Florida Football: 4 Gators Who Need to Be Clutch in 2013
In 2012, the Florida Gators didn't have individuals who made clutch plays with regularity.
Instead, they received key contributions from a variety of different players in a number of close victories.
Whether it was Jeff Driskel's touchdown runs against Vanderbilt or Loucheiz Purifoy's blocked punt against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Gators rode the wave of big plays to avoid disaster against their opponents.
Those same big moments are bound to arise this season, and Florida will need players to step up and own the spotlight.
Here are four Gators that need to put the pedal to the metal in clutch time.
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I know it's a bit obvious to put Driskel on this list, but there's no escaping the obvious in this case. Driskel needs to be clutch for the Gators to win games.
He certainly had his moments last season, but they were few and far between. As gifted an athlete as you can find, Driskel can carry a team in multiple ways. He showed against Vanderbilt that he can run past a defense. He also has the skill to make big passes when the time is right.
He just hasn't proved it yet.
This is his team now and he has known it since camp started. Everything is in place for Driskel to take the next big step in his career. He just needs to execute.
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On one of the Gators' most important drives of the 2012 season, their leading receiver let them down.
Jordan Reed fumbled near the goal line against Georgia and took away any hope the Gators had of having an unblemished record.
Now it's Quinton Dunbar's turn to take the lead.
He has the most experience and production of any Gator receiver and has been impressive in training camp. Not to mention, he runs routes well and has good hands.
The Florida passing attack needs a spark from someone. Dunbar is the only receiver who can keep the flame burning throughout the entire season. He needs to make plays and set an example.
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I mentioned Purifoy had the big punt block that prevented an embarrassing loss at home. He also had five pass break-ups and three forced fumbles.
In other words, he was a force on defense and special teams. He needs to do the same thing again in 2013. Florida's offense is not the most explosive by any means, which means Will Muschamp's squad will have to survive tight defensive contests. With so much turnover on the defensive side of the ball, the Gators will need their returning stars to lead the charge.
Many consider Purifoy the most talented of those returning players, and for good reason. He is a big play waiting to happen.
Keep your eyes on No. 15 because there's a good chance he will be making a huge impact.
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While Purifoy will need to anchor the secondary, Dominique Easley will need to be a rock on the defensive line.
Although the Gators were able to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks, they didn't do it often enough as seen by their sack numbers. Easley actually led the team in that category with four, a number that is far from eye-popping.
Almost all great teams have that one player on the defensive line that every team fears. The Gators were able to survive without one last season, but they likely cannot get away with it for two seasons in a row.
Of anyone on the line, Easley has the best chance to reach elite status. He needs to be the disruptive force the Gators have been searching for.