We Want Bama? We Got Bama – Chomp Chat Episode 4

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Andre Debose catches a TD on the first play against Alabama in 2011.

Following Florida’s triple overtime thriller against Kentucky last Saturday, the Gators face arguably their toughest test of the season this weekend — on the road at Allllabama (Brent Musburger voice). The OTB trio of Lucas Dolengowski, Morgan Moriarty and Scott Francis welcome Gator Country’s Nick De La Torre to the program for the first time, as they size up UF’s chances of knocking off the 3rd ranked team in the country. This episode is perfect for your road trip to Tuscaloosa!  LISTEN AND SHARE!

 

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Phew.

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Photo courtesy of Gainesville Sun/Matt Stamey

Demarcus Robinson went beast mode with 15 catches for 216 yards and 2 TDs and the defense dodged some near-fatal bullets as the Gators – somehow – found a way to edge Kentucky, 36-30 in a triple overtime thriller.

Wildcats running back JoJo Kemp had some rather confident comments for the media earlier in the week, saying  “It’s going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces.” Credit to Mark Stoops’ troops, because they came to play. It seemed like it all the makings of a streak-breaking stunner in The Swamp. On a night when so many things seemingly went UK’s way – dropped interceptions by Florida (at least five), penalty calls (and no-calls) and a 51 yard game tying field goal that banked in off the inside of the upright – the Gators refused to yell uncle. As I’m writing this, there were so many weird/awesome/lucky plays that keep coming to my mind:

  •  Florida realistically could have had six interceptions off Patrick Towles. Vernon Hargreaves dropped two (?!?!?!!!?!?), from what I recall.
  • The ridiculous busted coverage by the Gators secondary that led to a wide-open TD for Kentucky.
  • The pass that Jeff Driskel threw right to Wildcat corner Fred Tiller who somehow didn’t catch it, then deflected perfectly into the hands of Demarcus Robinson.
  • I’m still baffled as to how the ridiculously blatant late hit on Kelvin Taylor wasn’t called a penalty.
  • The very first play of overtime: The Florida defense had Stanley Williams dead to rights in the backfield, but a couple missed tackles allowed Williams to reverse the entire field and score a touchdown. You could hear a pin drop after that.
  • The play of the game, obviously, was Driskel to Robinson on 4th The Gators had no timeout to use and were scrambling to get to the line, but somehow they got the snap off and Driskel made (by far) his best throw of the night.
  • Brian Poole’s GREAT pass break up in the corner of the end zone on 3rd down in the 3rd overtime period, right before the missed field goal by Austin MacGinnis.
  • That missed field goal from MacGinnis. Wide right!

The first 30 minutes of this game were a slugfest; the score was 3-3 at the half. The 3rd quarter, on the other hand, was wrought with nonsense and plenty of offense – a combined 31 points before “We Are The Boys.” The 4th quarter? Two Keanu Neal interceptions, two missed field goals by UF (one apiece from Hardin and Velez) and three total points. The overtime session produced an array of emotions so rangy, you might as well have been watching an episode of “Breaking Bad.” But in the end, it was jubilation for the Orange and Blue when Matt Jones punched it in the end zone for the walk-off win.

Plenty of Gator fans were griping both during and after the game about the victory. With the current state of Florida football, I understand people’s concern. Florida had defeated Kentucky in 27 straight contests (now 28) and we almost saw that go down the drain on Saturday night. Was it a pretty win? Certainly not. But it was a win nonetheless, and an SEC victory too. The Gators are still 2-0. And you should be content with that. We will see what these boys are truly made of next Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

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You Never Forget Your First Gators Game

Entering Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time, I had no idea what awaited me inside. I was a high school senior, only 16 at the time, and this was my first trip to Gainesville and of course my first Gators football game. As excited as I was, there was just no way I could have known how much the experience would impact me and change the course of my life.

My buddy Joel was a student already and invited us for Homecoming. My friend Ski and I drove five hours from Lake Worth taking the long way up I-95 and across on State Road 40. The leisurely route mostly through the less populated portion of the state made it seem like I was a lot farther from home than 300 miles. Compared to South Florida, the stretch from north of Jupiter to Ormand Beach and then across through the Ocala National Forest seemed as desolute as the moon. I remember passing Micanopy along 441 and seeing Paynes Prairie for the first time and wondering if Gainesville was a city or an outpost in the African savanna.

