2013 Florida football's 10 things to know: Brilliantly ugly orange

Will Muschamp smiles. - John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After a two-year absence, Florida returned the land of college football's elite in 2012. It did so with what was possibly the least aesthetically pleasing style of play in the country. Can the Gators pull off this no-margin-for-error act again with a less experienced defense? For more on the Gators, visit Florida site Alligator Army.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. Brilliant orange vs. ugly orange

"It is an art in itself to compose a starting team, finding the balance between creative players and those with destructive powers, and between defence, construction and attack -- never forgetting the quality of the opposition and the specific pressures of each match."

-- Rinus Michels

In the 1960s and 1970s, Holland was a revelation on the soccer pitch. With a style created by coach (and former Dutch national team member) Rinus Michels and eventually known as Total Football, the Dutch unveiled a level of tactical flexibility never before seen, with players switching positions and creating new, innovative ways to use the space allotted to them. This new style, when matched with extremely talented players like Johan Cruyff, Rob Rensenbrink, and Ruud Krol, wreaked havoc for both the Dutch national team and the Dutch club Ajax. The squad could never quite reel in a World Cup title -- it was runner-up in both 1974 and 1978 -- but they still had an incredibly successful run of play with this style and these players. (David Winner's Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer, one of my favorite recent sports books, tells this story well.)

The Total Football style and Dutch soccer became synonyms after a while; it almost wasn't enough for the team to play well -- it also had to play beautifully and creatively. When Holland made the World Cup Final in 2010 and damn near won the tournament with a more physical, plodding style that was in no way aesthetically pleasing, it felt ... wrong. "Yeah, sure, they're winning, but ... yuck! I don't want to watch this!"

It was jarring watching those bright orange jerseys, so long associated with beautiful football (in part from a style created by one of their own), playing a version of murderball.

And yes, we're now talking about Florida football. The school of Steve Spurrier and fun 'n' gun and Wuerffel-to-Anthony-and-Hilliard, the school of Urban Meyer and the spread and Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, once again won big in 2012. After two lackluster seasons that saw the Gators go just 15-11, their worst two-year win percentage since 1987-88, they were back in the national title race. They beat South Carolina by 33 points, came back to win at Texas A&M, and rode late surges to wins over LSU and Florida State. They beat three top-10 teams and went 11-1 in the regular season (their only loss featured some really bad breaks in the turnovers department), and if there were a four-team playoff, as there will be beginning in 2014, they would have probably been in it.

But goodness, did Florida play some ugly football. It was ugly by design, of course; it perfectly matched the intense, aesthetics-eschewing personality of head coach Will Muschamp, who seemed to watch recent Alabama teams and think, "I like what they're doing, but I don't know why they have to be so flashy." Florida leaned on a fast, suffocating defense, brilliant special teams, and an occasional running game -- two parts destructive powers, no parts creative players -- and it worked.

When you've got four- and five-star talent everywhere, you don't have to get too creative tactically. You're bigger, stronger, and faster than your opponent. Just lean on them and punch them in the gut for 60 minutes, and you'll probably end up with more points on the scoreboard.

But Florida took murderball to its conceptual extreme in 2012; what happens now that the Gators have some holes to fill on defense?

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 11-2 | Adj. Record: 12-1 | Final F/+ Rk: 4
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Bowling Green 27-14 W 40.9 - 20.0 W
8-Sep at Texas A&M 20-17 W 28.4 - 16.0 W
15-Sep at Tennessee 37-20 W 38.1 - 17.7 W
22-Sep Kentucky 38-0 W 28.8 - 14.3 W
6-Oct LSU 14-6 W 23.7 - 10.4 W
13-Oct at Vanderbilt 31-17 W 46.6 - 23.9 W
20-Oct South Carolina 44-11 W 15.3 - 8.0 W
27-Oct vs. Georgia 9-17 L 19.0 - 11.2 W
3-Nov Missouri 14-7 W 20.9 - 20.4 W
10-Nov UL-Lafayette 27-20 W 24.1 - 18.4 W
17-Nov Jacksonville State 23-0 W 21.3 - 25.8 L
24-Nov at Florida State 37-26 W 51.7 - 16.1 W
2-Jan vs. Louisville 23-33 L 29.3 - 22.7 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 26.5 78 14.5 5
Adj. Points Per Game 29.9 54 17.3 4

