Florida Gators Football 2011: What Should Fans Expect?

Jim FolsomContributorJuly 19, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9:  Cornerback De'Ante Saunders #26 of the Florida Gators warms up before the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

As a lifelong fan and follower of the Florida Gators, this time of year is always exciting for me.

I am normally counting the days down until toe meets leather. This year, though, not as much as usual.

Why? Because I have absolutely no idea what is coming this fall. Really. Nothing would surprise me.

The Florida Gators could conceivably win it all. They could also end up bowling in Birmingham.

We just do not know.

The Gators are two years removed from a stellar recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 by many recruiting services. Many of these players should be ready to step into major roles this year.

I'm looking for big things from guys like Matt Elam, Ronald Powell, and Shariff Floyd. But what about the veterans? Not one of them looked good a year ago.

A big part of the reason these guys played so poorly was the coaching situation. It was obvious Urban Meyer had mentally checked out after the previous season's disappointment at the SEC Championship Game.

Even though he was talked into coming back, he never really did. Anyone who follows Florida football noticed the huge difference right away.

His team looked like a bunch of fourth-graders. All he would say is, "We're not very good right now." The old Urban would have blown a gasket by halftime of the first game.

It was so bad that he had a pro-style stationary, drop-back passer at quarterback trying to run the option.

By the season's end, the Gators were using three different QBs. The defenses knew what play was coming simply by who the QB was.

It's tough to expect players to be successful against those odds.

Are they better than they showed last year? Will they improve with a coaching staff that has a clue? Or one that plans to be here next year? Or were they really just not very good?

We don't really know. And that has the Gator faithful nervous.

Jeremy Foley has turned the program over to a first-year head coach with a defensive background.

Will Muschamp was high on a lot of school's wish lists. Texas wanted him to take over when Mack Brown retires. Tennessee tried to get him to replace Lane Kiffen.

He is now the Head Gator. But he has never been a head coach anywhere. The last coach in this situation was Ron Zook.

We remember how that went.

Muschamp's offensive coordinator is a guy with all kinds of experience. He's been the OC for Super Bowl winners and the head coach at Notre Dame. Last year, he helped turn the sad-sack Kansas City Chiefs into a playoff team.

Charlie Weiss is an offensive genius. How will this play out with him answering to a rookie coach half his age? Will this be a problem?

This also has us a bit uneasy.

Then there is the task of changing what these players have been doing the entire time they've been at UF.

These guys have been running a spread option. It's what they were brought here to do. Already, several players have transferred because the offense no longer fits their skill set. Changing the offensive system can cause growing pains. Ask Rich Rodriguez.

The fans really have no clue what will happen this season. Florida could be very good or very bad. Or they could be somewhere in between.

I would be impressed with coming out of October at 6-2.

Any record with four or fewer losses should be considered a successful first season for this team. Five losses and you're starting to look very Zook-ish.

This is Florida. No matter what mess a staff inherits, they must understand they are dealing with a very spoiled fan base.

Hopefully, they will have some patience for this staff.


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