SEC Football Q&A: Can the Florida Gators Make a Title Run in 2013?

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SEC Football Q&A: Can the Florida Gators Make a Title Run in 2013?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Florida QB Jeff Driskel

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email. Today's Q&A got pushed back to Friday due to bowl games.

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

 

You've got SEC questions, and I've got SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. And if I didn't get to them this week, they are still saved and will be used in the future.

And we're off:

The layoff excuse is just that, an excuse. Florida got whipped, plain and simple.

It also got exposed.

It became abundantly clear as the season progressed that the Florida offense was one-dimensional due to necessity, not choice. Never was that more apparent than in Florida's 33-23 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville.

USA Today Sports
Florida QB Jeff Driskel

The Gator defense couldn't slow down Cardinal quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday night. That, coupled with a costly pick-six from Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel to start the game, was too big of a hole for the Gators to dig themselves out of.

They simply aren't equipped to play from behind with Driskel's limited ability as a passing quarterback. More importantly, it appeared that offensive coordinator Brent Pease was calling plays around his quarterback despite the need for his Gators to score quickly.

Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett may transfer for playing time, which would make a bad situation worse in 2013.

The Gators are losing several seniors off of that defense including linebacker Jon Bostic, defensive end Lerentee McCray and defensive tackle Omar Hunter. In addition, safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd announced they would be leaving early for the NFL following the Sugar Bowl.

Florida can't pass, it is losing star running back Mike Gillislee and several key pieces of its stellar defense. The potential is there; but to write them down in ink—or even in pencil—for a return to a BCS game at this point is incredibly premature.

Louisville vs. Florida Sugar Bowl highlights

 

It's going to be interesting to see how Georgia's defense responds next year, because there are going to be plenty of fresh faces for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

They couldn't stop the run all season long anyway, and are losing John Jenkins, Cornelius Washington, Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones from that front seven. Plus, the Bulldogs are losing four seniors from their secondary.

Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia DB Damian Swann (right)

Yikes.

But all is not lost for the Bulldogs.

Garrison Smith will likely become a bigger piece to the puzzle at defensive end, linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Jordan Jenkins played well this season and cornerback Damian Swann emerged as a playmaker at cornerback in 2012 for the Bulldogs, leading the team with four interceptions.

Playing time will be available on defense, and depending on who signs on the dotted line in February, you could see some freshmen take over.

With games against Clemson and South Carolina out of the gate, those defensive pieces better grow up in a hurry.

 

Maybe a little bit, especially if the streak of BCS National Championships is broken.

The SEC has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success during the streak due in large part to the fact that the conference earned the benefit of the doubt when Florida stomped Ohio State to claim the 2006 BCS Championship.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Perception is reality in college football, and the strength of the SEC may be diminished if the bowl season takes a turn south in the next week.

Let's eliminate Mississippi State's loss to Northwestern from the discussion, because the Bulldogs were vastly overrated all season long. LSU lost to a good Clemson team, Florida got whipped by Louisville. If either of the two games you mentioned result in an SEC loss, it's certainly a valid question.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the SEC is down though. You look up and down the rosters in the conference, the coaches it attracts and the 49-7 record versus out-of-conference opponents this season, and see that it's still the top conference in the country. That record includes wins over Florida State, Michigan and Clemson.

It just means that good football is played elsewhere, which is already widely known.

 

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