Here’s where Florida football ranks in The Athletic’s preseason rankings

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It’s the first Saturday of college football, though the Gators won’t open their season against Florida Atlantic until seven days from now. The UF squad that takes the field in that game could look a lot different than it did in 2020 with new starters on both offense and defense.

On the offensive side, Florida has to replace a record-setting quarterback in Kyle Trask as well as his three favorite targets, including fourth overall pick Kyle Pitts. New quarterback Emory Jones is much more mobile than Trask was, which could open up more looks, but Jones has never started a game and we still don’t know exactly how the team will look with him entrenched full-time.

On the other side of the ball, the Gators have more returning talent, but it’s a defensive unit that was the team’s clear weakness in 2020.

The Athletic expects UF to take a bit of a step back in 2021. In its rankings of all 130 FBS teams, the Gators came in at No. 16. That makes them the fourth-highest ranked team in the SEC behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia and No. 7 Texas A&M.

Among the teams ahead of Florida are squads with question marks like in-state rival Miami, Oregon and Iowa. Preseason darlings like North Carolina, Indiana and Iowa State also rank above UF.

It’s clear that the Gators will enter the season with their fair share of doubters, and with a mass exodus of talent, coach Dan Mullen has a lot to prove in what could end up being a bit of a rebuilding year.

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