2. It got uglier as the season got older

By the time the Gators were scoring a combined 73 points against Georgia, Missouri, UL-Lafayette and Jacksonville State, it was easy to forget that September wasn't nearly as ugly for (by?) the Florida offense. Jeff Driskel damn near looked like a future Heisman contender against Tennessee, completing 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards and rushing eight times for 81 yards; he later rushed for 177 yards and three scores against Vanderbilt, as well. And while there was nothing pretty about the 14-6 win over LSU, running back Mike Gillislee put on a fourth-quarter show and finished with 146 yards and both of Florida's touchdowns.

There were bright moments. But over the last half of the season, from the South Carolina game (don't let the score fool you -- the Gators gained fewer than 200 yards) through the first three quarters of the Florida State game, this was a mostly dreadful offense. With a great defense, this didn't necessarily matter, but still.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 6 games): Florida 34.4, Opponent 17.1 (plus-17.3)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 5 games): Florida 20.1, Opponent 16.8 (plus-3.3)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 2 games): Florida 40.5, Opponent 19.4 (plus-21.1)

Florida exploded for 24 fourth-quarter points in the win at Florida State and averaged a decent 5.5 yards per play versus Louisville during a desperate attempt to come back from an early deficit. But again, the Gators won 11 games and only had an offense for about four of them. That is strangely impressive. It's also a testament to how good they were on defense and special teams.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 104 29 34 27
RUSHING 39 10 30 6
PASSING 118 58 45 71
Standard Downs 39 43 34
Passing Downs 21 35 17
Red Zone 86 72 86
Q1 Rk 76 1st Down Rk 34
Q2 Rk 54 2nd Down Rk 49
Q3 Rk 11 3rd Down Rk 43
Q4 Rk 28

3. Here's where advanced stats come in handy

Florida finished 103rd in total offense last year, leading one to believe that the Gators were rather incompetent on that side of the ball. But that's not necessarily true. They had a plan, and it occasionally worked.

The Gators really could run the ball, especially in the second half of games, and both pace and opponent adjustments do quite a few favors for a Florida offense that ranked a healthy, if less-than-elite, 32nd in Off. F/+. The Gators were intentionally slow to the line of scrimmage and only passed if they had to (and even when they had to pass, they still ran quite a bit); they couldn't pass, but they were good enough at either building leads or staying within striking distance (Sugar Bowl aside) that they were able to take minimal risks and succeed.

It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, offensive coordinator Brent Pease brings to the table in 2013. Pease came to Gainesville from Boise State and confused anybody who still thinks of the Boise State stereotype as one of wide-open play and lots of passing; Pease leaned on Boise concepts of motion, precision and misdirection (there were quite a few reverses, and they worked pretty well), but he did so mostly with a ground game that, ugly or not, matched the needs of the Florida defense. It also worked to wear down tremendous LSU and Florida State defenses and win some big games.

4. Red zone paradox

For all of this team's running strengths -- and no matter how you slice it, 10th in Rushing S&P+ is damn strong -- Florida was strangely awful in the red zone and in short-yardage situations. The Gators ranked 86th in Red Zone S&P+ and 118th in Power Success Rate; they broke a lot of big runs, mostly against gassed defenses, but they were terribly ineffective at throwing in short space, and opponents were able to gang up on the run. Florida attempted 29 field goals, eighth-most in the country, and scored just 39 touchdowns (82nd). In six trips inside the Georgia 40 in their only regular season loss, the Gators kicked three field goals, fumbled, threw a pick, and turned the ball over on downs.

