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2006 Florida Gators
Posted Dec 31, 2006

2006 Florida Gators Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Jan. 8
BCS Championship
Florida 41 ... Ohio State 14

Florida dominated Ohio State on both sides of the ball holding the Buckeye offense to eight first downs and 82 total yards of offense while amassing 370 yards and scoring 21 straight points in the first 15:04. Things started out on a high note for OSU as Ted Ginn Jr. took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, but the Gators responded with a big kickoff return, helped by a penalty, and a seven-play, 46-yard drive finishing with a 14-yard Dallas Baker touchdown catch. Percy Harvin ran for a four-yard score, and DeShawn Wynn ran for a two-yard touchdown for the big lead, but the Buckeyes appeared to have some life after an 18-yard Antonio Pittman touchdown run. That would be it as Florida got two Chris Hetland field goals and took advantage of a sack and Troy Smith fumble to go five yards in the final minute of the first half finishing with a one-yard Andre Caldwell touchdown catch from Tim Tebow. Tebow closed out the scoring with a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game ... Florida DEs Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey. The two Gator ends combined to make six tackles, five sacks, and came up with several hurries. Moss forced a key Troy Smith fumble at the end of the first half deep in Buckeye territory, and Harvey recovered it.
Stat Leaders: Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 35-36, 213 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: DeShawn Wynn, 19-69, 1 TD  Receiving: Percy Harvin, 9-60
Ohio State - Passing: Troy Smith, 4-14, 35 yds, 1 INT
Antonio Pittman, 10-62, 1 TD  Receiving:
Anthony Gonzalez, 2-11
Notes & Thoughts ...
- Quarter by quarter game notes ... Troy Smith didn't have anyone to throw to. That's not to say the Buckeyes would've beaten the Gators if Ted Ginn hadn't hurt his ankle, but it certainly didn't help. The Florida secondary swarmed all over Anthony Gonzalez and the OSU receivers, and the game was over. OSU's defense didn't do anything to shut down the Gator offense, and down 21-7, had to all but abandon the running game. ... Time of possession: Florida 40:48 - Ohio State 19.12. Third down conversions: Florida 10 of 19, Ohio State one of nine. The Gators pitched a near-perfect game. ... The Ohio State energy level never appeared to be there, even after Ginn's opening kickoff return for a score. Florida was always bouncing around and crisp, while OSU appeared to be going through the motions with no pop on either side of the ball. The Gators had a lot to do with that.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 13-1
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Southern Miss W 34-7
9/9 UCF W 42-0
9/16 at Tennessee W 21-20
9/23 Kentucky W 26-7
9/30 Alabama W 28-13
10/7 LSU W 23-10
10/14 at Auburn L 27-17
10/28 vs. Georgia W 21-14
11/4 at Vanderbilt W 25-19
11/11 South Carolina W 17-16
11/18 West. Carolina W 62-0
11/25 at Florida State W 21-14
12/2 SEC Championship
Arkansas W 38-28
1/8 BCS Championship
Ohio State W 41-14

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Wyoming W 32-14
9/10 Louisiana Tech W 41-3
9/17 Tennessee W 16-7
9/24 at Kentucky W 49-28
10/1 at Alabama L 31-3
10/8 Miss State W 35-9
10/15 at LSU L 21-17
10/29 vs. Georgia W 14-10
11/5 Vanderbilt W 49-42 2OT
11/12 at South Carolina L 30-22
11/26 Florida State W 34-7
1/2 Outback Bowl
Iowa W 31-24

Dec. 2
SEC Championship
Florida 38 ... Arkansas 28
Florida got up 17-0 helped by a nine-yard Chris Leak run and a 37-yard pass to Percy Harvin, but had a fight on its hands the rest of the way. Arkansas used everything possible to generate offense with Marcus Monk catching a 48-yard touchdown pass from Casey Dick, Darren McFadden threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Felix Jones, and WR Cedric Washington threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jones on a double-pass. A 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by tackle Antwain Robinson off a Leak pitch gave the Hogs a 21-17 third quarter lead, but the Gators got the big plays to take the lead for good with a botched Arkansas punt return recovered for a Florida touchdown and Harvin ripping off a 67-yard touchdown run for a 31-21 lead. The Gators put the game away on a five-yard pass from Andre Caldwell to Tate Casey.
Player of the game ... Florida WR Percy Harvin caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown and ran six times for 105 yards and a score and LB Brandon Siler made 12 tackles
Stat Leaders: Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 16-30, 189 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Percy Harvin, 6-105, 1 TD  Receiving: Cornelius Ingram, 6-71
Arkansas - Passing: Drew Weatherford 16-37, 181 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Lorenzo Booker, 10-61  Receiving: Chris Davis, 6-85

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Who says Florida can't run on Arkansas without DeShawn Wynn? Helped by the big Percy Harvin 67-yard touchdown dash, and a little help from the quarterbacks and three carries from Kesthan Moore, Florida got enough movement on the ground to complement the passing game. Everyone will remember the big plays from Harvin, but this was also Brandon Siler's game. The Gator linebacker was all over the field doing a fantastic job of keeping Darren McFadden and the Hog running game from going crazy holding it to 132 yards and while not giving up backbreaking home runs. Yes, Florida football is more than back.

