This was posted in the diaries by Swamp Ball user ejruiz...
I was browsing ESPN.com at work today when I came across an article written by Chris Low who covers the SEC for The (Nashville) Tennessean that, quite simply, shocked me a little bit. In it, he projected that our beloved Gators would finished 3rd... in the SEC... East! He then single Florida out as "the team that may disappoint" and had this to say for himself in that respect:
"There's still enough good young talent in the program to compete with everybody on the schedule, but how do you lose nine defensive starters and not have some drop-off? There's also the question of how Tim Tebow will adapt to being an every-down quarterback, and whether he can stay healthy running as much as he does in the SEC."
To answer his first qustion, I'll merely point to the team that lost to Florida in last year's BCS Title Game: the Ohio State Buckeyes went into 2006 having to replace nine starters on defense and ended up fielding an even better unit (at least statistically speaking) than the one that had preceded it. Now, I'm not saying that the 2007 Gators will be better on defense than the squad that won it all last season, but (especially considering how well they've recruited) it's certainly not inconceivable that they'll still be about as good.
As for his doubts about Tebow, they're bound to be prevalent until he inevitably proves them wrong. This is the last vestige of the whole "no option and/or spread offense will ever work in the SEC" nonsense that immediately followed Urban Meyer's hiring. Now, Low has no problem implying that the LSU Tigers should go undefeated, besting the UGA Bulldogs in the conference championship, even though Matt Flynn has a grand total of 78 passing attempts and Matthew Stafford threw almost twice as many INT as TD in his 256 attempts at the college level.
Don't tab us as favorites; that's OK. Doubt us if you like... but don't be ridiculous. I think the Gators are a fair bet to return to ATL for the conference championship game and I believe they'll be playing in another BCS bowl when it's all said and done. All in all, I can't help but feel as though my statements are more sound judgement than his.
I posted this diary because a.) I was about to write about this same story in a quick hits post and b.) I think ej brings up several great points about next year's chances at repeating as SEC Champions with a young, inexperienced defense and a few new starters on offense.
There is a ton of uncertainty within the SEC going into the 2007 season -- the Gators are a prime example of that. Many guys could step up, many may not. We will not know this until the ball is kicked off next September.
The link to the ESPN.com story is right here. Check it out. Tell us what you think.