With the 2014 college football season fast approaching, the annual SEC Media Days starts tomorrow in Hoover, Alabama and Florida will send 2 fresh faces this year along with veteran QB Jeff Driskel. Sophomore defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III and junior defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. will join Driskel and head coach Will Muschamp with what will be a packed house at the Wynfrey Hotel.
There are many questions that all Gator fans need answered this season after what was arguably Florida’s worst season in 30+ years. Anything short of an 8-9 win season this year might prove to be the end of the Muschamp era in Gainesville. With so much uncertainty heading into this season and so many jobs at stake, what is Muschamp prepared to say tomorrow when he takes the podium at 2:40 EST?
The Gators offense was dismal last season to be kind. Plain and simple. Muschamp does deserve a slow clap for bringing in quarterback guru and former Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper during the offseason. By all accounts Roper is just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Florida offense that managed to rank 103rd out of 120 qualifying schools. Roper brings along with him a fast paced shotgun spread that the Gators were used to seeing under former head coach Urban Meyer that won 2 National Championships. Along with the positive story of the Roper hiring, a negative storyline of this offseason was Gators WR coach and former Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips being “asked to resign” for allegations of recruiting violations in which he was photographed by a University of Miami assistant coach having dinner with a recruit during a “dead period”. Former Gators QB and graduate assistant Chris Leak was rewarded all wide receiver coaching duties and responsibilities immediately.
Speaking of the wide receivers, the Gators have no shortage of offensive weapons as former 4-star sophomore WR Demarcus Robinson seems poised to emerge as the playmaker we all hoped he would be. The Gators have massive depth at the running back position with the return of sophomore Kelvin Taylor and junior Matt Jones. The Gators also added speedy versatile back Brandon Powell who will prove to be a great fit in Roper’s spread. The Gators WR corps will also feature the return of senior Quinton Dunbar and sophomore sensation Ahmad Fullwood.
Florida’s QB situation finally might have figured itself after all these years. I can’t remember a time when Florida was constantly under scrutiny for quarterback play as much as it has been the last 4 years. The Gators have started 5 different quarterback’s in the last 4 season. Jeff Driskel has long been the punchline to jokes as was his predecessor John Brantley was. But it wasn’t so long ago that Driskel was the #1 QB prospect in the nation, Gatorade National Player of the Year and also Mr. Florida for football. Driskel has been under 3 different offensive coordinators and was recruited by a different head coach then he currently plays for. Driskel’s UF career has been shaky, but understandably so. With new coordinator Kurt Roper bringing in the spread, I think Driskel finally has the chance to be comfortable and play within his talents and most importantly be successful. If Driskel somehow can’t get the job done, early enrollee and Army All-American Will Grier is more than capable of coming in and handling the load.
The defense of Florida Gators will and should be once again sound. The return of starters like Vernon Hargreaves, Dante Fowler, Jonathan Bullard, and Antonio Morrison will prove a dominant force in the Southeastern Conference. The addition of freshman defensive back Jalen Tabor and freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis will help bolster the depth on defense as both should contribute early and often.
With the season just 6 weeks away, Gator fans still have questions that will go unanswered until the season actually begins and games are played. Only one can hope that those unanswered questions don’t loom late into the season or the Gator Nation will be coming to Gainesville to help the Muschamp family pack up their things into the U-Haul.