Gators may be even better

The lead story at is a preview of the 2007 Florida Gators. Written by Pete Fiutak, the piece suggests Florida will be better offensively now that Urban Meyer has had three years to recruit players suited to his spread-option attack.

The flip side of the coin, of course, is that Florida must replace nine of the 11 defensive starters who spearheaded last season's march to the national title.

The obvious question: Will the Gators' improvement on offense be dramatic enough to offset their glaring inexperience on defense? That remains to be seen, of course.

Ultimately, Fiutak believes Meyer soon will be bolting Gainesville in favor of a megabucks offer from the pros, much like basketball counterpart Billy Donovan. Fresh from back-to-back national titles in his sport, Donovan is leaving Gainesville for a reported five-year, $27.5 million deal with the NBA's Orlando Magic.

Regardless, here's a sampling of Fiutak's prose regarding Meyer and the outlook for his 2007 Gator football team:

"Meyer made no secret about how he wanted more out of his tailbacks in the one-back offense over the last two seasons. The most consistently effective runner was quarterback/bulldozing fullback Tim Tebow, and now Meyer has recruited the type of home run-hitting running backs who can take advantage of the mismatches and run through the space. The spread is about getting the best players into the open, and you can do that when you have one of the fastest college football teams in America

"But for all the talk about the offense and how Tebow should be the Alex Smith-type quarterback to make it roll, Florida has won under Meyer mainly because of a terrific defense that didn't get its just due last year, even after manhandling the Buckeyes. Florida held opponents to 255 yards and less than 14 points a game, but that veteran group is almost all off to the NFL now.

"Of course, when you come up with some of the best recruiting classes of the last 20 years, you just replace the pro talent with other pro talent. Florida's new D, however, might not kick in right away and be the killer squad of the last two years. Fortunately for the Gators, the offense should even things out by being better and more dominant, with speed to burn in all areas to make up for any shortcomings.

"Enjoy the ride now, Florida. Meyer will soon be handed the keys to a bank vault by some NFL team looking for an instant infusion of magic, and unlike other college coaches who made the jump, Meyer appears to be a good pro fit. But for the time being, Florida is back to the heyday of the 1990s, when Steve Spurrier's crew was the SEC's top dog. To the fear of the rest of the league, the Gators appear to be on the verge of being even better."

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