College Football 2011: 10 Things that Will Change at Florida under Will Muschamp
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Urban Meyer's sixth and final season at Florida bore very little resemblance to his second, fourth and fifth years at UF.
And make no mistake, the picky Gator Nation found no joy in its team finishing 8-5 in 2010, particularly when the 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons brought a combined 39-3 record and a pair of BCS national titles.
One year after resigning and then returning a day later, Meyer stepped down—this time for good—on Dec. 8, 2010.
Texas defensive coordinator/head-coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp was hired a few weeks later to come back to Gainesville, a city where he spent most of his childhood. No doubt a lot of the traditions Meyer started, such as the pregame "Gator Walk", will be kept.
However, there will be changes.
Here is a look at 10 changes that either could or will happen in Gainesville this season:
1. The Spread Will Be Dead
Former Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will change the Gators from a pro-style offense into one that uses pro sets. The I-formation is expected to be back full-time for the first time since Emmitt Smith wore the orange and blue in the late 1980's.
2. Defensive Mixes
Primarily a 4-3 defense in recent seasons, Florida will run a hybrid 3-4/4-3 under Muschamp. Players will be asked to read and react a great deal.
3. Powell's Place
Perhaps UF's No. 1 recruit in the class of 2010 was defensive end Ronald Powell, who Meyer convinced to leave California to come across the country. The 6'4", 248-pound athlete is expected to move to inside linebacker in a 3-4 and middle linebacker in a 4-3.
4. Call Them "Athletes"
Last year Jordan Reed opened at tight end, while Trey Burton played slot receiver, running back, fullback, wideout and tight end. Both were signed as quarterbacks and each also played some there last year.
Look for Burton to continue playing multiple positions (including possibly Wildcat quarterback), but if Reed doesn't win the quarterback job in the spring, he most likely will be Florida's starting tight end and won't have to focus on anything else.
Who will be Florida's starting quarterback in 2011?
5. Safety Check
The Gators received very steady play from strong safety Ahmad Black and sometimes-spectacular/sometimes-awful play from free safety Will Hill the past three seasons.
Both are gone now with Black having graduated and Hill declaring for the NFL Draft following his junior year. Junior Josh Evans is expected to take over for Hill, while sophomore Matt Elam will likely replace Black.
6. Can Brantley Bounce Back?
John Brantley will enter his second season as UF's starting quarterback, and he has to hope it goes better than the first.
A poor fit in the spread, Brantley completed 200-of-329 passes for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Originally a commit to Texas (when Muchamp was the defensive coordinator), Brantley is a much better fit in a pro-style offense.
It also helps to have the overwhelming shadow of Tim Tebow one year further removed.
7. Driskel's Impact
Meyer got a commitment from the nation's No. 1 quarterback prospect Jeff Driskel of Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty High School, and he never wavered when Muschamp was brought aboard.
An athletic prospect who is as adept running as he is passing, Driskel is already enrolled at UF and will get a serious look in the spring—even though Brantley is the favorite to win the job.
8. Leader on the Corner
The SEC has had its share of elite cornerbacks in recent seasons with Florida's Joe Haden going seventh overall to the Cleveland Browns last year and LSU's Patrick Peterson expected to go in the top 10 this year.
Next in line could be Florida's senior-to-be Janoris Jenkins, who carried a first-round grade from most teams and analysts this year, but elected to return to school.
9. Who is Chris Martin?
Ever since he transferred from California last fall, the 6'4", 240-pound linebacker has been a great mystery to Gator fans. Last season when Florida struggled with its linebacker play, there was a lot of "wait 'til next year" talk about the Colorado native.
Muschamp has always favored big linebackers who can rush the quarterback, so Martin, a redshirt freshman who will participate in spring drills, has a chance to be a real impact player in 2011.
10. Dawg Day in October
When Florida and Georgia meet on Halloween weekend every year in Jacksonville, the game means a great deal to both sides.
Imagine the significance now to Muschamp, a safety at Georgia from 1991-1994.
He won't talk about the game like it means more than any other, but as a former player in the rivalry, he will know better.
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