Despite an uninspired loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, Florida turned in a solid 11-2 season in 2012 and narrowly missed playing in the SEC Championship game. Helping us with our 2013 Florida spring preview is Nolan Mucciarone of the Florida Gator website Alligator Army.
I thought the Gators did a phenomenal job on the season as a whole compared to what I thought they’d do before the season started.
Before the season started, I figured anywhere between 8 and 9 wins would be appropriate because of their schedule (which was obviously pretty tough) and the team they had in place.
I still think that if they had more production from the receiver position, more consistent quarterback play and a slightly more terrifying defensive line, they’d have accomplished more.
Heading into spring practice, the strength of the team in my opinion is the same as it was last year. It’s all about the defense in Gainesville.
The cornerback and linebacker position are the least of my worries. The defensive line and safety positions are areas in which I have a few questions about but at the same time, they aren’t quite as worrisome as say wide receiver, offensive line and running back.
The main weaknesses of the 2013 team, in my opinion, are at running back and receiver.
Replacing Mike Gillislee, who for a while led the SEC in rushing last year isn’t going to be easy. The Gators do have three guys who will vie for the starting job in Mack Brown, Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor. Jones has been the more impressive of the three, though we haven’t seen Taylor on campus yet as he will be a freshman this year.
As for receiver, well, there is a lot of work that is going to be needed. Losing Jordan Reed to the NFL Draft is a blow, not only because that leaves Trey Burton, Andre Debose and Quntion Dunbar as the three main weapons, but because he was quarterback Jeff Driskel’s favorite target. The Gators did recruit some help for this fall and I expect at least one, if not two, of either Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson to contribute a lot during the fall.
I think the Gators’ chances of competing for the National Championship (and the SEC or SEC East) all come down to quarterback play.
Sure the development of a running game, the receivers picking up their game and the offensive line coming together as a unit are all important, but this season and next season are all going to be depending on one man.
This is all about Jeff Driskel and his ability to take that next step. He was great in the first half of the season, but once teams were able to focus on the Gators’ rushing attack and force him to throw, he struggled.
Has he gotten past those issues? Can he lead this extremely young offense to an SEC East crown? That certainly remains to be seen. Gotta win the SEC East first, then you can start thinking about the bigger prize.
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