Florida's Scoring Machine

We all know what the Florida offense accomplished last season, but it was a little short of the best offensive seasons ever. The Gators put up more than 42 points on opponents good for third best in the nation. With almost the entire offense intact, could 2008 be a record setting season?

The 1996 National Championship team threw up 46.6 points per game, and that mark remains the best ever in Gator history. Last season's offensive output ranks fifth all-time behind the 1995 (44.5), 2001 (43.8) and 1994 (43.4) teams.

There are several signs that point towards Florida breaking the mark set in 1996 when they take the field this fall, but there are also factors to be considered that could point towards them scoring fewer points than last year's 42.5.

Today, we'll take a look at the four factors that could point towards Florida having its greatest offensive season ever.

#1 Defensive Woes – It's no secret that the weakness to last year's Gator team was on defense. Florida wasn't able to get opponents off the field, preventing the offense from getting more possessions. Part of it was due to the new time rules that cut down possessions on both sides of the ball. In 1996, the Gator offense averaged 71.2 plays per game. But last season, Florida ran just 65.2 plays. Six more plays a game might have been just enough for the Gators to match the '96 team's 46.6 points per game. The more telling statistic might be in the first downs category. The 1996 defense allowed just 192 first downs all season – 16 per game. Last year, Florida allowed opponents to gain 262 first downs – more than 20 per game. Bottom line is if this year's defense that returns nine starters truly improves, the offense will have more chances to score.

#2 A Full Arsenal – The Gators were not short of offensive talent last season, but this year there will be even more. Florida has what many hope will be a more improved backfield with the eligibility of Emmanuel Moody, the now healthy Mon Williams and the spring emergence of Chris Rainey. Where much of last season featured the Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin show, there will be more options on the field this season for Tebow throw to as well. Florida is loaded at wide receiver with the likes of Deonte Thompson, Cornelius Ingram, Carl Moore, Louis Murphy and Riley Cooper. Oh yeah, and Harvin, too. That still doesn't consider tight end Aaron Hernandez and David Nelson and Justin Williams who are looking to do something before their time in the Orange and Blue runs out.

#3 A Year Under his Belt – It won't be easy for Tebow to improve on a Heisman Trophy season, but Tebow doesn't care about individual awards. As a freshman he experienced a national championship and he wants another. It will be tough to compare Tebow's season statistically with last year's, but with a full year as a starter under his belt, there are several things he can look to improve on during his junior season that could lead to more points. For starters, there was Tebow's inability to put together a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The staff spent a lot of time during the spring working on the two-minute drill to hopefully improve in that area. Second, with some experience, the tempo of the offense should improve. Many times last season, the play clock ran down to its final seconds before a play was run as Tebow tried to set up the right formation and read defenses. More efficient management of the play clock should lead to more plays, which should lead to more points.

#4 Turnovers – This again points to the inexperience of the defense last season, but the Gators simply did not create turnovers, which again kept the offense on the sidelines. Looking to the numbers in 1996, Florida forced 28 turnovers. Last year, Florida only forced 20 turnovers, and the '96 team played one fewer game. That's nearly one less turnover forced per game last season.

Tomorrow, we'll examine four things Florida did last season that will be tough to duplicate this fall.

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