Florida Football: 5 Likeliest Reasons the Gators Will Improve in 2012
The 2012 season will see Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators regroup from the departure of some of the program's greatest players.
It has basically been downhill for the Gators since the end of the Tebow era, as they have failed to reach nine wins in either of the two seasons.
However, fans have much to be excited about going forward.
Muschamp reeled in a top five recruiting class to add to the already young, but talented, Gators roster.
The Gator faithful believe this is the season that will serve as the stepping stone towards returning to the top of the SEC.
Here are five reasons why they are absolutely correct.
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Watching Tim Tebow fake the dive to Jeff Demps only to pitch wide to Percy Harvin for a long touchdown run was a staple in the Florida offense during much of Urban Meyer's tenure.
Boy, was it fun to watch.
Now, Gators fans are wishing it never ended (like they ever did?).
It has been downright painful to watch the Gators offense since those years, mainly due to the wrong personnel (spread) being put into the wrong system (pro)—especially within the offensive line.
Muschamp's highly touted recruiting class brings in several offensive linemen who will beef up and add physical play to the O-line.
Namely D.J. Humphries, a 6'6", 271-pound lineman from North Carolina.
You literally can't miss 320-pound Jessamen Dunker, either.
This was Muschamp's first full-year recruiting class, and there are some big boys coming in. Up front, the Gators are already on their way towards competing with Alabama and LSU in terms of big, physical offensive line play.
The Run Game
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It is going to be very difficult for the Gators to run the ball any worse than they did in 2011. The Gators were ranked 68th in total rushing yards, averaging only four yards per carry.
The combination of a small O-line and two lightweight running backs in Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps made the pro-style run game just plain ineffective.
The O-line has beefed up, so it's up to the running backs to fulfill their end of the deal.
With Demps and Rainey gone, the door is wide open for Mike Gillislee to finally shine.
But holding down the starting job won't be easy.
Incoming freshman Matt Jones plays much bigger and more physical than any running back we have seen at Florida in years. He brings exactly the kind of physicality that Muschamp has so desperately needed in his pro-style offense. The lack of experience will be the only wild card.
Regardless of which back is leading the rushing attack in 2012, the run game will definitely be much improved and will be a viable option for the offense.
You can already hear the sigh of relief from quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett.
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Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett playing against two of the best defenses in the country in Alabama and LSU may have seemed like a disaster at the time, but consider it an investment in the future.
Despite the fact that they were forced in the game because of the injury to John Brantley, both quarterbacks had a couple of bright spots in their respective outings.
The experience gained by playing two of the toughest teams in the country will only benefit the pair in 2012.
With improvement along the offensive line and in the run game, the quarterback should be able to more effectively manage the offense.
Now Muschamp just has to make a choice between the two quarterbacks, and it may very well be one of the most important decisions he will make as the head coach of the Florida Gators.
Rotating the two would be a huge mistake.
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Every fanbase has that select group that always complains about the play-calling.
Since the departure of Dan Mullen, that group has grown larger in Gainesville.
Steve Addazio was too conservative, and Charlie Weis is overrated.
I understand it's difficult to score when the offense is playing poorly, but you can only throw the screen pass to Chris Rainey so many times.
Now, with former Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease at the helm, fans may finally be comfortable with the play-calling.
Pease doesn't have a lot of experience against SEC opponents, but if anybody knows how to manipulate formations to get an advantage against the defense, it's Brent Pease.
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After all this talk about the offense, don't forget the Gators defense.
Will Muschamp's defensive-oriented background has already paid dividends.
While the Gators offense struggled to move the ball in 2012, it was the defense that carried the team all the way to a bowl victory over Ohio State (again).
Even with the spring injury to stud-lineman Ronald Powell, the Gators defense has a chance to be one of the best in the country.
With a very talented secondary having another year of experience under their belt, defensive backs will be more comfortable taking risks for interceptions, thereby addressing the biggest issue with the defense in 2011.
With a good amount of talent returning and some nice prospects enrolling in the fall, the Gators defense is ready to explode in 2012.
That's a perfect foundation for the offense to develop on and the Gators to improve on in 2012.