Florida Gators Football: 7 Keys to Winning the SEC East

John SheltonContributor IIIAugust 1, 2011

Florida Gators Football: 7 Keys to Winning the SEC East

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    After a disappointing 8-5 season for the Florida Gators in 2010, how will the Gators be able to rebound and put them self in the running for the SEC East title?

    There are many factors that have to blend together if the Gators want to be playing in the SEC championship game on December 3rd.

    With a coaching change, how will Florida react to their new Pro Style offense?

    In the following slides I will explain seven key factors that will have to be executed for the Gators to win the SEC East this year.

7. The Fans

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    The first key factor for the Gators to win the SEC East this year is the fans.

    With their beloved coach Urban Meyers resignation and 2010 bust QB John Brantley's return, I know it's hard for the fans to have faith in the team considering their 2010 campaign. However the fans have to understand this is a new season with new dreams and the Gators need the fans' support.

    With two huge games at home against Alabama and FSU, the Gator faithful will have to be out at The Swamp ready for war. 

    I believe that the team will be nothing unless all 90,000 fans are at the stadium supporting their team through thick and thin.

6. Pro Style Offense

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    With a new year comes new plans.

    First, the Gators have decided on a switch to a Pro Style offense.

    To be successful this year, Florida will have to be able to take on this new offense and perfect it. 

    That means that the offensive line will have to learn both pass and run blocking, the running backs will have to trust the line and run between the tackles and QB John Brantley will have to decide whether or not he is ready to be a factor in the SEC or not.

5. Matt Elam

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    After the departure of safety Ahmad Black to the NFL—the former leader of the defense—someone will have to take over his spot as playmaker. 

    Here is where sophomore Matt Elam comes in.  After getting a huge amount of playing time his freshman year, Elam has showed throughout the 2011 offseason that he will be stepping up and taking over Black's role.

    People don't realize how special Ahmad Black really was as a safety however there is no doubt in my mind that Matt Elam can potentially be another Black, only bigger—which can be very dangerous for any SEC receiver who wants to try him.

    Look for Matt Elam to be the Gators' defensive MVP this year, making his presence felt immediately.

4. Running Back Corps

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    Considering the Gators switched to a Pro Style offense, the jobs for the two main running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey got a lot more complicated.

    Because of the change to the pro style, you will see these two speedy backs running between the tackles more then ever.  This could be a huge benefit for the Gators considering that Jeff Demps is the fastest player in college football. 

    If these two guys can learn patience, you will see some huge runs out of these two guys.  It's also very important for these guys to run well to help out QB John Brantley's throwing game.

    Watch for these two guys to make a huge impact and to add to the power running of sophomore Mack Brown and junior Mike Gillislee.

3. The Big 3

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    The Gators defense which ranked ninth last year for total defense had some key departures.

    If they want to be a top defense this season, Florida will have to see the "Big 3" step up and make some noise in the SEC.

    Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley will all have to step up for the Gators in the 2011 season. 

    After coming to Gainesville with much hype early one, fans were quick to see that no substantial contribution was given from their end.

    Coming into 2010 the guys were ranked as the following recruits in the nation:

    Ronald Powell: No. 1

    Sharrif Floyd: No. 4

    Dominique Easley: No. 7

    However, the Gator defense will see a switch this year to a 3-4 defense.

    This will allow the three the ability to show their speed and athleticism.  Hopefully they will be a little more effective than last year.

2. Will Muschamp

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    After the December 8th resigning of coach Urban Meyer, the Gators wondered who would be his successor.

    In came Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

    Muschamp came into the organization with plans to get Florida back to the top—where people are used to seeing them.

    He decided that he would switch to a 3-4 defense; then he decided that not only the defense needed to be changed, but he also decided to switch to a Pro Style offense. 

    Lastly, his biggest decision was to bring former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis in as offensive coordinator to perfect the Pro Style offense.

    A very fiery guy, Will Muschamp needs to make sure that he doesn't doubt his decisions.  If he starts doubting himself, he will never become as good as Urban Meyer was at Florida.

    He also has to realize that after last season, many people have a short leash for QB John Brantley. And if he's not playing up to par, Muschamp has to be willing to pull the plug on him.

    However, if Muschamp comes in and has the same fire as he had at Texas, there is no doubt in my mind that the Gators could be playing for the SEC championship.

1. John Brantley

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    The biggest factor on whether the Florida Gators will be playing for the SEC championship on December 3rd is QB John Brantley.

    Brantley who had a disappointing 2010 campaign with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions was not what the Gator faithful were looking for after having four years of Tim Tebow.

    However, with the acquisition of Will Muschamp and his plan for the Pro Style offense, John Brantley might have a chance to do what he's meant to do.

    Brantley is not someone who should be running; he is a stand-in-the-pocket passer.  I believe he played so bad last year because he was uncomfortable with the offense.  He will now have the ability to pass and become a decision maker.

    If Brantley plays well, I am positive the Gators will win the SEC East.  The season is pretty much all on Brantley's shoulders. 

    However, if he doesn't perform well in the first couple games don't be surprised to see Coach Muschamp pull him in favor of freshman Jeff Driskel.