Why Gators will slip

Some national experts say the University of Florida football team will be just as good in 2007 as it was in 2006.

I say they're nuts. Counting tackle Marcus Thomas, a first-teamer at the time of his dismissal, the Gators are without 10 of 11 starters from the magnificent defense that carried them to the '06 national title.

Some national experts counter by pointing out that Ohio State lost 10 starters from its 2005 defense but played for the national title in 2006.

I say they're nuts. The Buckeyes overcame their defensive losses in '06 because they had the Heisman Trophy winner (Troy Smith) at quarterback, two first-round NFL Draft picks (Tedd Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez) at receiver and a 1200-yard rusher (Antonio Pittman) at tailback. All four will be playing in the NFL this fall.

Some national experts say Urban Meyer's spread option offense will be far more efficient in Year 3 than it was in Year 2.

I say they're nuts. The Gators must replace a four-year starting quarterback (Chris Leak), their most productive rusher (DeShawn Wynn) and their most productive receiver (Dallas Baker). The offense may good but it won't be significantly better than last fall.

Some national experts say sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow will be a superstar this fall.

I say they're nuts. The guy has thrown 33 passes in his college career and has accumulated more rushing yards (459) than passing yards (358) to date. He may have greatness in his future but there are growing pains in his present.

These aren't the only reasons I see the Gators failing to repeat as SEC and national champs. They've lost their punter (Eric Wilbur) and place-kicker (Chris Hetland) from last year. Moreover, the good bounces that enabled them to nip Tennessee (21-20), Georgia (21-14), Vanderbilt (25-19) and South Carolina (17-16) in 2006 may not show up again in '07.

Of course, some national experts believe none of this matters.

I say they're nuts.


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