Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE The Florida Gators begin their title defense this week versus a sacrificial lamb called Charleston Southern. To those familiar with Florida football it comes as no surprise that the Gators have 2 patsies to open the season (Troy being the week 2 opponent) before starting SEC play against eternal rival Tennessee.
Preseason camp is over and only 2 question remains on the nation's #1 team. Who will replace Percy Harvin and how will the receiving core adjust to losing its 2 starters (Louis Murphy being the other)? The answers at this point are; not one person will replace Harvin and the receiving core remains the weakest element on an otherwise loaded team.
A player like Percy Harvin comes around once every few years in college football. That is why the coaching staff knows that not a single player can fill his role on the offense. There was some hope incoming true freshman Andre Debose could fill the void, but Debose will now be sidelined for several weeks with what is believed to be a torn tendon in his groin. The injury plagued Debose all summer and carried into fall practice. As a result he has yet to fully grasp the Gator offense and cannot be expected to contribute at least until late in the season. The good news is that 4 receivers are now ready to take charge of the offense. Seniors Riley Cooper and David Nelson, both over 6'3, will try to replace Louis Murphy as the possession receivers. Nelson came on strong late last year with touchdowns in both the SEC title and the National title games. Cooper enjoys an excellent rapport with Tebow, they have been roommates throughout their college careers. He has scored 9 TDs in his first 3 years as a Gator and is an excellent downfield blocker. Senior Brandon James and sophomore Deonte Thompson will provide the “big playability” needed from the wide receiver position. James has excelled as a special teams specialist, he holds the school record for punt returns for touchdowns and has made numerous big plays throughout his career. Thompson is expected to make strides this year after having played his first full year in 2008. But just when you thought the Gators might actually be weak at a position this year, I must remind everyone that standout TE Aaron Hernandez (preseason 3rd team all SEC) is back and will be utilized heavily in the passing game.
The running back position, once considered the weakest position on the team by Coach Meyer, is now a team strength. The Gators have a 3 headed monster ground attack, excluding Tebow of course. Jeff Demps will start and will also move over to the “P” position (the position held by Havin in the Meyer Spread) at times to increase “big playability”. Chris Rainey will second Demps as he is cut from the same mold; that is blazing quick, fearless, smallish and good at catching out of the backfield. Emmanuel Moody will be more of the traditional in-between the tackles runner. All 3 have won praise from Coach Meyer for their work this offseason and I expect all 3 to contribute heavily to the rushing attack. So much has been said of the trio that the coaching staff is making new schemes that would put in 2 RBs at the same time. With the “three headed monster” installed, don't expect Tim Tebow to rush as often, especially on short yardage situations.
There is talk of a new offense in Gainsville, one where Tebow lines up under center, where the I formation is prominent, 2 Rbs in backfield, and so on. The reality is that Meyer is planning on making minor adjustments to his offense, but I wouldn't expect a dramatic change. Why fix something if it isn't broken? Tebow will line up under center sometimes, but not very often. The I formation will be included in the gameplan, but it won't be the base of the offense, far from it. The most important changes will be the inclusion of 2 RB packages and a no huddle offense (not all game like at Oklahoma however) to keep defenses unsettled.
About the Author
Written by The Gator Great