There is a storm brewing in Gainesville and it’s one that head coach Will Muschamp is hoping that blows over quickly for his Florida Gators. If it doesn’t, the SEC and the Gators could be in for a long, painful 2013 College Football season.
Yes, it is a fact that most preseason polls have Florida as one of the top 10 teams in the country and some even have them picked to win the SEC Eastern Division. But there are a couple of areas that Gator fans need to take a deep breath, sit down and accept before drinking too much of the Gator-Aide for 2013.
First and foremost, the Gators have the toughest schedule in the nation. A quick glance of the 2013 schedule and (based on the history of the program at Florida) one can easily come up with eight wins. But if you break down the schedule into games of two, things can take a different turn. At no point in the 2013 slate of games can you guarantee back-to-back wins by the Gators. This season is going to be that kind of roller coaster from week to week in Gainesville.
Second, the Gators are not as deep as they have been in the past. There is a lot of unproven, yet talented athletes on this Florida team that will get tested early and often throughout 2013. Add the appendectomy to Jeff Driskel, which will take away valuable timing reps for the next few weeks along with infections and injuries at every position before preseason practice even starts and even the SEC office is concerned about the product the Gators will put on the field. Driskel is the offense right now and if he is not healthy then what’s Plan B? The defense is not talented or healthy enough to hold teams to 10 points or fewer a game.
Third, the Gators are no longer the most athletic team in college football in the state of Florida. Fact is the Miami Hurricanes are No. 1 and the Florida State Seminoles are No. 2. Florida has a lot more unproven commodities at every skill position than either one of its main in state rivals. Add that both the Hurricanes and Seminoles know this and are ready to prove their worth nationally, and things could get ugly in both of these games for the Gators.
Could Florida get healthy and their young athletes click under the direction of Muschamp? Absolutely! But the up and down emotions of 18-year-olds week to week in the SEC and the already bad karma in the training room should signal a major warning for all Gator fans.
Don’t let a 3-4 midway mark or a 6-6 mark near the end catch you by surprise in 2013.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.