The Florida Gators had an outstanding 2012 season by nearly everyone’s standards. However, what would be considered a great season for most wasn’t considered as such in Gainesville, especially the way it ended.
Florida went 11-1 in the regular season, losing out to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race. Florida was rewarded with a BCS bowl bid, facing the Louisville Cardinals in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
That’s when things turned for Florida. The January 2 matchup with Louisville was supposed to be a crowning moment for a great season for the Gators. Florida was a big favorite, but the Gators came out flat. Louisville jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and the Cardinals kept rolling, leading 33-10 in the fourth quarter before Florida put up 13 late points.
What should have been an offseason full of optimism turned into a series of questions about what the Gators might be able to do in 2013.
One of the biggest questions is at the quarterback position. Can Jeff Driskel be a quarterback that leads his team to an SEC title and maybe more? Last season, Driskel was 156-of-245 through the air for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns, with five interceptions. He also rushed for 413 yards and four scores.
Is that enough to carry Florida through the upcoming season? With last season’s leading rushing, Mike Gillislee gone, the Gators figure to need more from the passing game, and Driskel is largely unproven in that area.
Speaking of Gillislee, coach Will Muschamp must also find a replacement for him. Mack Brown, Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor all figure to be in the mix at running back in 2013. Jones had the biggest impact in 2012, with 275 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Brown had 102 yards on the ground in 2012. Taylor is the state of Florida’s all-time leading rusher and figures to be in the mix for carries in 2013.
Florida also must replace significant losses on defense. Gone from last year’s team are Jon Bostic, Sharrif Floyd, Omar Hunter, Jelani Jenkins and Lerentee McCray. Muschamp is hoping that players like Jonathan Bullard, Dante Fowler, Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor can help fill those spots.
Florida figures to be in the mix for the SEC title in 2013, but many questions remain for the Gators before the 2013 season begins.