The University of Florida Gators' football team will be entering the 2009-2010 season with expectations, as well as hopes, unlike anything the school has ever experienced before. And with good reason.
This upcoming Gators team will feature 19 returning starters from the '08-'09 national championship team, not to mention the schedule the Gators have, it will be one of the weakest they have seen in years.
On offense, the Gators have Mr. Everyman, Tim Tebow, returning as the team's signal caller. There is no reason to think he continue to be the best leader in the country, as he has proven to be for the past two years. With Tebow, Head Coach Urban Meyer will be able to relax a little, knowing Tebow will not allow his teammates to get over-confident.
Losing tackles Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins is what makes the offensive line appear to be the only question mark. Although WR/RB Percy Harvin left school early for the NFL, there isn't really much doubt as to who the biggest threat on this explosive offense will be. Speedster RB Jeffery Demps will be the main big-play threat for the Gators this season. RB Chris Rainey should also see a significant increase in touches per game as well.
Instead of an explosive offense, it will be an extremely stingy defense that will keep Head Coaches up at night. This group is led by LB Brandon Spikes,DEs Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham, and the secondary is anchored by Janoris Jenkins.
Last year, the Gators ranked 5th in the country in scoring defense, allowing a mere 12.9 points per game. They also were tied for number 1 by intercepting 26 passes.
The defense will have every starter returning, as well as every one of the second string defenders, making this one of the most talented defenses we have seen in college football in a long time. Defensive Coordinator Charlie Strong, who rightfully should be a Head Coach somewhere by now, will have the deepest and most talented defense in the country.
As much as anything that has Gator Nation optimistic, the schedule is as favorable as one could ever wish for. The first three games of the year are at home, as they play Charleston Southern in the opener, Troy, and then Tennessee. The first time the Gators will have to leave Gainesville won't be until Sept. 26 when they travel to Lexington to face Kentucky. The following week will provide the toughest test of the year for the Gators as they head to Baton Rouge to play LSU.
The remainder of the schedule is Arkansas at home, at Mississippi State, Georgia in Jacksonville, Vanderbilt at home, at South Carolina, and they close the season out with back-to-back home games against Florida International and Florida State.
When you look at the returning players from a national title team, an extremely favorable schedule, and yet another top 5 recruiting class, you just might be looking at the recipe for another championship and possibly a perfect season.