Anything short of a 2010 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Rose Bowl National Championship appearance and victory will be labeled as a total disaster for the 2009Florida Gators. The Gators are the consensus number one club going into the 2009-2010 season and are the favorite to hoist their third BCS National title in four seasons. Tim Tebow is back, Urban Meyer is signed, sealed, and delivered per $24 million, and the defense returns 11 starters to the fold.
Remember, the Florida Gators are the very same football factory program that corralled the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 to claim the championship hardware last season. Following a shocking early-season loss to ‘Ole Miss, the Gators rolled to the chip behind the leadership of Tim Tebow and the pure speed that is a staple of Florida football.
Of course, maintaining the crown is always a tenuous position. First, Florida will absorb the best shots of the opposition week in and week out and cannot afford to take plays off. Secondly, the Florida roster is not built for power, and could be manhandled in the trenches on both sides of the ball per conservative play calling.
Quarterback Tim Tebow is the top returning rusher and lone short yardage option.
Despite these weaknesses, Gainesville fanatics will look to the 2009-2010 college football season as further evidence that Tim Tebow is the most accomplished athlete within the history of the game. Meanwhile, the subtle whisper of a perfect season and “The Greatest Team” ever debate is set to increase into a gaudy spectacle with every passing moment during the fall.
The purpose of this preview is to analyze the upcoming 2009-2010 college football season from the perspective of the Florida Gators program. We will feature the key losses, contributors, and evaluate Florida’s schedule to arrive at a likely outcome.
Indeed, Florida players and coaches must always remember to actually settle the score on the field.
2009-2010 Florida Gators College Football Season Preview: Key Personnel Losses from 2008 – 2009
WR Percy Harvin – 110 Touches, 1303 yards from scrimmage, and 17 TDs
WR Louis Murphy – 38 Catches for 655 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2008.
Tackles Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins have also graduated.
The key question marks going into the season are identified with the offensive side of the football. Although the electric Percy Harvin is the headline name, locating a suitable replacement for Jason Watkins at right tackle should be the most compelling concern. Remember, Tebow is a left-handed quarterback, and his right tackle is designated with the role of blind-side protector.
The offensive line loses both starting tackles and guard Jim Tartt up front. Certainly, the Florida faithful must allow the next crop of Big Uglies time to gel at the line of scrimmage.
Per the outside, the game changing Percy Harvin proved to be the difference maker in the title game versus Oklahoma, with 171 yards of total offense. The performance was vintage Percy, as the speedster torched hapless Sooner defenders.
Still, Florida is always built for speed, and I am certain that the roster is loaded with big play potential.
2009 – 2010 Florida Gators College Football Season Preview: Key Contributors, Strengths, and Weaknesses
QB Tim Tebow – 192 for 298 – 2,746 yards passing; 673 yards rushing; 42 TDs
RB Chris Rainey – 84 attempts for 652 yards and 4 touchdowns
RB Jeffrey Demps – 78 attempts for 605 yards and 7 touchdowns
TE Aaron Hernandez – 34 catches for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns
WR Deonte Thompson – 18 catches for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns
LB Brandon Spikes – 87 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 TDs.
The Florida Gators begin and end with Tim Tebow. The Superman quarterback accounted for 59% of the Florida total offense last season. This year, the 250-pound battering ram must locate a top receiver to spread the field and alleviate the pressure from a running back by committee program.
Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps are 5-8 scat backs that are built for breaking the big play on the outside per the shotgun spread formation. Meanwhile, USC transfer Emmanuel Moody is more of an all-around backfield player that may be set for a breakout season as he integrates himself into the Gator system and avoids injury.
The Florida Gators will never be confused with a conventional smash mouth attack. Urban Meyer and his bunch will mix the run and the pass, alongside misdirection plays to take advantage of a fullback that also happens to make clutch throws in Tim Tebow.
Aaron Hernandez will continue to develop as a solid answer working the seams at tight end and sophomore Deonte Thompson has a chance to emerge as the latest installment of Top Gun wide out at Florida.
Interestingly, the defensive unit is Florida’s greatest strength.
Brandon Spikes is the epitome of this opportunistic Gator group, which is designed to wreak havoc and force turnovers. The ball hawking Gators ranked fourth in scoring defense per the Bowl Subdivision (FBS) last season, while allowing a minimal 12.93 points per game. The Gators go two-deep at every position and will be a force at The Swamp.
