Yeah, but does the freakin' thing actually work?
There's no more honeymoon. No more time to get everything in
place. No more excuses for any sort of perceived mess left by the
Ron Zook regime. Head coach Urban Meyer, who's famously known for
doing wonders in his second seasons at Bowling Green and Utah, had
better win a SEC title and he'd better do it yesterday.
However, this isn't a national title team, at least
offensively, at least not yet, and that's the big lingering matzo ball that's still
hanging out there: can this whole spread offense thingy, at least
the way Meyer runs it, produce against the best of the best teams
and the fastest of the fast defenses?
For all the bells and whistles in Meyer's attack, it did precisely
squat against the big boys last season scoring 16 against Tennessee,
17 against LSU, and 14 against Georgia. Defense and special teams
got the job done against Florida State. Oh sure, the offense cranked
out 537 yards against Kentucky, 480 on Mississippi State and 448 on
Vanderbilt, but it only really exploded against one good team, Iowa,
and that mostly came from Chris Leak throwing the ball.
How about all the numbers Meyer's offense put up at Utah with Alex
Smith running the show? That team put up 544 points with the best
wins coming over defensively challenged teams that year like Texas A&M and
Pitt. Ooooh, 63 points against Colorado State. The SEC defenses are
a wee bit more athletic.
Head coach: Urban Meyer
2nd year: 9-3
6th year overall: 48-11
Best Gator Players
1. QB Chris Leak, Sr.
2. LB Brandon Siler, Jr.
3. LB Earl Everett, Sr.
4. FS Reggie Nelson, Jr.
5. NT Marcus Thomas, Sr.
6. DE Jarvis Moss, Jr.
7. WR Dallas Baker, Sr.
8. WR Andre Caldwell, Sr.
9. DE Ray McDonald, Sr.
10. P Eric Wilbur, Sr.
at Florida State
at LSU L 21-17
W 49-42 2OT
South Carolina L 30-22
Iowa W 31-24
Fine, so Leak isn't a pure spread offense quarterback like newcomer
Tim Tebow is, and the spread has proven to work, in some way, shape and
form, at other places, but there needs to be more of a rushing element
for the thing to fly. Florida would
ideally like a 50/50 split, and it got it last year finishing a whoop-dee-doo
51st in the nation in passing and 56th in rushing. For all the bashing
Meyer has done about his running backs, his passing game wasn't exactly
So are the pieces starting to fit well enough for Florida to be the SEC
champion and in the hunt for national title? That will be the focus all
off-season as fans are waiting for the Gator offense to explode, but
considering the potential issues on the offensive line and the mediocre
corps of running backs, it'll be the defense that carries the team.
The D finished ninth in the nation and allowed a mere 18.8 points per
game, and it should be even better if injuries don't strike early at
linebacker and corner. There's enough talent on the line to fill out the
All-SEC team without a problem. Brandon Siler and Earl Everett form one
of the nation's best linebacking tandems, and the safeties, led by
Reggie Nelson, should be fantastic.
National title dreams might have to be put on hold for a while, but that
doesn't mean the Gators can't take the next step in the Urban renewal
plan and win the SEC championship and get to the BCS. While Florida fans
are expecting big things right now, the future looks even brighter with
the tireless way Meyer and his staff recruits. Yeah, the glory days are
back, and they can be even better.
Schedule: That sound you just heard was the air being sucked out of the national
title hopes. It's the toughest slate of any SEC team. Out of
conference, Southern Miss is never a pushover, UCF is one of Conference
USA's best teams, and the regular season ender is at Florida State after
the tune-up against Western Carolina. In SEC play, the Gators have to
play at Tennessee and get the three best teams from the West in Alabama,
LSU, and at Auburn in a three-week stretch.
Offensive Player: Senior QB Chris Leak ... but not for this team.
It's unfortunate a passer like Leak didn't get a chance to work in more
of a pro-style offense over a four year span. This is the first time
he's been able to work with the same offensive coordinator for the
second year in a row, and he's trying to become more of a runner and
turn into the type of quarterback that he's not. For all of his talent
and all of his Heisman potential if he has a lights out senior year,
half the crowd in The Swamp will be waiting for when Tim Tebow gets to
come in. However, Leak appears to be using his mobility a bit more and
be more of a passer on the move. Expect big numbers from him no matter
what he does.
Junior LB Brandon Siler and senior LB Earl Everett. These
two led the team in tackles last season and should do so again. With no
depth and a shaky Brian Crum at the other linebacker spot, the two stars
have to stay healthy. Safety Reggie Nelson and sackmaster Jarvis Moss
could quickly become the team's best defensive player.
to a successful season: Junior OTs Phil Trautwein and Drew Miller.
Last year's line gave up too many sacks partly because it struggled and
partly because of the nature of the offense. The big focus will be on
the new starting tackles. If they're not terrific, the offense won't go
will be a success if ... Florida wins the SEC title. Who cares that the offense is
still at least a year away from being up-to-Urban-snuff? Who cares that
most teams would jump for joy to go 5-7 with Florida's schedule?
Anything less than an SEC title might make the Gators this year's
September 16th at Tennessee. The Gators had better pull this one off
or it'll be an uphill battle to win the SEC East the rest of the way. A
loss means they'll have to be perfect with games against Alabama, LSU,
Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina still to be played.
- Second quarter scoring: Florida 125 - Opponents 47
- Florida turnovers forced: 31 - Florida turnovers lost: 13
- Penalties: Florida 102 for 783 yards - Opponents 64 for 493 yards
The Last Time Florida…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Outback Bowl vs. Iowa)
…missed a bowl game…1990
…pitched a shutout…2001 (Mississippi State)
…was shutout…1988 (Auburn)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Middle Tennessee)
…won a conference title…2000 (SEC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2004 (Chris Leak)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Ciatrick Fason)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2002 (Taylor Jacobs)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (QB Rex Grossman)