23. Florida Gators Returning Starters: 18 Returning Star: DE Sharrif Floyd Key Loss: RB Jeff Demps
Player to Watch: RB Mike Gillislee
Will Muschamp's 2011 team wasn't suited to compete in the tough SEC, as they finished off 7-6. Gone is quarterback John Brantley who didn't have much success as a starter. Replacing him is up to sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel and Brissett are both huge with big arms. Driskel is more mobile but Brissett is also pretty athletic also. Muschamp hasn't announced who will start but Brissett may have a little bit of an advantage. Whoever will start must improve an offense that ranked 105th nationally in 2011. The backfield was stacked with talent last year but gone is both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. The player likely to replace them will be senior Mike Gillislee. Hes had a great offseason but questions still loom about whether he can be an every down back. Junior Trey Burton is a hybrid who can play just about every skill postition on offense. Hes fast and versatile and is Muschamp's most dangerous player on offense. The receivers are quick led by Andre Debose and sophomore Quinton Dunbar. Debose had 16 catches last year a number that should increase greatly in 2012. Junior tight end Jordan Reed has proved himself as a sure target for this Gators offense. Four starters are back to make this line solid. Left tackle Xavier Nixon and guard Jon Halaplo are anchors and Matt Patchan should be All-SEC this season. 10 starters are back on defense that was 8th nationally in 2011-2012. The line is a definite strength with the returns of pass rushing end Sharrif Floyd and athletic tackle Dominique Easley. Floyd had a strong '11 and could even improve in his third year in Florida. This defense lost Ronald Powell to a torn ACL and he likely won't be back until midseason. The linebackers are fantastic maybe the best in the SEC, a pretty tall order. Senior Jonathan Bostic led the squad in tackles last year and should again while Jelani Jenkins is a sure tackler. Look for freshman Antonio Morrison to get tackles after a big spring game. This secondary is another great unit with safety Matt Elam and a potential star in Marcus Roberson. This special teams is led by Lou Groza finalist, senior Caleb Sturgis. The return game could be lethal with a number of key players back including Debose. Defense should lead this Gators team and this offense should be improved. Expect a solid 9-10 win season.
Heisman Hopeful: Mike Gillislee
SEC Rank: 6th
College Football Preview: 23. Florida Gators
Reviewed by Tom McGowan