Published July 22, 2010 - 5:00am
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The Florida Gators enter the 2010 ranked in the top 10 nationally and favorites to win the East, but can they win the SEC? Florida lost an abundance of talent last year due to the NFL draft (9 players were drafted, more than any other school) and will face stiffer competition in the East before they can get to Atlanta. Below will be the headlines for the year if Florida wins the SEC for the second time in three years.
1 – John Brantley is better than advertised: Many people believe that the Florida offense will not miss a beat with Brantley at quarterback. Brantley is said to have elite arm strength and accuracy, and has wowed Florida coaches this spring. He is more of a traditional quarterback and should be able to spread the ball around, do a better job of reading the defenses, and taking what they give him. A former Gatorade National Player of the Year, Brantley will do his best to make Gators forget about Tim Tebow.
2 – Wide Receivers step up: Gator fans have been waiting for two years for Deonte Thompson to live up to the five star hype. Brantley’s style of play should benefit Thompson and allow 2010 to be his breakout campaign. Chris Rainey was moved from running back to the slot and if the Sugar Bowl was any indication of whats to come, look out. Rainey has the speed and elusiveness to be a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Carl Moore will need to step up after missing all of 2009 with a back injury. Look for Andre Debose to show why the coaches think he could be the next big play maker for the Gator offense.
3 – Defense doesn’t miss a beat: Florida lost its best corner back, safety, linebacker, and defensive lineman from last year. Urban Meyer has brought in a top 5 class in each of the past three years, including the #1 class last year. Look for many of those talented recruits to prove why they were so highly recruited out of highschool. Janoris Jenkins is a shut down corner who will replace Joe Haden. Will Hill and Ahmad Black will welcome true freshman Matt Elam to form a dangerous and physical safety tandem. The Florida staff is very high on Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, two sophomores who contributed some as true freshmen last year. AJ Jones and Brandon Hicks will lead an extremely talented and fast linebacker group. Omar Hunter is finally healthy on the defensive line and welcomes the best defensive lineman class in the nation. #1 overall recruit Ronald Powell should get a lot of reps at defensive end, and could start by the seasons end.
4 – Special Teams are Special: Chas Henry is one of the best punters in the nation, and Caleb Sturgis has one of the strongest legs in the country. Florida must replace Brandon James, who has been a special teams staple for the past four years. Chris Rainey should get the first shot at replacing James, and is just as dangerous as his predecessor. Urban Meyer will place a lot of emphasis on his special teams, especially the punt return team. Meyer, historically, has placed his fastest guys on the line, where they are always a threat to block a punt and change the game.