2009 Florida Preview - Offense
Florida TE Aaron Hernandez
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Florida Gator Offense
Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN Florida Preview |
2009 Florida Offense
2009 Florida Depth
2008 Florida Preview |
2007 Florida Preview |
What you need to know:
The offense will be missing the
sure-thing receiving stars with Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy
gone, but there's speed to burn at running back, the line should
grow into something terrific, and the quarterback situation is
special. Tim Tebow makes everyone around him better, while John
Brantley is a strong backup who'll be a superstar next year. New
offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will use a little
I-formation to go along with the normal spread attack, but no
matter what the scheme, the offense will be balanced after
running for 231 yards per game and throwing for 214. The offense
finished fourth in the country in scoring and 15th in total
yards, and while it won't be quite as good with the shake-up at
receiver, it'll still be one of the nation's most efficient
attacks thanks to Tebow. He'll try to be used more as a
pro-style passer, but when push comes to shove, he'll use his
running skills to do some pushing and shoving.
Passing: Tim Tebow
192-298, 2,746 yds, 30 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Tim Tebow
176 carries, 673 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: Aaron Hernandez
34 catches, 381 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense:
Senior QB Tim Tebow
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman C Sam Robey
Best pro prospect: Tebow
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Tebow, 2) TE Aaron
Hernandez, 3) OG Mike Pouncey
Strength of the offense: Tebow, Speed
Weakness of the offense: Workhorse Running Back,
Sure-Thing No. 1 WR
Senior Tim Tebow hasn't
had a bad career. Two national titles, a Heisman, a Heisman
runner-up (which would've been a win last year had the voting
been done after the bowls), folk-hero, Paul Bunyan-like
legendary status, a plaque to immortalize his "you will never
see a team play harder" speech after the Ole Miss loss ... he's
been busy. He came up with the greatest statistical season in
the history of college football as the first to ever run and
throw for 20 touchdowns in the same year, doing it in 2007, and
followed it up by being even better as an all-around player with
30 touchdowns and four interceptions, with two of them coming in
the national title win over Oklahoma, while running for a mere
12 scores and 673 yards. More than the statistics, he's the
ultimate leader and the ultimate put-a-team-on-his-back warrior.
Yes, the intangibles angle has gotten way out of control and the
gushing from the media has taken on a life of his own, but
there's no denying what he did to carry the Gators through the
fourth quarter in the SEC title win over Alabama, powering away
with the running game while throwing pinpoint pass after
pinpoint pass, and when things weren't going exactly smooth in
the national title, he made up for the problems and
inconsistencies by running for 109 yards, his only 100-yard
rushing day of the year. Now he wants to go from being among the
greatest players in college football history to a top pro
There are still concerns about his throwing
motion, there's a knock that he's more of a thrower than a
passer, even though he's among the most efficient college
passers of all time, and his running ability is seen as a bit of
a knock when it comes to how the pro scouts view him; he won't
be able to barrel his way over Ray Lewis when things aren't
going well. Even so, one major scouting service has the 6-3,
245-pound Tebow ranked even with Colt McCoy of Texas, and
while his focus will be on winning another national title, he
has made it very clear that he wants to work on his pro skills.
Projected Top Reserves: Tim Tebow is one of the
great players to ever set foot on a college football field, and
he might end his career as the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Sophomore John Brantley might be the better pro
prospect. The 6-3, 217-pound sophomore has seen a little bit of
mop-up work, completing 18-of-28 passes for 235 yards and three
touchdowns with an interception, but he was fantastic this
spring and showed why he was such a big-time recruit a few years
ago. He could've gone anywhere, but he had always dreamed of
becoming a Gator after his day and brother played for UF, and
with former star quarterback Kerwin Bell his high school coach.
He has a live arm, tremendous command of the offense, and a good
enough combination of mobility and accuracy to step in and lead
the team to a national title if disaster strikes The Franchise.
