The Florida Gators lost all of one game in the regular season in 2012 and it was enough to keep them out of the SEC Championship game. So are the rigors of the SEC where teams reload instead of rebuild and Florida is hoping to do just that.
In 2013 Will Muschamp and company will have to lean on the shoulders of junior quarterback Jeff Driskel more than they tried to a year ago. Driskel guided Florida to eight come-from-behind wins in 2012 and has all the tools.
Driskel's top target is junior Quinton Dunbar, who ended up the main wide receiver a year ago. The Gators will have to replace production from the loss to the NFL of All-SEC tight end Jordan Reed and are planning on spreading the wealth instead of finding one guy to do that. This is a position that is pretty wide open headed into fall.
Florida will try and run the ball downhill again but without NFL bound Mike Gilislee. The staff is confident in sophomore Matt Jones who finished 2012 very strong. Junior Mack Brown and freshmen Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane will also see carries for the Gators and their production should increase as the season progresses. We can't forget the versatile Trey Burton who will play every skill position on offense in 2013.
Blocking should be much improved. The Gators return probably the best fullback in the league in junior Hunter Joyer and add transfers Max Garcia and Tyler Murphy to a very experienced offensive line. The two will likely start along with sophomore D.J. Humphries and seniors Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio.
The defense was raided by the pros and is reloading.
The pass rush should be a lot better with sophomores Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler coming off the edge. The two had Freshman All-American type years in 2012 and were menaces this spring in camp.
Senior Dominique Easley moved back to his natural position inside at tackle and will use his quickness to make a difference. The other tackle spot will likely be a fight between senior Damien Jacobs and juniors Leon Orr and Darious Cummings.
Sophomore Antonio Morrison will be the leader of the defense from his middle linebacker spot. Junior Ronald Powell should be back from injury and is slated to start at SAM while senior Darrin Kitchens or junior Michael Taylor will start at the WILL. It is all freshmen backing those guys up.
Florida may have the best secondary in the country. Corners Jaylen Watkins, Marcus Roberson, and Loucheiz Purifoy are all back and the staff moved Watkins to safety to help alleviate the loss of both safeties to the draft. Brian Poole played a lot as a freshman and will play nickel for UF along with junior Cody Riggs.
Watkins has one safety spot and the other will be either junior Jabari Gorman or freshman Marcus Maye. Three high school All-American freshmen are enrolling in June that will also compete for playing time.
The Gators need to find a place kicker to replace Caleb Sturgis. Right now it is sophomore Austin Hardin or senior walk-on Brad Phillips. Junior Kyle Christy returns after an All-American type season at punter. Any number of guys could be the kick returners while Marcus Roberson is the front runner to return punts.
In the end, the Gators should attack more on defense and need to do the same on offense. Better protection for the quarterback should help that and Driskel should take a step forward. The attacking defense should lead to more turnovers for the offense as well.
2013 SEC Football Preview: Florida
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