Will Muschamp: Can He and the Gators Chomp Through These 5 Predictions?
The Florida Gators kick off Lee W's SEC East Football preview. Lee will be making his five predictions for Will Munschamp's Gators in his first season as Florida Head coach.
Gainesville, Florida: Urban Meyer knew it was his last game as the University of Florida Head Football Coach. He did not disappoint the Gator Nation, as the team jogged off of the field with a 37-24 victory in hand and an Outback Bowl boomerang to add to the trophy case. The fans clapped as Meyer shook hands with Penn State coach Joe Paterno at midfield, at the 75,000-seat Raymond James Stadium in sunny Tampa, Florida.
It was a happy ending for the coach who called it quits on December 10th, wanting to spend more time with his family.
However, Florida fans knew it was a disgraceful year to be a Gator, knowing that two national championships had been won twice in the same five-year time period.
The Gators had lost to not only mediocre Mississippi State, but they were also demolished by the South Carolina Gamecocks in a game that decided the winner of the SEC Eastern Division. The coach was not anybody but Steve Spurrier, who was destroying the program he had built into a powerhouse. The final score was 36-14.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley did not hesitate, hiring former Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp on December 12th.
Foley waited only two-and-a-half days to make the hire.
"This is a dream come true," Muschamp said in a statement.
"I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television," Muschamp said. "I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the backyard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville."
Muschamp perhaps made the splashiest assistant hire of the offseason. Enter Charlie Weis and the new pro style attack, and John Brantley should be ready to thrive.
Not so fast.
Brantley only completed four of 14 passes for 45 yards in the UF Spring Game. The Gators wideouts and linemen also have plenty to prove.
On the other side of the football, the defense is young; only returning two starters.
Nevertheless, Florida is hoping for improvement up front with the additions of sophomores Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley to the starting lineup.
A 6'4" sophomore, Ronald Powell (who was the nation's overall No. 1 recruit in 2010) will play the "Buck" position in new coordinator Dan Quinn's defense. The position is a hybrid between the outside linebacker and defensive end.
The secondary could be a concern due to the dismissal of senior CB Janoris Jenkins, as he was kicked off the team in April after a marijuana arrest.
Vols Shock Gators in Week 3
Despite a sold out Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and and up and coming Gator defense, Derek Dooley's Tennessee Vols pull off an upset in the Week 3 rivalry game.
Up and coming QB Tyler Bray is protected by three returning offensive line starters and has a target in Justin Hunter, who had seven touchdown grabs and 25.9 yards per catch in 2010.
This is along with Tauren Poole, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season.
This is all happens while the Gators struggle with the new pro attack, despite help from Jordan Reed and Trey Burton.
Gator fans wonder if they will ever improve a quarterback who threw for more interceptions than touchdowns in 2010.
Florida Heads to Bye with a Winning Record
After a rough loss versus the Vols, things don't get any easier with games at Kentucky vs. Alabama and at LSU.
John Brantley bounces back as the Gators chomp Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium as the Bluegrass State prepares for basketball season. The offensive line works together and build team chemistry behind experienced right tackle Xavier Nikon.
Not surprisingly, I predict Florida loses to both LSU and Alabama in the next two games. UF's defense will improve each and every game, but the offensive line will get rocked by the world class defenses of Alabama and LSU.
Florida should enter bye week after a convincing win over the Auburn Tigers led by a solid defensive effort. The Gators ride off into the Florida sunshine with a 4-3 overall record and 2-3 SEC record.
Muschamp Chomps Bulldogs
The Bulldogs should win the East if they beat South Carolina in Week 2, but I still think Florida wins this game in an upset.
If the Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks, they will be 5-0 or 4-1 in the SEC leading up to this game. If they lose, they will potentially have two SEC losses before this contest.
Thanks to Charlie Weis' coaching, John Brantley should be better and the Gators young defense should be improved.
The backfield tandem of Aaron Murray and Isiah Crowell should keep things interesting.
The Bulldogs should be the favorites to win this game, but you can't ignore the fact that the Gators have won the last 16 out of 20 games in the series.