Nov. 25
Florida 21 ... Florida State 14
Florida appeared to have the game well in hand with a 14-0 first half lead on a 66-yard Andre Caldwell touchdown catch and a 41-yard Percy Harvin run, but it couldn't put the game away hurt partly by two Chris Hetland missed field goals. FSU came back with a one-yard Joe Surrett touchdown run in the third and a 25-yard Greg Carr scoring grab in the fourth, but the Gators were able to score on a 25-yard Dallas Baker grab for the winning score. FSU had two chances to score but stalled both times.
Player of the game ... Florida DB Reggie Nelson led the team with six tackles and made an interception
Stat Leaders: Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 21-34, 283 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Percy Harvin, 4-86, 1 TD  Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 8-124, 1 TD
Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford 16-37, 181 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Lorenzo Booker, 10-61  Receiving: Chris Davis, 6-85

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Fine, Urban Meyer is now 2-0 against Florida State, but this year's victory was hardly the type of performance that'll get anyone wanting to see the Gators play Ohio State. The offense was explosive, but didn't show nearly enough from the ground game to scare Arkansas next week. The kicking game has to be addressed in some way; Chris Hetland simply can't be counted on to make a clutch field goal.

Nov. 18
Florida 62 ... Western Carolina 0
Florida outgained Western Carolina 589 yards to 59, and held the Catamounts to four first downs, in the blowout. The Gators got two first quarter touchdowns from DeShawn Wynn, two touchdown runs from Tim Tebow, and two Tebow scoring passes to Riley Cooper. Cooper also caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Chris Leak, and Brandon James returned a punt 77 yards for a score. The Gators never punted.
Player of the game ... Florida QB Tim Tebow went 10-of-12 for 200 yards and two touchdowns, adding two touchdowns and 47 yards on six carries.
Stat Leaders: Western Carolina- Passing: Andy Horn, 5-12, 35 yds
Rushing: Darius Fudge, 23-44  Receiving: Joe Clark, 2-24
Florida - Passing: Tim Tebow, 10-12, 200 yds, 2 TDs
Mon Williams, 9-95  Receiving: Cornelius Ingram, 4-59

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
Welcome to the future of Florida football. Fine, so the Gator walk-ons are probably better than the Western Carolina starters, but Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, and Mon Williams gave Florida fans just a taste of what the next three years are going to be like. Tebow was more than solid in an expanded role, and Cooper showed what kind of a scoring threat he can be. Now if the Gators can just keep up the offensive efficiency against Florida State and in the SEC title game against Florida, they'll get their shot against Ohio State ... maybe.

Nov. 11
Florida 17 ... South Carolina 16
Florida's Jarvis Moss blocked a South Carolina extra point attempt after a 14-yard Mike Davis touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, and blocked a 48-yard Ryan Succop game-winning field goal attempt as time ran out. Down 16-10, the Gators went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, helped by a fourth down conversion deep in its own territory, and finished up with a 12-yard Tim Tebow touchdown run. South Carolina drove back and got well within field goal range with a 27-yard pass to Sidney Rice, but it was called back because of a false start penalty which ended up pushing the final attempt back. Succop hit a 47-yard field goal early in the fourth, but Florida's Chris Hetland tied it up on the ensuing drive with a  22-yard field goal. Davis ran for a four-yard touchdown late in the first quarter for a  7-0 USC lead, but Florida tied it in the final minutes of the half on a 21-yard scoring play from Dallas Baker.
Player of the game ... Florida DE Jarvis Moss made eight tackles, broke up a pass and blocked two kicks
Stat Leaders: South Carolina - Passing: Blake Mitchell, 24-33, 275 yds
Rushing: Mike Davis, 16-94, 2 TD. Receiving: Sidney Rice, 7-72
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 19-27, 254 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
DeShawn Wynn, 12-90  Receiving: Percy Harvin, 6-91
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
Yeah, Florida made the plays needed to get by an above-average South Carolina team, but it was hardly the impressive performance that'll make anyone jump up and down about putting it in the national title. The offense is still too inconsistent, and the defense is now more than suspect up the middle without Marcus Thomas and with the average corners on the outside. This is a very good team, but it's hardly a great one. An impressive win in the SEC title game, and over Florida State to close out the regular season, might be needed.

