“Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.”
If that saying is true, then Urban Meyer’s 2009 Florida Gators team is destined to be great. The Gators return 18 starters from a team that win the BCS National Championship in 2008. Meyer has built a dynasty during his tenure in Gainesville. Two national championships in three years and a Heisman Trophy winner, and the Gators are on the brink of achieving greatness.
It all begins with the man who makes Meyer’s offensive scheme work, Tim Tebow. The 2007 Heisman winner decided to come back to Gainesville in search of another championship and post season awards. Tebow leads the Gators in both the passing and running attacks. As successful as that has made Tebow is has brought him many concerns from fans. Questions about his endurance and abilities have risen more than ever. Look for sophomore John Brantley to get some work in clean up duty to ensure that Florida’s future is in good hands. Look for new quarterback coach, Scot Loeffler to put Tebow under center and develop a whole new wrinkle in the offense.
With Loeffler bringing new ideas to the wide open attack look for the running game to take a whole new look. Look for three faces to lead the Gators throughout the season. Emmanuel Moody, Jeff Demps, and Chris Rainey are poised to unleash a running attack that has yet to be seen by the rest of the SEC. Demps and Rainey are the speed guys that are a threat from anywhere on the field while Moody is a do everything back that has a huge upside. The former Southern California player looks to escape the shadow that was cast out on the West Coast.
For the first time during Meyer’s time at Florida he is lacking the big game receiver that has graced the swamp for numerous years. The biggest receiving threat now is tight end Aaron Hernandez. The numerous receivers that will line up for The Gators will vary but they will include riley Cooper, David Nelson, Deonte Thompson, and Carl Moore.
The O-line will be some big aggressive players. Brothers Mike and Maurkice Pouncey will play at guard and center. These boys are interchangeable at these positions. Marcus Gilbert and Carl Johnson will line up at tackles. Look for James Wilson and Sam Robey to fill in until Meyer gets the unit he feels comfortable with.
Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships. If that old saying is true then the Gators are looking good going into the season. It all begins with linebacker, Brandon Spikes. Spikes in the cornerstone of a defense that returns all of the major components of a stellar defense. Spikes lead the team with 93 tackles and are capable of single handily changing a game. Helping Spikes at linebacker will be Dustin Doe, A.J. Jones, Ryan Stamper, and Brandon Hicks.
The D-Line in front of the linebackers is dangerous enough that any team that advances to the second level is lucky. The ends are Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap. Cunningham replaced Derrick Harvey and has not disappointed. He registered six sacks and looks to have a successful senior campaign. Dunlap is a big end at 6-6 and 290 pounds. If he plays motivated, Dunlap can be the most disruptive force in the SEC. The tackles will be Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders. The tackles will not receive much hype due to the impressive ability at end, but they will play a big factor during the season.
The defensive backfield is as impressive as you can find at any BCS school. Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, and Wondy Pierre-Louis will line up at corner. Haden is an incredible athlete that will be a huge factor in pass defense. The free safety position will be between Major Wright and Will Hill. Wright is a punishing hitter that is a terror in the open field. Look for Meyer to rotate the backs so he can get Hill on the field. Ahmad Black will roam the field at strong safety and looks to increase his interception total from last season.
The Swamp opens up for Charleston Southern, Troy, Tennessee, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, FIU, and the season finale against Florida State. The Gators have to travel to face Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, and South Carolina. They will face Georgia in Jacksonville as well.
The Gators have too much talent to not win. The only thing that worries me about the Gators is how much they will miss Percy Harvin. With so many starters returning from last season the Gators look experienced and prepared for the big game situations they will face. They Gators end the regular season 12-0.