Good run games are often associated with the ability to finish drives well, but that was not an accurate association for Florida in 2012, and it cost the Gators a spot in the SEC (and potentially BCS) title game.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Jeff Driskel 6'4, 236 Jr. **** (6.0) 156 245 1,646 63.7% 12 5 36 12.8% 4.8
Jacoby Brissett


23 35 249 65.7% 1 0 3 7.9% 6.3
Tyler Murphy 6'2, 206 Jr. ** (5.4)






Skyler Mornhinweg 6'2, 208 RSFr. *** (5.5)






5. Throw the ball away, Jeff

Jeff Driskel is a great runner; he picks his spots well, takes off as soon as the defense turns its collective back, and racks up quite a few big plays on the ground. But there are two different forms of mobility: running with the ball and avoiding sacks. The latter is almost as much about mental agility as physical, and Driskel had none. He was sacked more frequently than almost any quarterback in the country, and for a team that relies on field position and defense, sacks are particularly defeating.

Learning to throw the ball away could save Florida 15 to 20 yards of field position in a given game, and the Gators were already awesome in that regard in 2012.

Jeff Driskel. Mike Ehrmann, Getty.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Mike Gillislee RB 244 1,148 4.7 5.1 10 +0.6
Jeff Driskel QB 6'4, 236 Jr. **** (6.0) 82 694 8.5 8.3 4 +28.4
Matt Jones RB 6'2, 226 So. **** (5.8) 52 275 5.3 4.6 3 +5.1
Trey Burton WR-F 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.7) 29 190 6.6 9.9 2 +6.4
Mack Brown RB 5'11, 213 Jr. **** (5.8) 25 102 4.1 1.5 0 -1.4
Omarius Hines WR-F 20 159 8.0 8.2 2 +6.9
Solomon Patton WR 5'9, 171 Sr. **** (5.8) 14 140 10.0 8.8 0 +7.2
Chris Johnson RB 5 35 7.0 4.2 0 +0.1
Kelvin Taylor RB 5'11, 215 Fr. **** (6.0)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Jordan Reed TE 62 45 559 72.6% 9.0 22.7% 58.1% 8.9 85.7
Quinton Dunbar WR-X 6'1, 195 Jr. **** (5.8) 47 36 383 76.6% 8.1 17.2% 57.4% 8.1 58.7
Frankie Hammond, Jr. WR-X 47 22 295 46.8% 6.3 17.2% 46.8% 5.8 45.2
Omarius Hines WR-F 32 23 242 71.9% 7.6 11.7% 62.5% 7.6 37.1
Trey Burton WR-F 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.7) 26 18 172 69.2% 6.6 9.5% 57.7% 6.6 26.4
Mike Gillislee RB 20 16 159 80.0% 8.0 7.3% 40.0% 7.2 24.4
Clay Burton TE 6'4, 253 Jr. *** (5.7) 7 2 12 28.6% 1.7 2.6% 71.4% 1.5 1.8
Kent Taylor TE 6'5, 224 So. **** (6.0) 6 2 5 33.3% 0.8 2.2% 83.3% 2.0 0.8
Hunter Joyer FB 5'10, 235 Jr. *** (5.7) 5 4 17 80.0% 3.4 1.8% 80.0% 3.8 2.6
Andre Debose WR-Z 5'11, 189 Sr. ***** (6.1) 4 2 9 50.0% 2.3 1.5% 75.0% 1.8 1.4
Mack Brown RB 5'11, 213 Jr. **** (5.8) 4 3 0 75.0% 0.0 1.5% 50.0% 0.2 0.0
Solomon Patton WR-Z 5'9, 171 Sr. **** (5.8) 3 1 17 33.3% 5.7 1.1% 33.3% 10.3 2.6
Colin Thompson TE 6'3, 252 RSFr. **** (5.8)








Demarcus Robinson WR-X 6'2, 201 Fr. **** (6.0)








Alvin Bailey WR 5'11, 170 Fr. **** (6.0)








Ahmad Fulwood WR 6'4, 189 Fr. **** (5.8)








6. Will the passing game improve?

Of course, receivers getting open could also help Driskel to avoid holding the ball too long. And hey, at any point, the former four- and five-star recruits in the Florida receiving corps could start acting like four- and five-star players. There is a ton of them, from the go-routes-only Andre Debose to Solomon Patton, who was much more running back than receiver from the WR-Z position (14 carries, three targets).

