The Florida Gators are looking for a third consecutive SEC East championship under third-year coach Jim McElwain heading into the 2017 season.
The Gators reached the SEC championship last season despite losing to preseason favorite Tennessee, and Florida will most-likely be picked behind Georgia in preseason polls this year. That's OK. McElwain reeled in another excellent recruiting class, and the Gators have a close-to-home schedule through November.
They won't have to wait long to prove it. Florida opens the season against Michigan in the Advocare Classic at Jerry World.
The Gators are ranked No. 14 in Sporting News' Way-Too-Early Top 25, and here's a preview of Florida's 2017 schedule, roster and biggest questions entering the season.
When is Florida's spring game?
Florida's Orange and Blue Debut is 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, April 7, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
Where will Florida's spring game be televised?
Florida's spring game will be televised on the SEC Network
2017 Florida football schedule
Sept. 2: vs. Michigan (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 9: vs. Northern Colorado
Sept. 16: vs. Tennessee
Sept. 23: at Kentucky
Sept. 30: vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 7: vs. LSU
Oct. 14: vs. Texas A&M
Oct. 21: BYE
Oct. 28: vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 4: at Missouri
Nov. 11: at South Carolina
No. 18: vs. UAB
Nov. 25: vs. Florida State
Dec. 2: SEC championship game
2017 Florida recruiting class
The Gators had a recruiting class with a composite ranking of No. 9 across four major recruiting sites. Four-star guard Tedarrell Slaton was the top player in a solid class for McElwain.
2017 Florida roster
Florida's roster will be updated in the spring and fall here.
Three things to watch
1.Can Franks take the starting job?
Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio were the quarterbacks last season. Appleby is gone, and Del Rio is recovering from a shoulder injury, so highly-touted redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks will have his chance to make an impression in the spring. Kyle Trask and possibly Kadarius Toney also could get reps. Appleby and Del Rio combined for 18 TDs and 15 interceptions in 2016. The Gators need more efficient play at the position in 2017. The good news is leading rusher Jordan Scarlett (889 yards, 6 TDs) and leading receiver Antonio Callaway (753 yards, 4 TDs) are back.
2. What wrinkles will Shannon put in?
Geoff Collins took the job at Temple, so former Miami coach Randy Shannon, who spent the last two seasons as the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator, takes over full time. Shannon was the defensive coordinator at Miami from 2001-05, and he knows what an elite defense is supposed to look like. The front seven had some key losses, but Jabari Zuniga and CeCe Jefferson return up front and that should help a young group of linebackers develop.
3. Can the secondary be dominant?
This unit has been a strength for the Gators, but Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye are gone. The Gators also have a new defensive backs coach in Corey Bell, who comes over from Florida Atlantic. Florida allowed just 148.5 passing yards per game, and Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs was the only quarterback to have a 300-yard passing game. Duke Dawson, Marco Wilson, Chauncey Gardner Jr. and Joseph Putu are among those to watch at cornerback.