1. With the regular season over, has Florida met or failed expectations?
The Gators absolutely met and exceeded all of the expectations from just about every fan you would talk to. Pegged to win no more than eight games, Florida went 11-1 and won four games against teams with 10 wins and teams that finished in the top 12 of the polls.
Offensively they showed a running game that they haven't produced in a while while falling behind in the passing game with a rookie quarterback and everyone leaning a new system.
Defensively, Florida may very well have had the best defense in America when all is said and done. Led by a secondary that improved more than any unit in America, the defense was always there for the offense to lean on in each and every game.
Not to be outdone, Florida's special teams were brilliant most of the year and led by all-SEC punter Kyle Christy and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
2. What one player has made the difference this season?
thwe one guy that likely made the most difference for the Gators is running back Mike Gillislee. He came into the season with no fanfare and left on the All-SEC first team. He ran for over 11 yards and no back at Florida has run for over 1,000 yards since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the bowl game?
The passing game has to get better in protecting the quarterback, the quarterback running the passing game and the receivers doing their part. They have a lot of work to do to be a better unit.
4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?
Strong finishes have been the dominant headlines. Florida trailed in over half their games going into half time and still won 11 of 12 contests. A year ago Florida couldn't finish games and in 2012, they were almost always the stronger team at the end of games.
5. If the recruiting class stays in-tact, what are your expectations for next season?
Florida will have a lot to replace on defense with graduation and NFL defections. Still, they are a defensive minded squad and with Will Muschamp at the hem you know he is going to recruit and coach up the defenders like he needs to. They have a lot of quality defenders coming on board and some young guys that got valuable playing experience in 2012.
Offensively they are signing a few skill guys that will no doubt help this team tremendously. they need quality and depth at receiver and running back and it appears they are getting that and will likely add more as the recruiting cycle finishes.
Florida adds Miami to the non-conference schedule and replaces Texas A&M with Arkansas so the schedule will be about the same overall. I expect the offense to improve a lot under a second year quarterback and players all in the same system for another year. The defense needs to strengthen up the middle with all the defections with all of their losses coming.
Overall I think Florida could duplicate their record and should have a chance to win every game on the schedule next year. The Gators may very well be the top pick in the East to start next year.