Nov. 4
Florida 25 ... Vanderbilt 19
Chris Leak ran for two four-yard touchdown runs and threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Dallas Baker, but Florida needed to hold on late as Vanderbilt got Chris Nickson touchdown passes to George Smith and Earl Bennett in the fourth quarter to make it interesting. The Gators recovered the on-side kick attempt after the 31-yard score from Bennett and ran out the the final 1:32. Cassen Jackson-Garrison ran for a 13-yard score for the Commodores in the quarter.
Player of the game ... Florida CB Ryan Smith made 11 tackles, one interception, blocked a punt and made a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 27-44, 298 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Cassen Jackson-Garrison, 11-43, 1 TD. Receiving: Earl Bennett, 13-157, 1 TD
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 18-25, 237 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
DeShawn Wynn, 15-64  Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 8-68
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
Florida might have gotten its way into the SEC Championship game with a win and a loss by Tennessee, but it's hardly going in on a roll. The offense got outgained 391 yards to 330 by Vanderbilt, the running game only averaged 2.7 yards per carry, and Chris Leak, while efficient, threw three interceptions. Big plays from the secondary and the special teams proved to be the difference, but this wasn't the kind of game that'll make the voters rush out to put the Gators into the national title game. There had better be some big blowouts in the team's future.

Oct. 28
Florida 21 ... Georgia 14
Andre Caldwell ran for a touchdown and scored on a 40-yard pass to get Florida up 14-0, and then the defense took over as Derrick Harvey tackles Kregg Lumpkin forcing a fumble which Ray McDonald picked up for a nine-yard score. Georgia came back on a 13-yard Matthew Stafford run following an interception of Chris Leak, and scored on an eight-yard Lumpkin run following a Tim Tebow fumble, but the offense only gained 215 yards and turned it over five times. The Dawgs only got the ball one more time after their final score and went three and out.
Player of the game ... Florida WR Andre Caldwell caught eight passes for 88 yards and a touchdown and ran five times for 28 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 13-33, 151 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Kregg Lumpkin, 11-43, 1 TD. Receiving: Brannan Southerland, 3-31
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 14-28, 163, yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Percy Harvin, 8-37  Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 8-88, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
With the way the defense was playing against Georgia, the only chance for a loss was to start turning the ball over and to screw up. Ten penalties and two key turnovers later, and it was much closer than expected. The running game worked a bit better than it might have appeared with several players getting the ball spreading it out, but there wasn't much continuity. This was hardly the crisp, dominant game on offense the coaching staff might have liked after the Auburn debacle, but as long as the defense is rocking, Florida will be fine over the final four games.

Oct. 14
Auburn 27 ... Florida 17
In a tale of two halves, Florida dominated in most of the first half scoring easily with a big Percy Harvin run leading to a 16-yard Tim Tebow scoring run and Dallas Baker making a brilliant 15-yard touchdown catch on the way to a 17-8 first half lead, and then Auburn turned up the defensive pressure. The Tiger pass rush couldn't be stopped in the second half with Gator QB Chris Leak rushing his throws and making mistakes, with the biggest a controversial slip on what was ruled a fumble, even though his arm appeared to be going forward, leading to a 34-yard John Vaughn field goal. Tre Smith turned a blocked punt into a touchdown and Patrick Lee returned a fumble 20 yards for a score with no time left on the clock.
Player of the game ... Auburn DE Quentin Groves made four tackles, three sacks, forced a fumble and had two quarterback hurries
Stat Leaders: Auburn - Passing: Brandon Cox, 18-27, 182 yds
Rushing: Brad Lester, 17-94. Receiving: Courtney Taylor, 45-37
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 9-17, 108 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Percy Harvin, 5-66  Receiving: Dallas Baker, 4-62, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
What happened to the Florida running game against Auburn? As Arkansas showed, the Auburn defense can be worn down as the game goes on, but the Gators didn't do enough to pound it. With the Tigers pinning their ears back in the second half and going all out to get to Chris Leak, the Gators didn't pound the ball nearly enough. DeShawn Wynn, banged up and all, was relatively effective, and Tim Tebow was only allowed to get three carries. Leak isn't strong when under pressure failing to use his mobility to get out of the pocket enough and rushing too many of his throws. Now Florida gets two weeks to recover before getting Georgia, but there shouldn't be any real problems the rest of the way, and that includes the date at Florida State. Florida will get another shot at the Tigers in the SEC title game.

