Florida Football: Ronald Powell and the Gators' 5 Most Underperforming Players

Drew Laing@@drewrlaingAnalyst IOctober 26, 2011

Florida Football: Ronald Powell and the Gators' 5 Most Underperforming Players

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    In a season full of ups and downs, the Florida Gators have a handful of players who have significantly underperformed.

    Every season any college football team will always have some players who don't live up to the hype, but it seems as if the Gators have really suffered from these kinds of players.

    This week the Gators travel to Jacksonville for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party to face the Georgia Bulldogs.

    In a game that means so much for both teams, the Gators will need these five players who have underperformed so far to step up their game and make a huge impact.

1. Florida Wide Receivers

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    The wide receivers for the Gators this season are perhaps the least effective receiving corps in as long as I can remember.

    Coming into the season, young receivers such as Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond were supposed to be huge targets for John Brantley this season.

    However, the two have combined for 16 receptions and 215 receiving yards.

    The senior leader of the unit, Deonte Thompson, has yet to live up to his potential. He has only caught 12 passes for just 152 yards.

    As a group, the Florida wide receivers have only two touchdowns, which are both attributed to Andre Debose. The other four receiving touchdowns are by Chris Rainey (2), Trey Burton (1) and tight end Gerald Christian (1).

    I understand that the wide receivers have suffered because of the Brantley injury, but the lack of production from them has hurt the Florida offense tremendously.

2. Jordan Reed

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    At the beginning of season, a popular topic among Gator fans was the effect of Charlie Weis' offense on the Florida tight ends.

    Weis, who is known for efficiently utilizing his tight ends throughout his offensive playbook, was going to revamp the tight end position at Florida. One of the main players who was supposed to thrive under this new offense was former quarterback Jordan Reed.

    Unfortunately, we have yet to really see Reed have success so far this season. He only has 12 receptions for 91 yards and no touchdowns. Behind Reed, the Gators don't have any other legitimate option at tight end other than true freshman A.C. Leonard.

    Reed will have to step up his game and quickly make his presence more known in this offense if the Gators want to improve in their last portion of the season.

3. Jeff Demps

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    For the first few games of the season, Chris Rainey stole the show with breakout performances against Florida Atlantic, UAB and Tennessee. Then, Jeff Demps exploded against Kentucky for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

    However, once again Jeff Demps' season has already been hampered by the injury bug, something that has been an issue for Demps throughout his career at Florida.

    It has just been disappointing to see him unable to stay healthy for this season. The duo of he and Rainey was a force to be reckoned with, but with Demps out, the running game has been severely crippled.

    Let's hope Demps can get back on the field soon, or it'll be tough to not call his senior season one of disappointment and underperformance.

4. Cody Riggs

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    The biggest weakness for the Florida Gators' defense this season has been the youth in their secondary. 

    Sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs has been exposed in the secondary many times this season.

    Don't get me wrong, Riggs is full of talent, and I think he will develop into a great cornerback for the Gators by the end of his career.

    But too many times this season, it seems as if it's Riggs' man who scores the touchdown.

    For example, the touchdown that Auburn scored against the Gators was the result of a poor play by Riggs. Barrett Trotter threw a jump ball up in the end zone, and even though Riggs had a good position on the ball, he was unable to prevent his receiver from catching the touchdown.

    Riggs has just been a step or two slow this season. I understand that he is young, but we can only attribute very little of his struggles to his youth. Riggs received playing time last season, so he should be a cornerback capable of playing better than he has been so far.

5. Ronald Powell

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    Ronald Powell came into Florida as the top-ranked recruit in the class of 2010. He received some playing time throughout the season in his freshman year and was named a starter at the all-important Buck position in Will Muschamp's 3-4 defensive scheme.

    Powell was counted on to be a focal point of the defense and one of the team leaders. Offseason reports said that Powell was an absolute force on the field and was one of the team's most explosive players.

    Seven games into the season and Powell has been unable to live up to the hype generated about him since he decided to come to Florida. The kid is scary athletic, but that has yet to translate into big-time contributions on defense.

    The Gators will need Powell to step up his game in order for the young Florida defense to make the necessary strides in becoming one of the most prolific units in the country by next year. 

    If he continues to struggle, it may be smart for Muschamp to begin looking at shaking some things up on the defense as the Gators head into the final part of their season. It could be the wake-up call Powell needs to become a top-tier player in the SEC.