A week before spring practice opens in Gainesville, Florida, Kyle Trask made it clear what the Gators are shooting for this season.
Florida's soon-to-be redshirt senior quarterback, who didn't begin last season as the starter, greeted the media Monday at a pre-spring press conference with lofty expectations for a team that checks in at No. 7 in ESPN's latest Way-Too-Early Top 25.
"The College Football Playoff: I think we have a great shot cause our guys know how the coaches operate, we know what the coaches want to see and I think everyone really has that perfect bond with each other right now," Trask said. "We're working really hard. I'm excited to see where this season takes us."
Florida finished 11-2 last season, 6-2 in the SEC, where its only losses were to the league finalists, LSU and Georgia. The Gators return six starters on offense, five on defense and one on special teams. The Gators closed last season ranked No. 6 in the final Associated Press poll.
Though coach Dan Mullen made it clear that no starter's job has been decided, it would seem Trask is in a good spot to lead an improved offense. He'll have reliable targets downfield in tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Trevon Grimes. And the Gators have high hopes for Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard, a former five-star prospect, at running back.
Mullen, a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida, was 21-5 in his first two seasons as head coach in Gainesville, with bowl wins over Michigan and Virginia.
"I think Year 1, once we started to have success, I think guys started to raise their level of expectation. Last year, we had really high expectations within the team," Mullen said. "I think when you add the external part, I think that's catching up to where we were internally."
Redshirt sophomore Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson, an incoming freshman, are behind Trask on the quarterback depth chart. Last season, Trask threw for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns to go with seven interceptions.
"I know he's got a couple other guys in the room that expect to start next year so, he better push himself," Mullen said, "and continue to work every day and compete at the highest of levels so that he can remain in that position."
Trask and the Gators should have a comfortable launch to the season. Their first three games -- vs. Eastern Washington, Kentucky and South Alabama -- will be in Gainesville before their likely first true test, at Tennessee Sept. 26. Those teams the Gators lost to last season? They meet the defending national champion Tigers on Oct. 10 and the Bulldogs on Oct. 31.
"Ever since coach Mullen's gotten here, we've been to two New Year's Six bowls," Trask said. "So we definitely feel pretty strongly that we have a good shot at it this year."