Florida Gators Looking for Third National Championship

Brian BarberContributor IAugust 7, 2008

Coming into the 2008-2009 football season, the Florida Gators are predicted to be underdogs—not only for the National Championship, but also their own division.  The Georgia Bulldogs are the preseason favorites to win the conference and the BCS National Championship. 

This could very well happen, but Georgia's schedule will not allow it.  The Bulldogs travel to South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU, and Auburn.  They play Florida in Jacksonville, and host Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech.

If the Bulldogs can make it through that schedule with just one loss, then just give them the National Championship. 

The Gators are returning probably the two best players in the nation in Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin.  They have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.

Emmanuel Moody is eligible this year, and he has progressed nicely throughout the spring and summer.  Freshman stud Chris Rainey turned heads in the Orange and Blue Game this spring, not only with his speed but also his ability to make players miss.  This could be a great one-two combo at running back. 

At tight end, they have Aaron Hernandez taking over for Cornelius Ingram, who unfortunately was lost for the season to injury.   

Their offensive line should be just as strong this year.  It is lead by Phil Trautwein and the Pouncey brothers.  At receiver, they have preseason Heisman candidate Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, and Carl Moore returning. 

Quarterback Tim Tebow needs no introduction.  He will be backed up by Cam Newton.  Rumor is Newton will play the same role as Tebow did his freshman year.  This will hopefully lead to fewer hits on the Heisman winner. 

The Gators will score, but the question is, can they keep their opponents from scoring?  The defense, in particular the secondary, was the Achilles’ heel for the Gators last year.

Therefore, we will start with the secondary.  We return Major Wright and Dorian Munroe at safety.  This leaves Monroe to fill the hole left by senior Tony Joiner. 

At the corners we return Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis.  Having one year under their belts, hopefully they have matured into better and smarter players.  Will Hill could also step in and play as either a safety or corner.  He is that good.  If you have not seen him play, YouTube him and watch. 

Our strength on defense is at the linebacker positions.  They are led by preseason All-American Brandon Spikes.  Also at linebacker, we have Dustin Doe and Ryan Stamper.  This group has the most experience on the defensive side of the ball. 

Last is the D-Line, which will greatly miss the graduated Derrick Harvey, who anchored the team last year.  On one end we have Jermaine Cunningham, who had a great season last year and looked fantastic in the Orange and Blue Game this year, and on the other end we have Carlos Dunlap.  Many say that he had the best spring out of all the players.

I forgot one part—the special teams.  I only have to say one name to sum it up...Brandon James.  He is probably the best returner in the nation and sets up the most explosive offense in the nation, which leads to a lot of points.

Our kicker Joey Iijas was a huge surprise last year.  He stepped in and was actually a huge improvement from the previous year. 

Urban always puts great effort into the special teams, so do not be concerned with that unit.

Defense, defense, defense—that is the only area of concern coming into the season for the Gators.  If they can get it together and just play average, then another National Championship is very possible.  Not only do we have as much talent as Georgia, but we also have a road that is a lot easier to travel. 

Our big games are at Tennessee, home against LSU and South Carolina, and against Georgia in Jacksonville.  I am not even mentioning Florida St. as a big game.

The way things are lined up, fans could be singing "It's Great to Be a Florida Gator" at the end of the BCS National Championship game.