Published September 26, 2011 - 9:11am
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Entering 2011, the Florida Gators were coming off of a very disappointing 2010 season that saw its club start 4-0 but with major question marks, only to finish 3-5 the rest of the regular season. The Gators lost the pivotal SEC East matchup and a subsequent trip to Atlanta against South Carolina in Gainesville as well.
Entering week five a year ago on the road at Alabama, Gator fans knew deep down that a beat down was coming against the Crimson Tide, and it absolutely happened in Tuscaloosa. The Gators used the three-quarterback system that eventually became a joke because they simply could not move the football against anyone, and they regressed as the season went on. There was no life on the sidelines, and the “rebuilding” that was to take place in 2010 never materialized.
That was 2010. This is 2011.
Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis now control the defense and offense, and there is a sense of rejuvenation and energy on the sidelines.
There is a whole different feel to 4-0 this year surrounding Florida. The Gators haven’t played virtually anyone yet, except Tennessee, but there is confidence in the air that was not felt at all last season; it just feels different.
First, there is a sense of improvement from week to week on offense. Weis and Frank Verducci, the offensive line coach, are seen on the sidelines coaching their offensive units. The offensive line is playing very well right now and has given up the least amount of sacks in the SEC. These young coachable players want to get better week to week. That’s encouraging.
There is also much less confusion on offense than a year ago, and players are playing faster because of the lack of confusion – most notably Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, who are tearing it up on the ground. Quarterback John Brantley looks to have a sense of purpose of what he trying to do with the football on every play.
|Yards Per Play||6.83||5.55|
|Pass Yds / Att||8.00||7.75|
|Rush Yds / Att||6.27||3.98|
Defensively, the Gators are winning with the front seven. The defensive line is one of the fastest in the SEC, and they are leading the SEC in sacks right now. Linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic are also playing very well right now. The question mark is in the secondary. It is difficult to assess how good this unit is based on the first four weeks of the season.
|Yards Per Play||3.88||5.20|
|Pass Yds / Att||4.92||7.11|
|Rush Yds / Att||2.91||2.51|
There is young talent all over field making plays on offense and defense for the Gators. The players look faster than a year ago because they have a better sense of their specific roles as well as the entire team’s game plan each week. That’s a credit to this experienced and energetic coaching staff.
Last year at this time, Florida was eighth in the SEC in total offense and third in total defense, and they were regressing from week to week. This year, the Gators are first overall in total offense and second in total defense.
Alabama comes to town this weekend. It’s time to see what these Gators are made of.