Last year, we couldn't help but follow everything that was going on in Gainesville -- it was simply impossible for anyone, much less SEC bloggers, to ignore. (Not that Year2 would want to, but I digress.) This year, while Florida has had its fair share of offseason stories, things have been far quieter. So we bring you an interview with Alligator Army's mlmintampa to get you some information. Here's what he said.
John Brantley's 2010 season will be most remembered for ...
mlmintampa: Having a better passing season than any of Tim Tebow's. Brantley can complete 70 percent of his passes and could get 3300 yards if they let him open it up. The hard part will be breaking Tebow's mark of 32 passing touchdowns, set during his Heisman season. UF's running game will take a lot of stress off Brantley. But if he can show he can pitch it around, the Gators will throw a lot late in the season. Also, Florida's defense is in rebuilding mode (new MLB, new CB, new DEs). The Gators will need Brantley to throw and that will rack up the numbers.
The defense has drawn a lot of comparisons to the 2007 team -- a unit that was a major part of the last season's success before losing several key starters. How big of a concern is that this year?
mlmintampa: The biggest concern. The 2007 defense was like watching a high school's first season of varsity football after playing JV. It wasn't just that they were young, they were outsmarted and overpowered. The important thing to note is that 2010 UF has new starters, but they were all highly recruited and have been primed for this, unlike Brandon Spikes getting thrown into the fire in 2007. Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins will be the MLBs, with established starters outside (A.J. Jones, Brandon Hicks). The secondary is Ahmad Black, Will Hill and Janoris Jenkins, with an open corner. The line is anyone's guess and possibly a year away. Expect a lot of offensive linemen to get to the LBs against UF.
Have there been any noticeable effects of Urban Meyer's retirement and detirement?
mlmintampa: Not that I've seen. You can't pull in a class like the Gators did and have chaos. The only thing I could think of was the accusations against Maurkice Pouncey have a time line of December 2009, in the middle of Meyer's health episode. But that is normally a time when coaches step back, so you can't blame anything there on Meyer, no matter if the allegations are true or not.
Florida is once again the favorite to win the SEC East. Which of the other five teams worries you the most?
mlmintampa: Georgia. If black helmets and pants didn't work, I'm guessing they wear Kevlar for the 2010 Cocktail Party. I do find it hilarious that half of the SEC East has Florida high school stars at quarterback. (Brantley, Murray, Garcia; yes, Garcia was a star in high school.)
I've been thinking, and as I see it, the only beneficiary of the chaos going through the SEC East (NCAA investigations, bar brawls, Damon Evans' very bad night, Bobby Johnson's sudden retirement) seems to be Florida -- which otherwise would have been the most distracted team in the division. Convince me this isn't just a part of Urban Meyer's plan.
mlmintampa: Florida isn't immune, especially with the Maurkice Pouncey investigation and the inability of the Gainesville Police Department to arrest someone who isn't on the football team. But everyone else's misfortune is UF's gain. I was thinking UF would be in total rebuilding mode and looking at the Citrus Bowl. Instead I'm predicting John Brantley to perform better than Tim Tebow. Strange days in the SEC.
Thanks again to mlmintampa for answering our questions, and read Alligator Army during the season for Florida news and commentary.