SEC Subplots: Can Florida have college football’s biggest turnaround in 2014?
SDS kicks off a series looking in-depth at teams and their biggest subplots heading into 2014. Next up: Florida Gators.
SEC Subplots 2014:
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Arkansas Razorbacks
- Auburn Tigers
- Florida Gators
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Kentucky Wildcats
- LSU Tigers
- Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Ole Miss Rebels
- Missouri Tigers
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Vanderbilt Commodores
1. Will Muschamp will be a good head coach
There I said it, and I’ve been open about it before. Will Muschamp will be a good head coach someday. It may not be at Florida, but he’s learning valuable lessons that will help him later in his career. If that’s Florida, then that’s obviously a plus for him and the program. That would mean Muschamp leads Florida to a terrific turnaround in 2014, which is completely possible knowing the elite product the defense will put on the field. Obviously, Muschamp’s survival this season depends almost completely on how much the offense improves…
2. Cater to the personnel
Speaking of the offense…finally, Muschamp brings in an offense that fits the personnel. Brent Pease was trying to make Jeff Driskel into AJ McCarron when his strengths are more compared to a player like Nick Marshall, where his legs are a vital asset to his success. Now, with Kurt Roper’s offense, Driskel’s running ability will be vital to Florida’s success, the way it should have always been. Roper’s offense spreads the field and puts playmakers in space, and even better, it simplifies Driskel’s reads on offense by almost completely operating out of the gun. With depth now behind Driskel with two freshmen Treon Harris and Will Grier, Roper can afford to run Driskel more than Pease and Muschamp ever wanted to.
3. What’s Muschamp’s magic number
Since Muschamp is in survival mode, what’s the benchmark he has to hit? The five big games on the schedule are Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and FSU. Winning three of those games, including Georgia, may be the magic number. If you’re Jeremy Foley, you have a big decision looming. If Florida finishes 8-4, that’s certainly improvement from 4-8, but that’s not where Florida fans expect to be. Foley’s decision will be much tougher. Regardless, Muschamp has to beat Georgia this season. There’s no other way around it.
4. Special teams and turnover margin
Florida’s 2012 plan to win saw the Gators dominate on defense, special teams, second halves and turnover margin. None of the four were assets in 2013’s four-win season. Florida finished -2 in turnover margin after finishing +15 in 2012’s 11-win season. Special teams killed the Gators last season. Florida couldn’t kick field goals, and All-SEC caliber punter Kyle Christy forgot how to punt. Even when Urban Meyer was dominating with the likes of Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and others, special teams was always a huge key to the formula. That has to return in 2014.
SDS Takeaway: If you’re looking for one dark-horse team in the East, it’s Florida. The Gators have as much or more talent than any team in the country, and they will put together an elite product on defense. Again, it all comes back to the offense and whether or not Kurt Roper can score 26 points per game. That’s virtually all the Gators need, and that’s about 2012’s scoring offense average, too. The Gators could be college football’s biggest turnaround team this season.