New Gator coach Will Muschamp watches quarterback John Brantley in Florida's "Orange & Blue Debut" spring game.
The 2011 season will be Will Muschamp's first as Florida's head football coach. And, as always, when you play in the Southeastern Conference, the schedule is a doozy.
In fact, even with a week off during the month, there isn't a team in the country with an October as brutal as UF's.
The first day of October will bring 2009 BCS national champion Alabama to the Swamp. A week later, the Gators will travel to Louisiana State, a squad many analysts have predicted could be preseason No. 1. Florida will visit defending BCS champ Auburn on Oct. 15, and two weeks later is the annual showdown in Jacksonville with always talented Georgia (Muschamp's alma mater).
The Gators' first kickoff isn't until Sept. 3, but it's never too early to look ahead.
Cam Newton was one of UF's quarterbacks when the Gators hosted FAU in 2007.
Opponent: Florida Atlantic Owls
2010 Record: 4-8
Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Conference: Sun Belt
Keep An Eye On: RB Alfred Morris (227 carries for 928 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010)
In the NFL: In April of 2010 quarterback Rusty Smith, who holds just about all of the school's passing records, became the first Owl ever selected in the NFL Draft. And as a rookie, the sixth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans (176th overall) became the first FAU alum to play a down in the league when he relieved injured starter Vince Young on Nov. 21, 2010 against the Washington Redskins.
Roddy White just might be the greatest player in UAB history.
Opponent: University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Blazers
2010 Record: 4-8
Head Coach: Neil Callaway
Conference: Conference USA
Keep An Eye On: In his first year with the Blazers after transferring from East Mississippi Junior College, Pat Shed led the Blazers in rushing yardage (847), receiving yardage (471) and kickoff return yardage (738). He averaged 177.1 all-purpose yards per game in 2010, his junior year.
In the NFL: Now an Atlanta Falcon, Alabama-Birmingham alum Roddy White has become one of the NFL's best receivers. The 2005 first-round pick (27th overall) is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and he led the NFL in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,389) last season,
Tauren Poole rushed for almost 1,100 yards in 2010, his junior year.
Opponent: Tennessee Volunteers
2010 Record: 6-7
Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Keep An Eye On: Tailback Tauren Poole led the 2010 Vols in rushing with 24 carries for 1,085 yards (5.1 ypc) and 11 touchdowns. The 5'10", 210-pound Georgia native will be a senior next fall.
In the NFL: By the time he finally puts a wrap on his NFL career, Peyton Manning could find himself in the discussion of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
The 2009 hit heard 'round college football: Taylor Wyndham sacks Tim Tebow with a vicious hit, one that caused a concussion.
Opponent: Kentucky Wildcats
2010 Record: 6-7
Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Keep An Eye On: LB Danny Trevathan (144 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, four forced fumbles, three sacks in 2010)
In the NFL: When Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark went down with a season-ending injury in Week 7 of the 2010 season, former Wildcat Jacob Tamme stepped up and recorded career highs in receptions (67), receiving yardage (631) and touchdowns (four).
The Pensacola product that got away from the Gators - tailback Trent Richardson.
Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide
2010 Record: 10-3
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Keep An Eye On: S Mark Barron (77 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks in 2010)
In the NFL: Raised in Chiefland, Fla., just 45 minutes outside of Gainesville, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson played his college football at Alabama. A starter on year-in, year-out one of the league's best defenses, Johnson recorded 73 tackles, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks in the 2010 season.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson's LSU Tigers might end up the nation's preseason No. 1 team.
Opponent: LSU Tigers
2010 Record: 11-2
Head Coach: Les Miles
Keep An Eye On: QB Jordan Jefferson (118-of-209 for 1,411 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 123 carries for 450 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010)
In the NFL: Arizona Cardinals' offensive guard Alan Faneca, a former Tiger, has played in the league for 14 seasons and very well could be headed to the Hall of Fame.
Once a Gator football player, Gene Chizik led Auburn to the 2010 BCS national championship.
Opponent: Auburn Tigers
2010 Record: 14-0
Head Coach: Gene Chizik
Keep An Eye On: RB Michael Dyer (182 carries for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns in 2010)
In the NFL: It is still a week from happening, but the likelihood exists quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley, two vital members of the 2010 BCS national champs, will both be selected in the top 10 picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.
A Tampa native, Aaron Murray is Georgia's starting quarterback.
Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs
2010 Record: 6-7
Head Coach: Mark Richt
Keep An Eye On: QB Aaron Murray (209-of-342 for 3,049 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2010)
In the NFL: A 13-year NFL veteran, Denver Broncos' cornerback Champ Bailey, a Georgia alum, has 790 career tackles and 48 career interceptions in what most likely is a Hall of Fame career.
Fiery Sean Richardson leads the Vanderbilt defense.
Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores
2010 Record: 2-10
Head Coach: James Franklin
Keep An Eye On: S Sean Richardson (team-high 98 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five passes defensed in 2010)
In the NFL: Chicago Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler, a Vanderbilt alum, helped his team reach the NFC title game in the 2010-11 season. The Santa Claus, Ind. native completed 261-of-432 passes for 3,274 yards with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2010.
The Gators had a tough time bringing down Gamecocks' tailback Marcus Lattimore in 2010.
Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks
2010 Record: 9-5
Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Keep An Eye On: WR Alshon Jeffery (88 receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010)
In the NFL: Former Gamecock John Abraham, a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, recorded 40 tackles and 13 sacks in 2010, his 13th year in the league. He has 102.5 career sacks.
Look for UF reserves like freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel to see extended playing time against Furman.
Opponent: Furman Paladins
2010 Record: 5-6
Head Coach: Bruce Fowler
Keep An Eye On: PK Ray Early (41-of-42 PATs, 11-of-12 FGs in 2010)
In the NFL: Currently, there are no former Paladins in the NFL. Former NFL player and coach Sam Wyche is a Furman alum.
Big, strong-armed and fast, E.J. Manuel is slated to be FSU's full-time starting quarterback in 2011.
Opponent: Florida State Seminoles
2010 Record: 10-4
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Keep An Eye On: DE Brandon Jenkins (63 tackles, 21.5 tackles-for-loss, 13.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles in 2010)
In the NFL: Baltimore Ravens' receiver Anquan Boldin, a former Seminole quarterback/receiver, finished the 2010 season with 64 receptions for 837 yards and seven touchdowns. In his nine-year NFL career, Boldin has 650 catches for 8,357 yards and 51 touchdowns.