Written by James Brown, Gatorsfirst.com Co-Founder
There has never been, and probably will never be, a more anticipated season of Florida Gators Football than 2009.
I've been wading through all this information about the national college football scene for my college fantasy football season previews (beginning later this week), but what I really need to do is get to my favorite team- the team anticipated to be the best in the land.
I came up with ten questions for the Florida Gators coming into this season, and avoided the obvious 'Can they keep their focus?' question that every other preseason preview uncreatively addresses.
Before I get to the questions, let me call a big 'no jinxies'. I'm not saying in this piece we will win it all, merely pointing out some of the potential roadblocks, and storylines I'll be sure to address again during the season.
1. Will an outside receiving threat develop to complement TE Aaron Hernandez?
I fully expect Hernandez to be the leading receiver for this team. Several players could end up with more total yards, but he is easily the most proven threat, and he should only improve for his junior season. My problem: it is too easy to double a TE over the middle. We lost the top two receivers from last year. This isn't the same as 'who will replace Percy', as others will ask you, as I don't think any one person will. It will be more action for the Chris Rainey / Jeff Demps / Brandon James crew (with a dash of Andre Debose) for the RB-ish plays, and more balls for Riley Cooper and David Nelson. But the big deep threat will come from Deonte Thompson (CBS college fantasy's pick), Frankie Hammond, Jr. or Omarius Hines.
2. Can Urban Meyer win a game in the state of Louisiana?
He's 0 for 2 at LSU. Ron Zook won there in 2003. I think Urban and this team are certainly capable, but looking at it today it's easily the game of the year.
3. What will change with the offensive coaching changes?
Last year's coordinator Dan Mullen is in Starkville. No one really knows how things will go differently under Steve Addazio. It's noteworthy that Urban Meyer has replaced an OC at other times, including promoting Dan Mullen to the position when he came down from Utah. Ultimately, it's &his& system, but it's hard to expect everything to be exactly the same. Addazio definitely got the keys to a Ferrari, however. The other noteworthy change is the new blood- QB Coach Scot Loeffler.
4. Will Florida really be able to put up 50 points on the Vols?
Urban and his boys have the bulletin board material up. The Tennessee offense could be terrible, but the defense is led by all-world DB Eric Berry. I am one of the few Gator fans who think this score could be lower than you expect, although I wouldn't be surprised by a 30-point blowout. I am just not sure we'll have the opportunity to get the 70+ some of the crazier fans are calling for.
5. How will the re-shuffled offensive line perform?
We now have a Pouncey twin at each guard. Sam Robey moves to center, and OT Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins are gone from last season. I don't think this will cause a major issue, but this is one of the few areas in which anything has changed from last year's juggernaut. I'll also make a quick note to point out Sam Robey as proof of how Urban Meyer and staff are actually good recruiters, getting one of the few three star recruits (out of the many star-studded classes) to become a starter as a (redshirt) freshman. Larry Coker and his recruiting-service oriented staff should take note.
6. Will Heisman voters tire of the hype surrounding Tim Tebow?
He is the greatest player in the game. The most outstanding. The most valuable. Every sort of superlative you could take your Heisman vote to mean. We missed out on the opportunity to be talking about a three-time winner, don't discount the voters getting bored of the same storylines and playing up Jahvid Best or some other candidate. The pick here is for the finalists to remain the same trio as last year, but stranger things have happened- and a season's worth of peculiar events and statistical anomalies await.
7. How many snaps will Johnny Brantley get?
This could also be 'how many second halves does Tebow play in' or 'how many competitive snaps does Brantley take?' I hope they get Tebow out of there, and jump to the early leads like they did down the stretch last season. I also am eager to see if they bring in Brantley while games are close, and with his own package of plays, as they did for Tebow in 2006. There have been reports of that being the plan.
8. Would you take the under or the over on 1.5 shutouts this year for the D?
When the entire two-deep is back, and we are bringing in some stud recruits and working in some extremely talented redshirts, to expect one shutout (Charleston Southern, anyone?) is not a stretch. But I am wondering how many more we'd actually get- will they work in a lot of the young studs with a 30 point lead? Or keep some of the starters around and try to preserve some shutouts? Will Jon Bostic and Co. hold some shutouts?
9. Can Urban Meyer work his magic in an odd-numbered year?
Utah 2004. Florida 2006. Florida 2008. I sense a pattern, and it involves modulo division. I don't think there's a lot to the even-numbered thing, but I'm probably the most superstitious fan I know. Let's see how 2009 plays out before discussing 2010.
10. Will USC finally get the SEC ass-beating they so richly deserve?
I certainly hope so. Though, living in Texas, I would be satisfied with another Big XII team going down to the Gators. Bottom line is, I'll be happy if we win the title, period. But putting some of the heathens in their place would also be nice.
Take your own stab at answering these questions, and let me know some of your own! We'll compare notes in January.
You can view the original article here: http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/fl