poggi, whose parents were either fans of Back to the Future or Death of a Salesman. Anyway, this shouldn’t be a problem.

At Kentucky – Just don’t give it away

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That is precisely what Florida has done the last two years which is why Kentucky has a two-game winning streak over Florida. Two years ago, it was 15 penalties in a one-score loss. Last year, it was two brutal interceptions and Florida lost despite holding Kentucky to 1.8 yards a rush on 38 attempts.

Vanderbilt – Jump on the ‘Dores early

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I know that this could end up being another noon game without a lot of enthusiasm. Napier has to find a way to solve that problem. But in the end, Florida has better players. Vandy has a little momentum going from last year’s back end of the season, but at home should not be the problem the Commodores were a season ago.

At South Carolina – Replicate last season

Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun

This was the point that we thought Florida was getting there a year ago. It turned out it was South Carolina that went on to finish strong. It’s a tough road environment, but you saw what the Gators did to Spencer Rattler a year ago. If they have that same fire, Florida will do what Florida teams are supposed to do – go to Columbia and win.

Georgia – Find the magic

Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

Look, Stetson Bennett can’t hurt you anymore. I know that Georgia is going to be great again next year going for a three-peat. But you saw the game in 2020. If you have a great plan, every defense is vulnerable. I’d also have [autotag]Steve Spurrier[/autotag] (11-1 vs. Georgia) and [autotag]Urban Meyer[/autotag] (5-1) address the team that week about how to treat a rivalry game. Oh, and the Gators will need some breaks, but isn’t Georgia due to have things not go their way?

Arkansas – Contain KJ

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

KJ Jefferson is going to be scary this season, but the quarterback also is dealing with a new offensive coordinator in Dan Enos, so we’ll see how that goes. This will be a tough one, but it is at home and by now Florida’s defense should be feeling a little saltier than it has for awhile. It had better.

At LSU – Take the crowd out of it

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU has been referred to as the second-best team in the SEC next year by some pundits, but don’t worry about talking season. We have seen Florida teams go in there before and shut people up (a lot depends on the time of the game). Let us also not forget the Tigers play Alabama on the road the week before. Just sayin’.

At Missouri – Take care of business

Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

We have no idea of it will be cold (likely) or snowing (maybe) or an 11 a.m. CST game (also likely), but it doesn’t mean you have a built-in excuse. Florida is better than Missouri. Just go win the game and warm up on the flight home.

Florida State – Play defense

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

By this point in the season, we will know if Florida has recovered from the worst season defensively in UF history. That’s how you beat an FSU team that people are penciling into their Final Fours. Limit the explosive plays, knock somebody in the mouth and ride the wave of your fans. If this team had ANY defense last year it would have rolled FSU.

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