The state’s biggest on-field question of the offseason centers on Florida: Can Dan Mullen’s Gators finally top Georgia to win the SEC East and challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff?
ESPN and SEC Network host Laura Rutledge isn’t going that far yet.
“I’m not quite ready to do it,” Rutledge told the Tampa Bay Times’ Mari Faiello during a conversation Wednesday. “But this is the closest that they’ve been.”
Rutledge said the gap is closing in part because of the quarterback position. UF returns Kyle Trask, whose 25 touchdown passes and 66.9 completion percentage are the best among any returning starter in the conference.
Rutledge said Trask “could be the Player of the Year at the SEC.”
“The potential is so great with him,” she said.
Georgia’s expected starter, Jamie Newman, also has a lot of potential. But the Bulldogs lack continuity after Newman arrived as a grad transfer from Wake Forest and former Bucs assistant Todd Monken took over as offensive coordinator.
So why does Rutledge give the edge to the Bulldogs?
“I think just overall Georgia is slightly more talented,” Rutledge said. “And I think they’ll end up winning that game, although I think it’s going to be really, really close, and then that will be the battle, in my opinion, for the SEC.
“As for what Florida needs to do, it’s just more of the same, because they’re right there, and they’re nipping on Georgia’s heels, and they’re going to end up getting there. And I hope that it’s this year for everybody’s sake…
“But if it’s not this year, it’ll be really, really soon.”