This fall, the Gators will bring back last season's team leaders in virtually every offensive category, as well as five of the top seven defensive producers from 2005.
The biggest question facing head coach Urban Meyer and the Gators this season is if they will be able to survive one of the toughest schedules in the country. Eight of their 12 opponents on the 2006 schedule played in bowl games last year, more than any other team ranked at the conclusion of last season.
Making the schedule exceptionally
difficult is a stretch of four consecutive games against powerhouses
The Gators will also close out the
regular season against archrival
Returning to lead the offense for
the fourth consecutive season will be quarterback Chris Leak (6-0, 210, Sr.).
During the past three years at
Returning to support Leak in the passing game is one of the nation's best receiving corps in the trio of Dallas Baker (6-3, 206, Sr.), Jemalle Cornelius (5-11, 190, Sr.) and Andre Caldwell (6-1, 200, Sr.).
Baker is the likely candidate for Leak's top target this season, and was the second receiver on the 2005 squad, just behind the now departed Chad Jackson. In his three years as a Gator, Baker has compiled 1,316 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
The least experienced of the three
returnees, Cornelius will fill in the No. three wide out spot and has received
for 642 yards and four touchdowns at
Also playing an expanded role in
2006 will be tight end Tate Casey (6-6, 219, Jr.), who's touches were limited
last season due to the use of four wide receivers. During his two years at
Returning to lead the Gator ground game will be running back DeShawn Wynn (5-11, 228, Sr.). During the past three seasons, Wynn has rushed for 1,378 yards and 19 touchdowns, while gaining 318 receiving yards for three touchdowns in the pass-oriented offense.
The Gator offensive front will consist of a majority of new faces in 2006, with right guard Steve Rissler (6-3, 310, Sr.) being the only returning player to the offensive line.
Defensively, Florida is bringing back starters in six positions, including last year's team leader in tackles, linebacker Earl Everett (6-4, 224, Sr.), who amassed 72 tackles on the season.
Joining Everett at linebacker will be returning starter Brandon Siler (6-2, 230, Jr.), who was second on the 2005 squad in tackles with 64 and tied for first on the team in quarterback hurries with seven.
Also returning to the defensive backfield are Kyle Jackson (6-0, 191, Jr.) and Reggie Nelson (6-1, 175, Jr.), who shared time at free safety last year and combined for 80 tackles and three interceptions.
Terrence Holmes (5-11, 200, Sr.) is the likely No. three safety, and has compiled 30 tackles and three interceptions in his career.
After losing Dee Webb to the NFL
draft and senior Vernell Brown from last years defense, the Gators look to bring
in two new cornerbacks to the squad this fall, with the likely candidates being
the wide receiver turned defensive back Reggie Lewis (5-10, 195, Sr.) Avery
Atkins (5-11, 189, So.) and Jermaine McCollum (5-9, 180, Sr.). The Gators will
also bring in four new corner backs in the 2006 recruiting class.
On special teams,
All-Time Series: 22-27-3
Stadium: Ben Hill
1937, LSU 19,
2005, LSU 21,
Head Coach: Urban Meyer, 9-3, 1 year at UF
48-11 overall, 5 years
2005 in Review: 9-3, 5-3 SEC
Final '05 Ranking: 12 AP, 16 Coaches
Off. / Def. Systems: Spread/ Multiple 4-3
Returning Starters: 14; 6 offense, 6 defense, kicker, punter
Last Bowl Appearance: 2006 Outback Bowl
Last Conference Championship: 2000
Total Offense: 373.4 (5th - SEC / 61st - NCAA)
Rushing Offense: 146.8 (5th - SEC / 56th - NCAA)
Passing Offense: 226.7 (3rd - SEC / 51st - NCAA)
Scoring Offense: 28.6 (4th - SEC / 49th - NCAA)
Total Defense: 299.8 (4th - SEC / 9th - NCAA)
Rushing Defense: 94.9 (4th - SEC / 10th - NCAA)
Passing Defense: 204.9 (8th - SEC / 38th - NCAA)
Scoring Defense: 18.8 (6th - SEC / 18th - NCAA)
Turnover Margin: +18 (1st - SEC / 3rd - NCAA)
Rushing: DeShawn Wynn – 130 attempts, 621 yards, 7 TD
Passing: Chris Leak – 374-235-6, 2639 yards, 20 TD
Receiving: Jemalle Cornelius – 29 catches, 383 yards, 1 TD
Tackles: Earl Everett – 72 TT (39 S, 33 A)
Date Opponent '05 Result
S-2 Southern Miss ---
S-30 Alabama L, 31-3
O-7 LSU L, 21-17
O-28 vs. Georgia (Jax) W, 14-10
N-4 at Vanderbilt W, 49-42 (2ot)
View From the Other Side:
Urban Meyer heads into his second season with one of the country's most experienced quarterbacks in senior Chris Leak, but the Gators' chances of reaching their first SEC title game in six years will revolve around a tale of two lines--- the offensive and defensive ones.
On the offensive side,
Danny Wuerffel's UF career yardage mark (10,875 yards). A tremendous trio of returning wideouts in Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell and Jemalle Cornelius, plus quarterback-turned-tight end Cornelius Ingram and top national recruit Percy Harvin, should help Leak reach those coveted marks.
Defensively, the Gators' front line
may be the deepest and most talented in the country. Sack leader Jarvis Moss
returns along with veteran starters Marcus Thomas, Joe Cohen and Ray McDonald,
plus former Parade All America end Derrick Harvey, a redshirt sophomore who
seems primed to fulfill his potential. Add in All-SEC caliber linebackers
Brandon Siler and Earl Everett, and
Anything less than a Dec. 2nd trip
- Bob Redman, GatorCountry.com