The Florida Gators have begun their quest to defend the national title they wrestled away from Oklahoma in the BCS Championship game at the Orange bowl last January. “Two a days” began last Thursday in Gainsville and there is great optimism amongst the Gator faithful to not only defend the title successfully, but to deliver the school’s first undefeated season.
The reasons for this optimism are plenty. First and foremost Superman is still in town (Tim Tebow) and his defensive counterpart has also returned for his senior season (Brandon Spikes). These two preseason All-Americans are the heart and soul of the Gator offense and defense. They are 2 proven leaders that will be called upon by Coach Meyer to lead this team into greatness. However, there is more good news in Gainsville. The stout defense that held the record setting Sooner offense (most points in a season in NCAA history) to 2 touchdowns in the season finale returns the entire 2 deep roster! That’s no typo folks, 22 players return on defense for the Gators. The last bit of good news is a rarity to Florida fans, the schedule is shaping up to be one of the softest in decades, with 7 home games and only 4 road games (plus the World’s Largest Cocktail Party held annually in Jacksonville vs UGA). The night game at LSU will be the toughest game of the season and will decide whether or not the Gators play in the Rose Bowl for all the marbles. Florida has never won a night game in Death (Deaf) Valley, Tim Tebow has never won there either and you can rest assured the Tigers will be ready for that one. (Oct 10th, 8pm eastern, CBS)
The biggest concern for the Gators will be to replace “Mr do it all ” Percy Harvin, who left early to join the Vikings in the NFL. Harvin was the Gators premier playmaker and so far no one has stepped up to the plate. Sophomore speedster Jeff Demps will get first crack at his wr/rb hybrid role. Demps, a world class sprinter, had a surprisingly strong freshman season (7.8y per carry, 600yds, 8 Tds) and has won coach Meyer’s confidence. Highly touted incoming freshman Andre Debose will also get his chance. Debose was recruited to play the same role as Harvin in the Meyer spread. In all likelihood Harvin will be replaced by a group of players that are capable of contributing. Aside from the aforementioned, senior return specialist Brandon James and sophomore RB Chris Rainey will also have their share of big plays.
With a lack of proven playmakers, the receiving corps remains the biggest question mark on this team. The loss of Harvin and Louis Murphy (Raiders) means the Gators must replace both starting receivers. There are plenty of able bodies on the team, a good mixture of seniors (Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Carl Moore) and talented underclassmen (Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond Jr, Omerius Hines, Jusin Williams) to choose from. “Two a days” will let us know who gets first dibs at catching Superman’s passes. The WR situation would be more alarming if the offense didn’t count on TE Aaron Hernandez, who should continue his ascent to stardom.
All in all, folks in Gainsville have nothing to complain about.
Stay tuned for upcoming pre-season reports.
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Written by The Gator Great