Gator Offense of the Decade

The recently concluded decade of Florida Football would be the second best second in school history behind the 1990's in my opinion. Yes, the Gators did win two BCS National Championships this decade as opposed to one in the '90's, but the Gators won five SEC Titles in that decade as opposed to three this time around.

The Gators of the '90s also should have been the 1990 SEC Champs and lost only 22 games the entire decade. Since 2000 the Gators have lost 30 times.

But this article is about the best players, position by position that played for the Gators during these ten years. This is my judgment, evaluated by Bob Redman at the end of the column and I will offer the same analysis of Bob's selections for defense. We of course welcome your questions, comments and cheap shots.

Because of differing offensive schemes and alignments we will actually have 13 players on our offense, which would make it really tough to defend. Our unit will include a FB, two RB and three WR in addition to a QB, TE and five OL.

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LT Mike Pearson ---- The Seffner Armwood product was not a mauler, but was a very athletic, technically outstanding blocker in the earlier part of this decade. Pearson did a great job protecting the back side for Rex Grossman who never would have had those gaudy stats without him. He was a two-time All-SEC pick.

RT Max Starks ---- Big Max was not only one of the top blockers of the decade he was also one of the best interviews. A remarkably bright you man, Starks was more of that "mauler" type up front. If he got his hands on you it was over. He continues to excel with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was an All-SEC pick in 2003.

LG Michael Pouncey ---- Mike stepped in at UF and earned playing time right away before switching to the defensive line late in his rookie season. He's lined up inside alongside his brother ever since, giving the Gators a powerful, driving force in the middle of their front wall.

RG Maurkice Pouncey ---- Ok, I'm cheating a little bit here, but the Gators have had three All-SEC centers in this decade but only one All-SEC guard. There's little doubt Maurkice would have earned such honors playing on the right side if it cane to that. I'd switch to Carl Johnson is I had to.

C Mike Degory ---- The "Grizzly Adams" look a like was a three time All-SEC pick. Degory was a very smart player and very effective.

TE Aaron Hernandez ---- Florida actually had four TE earn first or second team All-SEC honors this decade, but Hernandez clearly is the best of the group. The junior from Connecticut set a new school record for receptions by a TE this season (59) bringing him to over 100 catches (102) in his Gator career. He's caught 11 TD passes and is closing in on 13-hundred (1,271) yards. The Sugar Bowl is likely to mark the end of his Gator career.

WR Jabar Gaffney ---- He only played two seasons for the Gators after redshirting in 1999 but quickly evolved into one of the best receivers in school history. Gaffney caught 138 passes for 2,375 yards and 27 TD in those two seasons. He's the only receiver in school history with consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.

WR Andre Caldwell ---- It's not easy to make the All-Decade team without leading the team in receptions for any single season, but "Bubba" got it done. Caldwell broke the school record with 185 receptions. Those catches were good for 2,349 yards, which is third best in UF annals. He also overcame a broken leg to have an outstanding Florida career.

WR Percy Harvin ---- With the possible exception of Wes Chandler, Harvin is the most dynamic player in school history. He ran for 1,852 yards and 19 TD and also caught 133 passes for another 1,929 yards and 13 scores. He is the first player in school history to top 15-hundred yards in both categories as well as the only Gator to score more than 10 TD each way. Harvin averaged a phenomenal 11.6 yards per touch from scrimmage.

FB Billy Latsko ---- It's pretty rare for a running back that doesn't touch the ball to be the key to a BCS National Title, but the emergence of Latsko as a crucial blocker made it possible for the Florida offense to take off late in the '06 season. The 2010 Gators need TJ Pridemore or Steven Wilks to become the Latsko of their generation.

RB Ciatrick Fason ---- "C-4" was an explosive force for the Gators in 2004 when he raced for 1,267 yards – the highest single season total for any Gator runner since 2000. Fason also caught 35 passes and scored 12 TD combined rushing and receiving. He is one of those guys who probably should have stayed another year and developed more physicality to his game before moving on to the next level.

RB Earnest Graham ---- Graham was the other Gator with a 1,000 yard season this year gaining 1,085 in 2002. He led the Gators in rushing in 2001 as well and I remain convinced that team goes unbeaten if he stayed healthy. The Gators lost to Auburn (23-20) and Tennessee (34-32) in the two games Graham was out. He gained over 24-hundred rushing yards in the decade with 28 rushing TD.

QB Tim Tebow ---- Rex Grossman had the best season passing the ball this decade (3,896 yards, 34 TD). Chris Leak set the school record passing for 11,213 yards and was the MVP of the 2006 BCS Title Game. Yet, choosing Tebow was an absolute no brainer. Tebow is the first player in the history of college football to run (56) and pass (85) for more than 50 yards in his career. He broke SEC records that were held by Danny Wuerffel (TD responsibility 141) and Herschel Walker (career rushing TD) among others. He played an important role on one BCS Championship team and was the star of another. His 2007 will long be remembered as one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of college football when he ran and passed for 4,181 yards and 55 TD.

Well, Bob that's my offense, what do you think?

Wow Larry, I searched the back corners of my mind and couldn't come up with an argument against any of these guys.

At some positions there are no-brainers, but at some positions some very deserving players aren't included.

At quarterback no one with a bit of sanity would argue with Tebow, but you leave off the Gators' all time leading passer in Chris Leak. You also leave off Rex Grossman who may have had the greatest statistical year of any quarterback ever in 2001.

I would have liked to see Ben Troupe in the Meyer offense as a spread out tight end, but no one really matches Hernandez's productivity.

At receiver, there are some good one's left off the list, but your group is outstanding. Taylor Jacobs had a 1,000 yard year in 2002. Louis Murphy had two great seasons at Florida.

I don't like agreeing with you, so I think the defensive list will be fun. Also, I plan on cheating like you and at least adding one extra defender on defense.


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