Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Colleges

Analyzing the 2014 Florida Gators by position

Quarterback

After missing 9½ games with a broken leg in 2013, junior starter Jeff Driskel returns with a new offensive scheme that's more suited to his style of play and hoping to prove he can lead Florida's comeback season. The Gators need him to stay healthy because the two vying for the backup position — Treon Harris and Will Grier — are true freshmen.

Running backs

A position where the Gators have both depth and quality, which is good since it's a featured role in Kurt Roper's offense. After a solid freshman season, Florida hopes for a breakout year for Kelvin Taylor. Former Armwood star Matt Jones, who missed most of last season with a torn MCL, is healthy again, providing a solid runner and pass catcher. Senior Mack Brown, Adam Lane and Hunter Joyer add more depth.

Offensive line

Arguably the unit that needed most improvement from last season, the Gators instantly improve with the return of RT Chaz Green, who missed last season with a shoulder injury. LG Tyler Moore is finally in his true position and Trenton Brown is big, yet versatile enough to play guard and tackle. Freshman David Sharpe has shown potential to help with depth, along with D.J. Humphries, Trip Thurman and Drew Sarvary. The biggest concern might be Max Garcia, who is playing center for the first time in his career.

Wide receivers

Under Roper's new offense, the Gators might finally return to the glory days of big-time receivers. Will Muschamp calls this group the deepest he has had at Florida, but it's depth without experience. Senior Quinton Dunbar (44 receptions for 556 yards) and redshirt senior Andre Debose, who missed last season with a knee injury, are experienced. But up-and-coming young players such as Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood could also be impact players. Expect transfer TE Jake McGee to catch a lot of passes this season.

Defensive line

Lakewood alumnus Dante Fowler is preseason first team All-SEC and the Gators hope along with his athleticism he can become a more dominant pass rusher. DE Jonathan Bullard can also play defensive tackle, and seniors Leon Orr and Darious Cummings add experience. Though less experienced, LB Alex McCalister, DE Bryan Cox and DT Joey Ivie enter the year with high expectations. Lack of another proven pass rusher could be an issue if Fowler sees heavy double-teams.

Linebackers

There are 33 combined starts among Antonio Morrison, Michael Taylor, Neiron Ball and Jarrad Davis, but depth remains an issue. Taylor (12 starts) said he has improved his speed and is most experienced. Morrison has dropped 20 pounds, and is vowing to improve upon a disappointing 2013. Five-star recruit Alex Anzalone could be a big contributor if he can stay healthy. Matt Rolin and Jeremi Powell both have promise, but are a question mark returning from ACL injuries.

Special teams

One of the most disappointing aspects of the 2013 season. Former Ray Guy Award finalist P Kyle Christy struggled, then lost his starting job, as did K Austin Hardin. Both have shown more consistency in fall camp, and Muschamp says improving the kicking game is imperative. Christy and Johnny Townsend will punt, and K Frankie Velez, who played in five games last season, might still see some action.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

Secondary

Preseason first-team All-SEC CB Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal were penciled in as starters early in fall camp. Jabari Gorman and Marcus Maye have experience, but May missed a week of practice (hamstring) and needs big improvement in one-on-one coverage. Muschamp said Duke Dawson, Marcell Harris and Nick Washington are talented, but inconsistent.

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