'Nole your Opponent: Florida Gators Via Presnap Read

Paul Myerberg, the excellent writer from the New York Times and Pre-Snap Read is continuing his excellent preview series. Here is a sample of his look at Florida.

In a nutshell Three different offensive coordinators in as many years, three different offensive systems in as many years. A new quarterback, whether the Gators go with Brissett or Driskel. An offensive line that lacks depth; it's a group that could crumble if there are any meaningful losses along the interior. A receiver corps stuck in the middle, with the experienced options recruited for an entirely different system and the new faces not quite ready for prime time. This offense, simply put, is not ready to mount a serious run against the SEC's elite defenses - and as a result, Florida is not ready to make a run back to the top of the SEC.

Then there's this defense, and it's this defense that takes an otherwise mediocre team and lifts into the hunt for a national ranking. If Powell is healthy, Florida's pass rush will be better than it was a season ago. That will be of an enormous benefit to a young secondary that still needs time to grow as a group. But more so than a season ago, U.F. has the sort of depth Muschamp requires along each step of the defense: the Gators are deeper up front, especially at tackle; have two or three linebackers fighting for snaps behind the top threesome; and go seven deep in the secondary, even if more than half of the seven are sophomores. Florida knew that Muschamp would turn this defense into a menace - and he's delivered.

But you wonder about the magic number: the number of points this offense must average a game for Florida to win the SEC East title. Is it 21 points, 24 points, 27 points? It's at least 20 points, and I look at this offense, look at this schedule, look at the SEC at large and wonder how a reworked group - one with some fairly large personnel issues - plans on scoring with consistency from September through November. Pease is an upgrade, but how long will it take the Gators to find their rhythm in his specific system? It won't happen overnight, and it's a process that will be slowed by teams like L.S.U., South Carolina, Georgia and others.

I can see Florida losing another six games before I can see this team winning the SEC East, which is not something you'd say - with a tweak for divisional membership - about the upper crust of the conference. The Gators remain too unbalanced; the defense could carry this team to nine wins, but the offense is going to fall flat at least once or twice over the span of the season. If Pease is the answer, U.F. will be a serious title contender heading into next season. For now? Florida and Tennessee are in a near tie for third place in the East, one full notch below Georgia and South Carolina. Eight wins will signal progress, but it won't land the Gators an SEC title game berth.

Dream season Florida loses to L.S.U. and Florida State but sweeps through the rest of the schedule unscathed, primed for a title game rematch against the Tigers. Muschamp would be the third Florida coach to reach double-digit wins in his second season, joining Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer - that's some good company.

Nightmare season The Gators' offense falls flat against A&M and Tennessee, disappears against L.S.U., South Carolina and Florida State, and can't do enough against Georgia to score an upset. For the second straight year, U.F. heads into bowl play at 6-6.

Again, this is only a tiny sample. Please do check out the rest of the article.

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