#30 Florida Football 2014 Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #30
#8 SEC

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Back in 2011 and 2012, Florida’s anemic offense was covered by the stout defense. Last year the offense ranked 113th in the nation in total offense and 112th in scoring offense. Even a quality defense could not get the Gators into a bowl game. After starting out 4-1, Florida lost their last seven games of the season. Sure some of those games were against ranked teams like LSU and Florida State, but they also fell at home to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern.

2013 Record: 4-8, 3-5
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Will Muschamp (22-16 at Florida, 22-16 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kurt Roper
Defensive Coordinator: D.J. Durkin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mack Brown, RB, 543 yards
Passing: Jeff Driskel, QB, 477 yards
Receiving: Quinton Dunbar, WR, 548 yards
Tackles: Michael Taylor, LB, 62
Sacks: Dante Fowler, DL, 3.5
Interceptions: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Kelvin Taylor, RB Matt Jones, LB Antonio Morrison, S Jabari Gorman

Key Losses: QB Tyler Murphy, WR Solomon Patton, WR Trey Burton, OL Jonotthan Harrison, S Jaylen Watkins, DB Louchiez Purifoy, DB Cody Riggs

Once again Florida will have to rely on their defense. The entire starting front four is back and junior end Dante Fowler is ready for a breakout season. Jonathan Bullard is another big time talent, but he tallied just 1.5 sacks in 2013. The Gators as a whole ranked 11th in the SEC in sacks, so getting consistent pressure from Fowler and Bullard is very important. Antonio Morris and Michael Taylor were the team’s top two tacklers, but the linebackers need to make more big plays. Jarrad Davis showed plenty of promise as a freshman and is ready to step into a starting role. With that experience and talent, it is hard to see the Florida linebackers struggling as much as they did in 2013. The secondary has the most holes to fill. Sophomore Vernon Hargreaves is one of the best corners in the country, but there will be plenty of inexperience around him. This was one of the best pass defenses in the country a year ago. They will take a step back in 2014, but not much of one with Hargreaves leading the way.

The offense has potential because of the ground game. Kelvin Taylor was forced into action when Matt Jones went down with an injury. Taylor rushed for 508 yards and four touchdowns, but more importantly he showed potential. Jones is also healthy and back. In five games prior to his injury, he rushed for 339 yards and two scores. Speaking of players back from injury, quarterback Jeff Driskel returns after breaking his leg three games into the 2013 campaign. Florida is trying to mix things up by moving to a spread offense and that is a perfect fit for Driskel. However, the new offense is not going to go anywhere if depth on the offensive line is not found. The starting five has some experience, but there is virtually none behind them. An injury or two is sure to happen at some point throughout the year and that could quickly put an end to any progress the skill players on offense are making.

The Bottom Line:
Florida will have a little time to get things rolling with home games against Idaho and Eastern Michigan to begin the season. Coach Will Muschamp is taking a gamble that the new spread offense will pay off and he may not have time to wait. Unfortunately for Florida, their crossover games to the SEC West include Alabama and LSU. This team is too talented to not reach a bowl game again, but competing for an SEC title is asking too much.

Projected Bowl: Belk Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 145.8 (87th in nation, 13th in conference)
Passing Offense: 170.9 (107, 12)
Total Offense: 316.7 (113, 14)
Scoring Offense: 18.8 (112, 14)
Rushing Defense: 142.4 (33, 2)
Pass Defense: 171.8 (7, 1)
Total Defense: 314.3 (8, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.1 (15, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.17 (74, 12)
Sacks: 1.58 (94, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 2.25 (77, 12)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#13 Dante Fowler

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#19 Jalen Tabor
#35 David Sharpe
#44 Gerald Willis
#47 Thomas Holley
#54 Will Grier
#119 Khairi Clark
#124 Treon Harris
#139 J.C. Jackson
#192 Duke Dawson


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