#11 Florida Football 2013 Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #11
#5 SEC

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Florida took an incredible leap in Will Muschamp’s second season in Gainsville.  After going 7-6 in 2011, the Gators posted an 11-2 record and found themselves in the Sugar Bowl.  After winning two national championships in three years under Urban Meyer, Florida may be ascending to the top of the SEC once again.  They will have to find a way to bypass Georgia, a most hated rival, who has been on top of the East division for a few seasons now.  Quarterback Jeff Driskel is back and he will have to take this offense to the next level for Florida to reach greater heights.

2012 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2012 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Louisville (L 23-33)
Coach: Will Muschamp (18-8 at Florida, 18-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Pease
Defensive Coordinator:  D.J. Durkin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jeff Driskel, QB, 413 yards
Passing: Jeff Driskel, QB, 1,646 yards
Receiving: Quinton Dunbar, WR, 383 yards
Tackles: Loucheiz Purifoy, DB, 51
Sacks: Dominique Easley, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Jaylen Watkins, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Matt Jones, WR Trey Burton, C Jonotthan Harrison, OL Jon Halaplo, CB Marcus Roberson, P Kyle Christy

Key Losses: RB Mike Gillislee, TE Jordan Reed, OL James Wilson, LB Johnathan Bostic, S Matt Elam, DL Sharif Floyd, DL Omar Hunter, DB Josh Evans, K Caleb Sturgis

The defense was crazy good last season.  Muschamp has always built great defenses wherever he has been.  They ranked top five nationally in three major defensive categories, and they attacked the line of scrimmage.  Led by Matt Elam, the defense picked off the opposition 20 times last season.  That is a major reason they were seventh in turnover margin.  A lot of strong players on that side of the ball have moved on though, including Elam.  NFL draft picks like Johnathan Bostic and Sharrif Floyd have vacated and left big holes in their wake.  Florida has talent and Muschamp will try to maximize it with his new pieces.  The running game was solid last year behind Mike Gillislee.  They ranked third in the conference at 188 yards per game.  Gillislee is gone now, so filling his role will be vital.  Can that strong rushing attacked be maintained?  Their returning leading rusher is the starting quarterback.

Everything is going to fall on Jeff Driskel because the passing game was subpar last season.  They ranked dead last in the SEC in passing yards at 146 per game.  Driskel did not even eclipse 2,000 passing yards for the season.  Granted he is not asked to throw as much as some of his counterparts and he only had 245 attempts last year.  But he is going to have to improve for Florida to reach championship levels.  Their entire offense was held back because they were one dimensional.  The best teams in the country are well balanced.  Things broke their way last season to reach the 11-win mark.  Opponents will find a way to exploit a poor passing game if the Gators can give them a reason to.  Additionally, Driskel is going to have to make quicker decisions to get the ball out.  He was sacked three times per game in 2012.  Yes, the line has to protect him, but hopefully his experience will allow him to be smarter about taking negative plays.  SEC defenses come fast.  Quicker reads avoid disaster.

The Bottom Line:
Florida may not hit 11 wins in 2013 like they did in 2012, but that does not mean they will be a bad team.  With such a poor passing offense, their defense carried them to a BCS bowl bid.  The offense is going to have to help the other side out eventually.  It will be hard for the defense to duplicate such a stifling performance.  Driskel must show improvement for Florida to be a great offensive team.  Indications are that he has taken strides.  He had a setback with an appendectomy procedure, but he should be back for the first game.  Look for Florida to be in the mix in the East.  South Carolina and Georgia appear to be stronger.  But don’t doubt a team that boasts a strong defense.

Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 188.08 (39th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 146.31 (114, 14)
Total Offense: 334.38 (103, 12)
Scoring Offense: 26.46 (76, 10)
Rushing Defense: 94.92 (4, 2)
Pass Defense: 192.54 (17, 4)
Total Defense: 287.46 (5, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.46 (5, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.15 (7, 3)
Sacks: 2.31 (42, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 3.0 (106, 13)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#9 Loucheiz Purifoy
#45 Marcus Roberson
#62 Dominique Easley
#83 Chaz Green
#118 Ronald Powell

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#2 Vernon Hargreaves
#17 Kelvin Taylor
#45 Alex Anzalone
#54 Daniel McMillian
#70 Marcell Harris
#95 Caleb Brantley
#128 Matt Rolin
#140 Ahmad Fulwood
#153 Keanu Neal
#157 Nick Washington
#174 Demarcus Robinson
#212 Alvin Bailey
#226 Jordan Sherit


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