On the way is Jordan Reed, a 6-3, 225-pound
dual-threat player with great mobility for his size and a
phenomenal arm. While he wasn't a superstar recruit, at least by
Florida's standards, he's a smart prospect who'll get several
years to develop. In a perfect world, he'll be in the hunt for
the starting job in 2012.
Watch Out For ... Brantley. The talk of spring
ball, he showed off an impressive arm making every throw and
every read possible while looking the part of a starter. He
won't come in unless Tebow gets hurt or unless there are
blowouts, but he's the real deal.
Strength: Tim Tebow. The Gators are loaded without Tebow,
but he's the band-leader and the lightning rod who takes all the
pressure on himself. He's having a dream career.
Weakness: A No. 3. It's nitpicking, but with Cam Newton
transferring, there isn't a third option in an emergency and
there won't be a challenger for Brantley going into next year.
Tebow will be the front-runner for the
Heisman, Brantley is a superstar waiting to bust out, and the
passing game should be special even with some new starters at
receiver. New quarterback coach Scott Loeffler will try to tweak
things to get even more out the air attack, but there's no need
to mess with what has worked so well.
How will the offense
use Jeffrey Demps? So fast that he missed most
of spring ball to run for the Gator track team, he has shown no
ill-effects after suffering a groin problem that required
surgery. The 5-8, 183-pound sophomore has the home-run hitting
wheels to be used in a Percy Harvin-like role as a receiver as
well as a runner, catching 15 passes for 141 yards and a score,
but he was at his best as a runner averaging 7.8 yards per carry
with 605 yards and seven scores with back-to-back 100-yard games
against Arkansas and LSU. He started the for most of the second
half of last year, and while he's not a workhorse, he'll be the
main man in key spots.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Chris
Rainey hasn't always been healthy, but he's the team's
best hone-run hitting options. There's fast, there's Florida
fast, and then there's Rainey, who runs a 4.24 and showed off
his wheels averaging 7.8 yards per carry with 652 yards and four
scores. While he's not big at just 5-9 and 175 pounds, he's
tough and can handle 10-to-15 touches per game. While he hasn't
been used much as a receiver, that could change to get his speed
on the move.
Junior Emmanuel Moody was
supposed to be the savior of the running game after transferring
over from USC, and while he was fine, he wasn't special running
for 412 yards with a touchdown. However, the 6-0, 210-pounder
averaged 7.2 yards per carry and was able to bring a power
option in the speedy backfield. He showed this offseason that
could be used more as a receiver. Now he has to get healthy
after suffering a hand injury and he has to show he can get his
head in the game. Not the most consistent of players, he makes
too many mistakes.
Senior Brandon James
is more of a star for the special teams than the offense, but
he'll get a little bit of work after running for 59 yards and
two touchdowns and catching 11 passes for 95 yards and a score.
The 5-7. 185-pounder will line up in a variety of ways, but
he'll make his biggest mark as one of the nation's top kick and
If and when the offense ever uses a fullback, Southern Illinois
transfer Rick Burgess will step in after
showing good hands for the passing game and decent blocking
skills. The 6-1, 230-pound senior will do a little of everything
and will have to show he can handle the workload after projected
starter, Steven Wilks, suffered a torn ACL this
Watch Out For ... a steady rotation. Tim Tebow
will still be the running game when needed, but he'll work more
on being a passer and the occasional fullback-like option. The
ground game will rely on Rainey, Demps and Moody to get a
near-equal amount of work.
Strength: Yards per carry. The numbers are cartoonish.
The team averaged 5.9 yards per carry with Rainey and Demps each
averaging 7.8 yards per dash and with Moody averaging 7.2 yards
Weakness: Percy Harvin. While Tebow got all the credit
for carrying the team to a national title, it wouldn't have
happened without Harvin, who averaged 9.4 yards per carry with
ten touchdowns. He finished second on the team in rushing,
behind Tebow. There's speed returning, but there isn't anyone
who's as good as the now-Minnesota Viking.
