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2012 SEC Football Reviews: Florida Gators
2011 Record: 7-6 (3-5 in SEC)
Head Coach: Will Muschamp
OFF. COORDINATOR: Brent Pease
DEF. COORDINATOR: Dan Quinn
Last Bowl Game: 2011 Gator Bowl: beat Ohio State 24-17
Returning Starters: (Offense: 7; Defense: 10)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB Mike Gillislee (328 yds rush, 5.86 ypc), WR Andre Debose (16 rec, 27 ypr), TE Jordan Reed (28 rec)
Key Defensive Returnees: S Matt Elam (78 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT), LB Jonathan Bostic (94 tackles, 3 sacks), LB Jelani Jenkins (75 tackles, 2 sacks), DT Sharrif Floyd (46 tackles), DE Dominique Easley (37 tackles)
Top Recruits: CB Brian Poole (Scout.com’s #2 CB), OT D.J. Humphries (#3 OT), DE Jonathan Bullard (#4 DE), TE Kent Taylor (#1 TE), TE Colin Thompson (#2 TE), S Marcus Maye (#7 S), DE Dante Fowler (#10 DE)
Florida’s offense was poor in 2011. It ranked eighth in the SEC in scoring offense, putting up 25.5 ppg, and 10th in total offense, averaging 328.7 ypg. Quarterback John Brantley graduated, leaving UF with no choice but to depend on a pair of sophomores.
Coach Will Muschamp announced last week that the Gators would be using a two quarterback system rather than settling for one. Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are mobile quarterbacks with strong arms. Both sophomores saw action last season but neither was very successful. They combined for only 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 73 pass attempts. The two QBs were highly-touted prospects coming out of high school in 2009, but neither of them has emerged as the favorite to win the starting job.
Other than quarterback struggles, last season the Gators had no receiver that caught for more than 400 yards last season. This season that could change. Returning are starters Quinton Dunbar (216 yards, 2 TDs), Frankie Hammond (181 yards), and tight end Jordan Reed (307 yards, 2 TDs). Speedy receiver Andre Debose comes back as well. The Gators need to find a way to get the ball to Debose. He has the potential to be a game changer.
The speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are gone, but the Gators should still have a solid running game. Senior Mike Gillislee has waited patiently for his turn and will have his chance to be an impact player on this Gator offense. That’s very likely with veteran help on the offensive line. Tackle Chaz Green, guard John Halapio and center Jonothan Harrison are all returning as starters.
In a conference filled with outstanding defenses, the Gators managed to rank sixth in scoring defense (20.6 ppg) and fifth in total defense (299.6 ypg). This unit is once again the strength of this year’s Florida Gators football team.
Florida has one of the most talented linebacking corps in the SEC. All three starting linebackers return. Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins will lead this defense. Lerentee McCray is solid. Bostic led the team with 94 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Jenkins had 75 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.
The secondary remains intact. Safeties Matt Elam (78 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries) and Josh Evans hope to improve after a successful season in 2011. De’Ante Saunders is expected to see plenty of playing time and could possibly be a starter in the first game. Corner Marcus Roberson was having a great year before sustaining a season ending neck injury against South Carolina. Loucheiz Purifoy will now start after being a reserve and special teamer most of last season.
The Gators’ defensive line should be exceptional. Losing Ronald Powell in the spring to a torn ACL is a bit of a burden. The good news is that he could be back by late October. Sharrif Floyd, Omar Hunter and Dominique Easley can hold down the line during Powell’s absence.
Florida’s defense will be feisty. Expect the Gators to be a top defensive team in the SEC this season.
|9/1||vs. Bowling Green||3:30 ET|
|9/8||at Texas A&M||3:30 ET|
|9/15||at Tennessee||6:00 ET|
|10/6||vs. 3 LSU||TBA|
|10/20||vs. 9 South Carolina||TBA|
|10/27||at 6 Georgia||3:30 ET|
|11/17||vs. Jacksonville State||TBA|
|11/24||at 7 Florida State||TBA|
Defensively, the Gators are sound. The offense is the issue. Who will step up at the quarterback position? What receiver will become a playmaker? The running game should be solid with Mike Gilleslie and Mack Brown getting the majority of carries. Jordan Reed will be a huge target at tight end. I believe the Gators will finish 3rd in the SEC East behind Georgia and South Carolina.
2012 Prediction: 8-4