Kylan Johnson couldn’t help but flash a smile from ear to ear Saturday afternoon as he sat down to speak with reporters.
Florida had just defeated Vanderbilt 38-24 at home, improving its record to 3-0 in SEC play.
Johnson, a redshirt sophomore linebacker, beamed even more as he began to answer questions, his excitement clearly plastered across his face while discussing UF’s strong start to the conference season.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling compared to the teams that have lost.”
I’m sure it is, Kylan. I’m sure it is.
I’m sure it feels great to be one of the few teams left in the SEC with a big, whopping zero in the loss column of the league standings. Congratulations.
But, unfortunately for you and the rest of your teammates, coaches and all of Gator Nation, I’m going to have to rain on your parade for the next couple of minutes.
Florida has proven absolutely nothing through the first five weeks of the college football season. Absolutely nothing.
It hasn’t proven it can legitimately compete for the SEC East. It hasn’t proven it can win an SEC Championship. It hasn’t proven it’s even worth consideration for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Yes, wins are impressive, but they can also be very, very deceiving if you don’t take the time to analyze who you beat.
This is one of those instances.
Florida’s three victories in 2017 have come against the three worst offenses in the SEC: Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
For the Volunteers, they are as putrid as they’ve ever looked under disgraced coach Butch Jones, falling to the Georgia Bulldogs this week in an embarrassing 41-0 loss.
When UF faced them on Sept. 16, the Gators needed a last-second prayer from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland just to keep the game from going to overtime.
Similar issues exist with the Wildcats and Commodores. Neither team puts up eye-popping numbers, averaging 322.2 and 285.2 yards per game, respectively, good for the two lowest marks in the conference.
And yet, the Gators barely squeaked by UK with a one-point victory and needed a breakaway touchdown from Malik Davis in the final minutes of this weekend’s contest to get past Vandy, a team that only one week prior lost to Alabama 59-0.
If the opponents Florida is beating by one possession are the same opponents the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are annihilating into oblivion, what does that say about UF?
A lot, and the things it’s saying aren’t very positive.
The Gators have a long way to go if they want to reach the same level of success they did in 2015 and 2016. But with how they’ve performed so far against the bottom feeders of the SEC, it’s hard to picture much more than mediocre results at the season’s end.
Dylan Dixon is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.
Florida linebacker Kylan Johnson celebrates during UF's 16-10 win over LSU on Nov. 19, 2016.