2009 Florida Gators Football Preview
2008 Record: (13-1, 7-1)
2008 Bowl: BCS National Championship vs. Oklahoma (W 24-14)
Coach: Urban Meyer (44-9 at Florida, 83-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Addazio
Defensive Coordinator: Charlie Strong
Other Key Returnees: WR Riley Cooper, DE Jermaine Cunningham, CB Joe Haden, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB A.J. Jones, DT Lawrence Marsh, C Maurkice Pouncey, RB Chris Rainey, DT Terron Sanders, LB Ryan Stamper, DE Justin Trattou, S Major Wright
Key Losses: WR Percy Harvin, WR Louis Murphy, OT Phil Trautwein, OT Jason Watkins
Besides a little slip up against Mississippi, Florida dominated everybody they played. The closest games the Gators played besides the loss was an 11 point game over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and a ten point win against Oklahoma in the National Championship. Now that is domination. With the return of Tim Tebow, the Gators are the favorites to do it again.
However, the strength of this team is not the offense and Tebow, but it is the defense. Not only does the unit return all 11 starters, but every defensive player that saw any real playing time is back. For a team that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense and ninth in total defense, it is going to take a real big effort to put any points on the board against the Gators. Linebacker Brandon Spikes is the leader of the group and tallied 93 total tackles last season. With Ahmad Black and Joe Haden anchoring the secondary and Carlos Dunlap dominating the frontline, the Gators defense has an insane amount of talent. Senior Jermaine Cunningham is the beneficiary of Dunlap’s play. Cunningham, the other defensive end, is a capable pass rusher and will make the opposition pay when they worry about Dunlap too much.
Does this team really have a weakness? It surely is not at quarterback where Tebow has proven to be a dynamic passer and rusher. It probably will not even be at wide receiver despite the loss of both Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin. Murphy and Harvin were the top receivers last year and Harvin was also second on the team in rushing behind Tebow. Harvin is obviously a huge loss, but Murphy was a consistent receiver and he will be missed as well. However, the Gators do have talented playmakers like Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson waiting to step up. The biggest problem will be on the offensive line where tackles Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins need to be replaced. They were often overshadowed by the rest of the offense, but the offensive line made Tebow and the playmakers that much better.
The Bottom Line for the Gators:
The Gators know that they have a problem on the offensive line. Offensive lineman turned defensive lineman Matt Patchan is moving back to the offensive side of the ball and he will likely need to play a relatively big role on this team. But with Tebow’s mobility the offensive line will have some time to come together. And, even if it does not, Florida has enough talent everywhere else to win another national title.
By Joel Welser
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