2008 Florida Gators Football Preview
Florida 2007 Record: (9-4, 5-3 SEC)
Florida Head Coach: Urban Meyer (31-8 at Florida, 70-16 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Mullen
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Heater and Charlie Strong
Returning Leaders for the Gators:
Other Key Returnees: LB Dustin Doe, DT Javier Estopinan, CB Joe Haden, LB A.J. Jones, RB Kestahn Moore, WR Louis Murphy, G Maurkice Pouncey, G Jim Tartt, OT Jason Watkins, S Major Wright
Key Losses: WR Andre Caldwell, DE Derrick Harvey, TE Cornelius Ingram, S Tony Joiner, DT Clint McMillan, OT Carlton Medder, C Drew Miller
The 2007 season might have ended up disappointing, but Tim Tebow was certainly not. En route to the Heisman Trophy, Tebow threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also ran for a team high 895 yards and 23 touchdowns. That is a lot of touchdowns. With seven starters returning on offense and plenty of passing options, Tebow will have another great year.
The offense does lose receiver Andre Caldwell, but Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy and tight end Cornelius Ingram are back. Harvin is a dynamic playmaker and the junior is garnering plenty of Heisman buzz of his own. After rushing for 764 yards and gaining another 761 yards through the air, the buzz is well deserved. Add redshirt freshman Deonte Thompson into the mix and the Gators have one of the best groups of receivers in the nation. Since Tebow and Harvin were the top two rushers on the team last year, the running back position is often overlooked. Kestahn Moore returns as the starter, but Emmanuel Moody, a transfer from USC, has the fans’ attention. However, it was Chris Rainey who had a great spring. Florida has lacked a dominating back in recent years, but this trio should get them pretty close to having one.
It was the defense that led to Florida’s poor record last season. The pass defense was just plain bad at times. Having three underclassmen starting in the secondary was part of the problem. Florida hopes that free safety Major Wright and corners Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis will be more consistent now that they have a year of starting experience. Strong safety Tony Joiner has run out of eligibility after tallying 64 tackles and two interceptions during his senior year. The rest of the problem was due to a lack of a pass rush…and that was with Derrick Harvey on the team. Now Harvey is in the NFL and the pressure falls on returning starter Jermaine Cunningham and sophomore Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap only had one sack last year during limited playing time, but he might just be the most talented player on the line.
The Bottom Line for the Gators:
Coach Urban Meyer’s offense is just too explosive not to be mentioned as an SEC favorite. However, just like last year, the defense needs to improve a lot if the Gators want to reach the glory of the BCS Bowls. The defense is definitely talented, but their youth showed last year. Are they grizzled veterans now or just slightly more experienced youngsters?
2007 Florida Gators Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 200.15 (23rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 257.00 (38, 4)
Total Offense: 457.15 (14, 1)
Scoring Offense: 42.46 (3, 1)
Rushing Defense: 103.31 (10, 1)
Pass Defense: 258.54 (98, 12)
Total Defense: 361.85 (41, 7)
Scoring Defense: 25.46 (46, 8)
Turnover Margin: .38 (32, 4)
Sacks: 2.15 (54, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 2)
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2008 NCAA college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.