By Brandon Daniel @Brandon_Rant on August 30, 2014
The Florida Gators enter 2014 with questions and pressure to improve a dismal 2013 campaign that saw them fall below .500 after an 11-win season. Injuries and a scheme on offense that didn't match the personnel led to the dramatic fall. The Gators need to rebound in a big way this year or big changes could occur in Gainesville. Here are five questions that need answers if they hope to avoid that.
The Gators have not had a wide receiver get even to the 900-yard mark since Riley Cooper in 2009. Playmakers on the outside have been a struggle for a long time in The Swamp. It's largely the same cast of characters returning at the top of the depth chart for 2014, so someone will need to step up their game. Ahmad Fulwood is only a sophomore, so if he can make progress, along with running back Kelvin Taylor, the Gators may have what they need.
The backbone of the Gators under Will Muschamp has been the defense. Points have been hard to come by for opposing offenses and that's kept the Gators in games. As they learned last season, a great defense can't make up for a totally inept offense, but this season should be better. However, the defense will still need to be the strength. The Gators can't expect to go from inept to elite in one offseason, so the defense must be as strong as ever.
A question that will plague the Gators all season unless they pull off some big wins is Muschamp's job status. It's bound to be a distraction and the pressure will grow if the losses start to mount. That kind of tension can wreck a team's confidence, causing them to press and make moments bigger than they need to be. If the Gators can get on a roll, it won't be an issue, but they are one bad loss away from a pressure-packed season.
Roper has been cast as the savior for the Florida offense. They were dreadful last season and not much better in 2012. Most believe Roper's system is a much better fit for the Gators' personnel, but that's all hearsay until they tee it up. The fact remains that the Gators need Roper to be everything that he has been billed to be. His offense and play calling have to get the most out of the Gators' talent, otherwise his tenure will be short-lived.
The time is now for Jeff Driskel. He is healthy, has a system his skill-set should thrive in and is experienced. Driskel was one of the top quarterbacks in his class and has not even come close to matching his tremendous potential. The Gators are counting on him to finally show what had fans excited when he committed. He is the key to the season, and if the answer to this question is "yes," Gator fans could have much to celebrate in 2014.
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