Aug 30, 2012

2012 SEC Previews: Florida with Alligator Army

We’re previewing the upcoming college football season with help of SBNation.com. Today, Andy from Alligator Army weighs in on the Gators’ QB battle.

The Gators look to continue a 21-year postseason streak in 2012 with a schedule that includes just four true road games. They will initiate Texas A&M into the SEC in the second week of the season when they travel to College Station, followed by a trip to Knoxville Sept. 15. Marquee home matchups include LSU on Oct. 6 and South Carolina two weeks later. They conclude the regular season with the annual battle for the Florida Cup at Florida State on Nov. 24.

2011 Record: 7-6

2011 Bowl: Gator Bowl, Win vs. Ohio State, 24-17

2012 Bowl Projections:

History in Orlando:

1998 Florida Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State, 21-6
2000 Florida Citrus Bowl vs. Michigan State, 34-37
2008 Capital One Bowl vs. Michigan, 35-41

Q&A with Andy from Alligator Army

Describe the 2012 season in two words.

Cautious optimism.

How will the change to Brent Pease affect the quarterback derby between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel? Is either one significantly better suited to running the new system?

Had you asked me this question last year, I would have thought Brissett’s demeanor, marked by an apparent disinterest in anything but managing a game, gave him an edge. But I think Driskel’s made strides in that area, and that both quarterbacks are savvy guys with big arms who can do everything Pease wants them to do. Certainly, each is more physically talented than any quarterback Boise State has trotted out during its rise, with all due respect to NCAA Football 08 cover athlete Jared Zabransky.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

I’m tempted to say Florida State because the Gators have to head to Doak to play that one, but it’s got to be LSU. The Tigers’ defense held Florida to just 213 yards in 2011 — 65 of which came on Florida’s only play of more than 25 yards on the day, facilitated by a cornerback falling down in coverage. And that defense might be better this year. (Oh, and LSU’s offense should be, too. Good times.)

Wait a second, the defense returns 10 starters? From a 2011 team that managed to hold serve from 2010 with a whole crop of new players? Do people know about this?! Should offensive coordinators in the SEC be seeing Dan Quinn’s face in their nightmares, or do the Gators still have room to grow on D this year?

People do! Will Muschamp’s said that a few times, but that number’s a bit of a misnomer right now thanks to Ronald Powell’s ACL tear; Florida likely won’t play all 10 returning starters until at least October, and only then if no one else gets hurt before Powell recovers. That said, Florida was great on defense in 2011 without getting much from Powell in the first place and despite a season-long struggle to force turnovers. With a young secondary slowly molting into a veteran unit, look for Quinn to take more chances and create more havoc, giving this Florida defense a chance to go from great to devastating.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

The best-case scenario for any contending SEC team is to lose no more than once in the regular season and win the conference en route to a shot at a BCS title, and while Florida would need more breaks than most for that to happen, it’s still not beyond the realm of possibility.

The worst-case scenario is Florida’s first losing season in my lifetime, which would only require road losses to Texas A&M and Tennessee, rivalry losses to Georgia and Florida State, losses to more highly-esteemed South Carolina and LSU squads, and a loss to either SEC newcomer Missouri or success newcomer Vanderbilt.

I think the worst-case scenario is more likely than the best-case one.

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