Oct. 7
Florida 23 ... LSU 10
Florida overcame a 7-0 deficit with 23 straight points highlighted by a funky one-yard jump pass from Tim Tebow to Tate Casey with :22 left in the first half. Tebow ran for a one-yard score and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy for the offensive points, and then the defense and special teams came through as LSU combusted. Early Doucet fumbled the second half kickoff on the three and got dropped for a safety, there was a fumbled snap on the one-yard line, had a punt blocked and fumbled a punt. The Tigers only managed a 45-yard Colt David field goal in the second half.
Player of the game ... Florida QB Tim Tebow completed two of two passes for 36 yards and two touchdowns and ran nine times for 35 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: LSU - Passing: JaMarcus Russell, 24-41, 228 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jacob Hester, 9-43,  Receiving: Craig Davis, 8-85
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 17-26, 155 yds, 1 INT
Kesthan Moore, 10-36. Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 5-38
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... There wasn't a running game against LSU and Chris Leak, while solid, didn't get much going down the field, but the Gators took advantage of every LSU mistake, and there were plenty of them, and Tim Tebow went from cult hero to full-blown superstar. All the running the freshman has done has opened up the passing game and forced safeties to cheat up. The Gator coaching staff caught LSU twice for two Tebow touchdown passes, and now it should work in the reverse; things will open up for the ground game with defenses worried about getting burned for the big play.

Sept. 30
Florida 28 ... Alabama 13
Florida broke open a tight game late in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard touchdown catch from Dallas Baker and sealed it with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown from Reggie Nelson. Alabama outgained Florida 240 yards to 197 and took an early 10-0 lead on a 50-yard fumble return for a score from Prince Hall and a 21-yard field goal from Jamie Christensen, but the Gators came back with a two-yard Tim Tebow touchdown run late in the first half to cap off a 12-play, 94-yard drive. Florida took the lead for good on a controversial play with Andre Caldwell taking a short pass 16-yard for a touchdown, but he lost the ball diving across the goal line. After a review, the play stood as called. 
Player of the game ... Florida DE Jarvis Moss made seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, and had another quarterback hurry
Stat Leaders: Alabama - Passing: John Parker Wilson, 21-40, 240 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Darby, 14-76  Receiving: D.J. Hall, 6-117
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 14-20, 174 yds, 2 TD
DeShawn Wynn, 12-50. Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 5-33, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Florida is finding way to get it done. Against Alabama, the pass rush, thanks to the best game played this year by Jarvis Moss, pressured John Parker Wilson into three interceptions, while the offense woke up in the second half to take control of the game. Chris Leak is still the team's star, but Tim Tebow provided a big-time spark at the end of the first half with his energy. With the ankle injury to RB DeShawn Wynn, Tebow is going to have to play an even bigger role in the running game. The secondary survived the Alabama passing game, but it'll have a nightmare of a time against the LSU attack if Moss and the Gator front four aren't getting to JaMarcus Russell.

Sept. 23
Florida 26 ... Kentucky 7
Florida wasn't sharp, but it had few problems with Kentucky thanks to DeShawn Wynn and the running game which cranked out 203 yards and a 13-yard touchdown dash from Wynn with :22 left in the first half and a four-yard scoring run from Kestahn Moore in the third quarter. Jemalle Cornelius started off the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown grab, but the extra point was blocked. Kentucky took the lead late in the first half on a one-yard Maurice Grinter touchdown catch, but the Gators answered with a  78-yard drive in 1:37 culminating with the Wynn score. Kentucky was without star RB Rafael Little, who sat out with an injury.
Player of the game ... Florida RB DeShawn Wynn ran 12 times for 95 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 22-31, 195 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Tony Dixon, 6-24  Receiving: Curtis Pulley, 5-59
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 12-20, 214 yds, 1 TD
DeShawn Wynn, 12-95, 1 TD. Receiving: Dallas Baker, 4-89
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Florida's offense wasn't exactly humming against Kentucky, but the defense made sure there wouldn't be any glimmer of an upset hope. For the first time all year, the pressure and the sacks came getting to Andre Woodson five times killing momentum on drive after drive. The real find continues to be the running game as DeShawn Wynn was the steadying force for the offense for the second straight week. When Chris Leak is off, like he was against the Wildcats, the Gators have the luxury of Wynn, and relief pitcher extraordinaire, Tim Tebow, to pick up the slack. It's simple; when Tebow is in, he runs. Defenses can't seem to figure that out.

Sept. 16
Florida 21 ... Tennessee 20
Florida got a 21-yard touchdown catch from Dallas Baker on a perfectly executed play with 6:30 to play, and then the D held on with Reggie Nelson picking off Erik Ainge on fourth down to seal with win. Florida outgained the Vols 211 yards to -11 on the ground, but it was the passing game that got the points with three Chris Leak touchdown passes including two to Baker. The Vols stayed alive on a trick play 48-yard touchdown pass from LaMarcus Coker to Lucas Taylor and upped a fourth quarter lead to six on a 51-yard James Wilhoit field goal, but they couldn't get in field goal range on their final drive.
Player of the game ... Florida RB DeShawn Wynn ran 22 times for 104 yards.
Stat Leaders: Tennessee - Passing: Erik Ainge, 17-32, 183 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Montario Hardesty, 17-14, 1 TD  Receiving: Jayson Swain, 6-77
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 15-25, 199 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
DeShawn Wynn, 22-104. Receiving: Dallas Baker, 4-54, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
It'll show up in the paper that Florida only beat Tennessee by a point, but this was as impressive and as dominating a performance as it could've hoped for. The running game was solid with DeShawn Wynn cranking out tough yards in one of his strongest performances ever, and Chris Leak did a good job of managing the game and keeping the chains moving even with Tim Tebow coming in here and there to take away some work. In the end, Urban Meyer and his staff outcoached Phil Fulmer and his group. No one will run on these Gators.

Sept. 9
Florida 42 ... UCF 0
Florida rolled for 637 yards of total offense and held UCF to 21 rushing yards in a blowout win. The Gators got out to a 7-0 first quarter lead on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, and then the roof caved in on the Golden Knights. DeShawn Wynn ran for an eight-yard score, Kesthan Moore ran for a 28-yard score, Dallas Baker caught a ten-yard touchdown pass, and Andre Caldwell caught a 25-yard scoring strike for a 27-point run in the final 8:14 of the first half. Leak finished the game with 352 yards and four touchdown passes closing out his night midway through the third on an eight-yard touchdown pas to Caldwell.
Player of the game ... Florida QB Chris Leak completed 19 of 29 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: UCF - Passing: Steven Moffett, 14-32, 100 yds
Rushing: Kevin Smith, 9-22 Receiving: Mike Walker, 6-33
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 19-29, 352 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Tim Tebow, 9-62. Receiving: Percy Harvin, 4-99, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... What's wrong with Florida, what's wrong with Florida, what's wrong with Florida? That seemed to be a big question this last week after a mediocre performance against Southern Miss, but the team
couldn't have been sharper going into the huge game against Tennessee. Chris Leak has been outstanding over the last two games making big plays and keeping his mistakes to a minimum. The ground game was impressive against UCF rolling for 204 yards with QB Tim Tebow showing off the rushing dimension that has Gator fans and coaches drooling. To nitpick, for the second week in a row the defensive pressure wasn't quite up to the team's talent level. That will have to change against the Vols.

Sept. 2
Florida 34 ... Southern Miss 7
Southern Miss got the first score of the game turning a Brandon Sumrall interception into a six-yard touchdown catch from Damion Carter, but that was all the Golden Eagles could manage. Chris Leak threw three touchdown passes and Tim Tebow ran for a one-yard score as the Gators scores 34 unanswered points to overcome the shaky start. USM was able to crank out 295 yards, but three interceptions and missed opportunities proved fatal.
Player of the game ... Florida QB Chris Leak completed 21 of 30 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
Stat Leaders: Southern Miss - Passing: Jeremy Young, 13-27, 129 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Damion Flethcer, 18-89 Receiving: Shawn Nelson, 6-85, 1 TD
Florida - Passing: Chris Leak, 21-30, 248 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Percy Harvin, 4-58. Receiving: Dallas Baker, 9-123, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
Florida ended up coasting to the win over Southern Miss, but there were some disturbing signs in the blowout. The running game continues to be ineffective and non-existent after an awful 2005, the offensive line still isn't productive, and the defense gave up too many yards to a mediocre offense. Yeah, the interior was without starting tackles Marcus Thomas and Steven Harris, but there should've been more pressure and at least one sack. The UCF game next week had better tune everything up or else there will be big issues against Tennessee.

2005 Florida Preview

Florida Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

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.

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 lights out.

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.

The 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.

Best 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.

Best Defensive Player: 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.

Key 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 anywhere.

The season 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 Tennessee.

Key game: 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.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- 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)
…went undefeated…1911
…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)