SEC Football: Bold Expectations for Florida Gators in 2015

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I could go at Will Muschamp like Drake on a Meek Mill diss track, but he’s been beaten enough. Instead let’s start here: There is no “quarterback competition” in Gainesville. Redshirt Freshman QB Will Grier threw for 77 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards as a high school senior and has looked great this spring. Inflated high school stats mean nothing if they don’t translate to the next level, however. John Brantley’s collapse almost gave Urban Meyer a heart attack, but it seems Grier has an excellent opportunity to succeed under Jim McElwain.

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McElwain is a quarterback guru. His success with quarterbacks as offensive coordinator with Alabama and turning former Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson into a second-round NFL draft pick support that theory. Let’s go ahead and say that Jim McElwain is an offensive genius. His record justifies that; just ask Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones.

Think of the quarterbacks McElwain had at Alabama. I’d name them, but honestly, who cares anymore? I faintly remember them becoming mid-round draft picks and blips on NFL teams’ radars. He made average quarterbacks into “important game managers” and churned out stud running backs like Kentucky churns out NBA first-round picks.

Joining a team that had everything except an offense, one would think that expectations for Gator nation would be much greater than they are this year. Analysts and fans alike are quick to claim this is Tennessee’s comeback year, or this is the year for Mark Richt. The nation seems to think South Carolina is more likely to bounce back from a 6-6 season and win the SEC East than Florida is to finish third in the same division. Why?

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  • Listening to 5 minutes of the Paul Finebaum Show will reveal that most people feel Florida is short on talent, has no quarterback, a weak offensive line and the defense Muschamp left. Criticisms sound eerily similar to those thrown at Gene Chizik and his 2013 Auburn football team. Last to first can happen.  History repeats itself.

    McElwain has the track record to encourage fans that he will be able turn things around quickly.  Florida also has some quality talent available.  In addition to Will Grier, running back Kelvin Taylor will flourish in McElwain’s offensive scheme that puts an emphasis on downhill running. This will set up the play action pass to play maker wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and highly touted tight end DeAndre Goolsby.

    The offensive line is a valid concern because it is shallower than a kiddie pool. If Jim McElwain can coach offensive lines that cleared the way for a Heisman winner (Ingram) and a Heisman finalist (Richardson), I trust he can find a solution.

    McElwain hired Geoff Collins to coach a defense that is returning eight starters, including Vernon Hargreaves III. Collins produced multiple first-round NFL picks at Mississippi State; expect his success to continue given Florida’s talent.

    Saying the Florida Gators will win the SEC East and compete for the SEC crown is not a bold prediction. It is a justifiable expectation.

    And it sure beats what is passing for bold predictions for Florida in 2015.

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