Scott Halleran/Getty Images
The Gators have been given a ton of respect by a few prognosticators heading into the 2012 season (Phil Steele), but most experts aren't expecting a huge season from Will Muschamp’s young group.
That does not mean UF should pack it up and go home for the fall, because there is simply nothing better in sports than accomplishing anything vital when everybody says you have essentially no chance.
With the Gators loaded defense, they have an excellent chance to be in position to win nearly every single game. The fourth quarter may be unkind to UF if they cannot find an offense that strikes fear into opposing SEC defenses, though.
Speed kills, but this offense needs to find ways to spread out the defenses so everything is not bottled up at the line of scrimmage.
Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are gone, but Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown will look to improve upon a rushing offense that was 73rd in averaging only 143 yards per game.
Losing John Brantley would be considered a nightmare of a loss if this question was asked one or two summers ago, but many believe Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will become much better performers in 2012 than their quarterback trio was last season.
Many blame the injury bug for a concern or a lack of a running game, but the bottom line was that the passing offense ranked 89th in the country (185 YPG). The receivers deserved a good portion of the blame, but the production has to improve this season.
Expect Jordan Reed and Trey Burton to be used as part of more two-tight end sets and wide receivers Andre DeBose, Frankie Hammond, Quinton Dunbar and Omarius Hines are just a few that must step up.
The competition for these Gators is quite the buzzsaw and that is without Alabama being on the slate. Instead, they pick up a nice home game with the defending SEC champions (LSU), and games against three likely preseason top 10 teams should be fun (UGA, SC, FSU).
At the moment, they are listed as 2.5-point favorites over South Carolina, but let us not forget that those Gamecocks have defeated the Gators for consecutive seasons now.
Throw in a road game against Tennessee (PK) and the top 10 difficulty of a schedule could be argued as the toughest among SEC squads.
The reason being that Gator nation should be a bit nervous is due to the upside of their two toughest games on the slate (not at home), as Georgia and Florida State are absolutely loaded on defense.
UF is right there on the defensive side of the ball, but will the defense remain fully energetic when their offense has a few three-and-outs and forces the defense to get right off the bench after perhaps being on the field for a long drive against the opposing UGA or FSU offense?
These are the critical points of a UF season that will determine their SEC East (and overall) chances, and if that 105th-ranked offense (total yards per game, 328) does not improve much, Gator nation will be more than just nervous.