With a few days until No. 14 Florida Gators basketball plays its final regular season game, OGGOA decided to allow our Twitter followers to choose a content topic for Thursday. Overwhelmingly, our readers wanted to read something – anything – about Gators football. So that is exactly what we present to you here, 11 Florida footballers who will be counted on to step up big-time next season.
Redshirt senior QB John Brantley
2010: 200/329 (60.8 percent) for 2,061 yards, nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions
There is plenty of hype surrounding freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel, but the fact of the matter is the Gators have the best chance of being supremely successful in 2011 with Brantley behind center. Say what you will about his struggles in 2010 – blame them on the coaching staff not adjusting the offense to suit his skill set, the offensive line doing a poor job in pass protection or Brantley simply not living up the billing he received before the season. No matter what you choose to believe, Brantley will be given a chance to start fresh in 2011. If he makes the most of it and pans out the way Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews have personally told us he will, Florida’s QB problems will be solved by the same player who was universally panned for causing them a year ago. Whether or not he will live up those expectations, however, remains to be seen.
Redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose
2010: 10 receptions for 96 yards (long 26); 22 kickoff returns for 587 yards (26.7 average), two touchdowns
Like Brantley, Debose did not live up to the hype in 2010. Unlike Brantley, he was not given much of an opportunity. Debose is a dynamic athlete who is explosive in the open field, something blatantly obvious by the job he did in the return game last season. He was criticized by former head coach Urban Meyer for his inability to learn all of the offensive plays and was “rewarded” early in the season with some packages that utilized his abilities. Those packages seemed to disappear as the year went on, and Debose ended up getting injured for the second time in as many seasons (hamstring in 2009, ankle in 2010). Though the Gators have some hungry pass-catchers looking to win the job across from redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, none of them will likely have the potential impact game-in and game-out that Debose can bring to the table.
Junior RB Mike Gillislee
2010: 58 rushes for 325 yards (5.6 average), seven touchdowns
The first thing new head coach Will Mushcamp said he wanted to implement at Florida was a pro-style offense. With senior running back Jeff Demps (5’8” 190 lbs.) a bit undersized to run between the tackles on a consistent basis, the onus will be on Gillislee (and to a lesser extent redshirt freshman RB Mack Brown) to carry the rock for the Gators in 2010. Listed at 5‘11” and 198 lbs., Gillislee can add some bulk to his frame and showed flashes in the limited playing time he received last season.
The real question for Muschamp, and more specifically offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, will be how the team can best utilize Demps and redshirt senior RB/WR Chris Rainey. Demps will likely be the kick returner once again, but the coaching staff must find a way to get him heavily involved in the offense without having him carry the ball a dozen times each game. He was the team’s best offensive weapon last year, and his absence (even when he played, he was far less than 100 percent) was one of the main reasons Florida struggled down the stretch offensively.
Continue Reading » Eleven Gators who must step up in 2011