But unless you double down on potential, it's hard to rationalize Florida's passing game getting better, considering three of last year's top four targets are gone, and only one returnee averaged better than even a poor 6.6 yards per target last year. Tight ends Clay Burton and Kent Taylor and fullback Hunter Joyer combined to average 1.9 yards per target in 2012; five average passes to these three still wouldn't have gained a first down. I don't even understand how your average can be that low unless you're doing it intentionally. The passing game definitely isn't going to get worse, but yeah, throw the ball away, Jeff.

Despite passing game issues, the combination of Driskel rollouts, delays, draws, and screens to the running back, and camp-out-at-the-first-down-line passes to tight end Jordan Reed gave Florida better passing-downs success than one might have expected. If someone can replace Reed as ace in the hole, Florida could still figure out ways to move the chains once it falls behind schedule.

And a solid (from a run perspective) line should once again ensure that, by the third or fourth quarter, the Florida run game is getting more and more effective, even without Mike Gillislee.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 117.2 3.02 3.65 40.2% 53.2% 20.0% 51.6 9.5% 15.9%
Rank 9 57 23 50 118 82 122 119 123
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Xavier Nixon LT 33 career starts
Jon Halapio RG 6'3, 315 Sr. *** (5.6) 33 career starts
Jonotthan Harrison C 6'3, 302 Sr. **** (5.8) 27 career starts
Chaz Green RT 6'5, 304 Jr. **** (6.0) 19 career starts
James Wilson LG 15 career starts
Kyle Koehne C 6'5, 315 Sr. *** (5.6) 4 career starts
D.J. Humphries LT 6'5, 280 So. ***** (6.1) 2 career starts
Ian Silberman LG 6'5, 291 Jr. **** (5.9) 2 career starts
Sam Robey LG
Max Garcia (Maryland) LG 6'4, 307 Jr. *** (5.6)
Tyler Moore (Nebraska) RT 6'6, 312 So. **** (5.9)
Trip Thurman RG 6'5, 313 So. **** (5.8)
Trenton Brown LT 6'8, 363 Jr. *** (5.6)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 5 3 6 2
RUSHING 4 3 9 2
PASSING 16 5 7 6
Standard Downs 3 5 3
Passing Downs 4 16 4
Red Zone 4 7 5
Q1 Rk 17 1st Down Rk 3
Q2 Rk 5 2nd Down Rk 5
Q3 Rk 3 3rd Down Rk 3
Q4 Rk 3

7. Passing was your only shot

Florida didn't even have the decency to put a flashy, fun defense on the field. The Gators went with the Alabama-esque, submission-holds-instead-of-flying-elbow-drops style of defense. With a great push from the middle of the line and fast linebackers and safeties in pursuit, Florida leaned on its athleticism and adaptability in 2012, and the results were impressive.

Athletic offenses could occasionally find room to work (Texas A&M and Louisville in the first half, to name two), but if you didn't have enough speed or depth, you would quickly find yourself in passing downs, and you would likely find yourself getting picked off soon thereafter.

The only chance offenses had came through the air, and opponents knew it. Florida's pass rush was a bit passive, so quarterbacks usually had time to get passes off; that was better than the running back getting gang-tackled two yards downfield (or getting lit up by tackle Sharrif Floyd behind the line of scrimmage). The problem with passing was that opposing quarterbacks were throwing into spaces with a lot of fast defenders nearby, and the Gators were frequently able to break passes up or intercept them.

(Actually, they were a bit lucky in the number of interceptions they pulled in. They picked off 29 percent of their defensed passes; the national average is 21 percent, so they nabbed about 5.5 more INTs than they probably should have.)

