Preseason No. 5 Makes Sense

The coaches who vote in the USA Today preseason poll probably got it about right when they tabbed the Gators the No. 5 team in the land entering 2008. While Florida is coming off a disappointing four loss season; the Gators are also entering '08 with the best offense in the country.

Florida should improve on last year's averages of 42.5 points and 457.2 total yards. If your offense is better than those numbers you're going to be very difficult to beat. The Gators scored 30 or more points in eleven games last season, falling short of that number only against Auburn (17) and LSU (24) on consecutive weekends.

The key to the Gators being one of the top five teams in the country is achieving dramatic improvement on defense. Last year Florida allowed five teams to score 30-plus points and Gator opponents averaged more than 250 yards a game through the air. Florida's rebuilt secondary must make tremendous strides, and the pass rush must get more than 29 sacks despite the absence of Derrick Harvey.

Coaches Love the SEC

Another thing that could get in the way of Florida's dream of a championship season is the joy of playing in the SEC. Georgia is the top Dawg in the poll this year with LSU holding down the spot right behind the Gators at No. 6. Auburn heads up the second ten at No. 11 with Tennessee at No. 18 and Alabama and South Carolina finishing with the 26th and 27th most votes.

The Gators catch a bit of a break with neither Auburn nor Alabama on this season's slate. Florida plays both of those teams while each will face LSU. Georgia's schedule gets an added jolt with No. 16 Arizona State, giving Mark Richt's team seven games against teams in the top 30. That's why that No. 1 ranking is unlikely to remain in Athens for the entire campaign.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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