When I was looking over the 2009 Florida football squad in May, the wide receiver position was an area of concern. I was looking forward to the summer practices to see which wide-outs would step up.
After everything that has transpired leading up to the start of the season, I just don't see any way that this wide receiver group is going to be any where as good as last year’s.
Gators' fans knew there was no replacing Percy Harvin with one player, but there hasn't been anyone step up to show they could be the next Louis Murphy. It is also uncertain who is going to fill the slot position this year.
In his Monday press conference, coach Meyer hit on this point.
“Our number one concern on offense is depth at wide receiver and tight-end; that and finalizing our top five [offensive linemen]. I will feel better as soon I know who we have and which way we’re going. It’s critical.
"Carl Moore is still not healthy. Riley Cooper almost didn’t come back, has been practicing every day and is playing the best football of his career right now. In the last week, Deonte [Thompson] took that step to become one of our core receivers. We don’t have a third-string anywhere.”
Carl Moore was a huge talent coming out of JUCO, but there is a good chance he won't be able to take another snap as a Gator due to a back injury.
Then news came out this weekend that Andre Debose's hamstring injury is not healing and is worse than previously thought. Debose and his family will be meeting with doctors on Tuesday to weigh the options, but all signs are pointing to a redshirt season for the “next Percy.”
Meyer addressed it by saying, “It’s been difficult. I’ll meet with Dr. Pete (Indelicato) today. It’s a very unique injury. There is an issue with one of the tendons that leads into the bone. It’s certainly not career-ending is what they’ve told me. It’s just, do you fix it or give it time? He’s already had a lot of time so that decision will be made within the next 24 hours.
"I talked to Andre this morning and his attitude is great. It’s almost like he’s relieved because a hamstring pull should be healed by now. It’s comparable to the young man DeMarco Murray at Oklahoma last year, who missed our game. I don’t think many guys have had what he has.”
The Gators have the following returning players—David Nelson, Carl Moore, Brandon James, Justin Williams, T.J. Lawrence, Frankie Hammond, Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Paul Wilson, and Omarius Hines.
You can add Paul Wilson to the injured list along with Moore and Debose.
So that leaves the Gators with 59 receptions returning from healthy wide receivers. To put that in perspective UGA returns A.J. Green with 56 grabs from last year, and Bams'a Julio Jones had 58 receptions.
Heading into the 2006 season the Gators were in this same boat at the running back position. Urban was able to work his magic and got the most out of DeShawn Wynn, Tim Tebow, and Percy Harvin to give the Gators a legitimate ground game.
Production from the offense this year is going to have to come from the running game. This will be a run-first team that uses the ground game to open up the passing game.
This is not all gloom and doom for the Gators. Aaron Hernandez will still be there to offer huge match up troubles, and with the speed of Cooper and Thompson on the outside it will be hard for defensive coordinators to load up the box and try to shut down the running game.
David Nelson, T. J. Lawrence, Frankie Hammond—please prove me wrong and be that extra weapon that puts this offense on another level.