Offensively, it all starts with quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and he is only entering his Junior year. Tebow will have a bevy of incredibly talented players to get the ball to, and as a result, I do not see him reaching last season’s amazing totals of 32 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns.
The Gators are stacked at the wide receiver position, have two extremely talented tight ends and loads of experience along the offensive line. Florida will spread the ball around to receivers Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy and Riley Cooper as well as a deep corps of running backs who compliment each other very well. Sophomore tailback Chris Rainey, who will also line up at receiver, was the star of the spring game.
Florida led the SEC in offense last season and they have much of that unit returning. I do not expect the Gators to have much trouble moving the ball or scoring points in bunches.
The Gators defense appeared to be improving as the season progressed. But Michigan thoroughly humiliated them with 524 yards of offense in the Capital One Bowl. Coach Urban Meyer responded by bringing in two new defensive coaches. He also brought in a ton of talent from his recruiting class in order to upgrade the defensive side of the ball. Meyer also put an emphasis on changing some defensive strategies. This season, Meyer plans on playing more off-man coverage.
All-SEC linebacker Brandon Spikes is the cornerstone of the Florida defense. The Gators will need help from some of their freshmen if their defense is to improve. These freshmen include cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Will Hill and defensive tackle Omar Hunter.
On special teams, Florida will have a new kicker and it will most likely be true freshman Jacob Sturgis. Sturgis wowed coaches in the spring game by booting a 60-yard field goal. Sophomore Chas Henry is back as the team’s punter. Henry’s booming punts were very difficult for opponents to return last season.
Last season was a rebuilding year for Florida. The Gators lost a lot of talent from their 2006 National Championship team. They lost four games and failed to repeat as SEC champions. In my humble opinion, the pieces are in place for Florida to make another national title run this season. However, it won’t be an easy task.
The Gators are in the same division with Georgia, another preseason favorite. Florida also has a very difficult schedule that consists of non-conference games against Miami, Florida State and Hawaii, road games at Tennessee and Arkansas, a home game against LSU, the defending national champions.
While it won’t be easy, Florida certainly has the talent to be considered among the preseason favorites in the chase for the 2008 national championship.