Opposing offensive coordinators must stick to a game plan that calls for conservative ball control and never dare challenge this group to a track meet.
For example, starting defensive end Jermaine Cunningham weighs in at a svelte 252 pounds. The man is a pass rushing maven, but the road grading Sooners proved last season that Cunningham is blown off the ball in the run game.
Still, the Florida defense benefits from the fact that wishbone triple-option football is dead. The Florida Gators are built for speed.
2009 – 2010 Florida Gators College Football Season Preview: Key Games on Florida Schedule and Predictions
September 19: Florida hosts Tennessee @ 3:30 p.m.
October 10: Florida Gators at LSU Tigers @ 8 p.m.
October 17: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners @ 12 p.m.
October 31: Florida vs. Georgia @ 3:30 p.m.
December 5: SEC Championship Game – Atlanta Georgia
January 7, 2010: BCS National Championship at Rose Bowl
Florida will open the 2009 college football season with two tune-up cup cakes in Charleston Southern and Troy at the Swamp. Frankly, spring practices in Gainesville will be more competitive than these sure fire routs.
Florida will open up SEC play by hosting the Tennessee Volunteers at home on October 10. Although Volunteer safety Eric Berry seems to have Tebow’s number, look for the Gators to whip Lane Kiffin and the Vols to send a message to the SEC and Nation, at large.
The October 10thgame at LSU will be the most difficult test of the regular season for the Gators. Certainly, Death Valley fans in Baton Rouge will be rabid and out for blood. Although the Tigers are coming off a rebuilding 2008, the club will be poised to build upon the Chik-fil-A bowl shellacking of Georgia Tech to make noise in the SEC West this season.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s growth, as a true sophomore is all-important.
Offensively, LSU has the personnel to pound the Florida defense with Charles Scott. Defensively, the Tigers are strong at linebacker and defensive back, which will effectively corral Florida’s offensive weaponry.
Florida will be in for a slugfest at Baton Rouge.
I expect Florida to lose one game this season. This loss will come at the hands of the Louisiana State Tigers and will be a Blessing in disguise. The defeat kills the undefeated and “Best Team of All Time” commentary and allows the Gators to direct their energies toward the field only.
Certainly, Tim Tebow will rally the troops behind this early-season loss and roll through the SEC East. The Gators must rebound by spanking arch nemesis Georgia at the Cocktail Party on Halloween and destroying Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Florida State to make good again for the BCS voters and computers.
The scenario then sets up an SEC Championship showdown at Atlanta versus LSU, Alabama, or Mississippi. The Gators are ready to take on all comers at this neutral site and will roll to the National Championship game per a solid victory.
Meanwhile, the Texas – Oklahoma Red River Shootout looms large to determine the fate of the BCS picture. Texas and Oklahoma are ranked as 2 and 3 going into the college football season and the victor will be poised to run the table in the Big 12 to match up against Florida for the BCS title.
Texas, Oklahoma, and USC are the only programs that are capable of making a game out of the National Championship versus the Florida Gators. Of course, the Big 12 cannot stop anybody and USC will be rolling out green, yet talented quarterbacks per the Aaron Corp – Matt Barkley platoon.
The Big 10 contingent of Penn State and Ohio State, alongside Virginia Tech are also poised to crash the party per weak schedules and experienced clubs. Of course, these “paper champions” will only set themselves up to get rocked by Florida.
The Florida Gators must beat themselves to lose.
2009 – 2010 Florida Gators College Football Season Preview and Predictions
The 13-1 Florida Gators will win their third BCS National Championship in four years to further establish themselves as a dynasty. Tim Tebow, having already won the Heisman once, will lose out to his second trophy per close voting to Colt McCoy.
Maybe matching up against another Big 12 Heisman Trophy winner and walking away with the BCS Championship at Pasadena will serve as sweet, poetic justice. Tim Tebow, the fullback-quarterback, will walk away as the most decorated collegiate football athlete of all time.
The 2009-2010 Florida Gators will be your Bowl Championship Series National Champions.
2009 – 2010 Florida Gators College Football Season Preview, Sources:
Florida Gators Football, http://www.gatorzone.com/football/
Tim Tebow Fan Site, http://www.timtebowfans.org/
Kofi Bofah, 2009 College Football Season Preview: BCS National Championship Contenders, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2038789/2009_college_football_season_preview.html?cat=14