Preview 2010 - Oct. 30 Florida vs. Georgia
Georgia WR A.J. Green & Florida QB John Brantley
Georgia WR A.J. Green & Florida QB John Brantley
Posted Jul 13, 2010

An early quick look at the likely showdown for the SEC East title between Florida and Georgia on Oct. 30.

Preview 2010 - Oct. 30

Florida vs. Georgia

- 2010 Georgia Preview | 2010 Georgia Offense
- 2010 Georgia Defense | 2010 Georgia Depth Chart

- 2010 Florida Preview | 2010 Florida Offense
- 2010 Florida Defense | 2010 Florida Depth Chart

CFN Early Line: Florida -3.5

Offense: Maurkice Pouncey won the Rimington Award as the nation's top center, Aaron Hernandez won the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, and Tim Tebow was, well, Tim Tebow. While it might be next to impossible to immediately replace three players of that caliber, especially Tebow, the nation's No. 6 offense should be even more explosive with John Brantley under center. The Gators won't scrap the spread, and will likely use tight end Jordan Reed from time to time to be Tebow-like, but Brantley is a next-level caliber passer who'll push the ball down the field more to a very fast, very promising group of targets. The line might lose Pouncey, but his brother, Mike, will move to center to anchor a veteran group with four starters returning, while Jeff Demps leads a fast group of backs who should shine when they get the chance. There will be a bit more I-formation and a bit less true spread, but it'll be a shock if the Gators aren't among the SEC leaders in several offensive categories once again.
Defense: Former Arizona Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin will take over the defensive coordinator duties from Charlie Strong, who took off to take over the Louisville head coaching gig, and he has a little bit of work to do. There might not be the star power of last year's defense with LB Brandon Spikes, CB Joe Haden, S Major Wright, and ends Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham are gone, but there's no reason to cry poor for a D that should still be great after finishing fourth in the nation in total and scoring defense, 12th in run defense, and second in pass defense. The excitement surrounds the freshmen with a loaded haul of defensive linemen, led by end Ronald Powell, coming in, and safety Matt Elam in the secondary, but they'll mostly work as key backups. The tackles are loaded with, arguably, the best depth in America, and there are enough solid linebackers to assume the overall production of the last few years won't fall off the map. The corner situation is a wee bit of a concern, and it could actually be a bit of a problem with no sure-thing pass rusher up front to hit the quarterback. Austin will make sure all the speed and athleticism across the defense swarms, is ultra-aggressive, and puts a premium on taking the ball away.

Three Florida Players To Know

1) 6-3, 218-pound John Brantley could've started almost anywhere else a few years ago, but he always dreamed of becoming a Gator, his dad and brother both went to UF, and former star quarterback Kerwin Bell was his high school coach. The NFL arm is there with a tight rotation, tremendous zip, and a pocket poise and presence that Tebow could only dream of owning. However, while Brantley can take off from time to time, he's never going to be Tebow when it comes to running for the key first down, and it's asking the world to take over for one of the most accomplished legends in college football history

2) Senior Mike Pouncey looks like his brother both on and off the field, Pittsburgh Steeler and first round draft pick, Maurkice, but he's not quite the same talent. That's not a slap; he's still really, really good and could end up earning All-America honors moving from guard to center. The 6-4, 310-pounder is a pounding blocker who blasts away for the ground game and he's among the SEC's most physical blockers. He's still not a finished product in the middle in place of his brother, and he has to be more consistent with his shotgun snaps, but he'll be more than fine and should be on the short list of Rimington Award candidates if he stays at center. There's a chance he could move back to his right guard spot where he helped protect Tim Tebow's blind side (and moved to the left side when Tebow got hurt and the right handed John Brantley was in), and he's talented enough to play tackle if desperately needed.

3) Is not a bad thing when you finish second on the team in tackles and were a slight disappointment, but that's what 2009 was for Ahmad Black, a speedy strong safety who made 70 stops with an interception and five broken up passes after making seven picks and 59 tackles two years ago. While he's only 5-9 and 189 pounds, he's physical for his size, is always around the ball, and is smart enough to always make the right decisions and the right play. He'll be the leader of the secondary.

Offense: As it turned out, yes, the early departure of QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno to the NFL did matter. The offense was inconsistent before finding a groove late in the year, and even then every game was different as the passing game didn't always take advantage of all the weapons and the running game didn't explode like it should've. 2010's concerns and issues are the same as 2009's, but there's a bit more experience to work with. The line, banged up as it might be, is still going to terrific, and it could be the best in the nation if everyone is healthy. A.J. Green leads a dangerous receiving corps, and there's plenty of talent and speed in the backfield, but can QB Aaron Murray come through? All the pieces are in place to be far, far better than last year as long as the quarterback play is better and as long as the turnovers (28 given away last season) are kept to a minimum.
Defense: The Georgia defense picked off ten passes and forced two fumbles, but worse yet, it got bombed on by the better quarterbacks and was good, but not phenomenal against the run. Even with all the issues, finishing 38th in the nation in total defense isn't that bad. Changes needed to be made, though, and in comes Todd Grantham as the new defensive coordinator. With a pro background, most recently as the Dallas Cowboy defensive line coach, he's going to install a 3-4 with the idea to get even more aggressive. That means pass rushing terror Justin Houston will move to outside linebacker, while the huge front three will be in charge of shooting gaps to get into the backfield. The secondary loses three starters, but it has a world of upside with big safeties, speedy corners, and the potential to be far better and far more consistent with more pressure into the backfield.

Three Georgia Players To Know

1) If Alabama's Julio Jones isn't the top NFL receiver prospect in college football, it's A.J. Green, who has been the more consistent of the two stars but without as much fanfare. Despite being the target of every secondary after a breakout 56-catch season, he still made 53 grabs for 808 yards and six touchdowns despite missing three games. At 6-4 and 207 pounds with around 4.5 speed (although he has been reportedly clocked faster), he has the right blend of talents to go along with the smarts and the makeup to revolve a pro passing attack around. If someone can get him the ball on a regular basis, he'll carry the offense at times and he has the talent and ability to force safeties to rotate over to him on every play.

2) In the new defensive scheme, former defensive end Justin Houston will be turned loose as an outside linebacker. One of the SEC's premier pass rushers, the 6-3, 259-pound junior made 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss along with 39 tackles in a full-time role after missing the first few games of last season due to a suspension for violating the team's drug policy. He's going to have to do more against the run now that he's playing with his hand off the ground, but he'll also get a head start and more space to move to fly into the backfield on every play.
3) There wasn't much of a buzz about junior Drew Butler taking over the punting job last year. All he did was bomb away for a 48.1-yard average, put 19 inside the 20, and crank out 24 kicks of more than 50 yards on his way to the Ray Guy Award. Consistent and a weapon who bailed out the offense and gave the defense a few big breaks, he'll be one of the SEC's most important players.