Thursday, July 21, 2011

Florida Gators In Major Overhaul, Expected To Struggle In First Year Under Muschamp

Last December, the University of Florida shocked the college football world by stealing away Texas' Defensive Coordinator (and head-coach-in-waiting), Will Muschamp.  A relatively short search after Urban Meyer's resignation resulted in the coaching score of the off-season.

Muschamp had been expected to take over the Longhorns program soon, after spending the last three seasons as its Defensive Coordinator.  Prior to that, Muschamp was defensive coordinator at Auburn and LSU and had a total of 13 years of college coaching experience.  He played safety in college for the University of Georgia.

 Had Muschamp indeed taken over as Head Coach of Texas at the end of last season, it would be hard to imagine him having more pressure than he has now as Head Coach for the University of Florida.  The Gators have won two National Championships in the past five years, and accumulated a record of 65-14 over the Urban Meyer period.  However, the 2010 season was viewed as a big disappointment, and Gator Fans are looking for Florida to rebound strongly from their 8-5 season.

However, right now there is little hype for the Gators to do well this year, and few expectations that they can even win the SEC East.  Not a single Gator has made the Coaches Pre-Season All-Conference team.  The team itself is only fielding 71 players (14 under the limit), after a recruiting season in which Muschamp only signed players he felt were both good enough to be there and had the desire to be a Gator.

That leaves him with many more scholarships to give next year, but it puts more pressure on him to have the kind of season that will make four- and five-star high school players want to play for Florida.

The biggest overhaul for the team will be on offense, with new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis taking over for a Florida spread offense that struggled mightily last year under new quarterback, John Brantley.  Weis' new pro-style offense should suit Brantley much better, but a suspect offensive line may still limit what the Gators will be able to do on offense.

The schedule (below) is pretty unfavorable for a strong run at the SEC title, unless Florida gels much faster  than anyone expects.  A brutal stretch playing back-to-back Alabama, at LSU, at Auburn, followed two weeks later by the annual party game with Georgia, will test Muschamp's team.  If they lose two more more games in this stretch, the SEC finale against South Carolina won't mean much beyond pride.

2011 Schedule:
Sept. 3 - Florida Atlantic
Sept. 10 - UAB
Sept. 17 - Tennessee
Sept. 24 - @Kentucky
Oct. 1 - Alabama
Oct. 8 - @LSU
Oct. 15 - @Auburn
Oct. 29 - @Georgia
Nov. 5 - Vanderbilt
Nov. 12 - @South Carolina
Nov. 19 - Furman
Nov. 26 - Florida State

Gators Coach Will Muschamp
AP Photo

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