A quarter of the Gators’ season has gone by, so it’s time to take a look at where we are, how we got there, and where we’re likely going.
Where We’re At
Florida is 3-0, 1-0 in the SEC, and that’s good enough to be tied with Georgia for second in the east at a half game behind Vanderbilt.
The Gators offensive numbers are down from last season, but the defense is vastly improved. They sit 15th in rush defense, 7th in pass defense, 5th in total defense, and 2nd in scoring defense. The first string defenders have allowed only a touchdown and a field goal in three games.
How We Got There
Florida probably has not yet faced a complete test. Hawai’i is a shadow of its Sugar Bowl self, and Miami’s offense is very young.
Then there was Tennessee. Florida was basically like a seasoned tennis player facing a novice. The Gators were content to just volley the ball to the other side and let the Vols continually hit it into the net. They could have done a lot more, but they didn’t have to.
Urban Meyer’s coaching so far has changed quite a bit from last season, something I’ll get into later this week. Suffice it to say, it looks a lot more like 2006 than 2007.
The Florida MVP so far has been Brandon James. He is the main reason why this edition may be the best special teams unit we’ve ever seen at Florida.
Where We’re Going
Everything so far has indicated that the team will continue to aspire to win the SEC. The vaunted offense has had to do very little thanks to great defensive play and bulletproof special teams.
I have already seen some chatter that Florida might play USC in the BCS championship game in a battle between college football’s “two hottest coaches” (whatever that means), and I suppose that could make sense. The prevailing wisdom is that the SEC champ will almost certainly make the title game, and if you have the Gators winning the conference, that’d put them in the big one in Miami.
I think it’s a little too early to be talking about that. Could they go there? Sure. Will they? It remains to be seen.
The offense has not looked fully cohesive, as though Dan Mullen is still working on a plan to feed all of the guys who need the ball. Everyone assumes that in crunch time they can flip the switch and return to last year’s form, but switches are notoriously difficult to flip if you haven’t done it in a while. As long as Tebow and Harvin are healthy, it’ll likely turn out fine.
The Gators’ most difficult road trip is behind them already. The Cocktail Party in Jacksonville and the home match against LSU loom as the two biggest tests remaining; the latter is in the second quarter of the schedule, the former in the third.
Ideally, there will still be cause for big hopes in the fourth.