2010 Record: (8-5, 4-4 in SEC)
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (First Year as Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2010/2011 Outback Bowl (beat Penn State 37-24)
9/17: Tennessee (2010 result: won 31-17)
9/24: at Kentucky (2010 result: won 48-14)
10/1: Alabama (2010 result: lost 31-6)
10/8: at LSU (2010 result: lost 33-29)
10/15: at Auburn
10/29: Georgia (2010 result: won 34-31 OT)
11/5: Vanderbilt (2010 result: won 55-14)
11/12: at South Carolina (2010 result: lost 36-14)
11/26: Florida State (2010 result: lost 31-7)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 29.8 ppg (8th in SEC, 43rd in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 166.92 yds/game (6th in SEC, 44th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 184.3 yds/game (10th in SEC, 88th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 351.2 yds/game (10th in SEC, 83rd in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 21.3 ppg (4th in SEC, 29th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 130.62 yds/game (5th in SEC, 31st in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 175.9 yds/game (2nd in SEC, 12th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 306.5 yds/game (2nd in SEC, 9th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.15 per game (7th in SEC, 47th in Nation)
Penalties: 57.3 yds/game (11th in SEC, 85th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB John Brantley, Sr (200 of 329 for 2,061 yds, 9 TD, 10 INT)
Rushing: RB Jeff Demps, Sr (92 for 551 yds, 5.9 ypc, 3 TD)
Receiving: WR Deonte Thompson, Sr (38 rec for 570 yds, 1 TD)
Tackles: LB Jelani Jenkins, Soph (76)
Sacks: DT Jaye Howard, Sr (2.5)
Interceptions: CB Jeremy Brown, Jr; LB Jonathan Bostic, Jr (3)
Athlon Sports: Chik-fil-A Bowl (vs Virginia Tech)
Phil Steele: Gator Bowl (vs Michigan St)
Urban Meyer had an incredibly successful run at Florida as he won two National Championships in just six years. Meyer posted three years in which his team won 13 games during that run. Last years team was a bit of an aberration. Meyer had health issues and was indecisive on whether or not to continue his career at Florida. Did these issues lead Meyer to be unfocused in his last year at Florida? Many would say yes, but it also hurts when you lose a college football player the caliber of Tim Tebow. The 2010 season was Meyer's worst as a head coach as the Gators finished 8-5. Like him or not it's pretty impressive to say that the worst record you've ever posted was an eight win season. Florida's major issues last year were on offense as John Brantley struggled to fit into the offense, a go-to receiver was never found and the running game (while impressive at times) was inconsistent. After the season Meyer bowed out and Jeremy Foley made the somewhat surprising hire of Will Muschamp. It was surprising in my opinion because I thought they would go with someone who had head coaching experience and I was also surprised that Foley picked someone who played for the rival Georgia Bulldogs (but looking at the SEC history of coaches and their alma maters I guess it wasn't that surprising in retrospect).
Muschamp has turned the offense over to Charlie Weis. Yes, that Charlie Weis. While Weis is generally thought of negatively for his run at Notre Dame, offense was not the problem during his time coaching the Irish. The question for Florida is how quickly he can fit the players recruited for Meyer's scheme into his. The Gators will go with John Brantley early and many around the Gators program have confidence in this kid but I'm not sure they wouldn't be better served going with one of the young rookies and letting them get experience under their belts for the future. Only time will tell what the right decision will be and if Brantley can salvage his career with a comeback season this year. The two players to watch for Florida are Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Both have big play ability and have to stay healthy and/or out of trouble this year for the Gators to contend in the SEC East. The Gators also need a go-to receiver to step up. Last year the Gators were led by Chris Rainey with just 3 TD receptions. That is a far cry from Riley Cooper's 9 in 2009, Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin's 7 in 2008, Andrew Caldwell and Cornelius Ingram's 7 in 2007 and Dallas Baker's 10 in 2006. You get the picture, last year was a down year for the passing game and that must be corrected for Florida to be successful this year. Weis will try to provide more balance for the offense and it will very interesting to see how quickly he can do so with the mix of talent he has on board. There are some very talented players on the Gators roster it's just a question of who fits the best in the new system and how quickly will they fit in. During the off-season there has been a mass exit of players as the Gators have lost: RB Mike Blakely, WR Chris Dunkley, WR Javares McCoy, DE Chris Martin, TE Michael McFarland. and their best defensive player Janoris Jenkins was exiled to North Alabama to play for one of the Bowden's. Most of those players were most likely not going to make a huge impact this year but anytime you lose that many players (most of which were highly rated prospects) it's a hit on depth which hurts in practice and will hurt in the future. Muschamp is trying to make his mark by getting rid of the players who don't want to be at Florida or who are not the right kids for his program. I think this bodes well for the future of Florida but they might take a hit in the short-term.
