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9 FLORIDA

Aug. 19, 2013
Aug. 19, 2013

Table of Contents
Aug. 19, 2013

GOLF PLUS
  • JASON DUFNER BROKE THROUGH WITH A REDEMPTIVE TRIUMPH AT THE PGA, JOINING AN INCREASINGLY LONG LIST OF FIRST-TIME CHAMPIONS OF GOLF'S BIG FOUR EVENTS. BUT IF WINNING A MAJOR IS SUPPOSED TO BE CAREER-CHANGING, WHY HAS IT BECOME SO HARD TO BACK UP A VICTORY WITH A SECOND?

LEADING OFF
THE MAIL
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

9 FLORIDA

The case for

This is an article from the Aug. 19, 2013 issue

The Gators have nine starters back from a team that put together the strongest regular-season résumé in the nation in 2012. Coach Will Muschamp and his staff have enough talent to fill the holes in the defense left by the early departures of tackle Sharrif Floyd, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and safety Matt Elam. Floyd, for example, will be replaced by senior Dominique Easley, who moves inside from defensive end. That will allow 6'2", 263-pound sophomore Dante Fowler Jr.—who could be the Gators' best player by season's end—to assume a bigger role on the outside. Florida's offensive line will be bolstered by the availability of transfers Tyler Moore (Nebraska) at right tackle and Max Garcia (Maryland) at left guard. The run-first attack will rely on a stable of young backs led by sophomore Matt Jones, who gained 5.3 yards a carry in limited action last season.

The case against

For all the Gators' accomplishments in 2012, they got clobbered by Louisville 33--23 in the Sugar Bowl and almost lost to Louisiana-Lafayette at home. Their passing game was at times nonexistent, and unless some of the freshman wideouts distinguish themselves quickly, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel won't have many downfield targets.

Coach Speak

WILL MUSCHAMP

SI

How did you jump from seven wins in 2011 to 11 wins in 2012?

WM

Two of the major things we emphasized going into last season were turnovers and the fourth quarter. We were minus-12 [on turnovers] in 2011. We ended up being plus-15 in 2012. That's a huge difference. We were outscored in 2011 by 50 points in the fourth quarter, 72--22 [in SEC play]. In 2012 we outscored our opponents by 41 points, 61--20. So you're talking about a 91-point difference. I see you adding it up there. So those two critical factors put you in a BCS game.

SI

How much can the offense improve in coordinator Brent Pease's second season at Florida?

WM

It's the first time since 2010 that we've had the same offensive coordinator, so we expect to make tremendous strides. As a defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas and in my second year at Florida, we made huge strides our second year on defense. I expect that this year offensively. We have quarterback Jeff Driskel back. We're better up-front. And I feel very comfortable with where we are at running back.

Player to Watch

While 6'1" junior Loucheiz Purifoy is a potential first-round pick at cornerback, he spent much of the spring working on offense. If Florida's young receivers don't develop quickly, Purifoy will be increasingly pressed into double duty, Champ Bailey--style.

PHOTODOUG FINGER/GAINESVILLE SUN/LANDOV (EASLEY)Dominique EasleyPHOTOBILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MUSCHAMP)CHART