Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Florida
By Edward Aschoff
Record: 4-2 (1-2 SEC)
Florida was bound to hit some rough patches with its new coaching staff. After four weeks of looking like a much-improved team from 2010, the Gators were blown out by Alabama and LSU. The offense must now continue without starting quarterback John Brantley for an extended period of time. Brantley, who was often ridiculed last year, actually made tremendous strides before going down with a lower leg injury in the first half of the Alabama game -- arguably Brantley’s best half of his Gator career. Without him, Florida has fielded freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, who started and took his first college snaps against LSU. With Driskel bothered by an ankle injury, Brissett should maintain the starting spot. Aside from Andre Debose’s back-to-back games with 65-yard touchdown catches, Florida lacks consistent big-play receivers. Also, the running game that was so explosive during the first four weeks was absolutely stuffed by Alabama and LSU. Defensively, the Gators started off great, but have given up 200-plus yards rushing in back-to-back games. That vaunted front seven was abused in the last two games and this group must toughen up going forward. Coach Will Muschamp has promised changes on offense and in the way Florida practices. Muschamp is a fiery, hard-nosed coach and he’s ready for his team to act like that again.
Offensive MVP: RB Chris Rainey. Before Alabama and LSU rocked Florida’s offensive world, Rainey was easily the Gators' best player. He was making highlight play after highlight play both rushing and receiving and was even making things difficult for opponents on special teams by blocking a punt and returning a blocked punt for a touchdown. Rainey leads Florida in rushing (467) and receiving (245).
Defensive MVP: LB Jon Bostic. The junior linebacker has been on a tear this season. He has been all over the field and leads the Gators with 42 tackles and three sacks. He has also forced a fumble and has broken up a pass. Bostic has truly become a leader for this defense and he has been one of Florida’s most consistent defenders this season.