The names are changing, but the defensive identity probably won't. The run stuffs will still be there -- Floyd and Omar Hunter are gone, but Dominique Easley and Leon Orr made 14 of their 32.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage -- and there is help at tackle coming from junior college transfer Darious Cummings. And sophomore ends Dante Fowler, Jr., and Jonathan Bullard should only get better after showing well in their debut seasons. Florida should once again get a hell of a push up front, which will do a green back seven quite a few favors.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 121.7 2.35 2.88 33.4% 67.9% 25.6% 114.4 5.7% 7.5%
Rank 7 7 32 12 61 6 40 29 49
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Sharrif Floyd DT 13 37.5 6.0% 13 3 0 0 1 0
Omar Hunter NT 13 30.0 4.8% 4 0 0 4 0 0
Dante Fowler, Jr. BUCK 6'3, 263 So. ***** (6.1) 13 21.5 3.5% 8 2.5 0 0 0 0
Dominique Easley DT 6'2, 283 Sr. ***** (6.1) 11 21.0 3.4% 8.5 4 0 1 0 1
Jonathan Bullard DE 6'3, 265 So. ***** (6.1) 13 20.5 3.3% 5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Lerentee McCray BUCK 12 19.5 3.1% 4.5 3 1 1 1 1
Leon Orr NT 6'5, 310 Jr. **** (5.9) 9 11.5 1.8% 5.5 1 0 0 0 0
Earl Okine DE 13 9.0 1.4% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Damien Jacobs NT 6'3, 286 Sr. **** (5.8) 12 8.0 1.3% 2.5 2.5 0 0 0 0
Bryan Cox, Jr. DE 6'3, 260 RSFr. *** (5.7)

Darious Cummings DT 6'1, 309 Jr. **** (5.8)






Caleb Brantley DT 6'3, 304 Fr. **** (5.9)

Jaynard Bostwick DT 6'4, 291 Fr. **** (5.8)

Jordan Sherit DE 6'5, 234 Fr. **** (5.8)

Joey Ivie DE 6'4, 270 Fr. **** (5.8)

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jon Bostic MIKE 13 56.5 9.1% 6.5 3 2 2 1 1
Antonio Morrison MIKE 6'1, 229 So. **** (5.8) 13 30.5 4.9% 2 1 0 0 1 0
Ronald Powell (2011) SLB 6'4, 234 Jr. ***** (6.1) 12 26.0 3.7% 9 6 0 0 1 0
Michael Taylor WILL 6'0, 231 Jr. **** (5.8) 13 25.0 4.0% 1.5 1 1 1 0 0
Jelani Jenkins SLB 9 24.0 3.9% 5 2 1 0 0 0
Darrin Kitchens WILL 6'2, 230 Sr. *** (5.6) 13 12.0 1.9% 1 0 0 0 1 0
Neiron Ball SLB 6'2, 235 Jr. **** (5.8) 11 7.5 1.2% 0.5 0 1 1 0 2
Jeremi Powell LB 6'1, 205 RSFr. **** (5.8)

Daniel McMillian MIKE 6'1, 227 Fr. **** (5.9)

Alex Anzalone LB 6'3, 229 Fr. ***** (6.1)

Matt Rolin LB 6'4, 209 Fr. **** (5.8)







8. Blinded by star ratings

Recruiting rankings matter. They do. But we still go overboard about them sometimes. A four- or five-star rating is no guarantee of success (just ask Andre Debose), but it is very difficult to look at the recruiting rankings of Florida's youngsters in the linebacking corps and secondary and not assume the Gators will be just fine in 2013 despite some key losses.

Safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans (combined: 15.5 TFLs, 15 passes defensed) and middle linebacker Jon Bostic were so steady (and violent) that Florida didn't have to take many risks to make stops. They were also consistent enough that, with help from the slow-paced offense, the Gators were able to get away with playing with minimal depth last year. Their absence could potentially be troubling, but their replacements are all former star recruits.

Plus, there is still some decent experience here (especially with the return of part-SLB, part-DE Ronald Powell), and there are some serious blue-chip freshmen entering the mix, like linebacker Alex Anzalone and corner Vernon Hargreaves. Relying on a single star recruit to produce immediately is problematic, but when you only need a couple out of about 10 to thrive, odds are on your side.