Outlook: The running backs have the flash, they
have the speed, and they have the experience, but there needs to
be more of the workload shouldered. Urban Meyer hasn't always
relied on his running backs, but he might do more this year with
so many good options. In a pinch, though, it'll be Tebow who
carries the ball.
The star of the passing game should be
Aaron Hernandez, the 6-3, 250-pound junior
who's expected to play a bigger part of the offense after
finishing third on the team with 34 catches for 381 yards and
five scores turning into a key target down the stretch.
Considered by almost everyone as the nation's top tight end
recruit a few years ago, he hasn't disappointed with great hands
and the speed to get past most linebackers. After a tremendous
offseason, he should be the No. 1 target.
Sophomore Deonte Thompson
is the team's leading returning wide receiver after finishing
fourth on the team with 18 catches for 269 yards and three
touchdowns averaging 14.9 yards per catch. The 6-0, 195-pounder
has the home-run hitting 4.3 wheels to stretch the field and be
the team's top vertical element. Now he needs to be consistent
and he needs to get the ball on the move on a regular basis to
get him involved early on.
6-3, 215-pound senior
Riley Cooper caught 18 passes for 261 yards and three
touchdowns, highlighted by a scoring grab against Alabama, and
while he's been known as a big, strong, reliable target, he can
also make the deep play averaging 14.5 yards per catch. Steady
but never fantastic, he never caught more than two passes in any
game last season. He needs to shine this fall to get a starting
job after spending the spring playing baseball.
David Nelson wasn't used much last year, making
just 12 catches, but he scored five times with four coming in
the last six games including touchdown grabs against Alabama and
Oklahoma. At 6-5 and 212 pounds he has good height and used it
to become a matchup nightmare. While he's not a big-time
speedster, he has good enough wheels and he's physical.
Projected Top Reserves:
Senior Carl Moore was one
of the nation's top JUCO players two years ago catching 73
passes for 1,068 yards and 16 touchdowns for Sierra C.C. in
California, and last year he made 14 grabs for 184 yards and a
touchdown, averaging 13.1 yards per catch, for the Gators. The
light didn't appear to turn on last season, but now he appears
to know what he's doing and he should become a bigger factor in
the passing attack.
The X factor could be
Frankie Hammond, a 6-0, 175-pound redshirt freshman who
lit it up in spring ball. While he's not big, he's a speedster
who's great in the open field and can be used in a variety of
ways. He likely won't be a star of the show for another year,
with so many other options, but he should put up big numbers
when he gets the chance.
True freshman Desmond
Parks will be the No. 2 tight end in the rotation with
6-6, 215-pound size and great hands. He came to school early and
was looking like a big-time target early on, but he suffered a
kneecap injury that could be a problem early on this fall. He's
a willing blocker who isn't afraid to fight for the ball when
it's in the air.
Watch Out For ... Hammond. It'll be a year-long
search to find another Percy Harvin, and while Hammond doesn't
have the same speed, he's not a bad imitation-in-training. He's
the one who could make a good receiving corps great.
Strength: Hernandez. For the most part, the pressure
will be off the receiving corps if Hernandez is as good as
expected. He's the one the team will go to on key third downs
and he's the one who'll open up things for everyone else.
Weakness: Louis Murphy. Not having Harvin stings, but
Murphy was the steady, unsung running mate who averaged 17.2
yards per grab with seven scores. There's a ton of returning
talent and plenty of upside, but they Gators don't have a
sure-thing top wide receiver, much less a No. 2.
Outlook: The loss of Harvin and Murphy would be
devastating for most teams, and it'll hurt the Gators. They'll
make up for it with a corps full of speed, quickness, and good
size. Having a tight end like Hernandez will help, but the
passing game needs players like Cooper and Thompson to take over
as the new stars.
