#21 Florida Football 2012 Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #21
#7 SEC
Florida College Football 2012 Team Preview
Florida Team Page


Florida struggled with the transition to Coach Will Muschamp. Their three conference wins were against Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt and those were the three quality wins of their six prior to gaining some much needed momentum by beating Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Even by SEC standards the Gators defense played very well and they were often put in tough situations. The offense has a lot of rebuilding to do, but year two under Coach Muschamp will be much better for Florida.

2011 Record: (7-6, 3-5)
2011 Bowl: Gator Bowl vs. Ohio State (W 24-17)
Coach: Will Muschamp (7-6 at Florida, 7-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Pease
Defensive Coordinator: Dan Quinn

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mike Gillislee, RB, 328 yards
Passing: Jacoby Brissett, QB, 206 yards
Receiving: Andre Debose, WR, 432 yards
Tackles: Jonathan Bostic, LB, 94
Sacks: Ronald Powell, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Matt Elam, S, 2; De’Ante Saunders, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: DE Dominique Easley, S Josh Evans, DT Sharrif Floyd, G Jon Halaplo, C Jonotthan Harrison, LB Jelani Jenkins, DE Lerentee McCray, LB Antonio Morrison, OT Xavier Nixon, OT Matt Patchan, TE Jordan Reed, CB Cody Riggs, CB Marcus Roberson, K Caleb Sturgis, CB Jaylen Watkins

Key Losses: QB John Brantley, RB Jeff Demps, DE William Green, DT Jaye Howard, RB Chris Rainey, WR Deonte Thompson, G Dan Wegner

The Florida front line is loaded with talent even if end Ronald Powell is out for the year after suffering an ACL injury in the spring. It is hoped that Powell will return by the middle of the season, but it will be a wait and see issue throughout most of the fall. In the meantime Lerentee McCray will likely move to Powell’s “Buck” position from the linebacker spot he started at last season. Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd are back to man their starting spots on the line and nose tackle Omar Hunter is an experienced senior who has started a handful of games throughout his career and has certainly paid his dues. The linebackers return two of the best in the conference in Jonathan Bostic and Jelani Jenkins. Bostic led the Gators with 94 tackles last season and Jenkins is a versatile player who can get into the backfield and drop back in coverage. The secondary is very strong at the safety spots with Matt Elam, Josh Evans and De’Ante Saunders. Elam has emerged as a big hitter who can make big plays. He was second on the team with 78 tackles as a sophomore and also picked off a couple passes, forced a couple fumbles and recorded a team high seven pass breakups. Cornerback Marcus Roberson was emerging as a top flight cornerback during his freshman campaign before suffering a neck injury. If he keeps improving, the Florida secondary will be in great shape. And if the injury bug should strike again, the Gators have juniors Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins to pick up the slack.

The Gators have a lot of work to do offensively. This was not a terribly consistent offense to begin with, ranking 105th in the nation in total offense. And now they have to replace quarterback John Brantley, running back Jeff Demps and all-purpose superstar Chris Rainey, who led the team in carries and receptions. The most attention is obviously being given to the quarterback battle between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. They are both sophomores with plenty of upside. Driskel can move around a little better in the pocket, but both have strong arms and this battle may not be over even after Coach Muschamp names a starter in the fall. Either way, Brissett or Driskel will likely provide more consistency than Brantley did last season. But the new quarterback will not have the same weapons. Mike Gillislee had a great offseason and will start at running back. A season ago, stuck behind Rainey and Demps, Gillislee rushed for 328 yards and two touchdowns. The receivers rarely got to show off their stuff last season since Brantley usually made short passes to Rainey or tight end Jordan Reed. Reed is back and a great target who can flex out wide if new offensive coordinator Brent Pease wants to spread things out a little bit. Andre Debose is the top returning wide receiver and he only caught 16 passes last season. The group is talented, but unproven.

The Bottom Line:
The offense cannot be much worse in 2012, but they also have the potential to be so much better. There are certainly questions that need to be answered, like who is the quarterback? However, whoever is playing will have a very talented offensive line to work with. This is the SEC after all and the play in the trenches means everything. The Gators return four starters from a unit that did very well considering the relatively low expectations heading into 2011. Now they have experience to go along with their talent. Tackles Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan can keep the new quarterback up right against some of the best ends in the nation and the interior of the line, featuring James Wilson, Jon Halaplo and center Jonotthan Harrison have the size and strength to pave the way for the ground game.

Projected Bowl: Gator Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 143.00 (73rd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 185.69 (89, 5)
Total Offense: 328.69 (105, 10)
Scoring Offense: 25.46 (71, 8)
Rushing Defense: 132.69 (40, 5)
Pass Defense: 166.85 (7, 3)
Total Defense: 299.54 (8, 5)
Scoring Defense: 20.31 (20, 5)
Turnover Margin: -.92 (113, 12)
Sacks: 2.15 (44, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (54, 4)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#18 Jelani Jenkins
#48 Sharrif Floyd
#72 Ronald Powell
#75 Xavier Nixon
#76 Matt Elam

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#5 D.J. Humphries
#19 Jonathan Bullard
#37 Dante Fowler Jr.
#57 Jessamen Dunker
#60 Brian Poole
#81 Kent Taylor
#113 Marcus Maye
#143 Colin Thompson
#162 Dante Phillips
#168 Matt Jones
#223 Jeremi Powell
#234 Antonio Morrison
#241 Latroy Pittman