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Harry Fodder

Monday June 10, 2013Reading preseason annuals an annual June tradition

Updated: 4:59pm, June 10

Reading GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Got a chance this weekend to settle down on the couch and go flip through a couple of those newsstand college football magazines.

‘Tis the season for preseason projections.

The periodicals of choice were Athlon and Lindy’s, two of the most traditional favorites when it comes to June football reading.

Now you've probably seen similiar prognostications from some media outlet somewhere and the early look-aheads and general content for these 2013 previews aren't that different. In fact, Athlon placed the Gators at No. 13 to start the season and finish third in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division; Lindy’s says 12th and third. Both praise the potential of UF's power running game and defense, much like last year, while questioning whether the Gators can upgrade a passing attack that not only ranked near the bottom of the SEC, but also 116th of 124 teams in the FBS nation.

Both are pretty much in line with some long-range polls that came out earlier in the offseason, with The Sporting News giving the Gators the most love at No. 4, but second to South Carolina. But seriously, folks, what rabid football fan who is counting the days to the Aug. 31 opener against Toledo doesn't eat this stuff up?

By the way: 83 days (and counting).

So here are some excerpts and other fodder I came across I figured were worth mentioning.

From Athlon

* Top 10 (plus where it rates the rest of the SEC)
Alabama; 2) Ohio State; 3) Oregon; 4) Georgia; 5) South Carolina; 6) Clemson; 7) Stanford; 8) Notre Dame (but went to press before the season-long suspension to quarterback Everett Golston, whatever that’s worth); 9) Texas A&M; 10) Louisville; 12) LSU; 13) Florida; 28) Vanderbilt; 33) Ole Miss; 41) Mississippi State; 42) Auburn; 46) Tennessee; 48) Missouri; 49) Arkansas; 65) Kentucky.

* Summing ‘em up: “The Gators did practice throwing the football last year. It’s just that when it came time to toss it around in a game, the results weren’t so good. So, UF was bland last year. Tapioca bland. Disney bland.” ... Until the Gators can get a little more diverse offensively, they won’t be climbing to the top of the SEC. ... Then there’s the little matter of the Sugar Bowl. Louisville made the Gators look like an old-fashioned Big Ten team. Coach Will Muschamp would like to chalk the blowout loss up to overconfidence and disinterest, but unless Florida can get the ball downfield a little more, they’re going to need the world’s nastiest D.”

* In pointing out that “Florida started to look like Florida again,” at least on paper last season, maybe the fact the Gators had to struggle against Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette and even Bowling Green in the opener can help explain that lopsided loss in the bowl game.

Driskel* Quarterback Jeff Driskel’s 6.7 yards per attempt ranked last in the SEC among QBs with at least 200 passes and the Gators were one of the worst in the league in three major offensive categories: total offense, passing and scoring.

* Curious. It mentions how a difficult schedule could be a road block in getting back to the BCS, but the Gators had one of the toughest schedules in the country last year and were the nation’s lone team to defeat four teams that finished in the final AP Top 15.

* Pegged as the team’s rising star? Sophomore cornerback Brian Poole.

* Here’s a really telling note with regard to the Gators struggles in the passing game the last few years: Florida has not produced a first-team All-SEC wide receiver in four years.  That’s the longest such stretch from 1987-91.

* Always love to read the “Scouting the Gators” block, which asks opposing coaches to speak anonymously about the team. “Florida was the most difficult [offensive] team to prepare for last year. They have so many different personnel groupings, and they can do so many different things, and their identity changes on a weekly basis.” That’s a nice shout-out to offensive coordinator Brent Pease. ... “They are trying to find their identity. They probably thought they had their identity at one point, but then some of the bigger stronger teams in our league kind of challenged that identity.” ... One coach called new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, the special teams guru, “one of the bright young coaches in the country.” 


From Lindy’s

* Top 10 (plus where it rates the rest of the SEC)
Alabama; 2) Ohio State; 3) Stanford; 4) Oregon; 5) Texas A&M; 6) Georgia; 7) Clemson; 8) LSU; 9) South Carolina; 10) Louisville; 11) Oklahoma State; 12) Florida; 29) Ole Miss; 32) Vanderbilt; 46) Mississippi State; 52) Arkansas; 54) Tennessee; 61)  Missouri; 65) Auburn; 88) Kentucky.

* In placing the Gators third in the SEC, the magazine cites the loss of tailback Mike Gillislee and lack of playmaker at wide receiver. Florida has no offensive players on Lindy’s first or second All-SEC teams. Telling stat: After Quinton Dunbar (36 catches), no returning UF wideout caught more than three passes last season.

* Sophomore running back Matt Jones is the “breakout player to watch on offense.”

* Top newcomer: Offensive right tackle Tyler Moore, the transfer from Nebraska who hails from Clearwater, Fla.

Easley * The magazine ranked the top 20 players in the nation at every position. The only Gator on offense that received mention was Driskel, as the No. 23 quarterback (or fifth-best in the SEC). On defense, tackle Dominque Easley (No. 6) and cornerback Louicheiz Purifoy (No. 5) got the nod, while Kyle Christy was ranted as the No. 1 punter in the country.

* In the rankings of overall units, the Gators had the No. 5 secondary. That’s probably a little low, actually, given the defensive back depth on this team, but much of that could be based on how badly Teddy Bridgewater shredded UF’s pass defense in the Sugar Bowl.

* Regarding the track record for lack of production at the receiver positions, UF’s incoming freshman haul of Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fullwood, Marqui Hawkins, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson rates as No. 1 in the nation on the recruiting front.

Now, for perspective sakes, here’s a quick look at some other outlet’s early top 25 rankings.

SI.com’s “Way Too Early 2013 Top 25” (released in January)
Alabama; 2) Texas A&M; 3) Stanford; 4) Oregon; 5) Ohio State; 6) Notre Dame; 7) Louisville; 8) South Carolina; 9) Florida; 10) Clemson; 11) Georgia; 14) LSU; 23) Vanderbilt.

The Sporting News (released in May)
Alabama; 2) Stanford; 3) South Carolina; 4) Florida; 5) Ohio State; 6) Oklahoma; 7) Texas A&M; 8) Oregon; 9) Clemson; 10: Notre Dame; 11: Louisville; 12) Georgia; 16) LSU; 25) Ole Miss.

ESPN (released in April)
Ohio State; 2) Alabama; 3) Oregon; 4) Louisville; 5) Stanford; 6) Texas A&M; 7) Georgia; 8) South Carolina; 9) Michigan; 10) Notre Dame; 11) Florida; 16) LSU.

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