Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

2011 Florida Gators football preview


Coach: Will Muschamp (first season)

2010 record: 8-5; 4-4 SEC

Conference/division: SEC/East

Conference titles: 1991, 1993-96, 2000, 2006, 2008

National titles: 1996, 2006, 2008

Area players

Cole Gilliam, R-So., G, Durant; Deandre Goins, So., RB, Dunedin; Chaz Green, R-Fr., OT, Tampa Catholic; Jon Halapio, R-So., G, St. Petersburg Catholic; Cody Hampton, Sr., LS, Boca Ciega; Evan Holmes, Fr., DE, Lakewood; Hunter Joyer, Fr., RB, Wesley Chapel; Michael McNeely, Fr., WR, Palm Harbor U.; Leon Orr, R-Fr., DT, Gulf; Matt Patchan, R-Jr., OT, Armwood; Scott Peek, R-Jr., LB, Freedom; Ben Sams, So., RB, St. Petersburg; Ja'Juan Story, Fr., WR, Nature Coast Tech

Position analysis


Senior John Brantley returns after a disappointing season in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns as he struggled in a spread offense that clearly was not a good fit for him. With a new coaching staff and a pro-style offense, Brantley will finally be allowed to perform in a system where he's comfortable. His backups are freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, and redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy — none of whom have seen one minute of game action.


Look for a more traditional running game than the one run under Urban Meyer. Florida believes senior Jeff Demps, who briefly contemplated giving up football to run track full time, and senior Chris Rainey, could become a formidable duo. Each possesses speed and the ability to make defenders miss in open space.


Florida lost four starters, and the most experrience comes from Xavier Nixon and Jon Halapio (St. Petersburg Catholic), who each started seven games last season. Injuries kept the line from working together much in the spring, so they're playing catch-up now. Notre Dame transfer Dan Wenger provides experience and the only working knowledge of the new system. Matt Patchan (Armwood) and fifth-year senior James Wilson were both highly rated high school prospects who've been derailed by multiple injuries but might be fully healthy for the first time in their UF careers.


Proven playmakers are scarce. The Gators need senior Deonte Thompson to finally reach the potential he has exhibited at times over the past several years. He led the team with 38 receptions last season, but Florida ranked No. 11 in the SEC in passing efficiency — partly because no one emerged as a big-play receiver. The Gators have high expectations for Quinton Dunbar, and Frankie Hammond seems poised to have a breakout season. And don't forget tight end Jordan Reed, who has the size (6 feet 3, 237) to be a huge mismatch problem for opponents.


This unit is highlighted by three five-star recruits in Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, but each has much to prove after underachieving freshman seasons. Floyd will start at end, but he can play tackle and nose. With his size and speed off the edge, the staff is hoping Powell can excel at the new hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position.


Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic will anchor this unit on the outside and middle, bringing with them 17 combined starts. Jenkins has speed, but he must improve on tackling. Lerentee McCray's impressive spring has the staff excited about his emergence at strongside. Unproven players such as freshman Chris Johnson, redshirt freshman Mike Taylor and sophomore Darrin Kitchens comprise the depth.


The loss of All-SEC CB Janoris Jenkins (dismissed from the team) leaves the position with little experience. CB Jeremy Brown, who has 10 starts from last season, missed a portion of fall camp (sprained knee) but is expected to be ready to play. Sixth-year senior Moses Jenkins is finally healthy, and sophomores Matt Elam and Cody Riggs are coming off solid freshman seasons.


K Caleb Sturgis returns after missing most of last year with a back injury. The former Lou Groza Award (top placekicker) semifinalist is the solid starter who possesses accuracy and range. Former walk-on David Lerner is expected to handle punting duties, and touted freshman Kyle Christy is in the mix. The punt and kick return teams should be solid with speed from Chris Rainey and possibly Jeff Demps.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Capacity: 88,548. Tickets: Available for Florida Atlantic (Saturday), UAB (Sept. 10), Vanderbilt (Nov. 5) and Furman (Nov. 19). Order online at or call toll-free 1-800-344-2867, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sept. 17



3:30 p.m., Ch. 10

Sept. 10



7 p.m., FSN



Florida Atlantic

7 p.m., ESPNU

Oct. 8




Oct. 1




Sept. 24




Nov. 5




Oct. 29



3:30 p.m., Ch. 10

Oct. 15




Nov. 26


Florida State


Nov. 19




Nov. 12


South Carolina


2011 Florida Gators football preview 08/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2011 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Blue Jays

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  2. Baseball team's eclipse watch during game draws fans from far away


    KEIZER, Ore. — They came from Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska, and as far as the Dominican Republic and Australia.

    Players for the minor-league baseball Salem-Keizer Volcanoes wear special eclipse jerseys Monday.
  3. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  4. 247Sports: Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere top OT in nation


    Berkeley Prep offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere already is widely considered the best player in Tampa Bay.

    Berkeley Prep rising senior defensive end Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) performs a pad drill during spring football practice at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, May 12, 2017.
  5. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …