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2008 CFN Florida Preview |
2008 Florida Offense
2008 Florida Depth
2007 CFN Florida Preview |
2006 CFN Florida
Urban Meyer is known for being a great builder of programs, and
even rebuilder. Now for the first time, he has to prove he can
He went 17-6 in two years at Bowling Green, and then he went to
Utah where he was a rent-a-coach for two years going 22-2
finishing up with a BCS win over Pitt. He won the national title
in his second year at Florida, and then came last season, the
worst of his coaching career, when he went (gasp!) 9-4.
Head coach: Urban Meyer
4th year: 31-8
8th year overall: 70-16
Best Gator Players
1. QB Tim Tebow, Jr.
2. WR Percy Harvin, Jr.
3. LB Brandon Spikes, Jr.
4. DE Jermaine Cunningham, Jr.
5. OG Jim Tartt, Sr.
6. TE Cornelius Ingram, Sr.*
7. RB Chris Rainey, RFr.
8. OT Phil Trautwein, Sr.
9. CB Joe Haden, Soph.
10. DE Carlos Dunlap, Soph.
*Knee injury. Out for the year.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Miami
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 at Tennessee
Sept. 27 Ole Miss
Oct. 4 at Arkansas
Oct. 11 LSU
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 Kentucky
Nov. 1 Georgia (Jack.)
Nov. 8 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 15 South Carolina
Nov. 22 The Citadel
Nov. 29 at Florida State
2007 Record: 9-4
at Ole Miss
LSU L 28-24
Kentucky W 45-37
So. Carolina W 51-31
Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1 Michigan L 41-35
Even though a
four-loss season isn't currently acceptable in Gainesville, considering
the bar has been set so high, it was generally acknowledged that 2007
was supposed to be a year of transition. Nine starters needed to be
replaced on defense, a running back needed to be found, and wasn't, and
in the SEC, an elite team that's not fully loaded has to take a step
back and wait its turn again.
Now the question is whether or not all the growing pains of last season
will turn into production this year. Tim Tebow might have been the first
sophomore to win the Heisman, but his epic year came partly because
there wasn't a running back getting the job done. The pass defense was
the worst in the SEC with true freshmen getting their feet wet, there
wasn't enough of a pass rush, even with Derrick Harvey at one end, and
the defense went bye-bye in key situations against the better teams.
While there was a great early win over Tennessee, the second best
victory came against, um, uh, Kentucky?!
There's pressure on everyone in the SEC, but Meyer has to prove that his
terrific recruiting classes and dizzying collection of athletes can meld
together into an SEC championship caliber team. Tebow is a great leader
to start with, there's a ton of talent in the backfield to finally get a
real running game going from the backs, the receiving corps will be
phenomenal, and the defense will be just fine with a little more work.
However, considering all the pieces were supposed to be put in place
last year, the depth at safety is extremely thin, two true freshmen will
be counted on to play big at defensive tackle, and there are only two
upperclassmen on the O line, and both of them, Jim Tartt and Phil
Trautwein, while talented, are banged up.
The overall talent level is there to win a second national title in
three years, but everything has to fall into place around the
mega-stars. In reality, the program is still probably one more year away
from being a championship juggernaut, but the same can be said for
Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, and even Alabama. In the SEC, you have to take
advantage of every opening, and Florida has to make it happen this year.
It could be its turn again.
What to watch for on offense: Less Tebow, but a better Tebow. The
idea will be to keep the star fresh for later in the season and for the
fourth quarters. Even Superman wears down, and Tebow's production
suffered after getting beaten on game in and game out. There will be a
rotation of quarterbacks, but that's more to get the young guys some
work than it is to keep Tebow fresh. In a perfect world, his carries are
cut in half after running it 210 times last year, while he's still used
to barrel it in around the goal line.
What to watch for on defense: Carlos Dunlap. Derrick Harvey might
have been considered a star, but the eighth pick in the draft was way
too inconsistent as he disappeared over parts of the second half of the
season; he didn't do nearly as much as his press clippings suggested.
Even so, Florida needs Dunlap to generate the 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles
for loss that Harvey did, and if this off-season was any indication, he
will. At 6-6 and 290 pounds with good speed, he could quickly become a
The team will be far better if … it could stop someone from
throwing the ball. To be fair, several teams had to abandon the running
game and bombed away in an attempt to keep up the pace, but it's not
like the Gators played Texas Tech and Hawaii every week. Everyone
fattened up on the Gator secondary, and now it's time for true
sophomores Joe Haden and Major Wright to play like seasoned veterans.
There are just enough problems to
keep the Gators from going unbeaten, but this is still a slate good
enough to win a national title with. Getting Ole Miss from the West is
offset by the home date against LSU, while the non-conference schedule
is easier than it appears on paper. Playing Miami and at Florida State
might be nasty again in a few years, but not now for a superior Florida
team. Of course, in SEC play it's all about the East, and if the Gators
can get by the early showdown at Tennessee it all opens up with South
Carolina and Kentucky going to The Swamp.
Best Offensive Player:
Junior QB Tim Tebow. Have you really taken a look at what Tebow did
last year? He's 6-3, 232 pounds, averaged 4.3 yards per carry while
running for 23 touchdowns, led the team in rushing with 895 yards, was
one of the nation's most efficient passers completing 67% of his throws
for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns with six interceptions, and yet there
were still many who blew off the stats like they weren't that big a
deal. It's not like he did all this in the Sun Belt; he was the one
player everyone had to stop in SEC play week in and week out, and no one
did it. If what he did was so easy, and if most of his touchdowns came
on short runs, then why hasn't anyone else ever run and thrown for 20
scores in the same season?
Best Defensive Player:
Junior LB Brandon Spikes. Ohio State's James Laurinaitis might be
the fashionable household name who'll get all the recognition as the
nation's best middle linebacker, or it might be USC's Rey Maualuga who
garners all the attention, but if Spikes chooses to skip his senior
season, he could be the first linebacker taken in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Key player to a
successful season: Freshmen DTs Omar Hunter and Matt Patchan. The
two might be top-shelf, elite of the elite recruits, but it's still
asking for the world for two true freshmen to step in and solve the
problems at defensive tackle. Hunter is an ideal nose tackle who might
have the starting job from the moment he sets foot on campus this fall,
while the undersized Patchan has to first get healthy after suffering a
gunshot wound to his shoulder. If these two aren't tremendous, a dream
season might go bye-bye by mid-October.
The season will be a
... Florida plays for the national title. Tebow, Harvin, and Spikes are
just a few of the phenomenal talents on team that's ridiculously good in
some places, like receiver, tight end, and linebacker, and strangely
mediocre in others, like defensive tackle and safety. Meyer and the
Gators have overcome more. It's national championship or bust for a team
Nov. 1 vs. Georgia. As the last two years have shown, an SEC team can
suffer a loss, or even two, and still play for the national
championship. However, winning the conference title is a must, and the
loser of the Cocktail-Don't-Call-It-A-Cocktail-Party will likely be out
of the hunt. If Florida wins at Tennessee early on, this, along with the
SEC title game, will be the one big hurdle to getting to Miami on
January 8th considering LSU and South Carolina have to come to The
2007 Fun Stats:
- Penalties over the last two seasons: Florida 223 for 1,693 yards -
Opponents 164 for 1,195 yards
- Punt returns: Florida 26 for 392 yards - Opponents 5 for 22 yards
- Third down conversions: Florida 78 of 146 (53%) - Opponents 80 of 194