Will Muschamp's first season rides heavily on the success of John Brantley
With Tim Tebow struggling to get snaps in Denver and Urban Meyer off spending time with his family, the Florida Gators are entering a new era in the SEC. There is not much to be expected out of the boys in Gainesville as they are in "rebuild" mode.
Will Muschamp shocked college football when he left the University of Texas to take the head coaching position at Florida. As the natural successor to Mack Brown, there was no inclination that moving to the SEC was part of his plans but it might just be the biggest move of the college football offseason, and that's saying a lot.
With people expecting a down year from Florida, Will Muschamp has the Gators ready to shock. The Gators could be BCS bound this year, here's why.
Replacing Tim Tebow might have been the hardest this John Brantley will ever have to do. How do you replace a local hero, much less a national hero? Tebow worshipers saw the Gators struggle last year under Brantley's leadership and that did nothing but fuel the fire that Tebow was the greatest thing to wear blue and orange.
With a year of games under his belt as starter, Brantley should feel move relaxed. Distancing himself from Tebow, Brantley should show some of the promise he showed in 2009 as a backup.
Brantley is more at ease under center, making progression reads rather than in the shotgun, making plays after his first option is covered. With a new offensive coordinator feeding him quality coaching, Brantley should grow a quarterback and the Gators should thrive.
Mack Brown, Trey Buton, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey.
This might be the most talented set of running backs in the country. Rainey and Demps are burners who make teams miss by speed and being able to cut on a dime. Burton can play anywhere on the field. Brown has elite back written all over him and might have done himself a favor by redshirting so that he might get more playing time come next season.
However you slice it, the Gators have playmakers. They need to stay healthy and Charlie Weis needs to figure out how to get the ball into everyone's hands to keep the rest of the SEC guessing.
Last year, this was a big problem. Not the biggest problem the Gators faced, but big nonetheless.
Jaye Howard, Omar Hunter and Dominque Easley should "easley" be an improvement over last year's defensive line. Between the size of Howard and Hunter and the speed of Easley, the Gators should have a solid rotation up front to deal with the running attacks they will face week in and week out in the SEC.
The teams that struggle in the SEC are always the teams that have trouble stopping the run. This shouldn't be a problem anymore with three athletic defensive tackle clogging things up.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will grind your offense to a halt like an injured offensive line.
The easiest way for an offense to sputter is to have an offensive line that is in constant flux. Teams that excel tend to have consistency up front. While this line has struggled to get time on the field together so far, it looks like that may be changing.
Reports are that the offensive line is finally healthy. In fall practice, Muschamp has been able to see what his line will look like and if they are healthy, there is no reason John Brantley shouldn't be able to have some time to make plays.
If there is nothing more key to an offense than a solid offensive line then the key to the defense is a solid pass rush.
As a freshmen, Powell tracked down the ball 25 times (nine were against Appalachian State to be fair) and tracking down a sack against Tennessee. Powell has the makings of being the next stud defensive end from the SEC, having incredible speed for a man his size.
If Powell can make the leap this season, combining him with an improved interior line, the Gators' defense will be a force come September 3.
Charlie Weis, the same man who guided Tom Brady in New England and Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen in South Bend, gets redemption in Florida.
With Clausen and Quinn's struggles in the NFL, there is an argument that maybe Weis isn't the offensive genius he was made out to be. However, under one year of Weis' guidance in Kansas City, Matt Cassel turned into the franchise quarterback that Scott Pioli thought he could be, when Pioli brought Cassel in.
Weis is able to make the necessary adjustments with his quarterbacks to make them successful. John Brantley struggled with Urban Meyer because Meyer runs a spread system and Brantley is a pro-style quarterback. Out with Meyer, in with Weis. Problem solved.
Will he? Won't He? Urban Meyer was the Brett Favre of college football the past two seasons.
It doesn't matter to me if you don't want to coach football or even if you want to do it somewhere else but make a decision and stick with it. Meyer's decision making or lack there of, was a major contributor to the divisiveness in the Florida locker room.
Will Muschamp had a job lined up for him in Texas with a bow on it. He has no reason to move to Florida other than to be a head coach. That should mean something to his players. Muschamp has been hard on everyone this offseason and the players are coming together because of it. Muschamp might be just what this talented group of young men needed to get their acts together.