Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, we will really see what the 2010 Florida Gators are made of. Faced for the first time with a talented team in front of a hostile crowd, the Gators could buckle under the stress or rally to the occasion.
In the first four games of the season, the Gators have been uneven, sloppy, focused, outstanding and clearly young. John Brantley is not as accurate as he should be, unless you're considering his success on 3rd downs. Carl Moore was invisible in game one, but has 11 catches since then. Deonte Thompson is slowly shaking off his stone hands. Steve Addazio has found the two bandwagons, Trey Burton and Omarius Hines. Mike Pouncey also does not appear to be our Chuck Knoblauch.
On defense, Jeremy Brown has played six outstanding quarters after earning the job following cornerback Moses Jenkins' injury. When Will Hill was out, Matt Elam played well. Janoris Jenkins hasn't proved himself yet because teams won't throw to his side of the field. Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic have been fantastic, while Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd have shown flashes of talent. Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou can't always get to the quarterback, but can take up blockers to let the backers clog running lanes.
It is still early, but peeking around the league and at UF's schedule, the Gators could run the table in the SEC East. That is the most important thing. Should the Gators lose to Alabama, their hardest remaining games are at home; Mississippi State and South Carolina. They do have Georgia in Jacksonville and go to Vandy. FSU is a road game this season, but ignore that for a moment and look at only the SEC picture.
With a top-15 defense, UF could get back to the SEC Championship Game with one league loss. Losing to LSU would significantly it harder to get to Atlanta, but winning each East division game would take care of that. It may be an ugly season, but ugly with one or two losses sounds good to me.
Considering I was worried about four or five losses (which is still possible), I've been pleasantly surprised by how the Gators have come around. I think a 'B' grade would be an acceptable score. It might be an 83 'B' grade and not an '89', but it's the letter that counts. What do you think?