18 May 2008

UF Football: Two Questions

Last year, the Gators finished 9-4 on the strength of an offense that put up more than 40 points per game - third-best in the country - despite having no legitimate running back. Their prolific offensive output was necessitated, however, by a porous defense that gave up the 98th-most passing yards in Division I.

With 2008's spring practices completed, some of the questions that were nipping at the Gators' collective heels have been answered; some will not be answered until the season is well underway.

Question Answered: Running Back
It's not as though the Gators couldn't run the ball last year - it was just better when they didn't. Tebow was by far their most effective runner, and every time he plunged headfirst into the line, he risked an injury that would completely derail the team's offense.

This year, the Gators have two talented options at the RB position. Chris Rainey is a tiny little fella, but the Lakeland High School product is as fast as anybody in the NCAA. Emmanuel Moody, who sat out last year after transferring from Southern California, is a bit more of a conventional running back, but hasn't picked up the system as fast as Meyer wished.

With the spring practices finished, my guess is that Rainey and Moody will each see about 12-15 carries per game, and will combine to give the Gators solid contributions alongside Tebow in the backfield.

Question Remaining: Defensive Back
The cornerbacks and safeties last year were, at best, mediocre. This year, they're (mostly) back. So why should Gators fans hope that they'll be any better?

Basically, because the UF defensive backs aren't freshmen anymore - they've had a year to get used to the speed and the athleticism of the NCAA game.

That's the reasoning behind the hope, anyways - I don't know if I necessarily agree. We'll see what happens as the team moves towards the season.

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