As tough a season as this was for Florida fans, and it was tough, their is good reason to still have high expectations for the 2014 team. Missouri and Auburn won a combined 2 games in the division last year and now both teams are playing for the SEC championship. I don't think the Gators making the same kind of strides in 2014 is that far fetched. >
For starters Florida is returning a ton of players on a defense that ranked among the best in the nation this year despite losing the units best player and emotional leader in Dominique Easley, as well as leading tackler Antonio Morrison. Morrison likely will return next year healthy to join Mike Taylor, Ronald Powell, and Neron Ball to make up what may end up being the best linebacker corps in the SEC next year, all are NFL caliber linebackers. >
Gators secondary is one of the most talented and deep units in the SEC, and even losing Purifoy isn't going to be as big a loss as some might think. While his athletic and playmaking ability will be missed, Purifoy was beat or out of position so much so that he was benched at times and the secondary didn't seem to miss a beat without him. Muschamp's greatest success so far at UF has been his ability to recruit and develop next level DB's, and with guys like Vernon Hargreaves III, that trend isn't likely to stop. And the 2013 recruiting class is loaded with talent to add to the already deep pool at this position. >
While Im sure Dante Fowler Jr will entertain the idea of entering the draft this year, I think he has a good chance of returning to achieve his goals at the U of F. If he does I think he has the potential to have a special year, with him and Johnathon Bullard leading the rush on the defensive front, its safe to assume the Gators will have the kind of pass rush that gives opposing QB's nightmares. Worst case scenario is they lose Fowler and maybe Ronald Powell to the draft and they are still a top 10 defense. Best case is they return and this Gators defense will be ridiculously good. >
With a defense as good as the Gators should have, the offense really only has to be slightly improved to have a tremendous 2014. The only real difference makers the Gators offense will lose this year is Solomon Patton and Trey Burton. While I think Trey Burton will be harder to replace than Solo, just because of his consistency and leadership, the Gators still have some tools left in the shed. Kelvin Taylor lived up to the hype in his freshman year, and was even better than could have been expected. Taylor and Jones provide an excellent tandem of playmaking ability at the tailback position. >
As bad as Florida's offense was the most improved unit by far was the receiver corps. Joker Phillips has done a great job coaching that unit up, and their is some solid young talent their, with Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fullwood, and Quinton Dunbar likely to lead the way for 2014. 5 star WR commit Ermon Lane should contribute right away if he can learn the playbook, with his 6'4 lanky frame, he will add some much needed height and power to this improving corps. He reminds me of a Dallas Baker type. >
The offensive line was pretty bad most of the year and really decimated by injuries, 2014 should bring together a healthy and veteran unit that has something to prove. Come spring their will likely be an open competition at Q.B., with Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and incoming 5 star Will Grier. As bad as Driskel played at times, I still think he has potential to be a very good Q.B. in the right offensive system. He's got all the measurable's you could want as far as arm strength, speed, size, he just needs to make better dececsions. And now in his 4th year, after watching from the sideline for a year, I think he is hungry, and dying to prove that he is the QB to lead this offense. And if not at least the offensive coordinator, whomever that may be will have a lot of experience and talent to choose from to lead the offense. >
Im sure that Muschamp and Foley will bring in a big name offensive coordinator, and with Muschamp knowing how short his leash is, Im sure he is going to allow the O coordinator to open things up with the offense. Gators are holding the #12 ranked recruiting class right now, which really doesn't mean that much because they have a top ten class almost every year. But some guys to watch for are WR Ermon Lane and QB Will Grier. I think these two have potential to be difference makers right away, and I think Will Grier is going to end up being great for Florida.