The SB Nation SEC blogs are running a series of preseason rankings for every position group as we get closer and closer to football — we're 54 days away from August 30, when Florida takes on Idaho — through For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, our wonderfully-named Mississippi State blog. We began on Sunday with the defensive line, and Florida's came in a surprising third.
I, personally, had the Gators third, behind Alabama and Auburn, which finished No. 1 and No. 2, but I thought there was a sizable gap between Auburn and Florida, and average position doesn't reflect that. The Tigers' average place was 3.89, while Florida's was just slightly higher, at 4.33, and both teams received one first place vote.
The balloting system we're using also allows for comments, though we don't have sources to attribute these comments to just yet:
-- Gerald Willis III could make an immediate impact for the Gators.
-- Underestimate Florida's depth if you want, but underrate Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard at your own peril. But being second in the conference in run defense in 2013 despite losing Dominique Easley is mitigated by being ninth in YPC allowed.
-- Similar to Arkansas, I don't really know a lot about Florida. They were great against the run overall (that little Georgia Southern game notwithstanding), and they have potential, but they're going to need contributions from underclassmen to be truly successful. They're also going to need to develop a pass rush.
-- Never underestimate the ability of the worst coach in America to have his charges ready for underachievement. Muschamp is a greasy spoon cook in a Michelin-star restaurant, proud that he's made top shelf ingredients taste like a 7-Eleven sausage rolling ceaselessly under a hot broiler light.
-- Injuries, etc., but there's something that troubles me about ranking a defensive line too high after an FCS opponent put up 429 yards rushing against the team last season. And it wasn't just Georgia Southern -- the Gators allowed 4.3 yards a rush on average last year and got just 19 sacks.
That fourth comment is clearly more about Muschamp than the defensive line, and the bitterness makes me think it's from Dawg Sports — which, hey, y'all should be glad, 'cause you didn't really get wins off Florida over any other coach in the last 20 years.
And here's my commentary. (I honestly don't fully remember the order of my ballot, and I can't find the screenshot I swear I took.)
Alabama: So deep. So talented. So how did Auburn run for 296 yards on essentially the same unit last year?
Florida: Underestimate Florida's depth if you want, but underrate Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard at your own peril. But being second in the conference in run defense in 2013 despite losing Dominique Easley is mitigated by being ninth in YPC allowed.
Georgia: Second in the SEC in YPC allowed in 2013, but 25 touchdowns allowed on the ground, and few obvious standouts other than Ray Drew. Leonard Floyd factoring into the pass rush helps a bit.
LSU: It's LSU, so we shouldn't be worried, but the lack of tackle depth is surprising ... but it's LSU, so we shouldn't be worried.
Mississippi: Nkemdiche is Nkemdiche, and the talent's there, but the 27 rushing touchdowns allowed last year was last in the SEC.
Mississippi State: I really like Chris Jones. I have no idea who the rest of these guys are.
Missouri: They'll be good, but I wonder about the stoutness inside, especially if Missouri's offense takes a step or two back.
Arkansas: ESPN dubbed Trey Flowers "one of the more accomplished pass-rushers in the league." He has 12 career sacks, and 3.5 of them came against Auburn in 2012. Accomplished?
South Carolina: No Clowney is bad; no Clowney and no Kelcy Quarles is worse.
Kentucky: Better against the pass than the run, that's for sure.
Texas A&M: You know Texas A&M allowed almost 3,000 rushing yards last season? That was without ever giving up 400 yards in a game, which is actually kinda impressive, but it's more impressive that Alabama and Duke both ran 37 times for 234 yards on the Aggies. Cavalry's coming, but it may take a while to fully arrive.
Tennessee: The good news: The worst defensive line in the SEC in 2013 lost most of its rotation up front. The bad news: The worst defensive line in the SEC in 2013 lost most of its rotation up front.
Vanderbilt: Shifting to a Stanford-style defense will help, but Vandy just doesn't have the horses up front yet.
Agree? Disagree? Think that Muschamp as terrible cook in a great restaurant is a perfect or awful analogy? The comments are a good place to talk about that.