Still, Elam, Bostic, and Evans were really, really good. Assuming elite defensive play without them could make you (and me) feel pretty foolish by mid-season.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Matt Elam S 13 67.0 10.8% 11 2 4 5 1 0
Josh Evans S 13 66.0 10.6% 4.5 2.5 3 3 0 0
Loucheiz Purifoy CB 6'1, 185 Jr. **** (5.8) 13 44.5 7.1% 1 0 0 5 3 0
Jaylen Watkins S 6'0, 181 Sr. **** (6.0) 13 32.5 5.2% 1 0 3 8 0 0
Marcus Roberson CB 6'0, 195 Jr. **** (6.0) 13 20.5 3.3% 1 1 2 12 1 0
De'Ante Saunders DB 8 15.0 2.4% 0.5 0 1 4 0 1
Cody Riggs CB 5'9, 184 Jr. **** (5.9) 2 6.0 1.0% 0 0 0 1 1 0
Jeremy Brown CB 5'10, 185 Sr. **** (5.8) 11 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brian Poole CB 5'10, 203 So. **** (5.9) 12 3.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Valdez Showers S 5'11, 190 So. *** (5.7) 11 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jabari Gorman S 5'10, 186 Jr. **** (5.8) 12 2.0 0.3% 0 0 1 0 0 1
Marcus Maye S 6'0, 200 RSFr. **** (5.9)

Vernon Hargreaves III CB 5'11, 185 Fr. ***** (6.1)

Marcell Harris DB 6'1, 207 Fr. **** (6.0)

Keanu Neal DB 6'1, 203 Fr. **** (6.0)

Nick Washington DB 6'0, 183 Fr. **** (5.8)

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Kyle Christy 6'3, 193 Jr. 66 45.8 6 22 27 74.2%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Caleb Sturgis 69 63 31 44.9%
Brad Phillips 5'10, 191 Sr. 3 62.7 2 66.7%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Caleb Sturgis 34-35 16-19 84.2% 8-9 88.9%
Brad Phillips 5'10, 191 Sr. 2-2 0-1 0.0% 0-0 N/A
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Andre Debose KR 5'11, 189 Sr. 18 28.3 1
Loucheiz Purifoy KR 6'1, 185 Jr. 7 23.9 0
Andre Debose PR 5'11, 189 Sr. 10 9.3 0
De'Ante Saunders PR 5 7.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 3
Net Punting 9
Net Kickoffs 14
Touchback Pct 29
Field Goal Pct 16
Kick Returns Avg 37
Punt Returns Avg 12

9. Florida's best offensive player returns

Jeff Driskel had his moments, and Mike Gillislee was nice and steady, but punter Kyle Christy was by far the best weapon Florida had for flipping the field. His steady punting added about an extra first down or so to Florida's yardage in a given series and consistently gave opponents long fields. He's back, and that's very good news for the Gators.

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug Toledo 62
7-Sep at Miami 28
21-Sep Tennessee 44
28-Sep at Kentucky 90
5-Oct Arkansas 37
12-Oct at LSU 3
19-Oct at Missouri 39
2-Nov vs. Georgia 9
9-Nov Vanderbilt 49
16-Nov at South Carolina 19
23-Nov Georgia Southern NR
30-Nov Florida State 15
Five-Year F/+ Rk 4
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 3
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +15 / +8.4
TO Luck/Game 2.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 11 (6, 5)
Yds/Pt Margin** -7.2

10. A top-five team goes 11-1 against this schedule ...

... and a Top 25 team goes about 7-5. Florida intentionally played with little margin for error last year -- the style that kept it close enough to strike against Florida State and LSU also kept it uncomfortably close to Jacksonville State and UL-Lafayette -- and the schedule does much the same for the Gators this time around.

If they are once again a top-five team (and yes, despite the lack of aesthetics and the awful first-half showing against Louisville, they were just that), then barring a potential upset, this schedule could boil down to two games: the trip to LSU and the Cocktail Party rivalry game versus Georgia. Win one of those two, and you're probably in the SEC title game, one step away from the national title game. But if the lack of pass offense is more problematic, if the young defense allows for a few more early deficits, and Florida only puts a good product on the field instead of a great one, then suddenly it's going to be a battle just to reach eight wins.

The eyeballs and the win column disagreed sharply when watching Florida play last year. That this ugly, physical, and quite effective team was wearing the same jerseys as Tebow, Wuerffel, Harvin, etc., made the whole experience even more jarring. There's no reason to think 2013 will be any different in the aesthetics department; can we say the same about the results?

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