I'll be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game. Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series. I am happy to discuss the games.
Game One vs. Hawaii, Aug. 30
Info: The University of Hawaii is coming off a tremendous football season in 2007. The Warriors, led by Coach June Jones, won the WAC Conference with an 8-0 record in conference play, and earned a 12-0 record overall, good enough to earn the Warriors a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
Although Hawaii’s undefeated season ended with a 41-10 loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, the Warriors had a year to be proud of.
Offseason: The Warriors' offseason didn't start off too well. First off, Hawaii lost Heisman Trophy finalist and starting quarterback Colt Brennan, as well as wide receivers Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen. Bess and Grice-Mullen combined for 2,638 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
In addition, head coach June Jones, who had a career record of 76-41 at Hawaii, left the Warriors to take the head-coaching job at Southern Methodist University. June Jones won two WAC Championships and became the winningest coach in school history during his tenure at Hawaii.
Jones has since been replaced by Greg McMackin, Hawaii’s defensive coordinator. McMackin improved Hawaii’s defense from 93rd in the nation in 2006 to 33rd in the nation last season. Greg McMackin also served as the defensive coordinator for Hawaii in 1999; Hawaii’s only other WAC Championship under June Jones.
2008 Outlook: Hawaii looks to fight Boise State and Fresno State for the WAC Championship, despite the loss of QB Colt Brennan. Greg McMackin’s recruiting class, which included defensive back Steven Christian, was good enough to rank as the best non-BCS class of 2008, according to ESPN.com analyst Billy Tucker.
Game Prediction: Florida 45 - Hawaii 17 Greg McMackin’s debut as a head coach is, unfortunately for him, in Gainesville, at “The Swamp.” The Gators’ offense is too good and the Gators have too many playmakers for Hawaii to stop. This game should be close in the first quarter, but Florida will pull away easily soon after. The Gators, led by QB Tim Tebow, will win comfortably at home and carry a 1-0 record into next week’s matchup with the Miami Hurricanes.
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