Year 2 begins for Will Muschamp at Florida with a box of chocolates on offense and a seasoned defense.
Brent Pease does not have to perform a complete re-building job, as part of the direction from the head coach was to keep as much terminology as possible from the previous year. However, he has to be more creative with his schemes and motion, and find a way to maximize a mixed-bag of unknown and misused talent trying to run it’s 3rd offense in 3 years.
Both Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will play, as neither has separated himself from the other yet. I am looking for which QB executes in the passing game better – which guy reads the defense properly and, more importantly, quickly and in rhythm with his receivers. Florida should be able to overpower Bowling Green on the ground, but can a second RB earn the trust of the coaches behind Mike Gillislee? Can any of the WRs develop chemistry with the QBs and be a clutch player? Is there any deep threat after Andre Debose? Can any of the TEs behind Jordan Reed block in the running game at all or become a legitimate receiving threat? As I said in the season preview……many more questions than answers right now……I’m not sure I’m going to like the first few chocolates out of the 2012 box just yet.
The strength of the 2012 Gators is their defense. It appears that some quality depth has been established in the LB and secondary units, after leaning heavily on the defensive line last season. It’s time for the back seven to become playmakers and help the offense out. The rotation in the DL looks solid even with Dominique Easley a question mark coming back from knee surgery. Sharrif Floyd is poised for a breakout year. Tank Morrison and Michael Taylor will get a lot of snaps to prove they can contribute at LB behind Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, and Lerentee McCray. The CB position gets a huge boost with the return of two guys from injury – Marcus Roberson and Jeremy Brown (again), even if they still have some rust after their injuries and missing spring practice. Jabari Gorman looked great throughout the spring and will get a lot of snaps. The biggest worry is at safety – no consistent performer returns after Matt Elam, with inexperience behind Josh Evans and Pop Saunders, neither of whom stood out last season. Lots of young players, including true freshmen, will get a long look early this year.
BGSU might hang around for 1-2 quarters on emotion and adrenaline, but Florida outclasses the Falcons across the board. There is no second cupcake in the new schedule format – it’s time to sharpen up the performance right away before a dangerous SEC opener on the road at Texas A&M.
The mantra for the opener is, as always, NO INJURIES.
Prediction – UF 38 BGSU 10