Before Steve Spurrier arrived in Gainsville in 1990, the Florida Gators had never won an SEC championship. Eight SEC championships and three national championships later, Gator Nation expects to compete every season. In other words, 7-6 is not going to get it done.
Injuries played a major factor in the Gators woes last season. Unfortunately, they seem to have once again been bitten by the injury bug before the season even begins.
Standout linebacker and 2011 sack leader, Ronald Powell is out for the first month of the season as he recovers from a torn right ACL. Defensive lineman Nick Alajajian and Kedric Johnson are both out indefinitely because of a knee injuries. Add on the suspension of Safety De'Ante Saunders and there are potential depth issues.
The offense is also licking their wounds, too. Offensive linemen Matt Patchan and Tommy Jordan, will miss this game with minor injuries. Moreover, tight end Colin Thompson is out for at least two months after undergoing surgery on his right foot.
Florida has a great opportunity to make a run at another SEC East crown but they will have to fight through these and other injuries. The offense will need to improve mightily as well.
The Gators struggled on offense after then quarterback John Brantley went down. Prior to Brantley's injury versus Alabama, the Gators were averaging 40 points per game. Without him, they were held under 13 points five of the next seven football games.
Unfortunately, the Gators have yet to settle on a starting quarterback and plan to alternate between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel versus Bowling Green. There is an old proverb that states, “If you have two quarterbacks, you really have zero quarterbacks”.
Gator fans are hoping that this will not be the case in 2012.
Who wins this game?
Florida is hopeful that Brent Pease, the former Boise State assistant coach, will improve a unit that only gained 328.7 yards (105th in the nation) and 25.5 points per game (71st in nation) last year.
The Gators should win their 23rd consecutive season opener Saturday against Bowling Green. However, they should not take the Falcons lightly.
Bowling Green returns 20 starters from last year's team. The most notable returner is quarterback Matt Schilz who threw for 3,024 yards and 28 touchdowns. The Falcons also bring back leading rusher Anthon Samuel who is looking to build off of an impressive freshman season where he rushed for over 100 yards in five different games.
Prediction: Florida will look good but not great in this game. However, they will run away from Bowling Green in the second half. The only way this game stays close is if the quarterbacks come out too tight. The defense might give up one or two big plays but should be able to build on their performances last season.
Predicted Score: Florida 31 Bowling Green 13
Stat Line: Florida forces four turnovers