Monday, July 02, 2007

2007 BCS Conference Team Preview: Florida

As part of TSE's Countdown to College Football, TSE regular Joe Table Blew It will preview all of the BCS conference teams: The Big XII, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big East, Pac-10, and Notre Dame. This post focuses on The University of Florida, and their attempt to repeat as National Champions.

Florida really knew the right way to celebrate their 100th season of playing football: they beat the unbeatable Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14 to win their second National Championship in school history. The win came as a huge surprise to the majority of college football, but not to the Gainesville faithful, who believed that Urban Meyer would deliver, and deliver he did. Now, what can he give the Swamp for an encore?

The Gators will have to start their repeat bid by replacing the backfield--sort of. Part-time quarterback Tim Tebow, who was used exclusively last year in short yardage situations, will now be the full-time starter, replacing Chris Leak who is moving on to the NFL. Leading rusher DeShawn Wynn is also gone, leaving Tebow as not only the top returning passer, but rusher as well. Junior running back Kestahn Moore is slated to replace Wynn, and the junior is your typical Florida running back: undersized (5-10, 208). Replacing the receiving corps will also be another challenge to Meyer's spread offense, losing two of his three top gaining receivers from last year's squad, Dallas Baker and Jemalle Cornelius. The good thing about replacing these two guys is that in a perfect spread offense, the ball is evenly distributed to various receivers. Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, and the electric Jarred Fayson will be the ball-catchers this year, and should fit right in to the system Coach Meyer has perfected. There should be no questions on the offensive line, probably the strongest unit of this Florida offense. The unit is returning four out of five starters, with Senior Drew Miller switching from guard to center this year. Seniors Phil Trautwein, Carlton Medder, and Junior Jim Tartt join Miller as returning starters on Florida's stout O-Line.


This side of the ball will determine how good Florida can be this year. The biggest issue is right up front, where the Gators have to replace Troy Smith's favorite defensive end Jarvis Moss, along with three other starters. The linebackers are all new as well, as Earl Everett and Brandon Siler move on, sophomores Brandon Spikes and Dustin Doe will attempt to match their production of 50 tackles apiece. Probably the most difficult person to replace on this defense comes int he secondary. Reggie Nelson, the free safety who seemed to always be around the ball, will be the biggest position player that Florida will miss on either side of the ball this year. Nobody played the deep third better than he did in college football last year, and was one of the biggest reasons Florida was playing in the National Championship game. Senior Kyle Jackson has the unenviable task of replacing the prolific Nelson.

Even though Florida has to replace virtually all of their offensive and defensive playmakers, the Gators are the class of the SEC and have the potential to be that way for the foreseeable future. Urban Meyer's coaching is unmatched in one of the best coached conferences in college football. The true test of this team's will could be the back to back match ups against SEC West foes Auburn at home and LSU in the Bayou. With the SEC East being supremely less talented than Florida, these two games will be the best test of the revamped Gator offense and defense. I think Florida avenges their only 2006 loss by beating Auburn at home, but they lose to LSU on the road, and then again in the SEC Championship game.


Ghost of Carl Monday said...

I'm doing Ohio State's preview.

Joe Table Blew It said...

doesn't look like it