Florida Football Countdown 'Til Kickoff: 13) It's All About Chemistry

By Brett Kaplan

It’s 12 days until the Florida Gators open up play against the Florida Atlantic Owls and I wasn’t able to post yesterday. These are my top 20 reasons to be excited about this upcoming season. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.

Chemistry is something that every great team has that no one can explain or factor when it comes to preseason rankings and projections. Last season, Florida has zero chemistry between their players. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t friendly off the field, it just means that they weren’t in rhythm when the Gators needed them most. There was a very public rift between the senior leadership and the incoming freshman. The freshman came in with a sense of entitlement and the seniors were going to make them work to earn their respect. Top rated players Ronald Powell and Dominique Easely were thisclose to transferring before they put it all behind them. Put the infighting together with a coach who lost his passion in Urban Meyer and you get an 8-5 mediocre season.

In 12 days, the new-look Florida Gators get a chance to start new. Their new head coach Will Muschamp is an intense, enthusiasitc, Energizer bunny of a man. In other words, the complete opposite of Urban Meyer. The change in scenery has done wonders for the Florida players. Senior RB Jeff Demps agrees:

“The young guys had their issues, and the old guys had theirs. That’s behind us now. We need everybody. It’s not a one-man show. In order for us to win, we’ve got to have everybody. That’s the only way with Coach Muschamp.”

Muschamp has encouraged players to become friendly and know each other off of the playing field by providing places and players to hang out in their downtime. An old locker room is now home to the Gator Lounge, complete with a pool table, flat-screen television sets, Xbox game systems, computer access and comfy couches. And players are spending a lot of time hanging out.

With the new regime, Powell has also had a change in attitude:

“A lot of times, to be honest, I was the type of guy who stayed to myself. “If a guy didn’t talk to me, I wouldn’t talk to him. Now, it’s like, “I’ve got to step in and be a leader and still be me.’ I’ve tried harder to get to know guys and what they go through, stuff like that.”

The way these players talk with each other over Twitter and any other social networking account shows they are way closer than last year. You can genuinely tell they care about each other. And the closer the group, the harder they work, the better the success. The Gators can make it through their tough schedule by sticking together and not letting a loss split the team apart. And from what I’ve seen since Muschamp took over, they should be well equipped to handle adversity.

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