Muschamp Needs Gators Healthy, Together

Will Muschamp's first Gator Football team has lost several players since the start of the calendar year, and as a result Florida's margin for error this fall keeps getting slimmer. The Gators could have fewer than 70 players available this fall and 15 of them will be true freshman 10 of whom did not take part in spring practice.

Thus a premium needs to be placed on the Gators putting a halt to the attrition that has plagued the team during the coaching transition and getting all hands on deck healthy for the fall

When the Gators started off the 2011 year it appeared that Muschamp and his staff would have quite a bit more talent on hand than they will end up with. Janoris Jenkins' off the field problems and Will Hill's inexplicable decision to head to the NFL removed two starters from the secondary. Then last week Chris Martin decided he'd been in one place long enough and a player who had the potential to help significantly improve Florida's anemic pass rush was off the roster as well.

Unofficially I have the Gators with 74 scholarship players heading into the fall, but that list includes a number of significant injury-plagued players who may not be able to compete at a high enough level. Florida can not really count on Matt Patchan, David Young, James Wilson or Dan Wenger this season. If they do not contribute the Gators will have just 10 offensive linemen in camp and two of them are rookies.

The depth concerns are equally significant on the other side of the line of scrimmage where the Gators have a total of 12 guys to play defensive tackle, defensive end and "Buck". Ideally you would want to have 10 players there, so there's not much wriggle room numbers wise. The Gators seems solid on the inside with a strong group of tackles, but on the outside the Gators' most experienced, productive player is sophomore Ronald Powell. The edge rush was a big weakness in 2010 and won't be much better unless William Green, Lerentee McCray and/or Lynden Trail can come a long way in a short time.

Linebacker is not a whole lot better with only 9 guys on hand and one of them, Neiron Ball seemingly very questionable. Muschamp has talked about keeping Gerald Christian on offense, but the versatile sophomore might be more valuable on the other side of the ball.

Roster management is a skill that is crucial in college football with 85 scholarships and the Gators haven't done it very well the last two years. The Gators head into 2011 with more healthy receivers (including tight ends) than offensive linemen and more defensive backs (13) than defensive linemen.

Due to those facts, Florida's key for the upcoming campaign might not be how brilliantly Charlie Weis, Muschamp and the rest of the coaching staff handle the "Xs" and "Os", but rather whether or not the Gators have enough healthy "Jessies" and Joes".

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