The most unpredictable team in the SEC this fall? That's easy. Florida.
The Gators have rolled up plenty of top five and top 10 recruiting classes in recent years. Their head coach led them to an 11-2 record and a BCS bowl game just two seasons ago. They're returning a veteran at quarterback.
All of that sounds pretty good.
But the Gators went just 4-8 last year during an injury-plagued campaign that saw Georgia Southern roll into Gainesville and drain the Swamp.
So is Florida destined for big things or are they doomed to nosedive again? Or does the truth lie somewhere between those two extremes?
Much will depend on the impact of new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. In a single offseason he'll have had to implement a new system featuring more shotgun snaps to take advantage of quarterback Jeff Driskel's dual-threat skills. The talk about UF's skill position players has been positive this offseason, but Roper will be called upon to get more out of those guys than his predecessors (Brent Pease, Charlie Weis, Steve Addazio, etc). Finally, he'll also need to be given the power to run his offense as he sees fit. Some wonder if head coach Will Muschamp will be willing to let his new coordinator have free rein.
"I think they're very, very hungry based on what happened last year. There's a lot of motivation there, and they understand how tough the schedule is and what those expectations are.
But at the same time, there's a level of excitement considering the brand new offense with Kurt Roper, who I thought was a great hire. If Florida can stay healthy, then I think the sky is the limit...
This system is going to make better use of his skill sets by playing out of the gun and taking advantage of his running ability. He was recruited as a spread quarterback. A guy like Kurt Roper, who's been a quarterback guru coaching under David Cutcliffe, I think he's just a blessing.
But Jeff is going to need help. Somebody has to step up and be a presence on the perimeter at wide receiver, whether it's Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood or Andre Debose. I think Jake McGee is a huge get for Florida. That B-position in Kurt Roper's offense is important for them, and he'll be a favorite target of Jeff Driskel this year.”
That all sounds positive. And if forced to decide whether this UF team will finish closer to 11 wins or four, we'd go with 11.
But that's if the team stays healthy, if the skill players help Driskel, and if Muschamp allows Roper to do the job he hired him to do. And for that reason, we suspect this Florida team will actually finish somewhere in between its two recent extremes.