And the Gators should win this one, too.
John Brantley Improves in the Middle of the Season
In Week 3, I have the Gators losing to the Tennessee Vols. Much of the loss will be blamed on John Brantley.
Gator fans should not panic, and here is why.
Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame when Tyrone Willingham was booted for a 6-6 season. QB Brady Quinn had completed 54.1 percent of passes for 2,586 yards.
His quarterback passer rating was 125.9 in 2004. Enter Charlie Weis as head coach and his passer rating increases all the way to 158.4.
I saw a college football live video of Quinn versus Michigan State in 2004. His feet were off balance and his throw was wild, ending up as an interception.
The same scenario in 2005 (his junior year) was a rare occasion.
Brantley will improve. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is an offensive mastermind.
Look at the improvement in Quinn's stats.
|BRADY QUINN STATS||Passing||Rushing|
Bold Charlie Weis as head coach
Underline Tyrone Willingham as head coach
Brantley had a 116.4 passer rating in 2010.
How much improvement will we see in the upcoming season?
Gators Pull a Shocker
The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles will face for state bragging rights on November 26th. The Seminoles won the last game by a score of 31-14.
Will Muschamp can make a big statement in this game and pull an upset. I think he will.
The game will be played at "the Swamp," a huge advantage for the Gators. The last time FSU won in Gainesville was 2003.
Florida will also be playing for conference pride. South Carolina will be playing Clemson, and Georgia will be playing Georgia Tech.
John Brantley and the offense should be in good shape by now, and the defense will be improving each and every game.
The Gators catch the Seminoles by surprise in this one, and it shows the beauty of a college football rivalry.
Florida can salvage their season, claiming dominance over their instate counterpart.
I expect South Carolina to win the SEC East and Georgia to finish with a better overall record than Florida, but a Gators win here could excite the fanbase for 2012 and beyond.
Who wouldn't like a victory over a probable Top 10 team? Florida State will most likely be playing in the ACC Championship and I think they will win. They have 17 returning starters and a load of talent.
The Gators get a victory over the ACC Championship and beyond bound Seminoles.
The Gators are invited to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta to face the No. 2 ACC selection. The Peach State capital is full of Gator alumni and fans should eat up tickets.
Florida finishes 8-4 (4-4) in the SEC, third in the SEC East. The Gators will be a high preseason pick in 2012.
Check out Lee W's blog The Chicken Train: A USC Gamecock Blog for more South Carolina and SEC news.
SEC East Standings
1. South Carolina Gamecocks
2. Georgia Bulldogs
3. Florida Gators
4. Tennessee Vols
5. Kentucky Wildcats
6. Vanderbilt Commodores
2011 Florida Gators Schedule
Sept. 3 Florida Atlantic W
Sept. 10 UAB W
Sept. 17 Tennessee L
Sept. 24 at Kentucky W
Oct. 01 Alabama L
Oct.08 at LSU L
Oct.15 at Auburn W
Oct. 29 vs. Georgia W
Nov. 5 Vanderbilt W
Nov. 12 at South Carolina L
Nov. 19 Furman W
Nov. 26 Florida State W
Projected Starting Lineup according to Athlon Sports
QB John Brantley, Senior
RB Chris Rainey, Senior
FB Trey Burton, Sophomore
WR Frankie Hammond, Junior
WR Quinton Dunbar, Sophomore
TE Jordan Reed, Sophomore
LT Matt Patchan, Junior
LG James Wilson, Senior
C Jonotthan Harrison, Sophomore
RG Jon Halapio, Sophomore
RT Xavier Nixon, Junior
DE William Green, Senior
DT Sharrif Floyd, Sophomore
DT Dominique Easley, Sophomore
BUCK Ronald Powell, Sophomore
LB Gideon Ajagbe, Freshman
LB John Bostic, Junior
LB Jenali Jenkins, Sophomore
CB Moses Jenkins, Senior
CB Jeremy Brown, Junior
SS Matt Elam, Sophomore
FS Josh Evans, Junior