Comparing The Gators: 02 vs. 05

Over the last three years so much was said and written about how the "cupboard was bare" in January of 2002 that I was ready to scream. Not only was the portrayal of the roster completely inaccurate, it created the illusion that Florida was talent-less in the 2002 season.

So before we have three more years of either a "bare cupboard" or a loaded one, I thought I'd take a look unit by unit at two squads. Part one, today we'll look at the two offenses in terms of personnel. This analysis is mine and mine alone and you are free to agree or disagree till your heart's content. I base my judgments on what the returning players in 2002 had shown and what I believed their abilities to be, just as I will assess the 2005 Gators in the very same way. All the stats I reference will be for their play prior to the 2002/2005 seasons.

Let the arguing begin!

Quarterback

Chris Leak is coming off a season in which he passed for 3,197 yards with 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In two years, one as a full-time starter the other as a part-timer Leak has passed for 5,632 yards, 45 TD and 23 interceptions.

Rex Grossman in 2001 was the Heisman runner-up after passing for 3,896 yards, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In his two years at this stage, one as full-time start, one as part-time, Grossman had passed for 5,762 yards with 55 TD and 19 interceptions.

Advantage 2002

Running Back

This was clearly advantage '05 until Ciatrick Fason decided to end his college career. It is now fairly close, if you get the 2003 DeShawn Wynn. Neither Wynn nor Skyler Thornton did much last year, combining for 447 yards and six touchdowns. But you cannot ignore Wynn's 540/7 in 2003.

2002 counters that with Earnest Graham who had already posted three seasons of 600-plus yards, totaling 1,980 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Advantage 2002

Tight Ends

Despite a late flurry from Tate Casey (8 receptoions, 4 td) the returning Gator tight ends in 2005 have little on their resume.

In ‘02 Florida returned a talented tandem in Aaron Walker (16 receptions, 2 td) and Ben Troupe (9 receptions, 1 td). While I like the potential of both Casey and Dane Guthrie, at this time it isn't close.

Advantage 2002

Wide Receivers

The 2002 Gators were led by Taylor Jacobs (38 receptions, 7 td) and Carlos Perez (11 receptions, 3 td). Kelvin Kight and Brian Haugabrook were also coming back but neither had done much.

The '05 Gators return Andre Caldwell (43 receptions, 3 td) Chad Jackson (29 receptions, 6 td) Dallas Baker (26 receptions, 5 td) and Jemalle Cornelius (12 receptions, 3 td). This is the most one-sided difference between the overall units of the two teams.

HUGE advantage 2005

Offensive Line

The 2002 Gators returned, in essence half the line with full-time starters Shannon Snell and Max Starks along with half-timer David Jorgensen. That group was to be bolstered by Jonathan Colon and redshirt freshmen Mike Degory and Lance Butler.

The '05 Gators come back with Degory, Butler and Randy Hand as established starters while Steve Rissler and Tavares Washington have shown more at this stage than the reserves of three years ago.

Advantage 2005.

So on one side of the ball at least, the differences between the 2002 Florida Gator football team Ron Zook inherited and the 2005 squad Urban Meyer is taking over are rather minimal. I believe the '05 offense has greater potential than the '02 unit because of its dramatic superiority at wide receiver. The key for the '05 offense will be to replace Fason and establish a left tackle. That, and not repeating the mistakes of '02 by letting the quarterback do whatever he pleases for the first half of the season.

Next time out, we'll compare the defenses and specialists for the two units.

From The E-Mail Bag

Most of my email lately has been about recruiting which is an area I spend much less time in and defer to the expertise of the rest of the folks on the board in that regard.

Roy writes: "I know we just finished the stadium renovation but we have to keep up to date. When can we expect an indoor football practice space? "

While this is not a huge priority for UF it certainly would be a good thing to have, especially if you could combine it with an indoor track which opens up some cool possibilities for improvements to the O'Dome. The problem with an indoor facility (other than cost) is location. The only place where there is enough land available is out by 34th Street where the softball stadium, rec center and other things exist. That creates a logistical problem with getting the players to the facility for practices.

If there was enough money, I would vote to build a state-of-the-art baseball stadium out on 34th Street and then convert the McKeithen Stadium area into an indoor multi-purpose facility. But I don't got the money… do you?


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