Last year the big skid for Florida came in October as they got blasted by Alabama 31-6 and then lost close games to LSU and Mississippi State before righting their ship in a wild OT victory over Georgia. Two other games that have to stick in the craw of Gator fans are the lopsided losses to Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks and rival Florida State. The schedule this year is very similar to the one from last year. The Gators start out with two out-of-conference foes that should be easy wins and then they play Tennessee and Kentucky (which should also both be wins). Florida should be going into the Alabama game on Oct 1st 4-0 and it's the two-game stretch of Bama and LSU that will decide the Gators season. If they lose both it might be hard to rebound with Auburn and Georgia as the next two teams on deck. The Gators once again close the season with South Carolina and FSU among their final four games. The schedule shapes up very similar to last year. Will the results be different under Will Muschamp or will this be more of a transitional year for the Gators? Here at CFBZ we are a little bit torn on our thoughts about the 2011 Gators. The Gators made two out of three ballots to be included in our Top 25 but based on total votes they finished up right outside the Top 25 at what would have been #26. I think this is a fitting spot for them to start as they certainly have the talent to go much higher but there are a lot of question marks surrounding this team in 2011. To get a local perspective of the 2011 Florida Gators we headed over to SB Nation's Alligator Army and talked with Andy Hutchins.
Florida is one of the most intriguing teams going into the season. Will Muschamp has brought in Charlie Weis to run the offense. Which players do you think will be the best fit with his offense?
I think John Brantley's due for a better year than the one he suffered through in 2010. He'll have an offense that fits him better, a running game that has more than one play, and a big target in A.C. Leonard who should be a huge help near the end zone.
Quarterback was a huge issue last year. Do you think John Brantley can be the guy this year or should Florida go ahead and turn over the reigns to Jeff Driskel or Tyler Murphy?
Brantley can certainly be the guy this year. Installing Murphy, Driskel, or Jacoby Brissett as a starter at any point in this year likely lowers this team's ceiling from possibly winning the SEC East to playing in a pre-New Year's bowl.
Last year the pass defense was a strength (coming in 2nd in the SEC in passing yards allowed). This year the Gators lose Ahmad Black, Janoris Jenkins and Will Hill. Who will step up to fill their shoes?
Look for sophomores Matt Elam and Cody Riggs to be this secondary's standouts. Riggs was torched at times in his freshman year, but is the most experienced of the young cornerbacks on Florida's roster, while Elam has all the skills necessary to be a Black-type playmaker at safety.
The Preview magazines are projecting this as a down year for the Gators. What needs to happen for Florida to win the SEC East and compete for an SEC Championship?
Florida is probably going to lose at least two of its three games against the SEC West this season: Alabama is a national championship contender, and LSU and Auburn get the Gators at home. Thus, the Gators will probably need to beat Georgia and topple South Carolina in Columbia to have a realistic shot at winning the SEC East and earning
a trip to Atlanta.
What is the one game that you want Florida to win more than any other?
Florida State will be looking to win a game at The Swamp for the first time since 2003 in November. Given the Seminoles' resurgence as both a viable BCS contender and a recruiting machine in the last year, I suspect there are some Florida fans who would trade a winless SEC season for a win over Florida State this year. I'm not one of them,
but it's going to get much harder for Florida to stay on top in the Sunshine State without defending its home turf this year.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Gut feeling? 8-4, with losses to Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and Florida State, the four top-ten teams on the Gators' schedule. 7-5 could count as a success, too, given that Florida is going to need to beat both a talented Georgia team and an Auburn team in Jordan-Hare Stadium to get to eight wins. Anything that looks like progress, really, is going to be a success.
Up Next: Jacksonville State Gamecocks Q&A
Coming in August: SEC Preview
Starting August 1st: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown
2011 Team Previews