The Good News: The offense. There is speed, speed, speed and more speed. Tim Tebow should be even better in his second season as the full-time starter which is frightening since he won the Heisman Trophy last year. Tebow will still be a major part of the Gators potent rushing attack but he won't carry the ball quite as much as he did last year to limit the punishment he takes. The reason he won't run as often is because he doesn't have to. The Gators are loaded in the backfield with Kestahn Moore, Chris Rainey and USC transfer Emmanuel Moody. Moody should become the Gators inside runner but the guy everyone is talking about is Rainey. The redshirt freshman dazzled in the spring game and is the fastest player on the team (4.24 40). Florida will line him up at both RB and WR, much like they do Heisman Trophy candidate Percy Harvin. One of the most explosive players in the country, Harvin should improve on the 1,622 yards he put up rushing and receiving last season. The Florida coaching staff is drooling over the thought of having Harvin and Rainey on the field together. WR Louis Murphy and TE Cornelius Ingram give Tebow two more dangerous options in the passing game. The line is one of the SEC's best, starting three seniors and two talented sophomores. This will be one of the most explosive offensive machines in college football in 2008.
The Bad News: The defense. The last time we saw the Gators defense it was getting steamrolled by Michigan to the tune of 41 points and 524 yards. The dropoff defensively last season wasn't unexpected after the Gators lost eight starters off their National Championship team. A lot of young guys got thrown into the fire and were forced to learn on the fly. Now we'll see if all that playing time pays off this season. I think the Gators defense will be better but how much better? The answer to that question will go along way in determining how far the Gators go this season. Florida is strong at linebacker but there are still question marks about the line and secondary. If those units step up, the Gators will be close to unbeatable. If not, the offense will have to carry the team once again. Also, like other top teams (Georgia and Oklahoma) the Gators will breaking in a freshman kicker.
Schedule: The Gators have the best schedule out of any of the title contenders. Some people think Miami and Florida State pose a big threat. I'm not one of those people. The Gators should smack their two in-state rivals. Florida gets LSU and South Carolina at home in the Swamp and have just two tough road games all year: at Tennessee and Florida State. They should win both of those. There is no Alabama and more importantly, no Auburn. The Tigers have defeated the Gators in each of the last two seasons and have been the only team to really shut down Urban Meyer's spread offense. Right now, I have to give the edge to Georgia in what could be the Game of the Year because they can score with Florida and have the better defense.
Gambling Angle: Bet the Gators early regardless of the point spread. Florida has been on a mission all summer to get rid of the bad taste in their mouth from the Michigan. That's not good news for Hawaii and Miami, who should each get rolled in the Swamp. The Rainbows will be lucky to win five games this year and Miami will be starting a lot of freshman on both sides of the ball, a recipe for disaster at raucous Florida Field. I would advise betting the over in any Florida game that has a total under 60. There is really no defense that can totally shut down the Gators offense. They averaged 42 points per game a year ago and I expect that total to jump up to around 50 this season.
Outlook: The offensive is scary and the defense should be improved. The deciding factor in whether or not the Gators get to the Orange Bowl could be the interior of the defensive line. The Gators were gashed on the ground by good rushing teams last year and two of their best tackles, sophomores Torrey Davis and John Brown have academic issues to deal with. If they can't play, Florida could be in trouble because they don't have a lot of depth at the tackle position. Regardless, the offense is good enough to win 10 games on its own. The other four victories needed to win a championship depends on how well the defense plays.
If Tebow has ONE weakness....it's RUNNING too much! That Kid's got to learn to slide!!!!