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Preview of East


2005 OVERALL/SEC RECORD, SEC EAST FINISH: 9-3, 5-3, tied for second.

GOOD NEWS: Coach Urban Meyer, the darling of the national media last season, discovered his overrated offense that worked so well when he coached at Utah wasn't going to work against the speed of SEC defenses. He adjusted as the season progressed, and the Gators got better. A year's experiences in the big time should pay dividends.

BAD NEWS: Meyer doesn't like his running backs, or at least he didn't last year. "I'm not going to sit and watch that trash I watched last year," Meyer said this spring. On that happy thought, Meyer will turn to Markus Manson or DeShawn Wynn to clean up the mess, though neither was among the SEC's Top 10 running backs last year despite opportunities.

HI, MY NAME IS: Chris Leak. Yeah, yeah. You already know him. But do you know this Chris Leak? Leak and Meyer had to reinvent themselves - or at least find a happy medium - to make Florida's offense work. Leak struggled early last season, but ended up throwing for 2,639 yards and 20 touchdowns. He's gifted - and can throw.

THE CRYSTAL BALL SAYS: Players, not coaches, win in the Southeastern Conference, and few teams can attract talent like Florida. The Gators, however, return just 10 starters, and only one of them plays on the offensive line. Leak may be able to compensate for that by himself. No matter, the SEC East will come down to Florida's games against Tennessee and Georgia.