With Phil Trautwein
gone after starting every game at left tackles, it'll be up to
junior Carl Johnson to make the successful move
over from guard to tackle. The 6-6, 330-pounder started eight of
the final ten games of last year on the inside. The team's most
versatile lineman, he can play center, too, if needed. Now he
has to become a more consistent pass blocker to go along with
his dominant run blocking skills.
With Johnson moving
over, there are plenty of options to take over the left guard
spot. The most likely scenario has junior Maurkice
Pouncey, a guard by nature, to move over after starting
every game last season at center. At 6-5 and 312 pounds he's a
big blocker who started most of 2007 at right guard, was
terrific in the middle, and is more than living up to his prep
hype. He was banged up and out for most of the offseason, but
he'll be a key part of the puzzle somewhere this fall.
With Pouncey out this spring, sophomore David Young
turned into one of the team's bigger surprises at
center. The 6-5, 303-pounder saw a little time in the season
opener and didn't get back on the field the rest of the way, but
he showed this offseason that he's ready to become a major part
of the offense for the next three years. At the very least, if
Pouncey is back at center, he'll be a key backup.
tackle is the other key opening with Marcus Gilbert
appearing to be ready to star. The former defensive lineman
hasn't always been perfect or consistent since moving sides, but
he's better and should be ready to handle the job of protecting
Tim Tebow's blindside. At 6-6 and 320 pounds he's a bit big, but
he's experienced and tough having spent most of last year at
left guard. He even lined up at tight end against Tennessee,
used more like a third tackle.
While Maurkice Pouncey
will move around, maybe, his twin brother, Mike Pouncey,
will be a fixture at right guard again after starting every game
last year. The 6-5, 320-pound junior was originally considered
the better of the two brothers as an offensive prospect, but he
moved to the defensive side early on to boost the depth. He was
a rock last year at guard and should be an all-star.
Projected Top Reserves: Depending on what happens
at center, if Maurkice Pouncey ends up starting there instead of
moving to guard, James Wilson could end up
started at left guard. At the very least, the 6-5, 329-pound
sophomore will be a great backup in the rotation at both guard
spots. A superstar recruit in 2007, he's freakishly strong and
should grow into a great run blocker.
Very undersized and
very feisty, Matt Patchen has gone from being a
tremendous high school offensive lineman, to a top prospect for
the defensive line, to a promising backup at left tackle behind
Carl Johnson. The 6-6, 260-pound sophomore made seven tackles
and was a key special teamer after recovering from a gunshot
wound to the shoulder.
One of the team's top recruits,
true freshman Nick Alajajian will push for time
at the all-important right tackle spot. The 6-4, 280-pounder got
to school early and worked his way up to the No. 2 spot with
tremendous athleticism and quickness. While he's not going to be
the mauler of a run blocker that Marcus Gilbert is, he has the
potential to be better in pass protection.
Watch Out For ... Robey. Terrific this spring, if
he can hold on to the center job and if he can be consistent,
then Maurkice Pouncey can move to guard and the line should be
even more of a rock. Everything will be fine if Pouncey is at
center, but it'll be better if he's at guard.
Strength: Talent. There might be some big replacements
needing to be made, and there's a little bit of uncertainty at
center and left guard, but between the Pouncey brothers and
Johnson, who should be fine at tackle, the line is full of very
good, all-star caliber players.
Weakness: Proven backups. There's a lot of talent on the
second team, but there isn't much in the way of experience.
Finding a steady rotation will be key early on and the backups
will need to step in as soon as possible in blowouts.
Outlook: Unsung throughout last year, the Gator
line was fantastic in all areas. Great in pass protection and
able to pound away for the ground game, Florida was tenth in the
nation, and first in the SEC, in rushing and was 13th in the
country in sacks allowed. While there will be some shuffling,
this should still be one of the SEC's best lines, led by the
Pouncey brothers, and it should be terrific throughout the year.