Schedule: Practice stars Thursday at an undisclosed time. Florida is not publicizing practice times since there are no open practices this year. The first day in full pads is Wednesday (Aug. 11).
What’s new: Teryl Austin replaces Charlie Strong as the Gators’ defensive coordinator. Austin had spent the previous seven seasons in the NFL. The Gators may go to more of a 3-4 look under Austin, which wouldn’t be completely new. They also used some three-down sets under Strong. Zach Azzanni is in his first season coaching receivers and serving as the Gators’ passing game coordinator. After two seasons away, Stan Drayton returns for his second stint as running backs coach. He’ll also oversee recruiting. D.J. Durkin is in his first season as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
Sidelined: Cornerback Adrian Bushell left the team in May and plans to transfer.
Key battle: Finding a replacement for Joe Haden at cornerback will be one of the first orders of business. Sophomore Jeremy Brown may be the guy if he can overcome his chronic back problems. Senior Moses Jenkins has the most experience, while true freshmen Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins are both big-time talents. Both went through spring practice and will be hard to keep off the field.
New on the scene: Given that Florida’s bringing in what many consider to be one of the most talented signing classes in history, there could be several of those guys on the field. Redshirt freshman receiver Andre Debose isn’t brand new, but this will be his first season after undergoing hamstring surgery last year. Redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins is the likely starter at middle linebacker, and the Gators can’t wait to get three true freshman defensive linemen in uniform -- Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley. True freshman safety Matt Elam will almost certainly play early, and true freshman Gerald Christian has a chance to win the tight end job.
Breaking out: Senior captain Justin Trattou was the Gators’ inside pass-rushing specialist a year ago. He’ll go back to more of a traditional defensive end this season and will also be healthy after playing the second half of last season with a torn biceps tendon.
Don’t forget about: Chris Rainey is moving to slot receiver, and the Gators plan to utilize his speed in a number of different ways, including the return game.
All eyes on: Junior quarterback John Brantley. It’s never easy taking over for a legend. Brantley is a polished passer and will give the Gators a look on offense they haven’t had in a while. The tricky part will be replacing Tim Tebow’s third-down prowess. Go back and count how many times he willed the Gators to key third-down conversions the last few years.
Quoting: “We’re young, but we’re focused. Everybody has the same mindset. We don’t have any superstars on this team. Everybody just wants to go out and win games.” -- Florida center Mike Pouncey