Will the Gators eat the SEC alive? 2013 Florida Gators Preview
Like a lot of seasons the Florida Gators are where they are used to be: ranked, one of three favorites for the SEC East and therefore a place in the SEC Championship, off a Top-5 recruiting class (meaning there’s MORE great talent coming through).
But unlike other seasons (particularly under a certain Mr Meyer and Mr Spurrier), there are still some massive questions around the team’s offense.
So here we go…
LAST SEASON: With a new coach at the helm in Will Muschamp, the Gators finished 11-2 (7-1 in the SEC). This is including a victory at Texas A&M (now quite the achievement – imagine what would have happened if this game was in November, folks), and wins against LSU, South Carolina. The losses? The Cocktail Party loss against Georgia which was all about a superhuman play by Dawgs’ DE Jarvis Jones, and a 33-23 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, which fans of orange and blue was because they weren’t invited to the National Championship Party.
Stats-wise, the Gators finished 5th in points against, although they finished 79th in points scored, and 118th in passing yards. In other words, the offense was awful, while the defense was fantastic. Will the same be the case in Florida this year? Fans of the legendary ‘Fun and Gun’ offenses of yesteryear will hope not.
WHO LEFT: A ton of talent is leaving Gainseville this year. Out are a lot of the defensive stalwarts including free safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans, LBs Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. On the offensive side, the team loses TE Jordan Reed and running back Mike Gillislee. All of the players – plus kicker Caleb Sturgis – were drafted in the first six rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. That’s talent.
WHO’S COMING BACK: QB Jeff Driskel (1,646 yards, 12 TDs and 408 rushing yards, 4 TDs), plus RB Trey Burton, WR/CB Loucheiz Purifoy, CB Marcus Roberson, WR Quinton Dunbar, DL Dominique Easley, and LB Antonio Harrison.
THE QUESTIONS WE’RE ASKING ON OFFENSE
Firstly, are the Florida Gators going to be as awful offensively as they were last season? At times, it wasn’t just terrible, it was embarrassingly terrible. If you look at the SEC numbers, Florida were 10th in points per game, 10th in total points, as well as 4th in rushing, 13th in passing and receiving. Well, can they continue being powerful with a game so focused on the running game – especially as Mike Gillisllee ( 1,152 yards, 10 TDs) is leaving. Trey Burton, Matt Jones and freshman Kelvin Taylor should pick up some of the slack – but will they be more reliant on Jeff Driskel than ever before?
Also, what are the Gators going to do without kick-off returner/WR Andre DeBose being counted out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament? This leaves them some more questions. Will Mr Purifoy be able to return a punt too.
Speaking of Loucheiz Purifoy – it’s quite obvious that the kid’s the real deal as a defender, but will be able to explode as a wide receiver?
THE QUESTIONS WE’RE ASKING ON DEFENSE
Florida’s defense lost a lot of talent this year. Sorry, but any defense that loses Matt Elam, Josh Evans, Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, and Sharrif Floyd is going to hurt – at least at the start of the year. Don’t get me wrong – the Gators ARE going to be excellent defensively this, but don’t expect them to look as airtight and playmaking in SEC play as they did last year, where they simply SWAMPED offenses. How are they going to cope with these loses?
Secondary-wise Phil Steele is keen to point out that Florida returns five out of its eight players at defensive back, so the secondary could well be one of the best in the country. Well, we don’t believe him. Elam and Evans are going to be HUGE losses – and it doesn’t matter if Purifoy’s the second coming of Jesus.
Bostic and Jenkins are horrible losses for the Gators at linebackers, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Gators recover, if Antonio Morrison returns and behaves himself.
August 31 – TOLEDO
September 7 – at Miami
September 21 – TENNESSEE
September 28 – at Kentucky
October 5 – ARKANSAS
October 12 – at LSU
October 19 – at Missouri
October 26 – Open Date
November 2 – Georgia (Jacksonville)
November 9 – VANDERBILT
November 16 – at South Carolina
November 23 – GEORGIA SOUTHERN
November 30 – FLORIDA STATE
December 7 2013 SEC Championship Game
The Gators should beat Toledo and go to Miami and win before their first SEC game at home to long-hated rival Tennessee and then they travel to Kentucky and get Arkansas, they should win all three of those games, bearing in mind the rebuilding both schools are doing. But then comes to October 12th showdown at LSU, which they could quite easily struggle in before coming back to win at Missouri. The Gators will then play the Cocktail Party against Georgia and a tough-as-nails road game against South Carolina, before a fundraiser for Georgia Southern and the end of the season in the usual war against Florida State.
BOTTOM LINE: This Florida Gators side could easily go 9-3, losing at LSU, to Georgia and at South Carolina. And no-one would begrudge them, either. They could also run the table, get into the SEC Championship Game, and be a dark horse for a National Championship. We’re going to say that the Gators go 9-3. Sorry Will Muschamp….I love your defense but there are too many offensive question marks.
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