2012 Florida Gators Football Preview
2011 Record: 7-6 (3-5 SEC)
Head Coach: Will Muschamp, second season (7-6 all at Florida)
Projected Returning Starters: 18
Spring Game: April 7th (Blue 21 Orange 20)
Notes: Following the departure of Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook assumed the head coaching position. Zook was well-known for his recruiting prowess, but struggled with off the field issues and the win totals under him declined. With Zook’s ouster, an up and coming coach by the name of Urban Meyer took over. Coach Meyer only lost two games in two years t Utah, coming off an undefeated season. He won two national titles with Tim Tebow at quarterback, but health issues led to his resignation. His last year in Gainesville wasn’t the greatest, as the Gators struggled to replace Tebow, leading to an 8-5 record. Following Meyer’s resignation, Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator at Texas, took over the head job. Coach Muschamp struggled in his first season, transitioning the offense from the spread to a pro-style offense. 2012 looks to be a much better year for the Gators, a team which returns the second most amount of starters in the SEC.
BVTSB Take: Florida fans have high expectations this year after seeing the SEC East dominated by Georgia and South Carolina in recent years. Arguably, Florida’s strength this year is their offensive line. The Gators return four starters from last year’s team: C Jonotthan Harrison (13 starts in 2011), RG Jon Halapio (13 starts in 2011), RT Matt Patchan (7 starts and played in 12 games in 2011), and LT Xavier Nixon (9 starts and played in 13 games in 2011). Even sixth year senior LG James Wilson started one game and played in 12 last season. The biggest changes for the Gators are at the quarterback and running back positions. Quarterback John Brantley was signed by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Expect either Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett to replace him. The Gator offense was primarily a run first offense last season – expect that to change in the second year in a pro-style offense. Both Driskel and Brissett saw limited time in 2011, each attempting under 40 passes, with Brissett throwing for a pair of touchdowns. Coach Muschamp will release his starter closer to the September 1st game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Running back Jeff Demps has graduated (569 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns) and Chris Rainey is headed for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers (861 yards rushing, 432 yards receiving, and six total touchdowns). Expect senior Mike Gillislee, sophomore Mack Brown, and sophomore Chris Johnson to be in the mix for playing time this fall. Leading receiver Andre Debose and fellow starter Quinton Dunbar return to start for Florida. Debose had 432 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2011, while Dunbar had 216 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With the improved quarterback play, expect improved receiving numbers, especially from TE Jordan Reed (307 receiving yards and two touchdowns). Until last season, Florida hadn’t had a losing conference record since 1979. They also had their fewest wins since 2004, Coach Ron Zook’s last season. Florida plays Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, and Florida State in non-conference. The game in Tallahassee is likely a loss, but the Gators should be, at worst, 3-1 in non-conference. Florida plays Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, and Missouri at home. LSU and South Carolina will be tough, but the Gators, prior to 2010, hadn’t ever lost at home to South Carolina. Road games against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt shouldn’t cause many problems. The Georgia game, played annually at Jacksonville, could decide who wins the SEC East.
2012 Early Projection: 10-2
To see the 2012 SEC composite schedule, click here.
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