SEC East: Florida

A lot of people thought Urban Meyer had a tremendous offense at Florida last fall and that Phillip Fulmer had a horrendous offense at Tennessee. If you're one of them, here are some numbers from 2005 that just might surprise you:

Florida scored 3 points vs. Alabama. Tennessee scored 3 points vs. Alabama.

Florida scored 14 points vs. Georgia. Tennessee scored 14 points vs. Georgia.

Florida scored 17 points vs. LSU. Tennessee scored 30 points vs. LSU.

If you discount the Gators' offensive outbursts against weaklings Kentucky (49 points), Vanderbilt (49), Louisiana Tech (41) and Mississippi State (35), Meyer's spread attack was hardly a juggernaut last fall.

Quarterback Chris Leak never looked comfortable running the new offense. Star receiver Chad Jackson averaged just 10 yards per catch, down from 22 the previous season. The running game generally floundered. Ultimately, the spread offense produced mind-boggling numbers against pushovers but usually stalled versus top-tier foes.

Against Tennessee, for instance, the Gators managed just 68 rushing yards on 37 carries. Averaging five yards per carry is pretty good. Averaging five FEET per carry is pretty lame. Leak completed 17 passes in that '05 game but these netted just 179 yards and zero touchdowns. All told, Florida registered a paltry 247 yards of total offense and one measly touchdown. Three field goals and a special-teams meltdown by UT proved decisive as the Gators prevailed 16-7.

Florida fans figure Year 2 will be a vast improvement over Year 1. If they're right, the Gators could go 10-2 and win the SEC East. But what if they're wrong? If a significant portion of the team and the fan base believes freshman Tim Tebow can run the offense better than Leak, it's possible that dissension – and another 7-5 record – could follow.

TOMORROW: My take on Bobby Johnson's Vanderbilt Commodores.


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