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The Florida Gators: SEC Surprise & Title Game Aspirations

FLORIDA GATORS

  • Florida’s success this season will be predicated upon an outstanding defense, which is anchored by one of the best defensive lines in the country.  Indeed, the Gators welcome back seven of their top 8 lineman, and all the projected starters are upperclassmen.  While the loss of defensive tackle Jaye Howard is significant, if defensive end Ronald Powell is healthy (torn ACL in spring practice), the Gators will boast the strongest defensive line in the nation.
  • The Gators also take the field with an outstanding linebacking unit led by Jelani Jenkins (#1tackler last season) and Jonathan Bostic (#3 tackler last season).  With all six of its top linebackers returning, Florida possesses excellent depth and experience behind the defensive line.
  • Florida’s secondary struggled last season after losing four starters, but 2012 brings new hope as the Gators welcome back six players who started eight or more games last year.  Both Marcus Roberson and Josh Evans will make opposing quarterbacks think twice before throwing in their direction.  I rate Florida’s secondary as one of the best units in college football.
  • Members of my sports investment firm know that I place a a premium on special teams, and the Gators enter this season with the best special team’s unit in collegiate football.  Place-kicker Caleb Sturgis hit 22-of-26 field goals last year and was a finalist for the Groza Award, while true freshman punter Kyle Christy proved himself in the second half of last season by averaging a net of 37.3 yards.  Meanwhile, kick returner Andre Dubose, who always poses a threat, averaged 26.1 yards per return last season and is primed for a breakout campaign in 2012.  With Sturgis having already made five career field goals of over 50 yards, look for the Gators to field the most dynamic special team’s unit in college football this season.
  • Florida was the victim of negative variance last season wherein the Gators were -12 in turnovers, which is extraordinary in light of the fact that turnovers (fumbles) are 90% random.  Moreover, Florida will be much more comfortable under second-year head coach Will Muschamp’s schemes on both sides of the ball.
  • Finally, Florida should see increased production under center with quarterback Jeff Driskel and/or Jacoby Brissett, especially with an offensive line that returns four starters and 79 career starts.  In fact, Florida welcomes back seven linemen who have at least seven career starts and, as a result, the Gators boast one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

Together with one of the strongest defenses in college football, the Gators enter the 2012-2013 campaign with an elite special team’s unit that will single-handedly win them games in the fourth quarter.  If offensive coordinator Brent Pease can get decent production from his young (but talented) quarterbacks, the Gators could easily find themselves playing in the SEC Title game.

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