Welcome to Paynes Prairie

Welcome to Paynes Prairie

It was shocking how quickly the University sprung up as we made our way up 13th Street. Within minutes, we pulled onto campus and circled the parking lot in front of Broward Hall (which apparently doesn’t exist anymore). We spent a few minutes trying to reach our buddy via the call box outside Broward and when he didn’t answer, we had no choice but to settle down on the curb and wait for him (love you pre-cell era). This was a great decision because it allowed me my first glimpse of college students in their natural habitat. People came and went as I watched in awe. Pizza deliveries at 10pm, beautiful girls everywhere, no adults anywhere, complete and total freedom.

Friday was my first glimpse of campus in the daylight. Century Tower seemed to punctuate my giddiness like a giant exclamation point rising overhead. I soaked it all in, blown away by the contrast between the hustle and bustle of the masses headed to and from class with the serenity of the trees and expanses of open space around the Reitz Union and the Plaza of the Americas. Later that night was my first college party experience at Regency Oaks. I was nervous as hell, assuming people would stare and wonder why such a young kid was hanging around. But in fact, it was just the opposite. No one cared, everyone was cool and the beer flowed well into the wee hours.

As game time approached on Saturday, I was drunk on the enormity of the entire experience (and a couple Natural Lights). All that I had seen and experienced didn’t seem real. And maybe it wasn’t, maybe I had imagined and dreamed most of it. And there was still the final experience, the reason we were there in the first place. The Game. We must have passed a thousand RVs parked along Archer Road. People seemed to multiply the closer we got, every square inch of campus seemingly filled with tailgaters. As we made our way up North-South Drive from Museum Road, the stadium grew, filling the sky. Flesh pressed flesh as I waited at Gate 14 to enter.

When I stepped into the stands for the first time, the first thing I noticed were the angular orange walls rising up with slogans declaring “This is Gator Country” and “Home of the Florida Gators”. The newly installed Sunshine Seats, which had just opened that season, loomed to the right and the press box was straight ahead, creating an enormous enclosed space that literally sucked my breath away. The band was playing, people were clapping along and the players… my God, the players. I played football my whole life until I was 15 and was friends with most of the guys on our high school team. But those kids on the field were giants. Our seats were so close, I could smell the grass and taste the Gatorade. As kickoff neared, the Orange and Blue chant began. I had attended many Dolphins games as a kid so organized chants in a huge stadium were new to me. Sure we did them at our high school games but it was with one side of the bleachers. “Blue” shot from our side, only to be eclipsed by the roar of “Orange” from the alumni side crashing over us like a ten-foot wave.

Still my favorite font for the stadium walls. Keep in mind the now ubiquitous "Work Em Silly Gators" sign didn't appear until 1993.

Still my favorite font for the stadium walls. Keep in mind the now ubiquitous “Work Em Silly Gators” sign didn’t appear until 1993.

Then the band began a familiar refrain, one I had heard on television but never before experienced. Biology is a wonderful thing. Instincts kick in and young birds can fly, baby spiders spin webs and just hatched turtles crawl for the ocean. For Gators fans, when the tubas and trombones begin to play, the body just naturally knows what to do – arms outstretch, right over left, up and down to the beat. I had no control, nature was in charge.

The game eventually began. Florida clobbered a Northern Illinois squad that was years away from becoming the MAC juggernaut we know today. Harrison Houston was one of my favorite players and he caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone in front of us. Willie Jackson and Errict Rhett scored as well. At the end of the third quarter, I had no idea what was happening but my friends talked me through my first “We are the Boys” and the spectacle of everybody in the stadium, swaying arm-in-arm was overwhelming. Being a part of that, with 85,000 friends I’d never met and never would, was exhilarating.

The Gators won in a rout 41-10. Afterward because of 13 penalties in the game, the Head Ball Coach said, “We looked stupid out there. I told our coaches we must have looked like the worst-coached team in America. I was embarrassed to be coach of this bunch.” Spurrier was the greatest even back then in only his second season in Gainesville.

When I got back home, I knew I was a Gator. I knew all my other college applications were pointless and that acceptance to UF was all that mattered. A month or two later, I received the letter in the mail and the transformation was complete.

I never spent much time wondering about what would have happened if I never made that first trip to Gainesville until two weeks ago when I took my sons – ages 8 and 6 – on their first trip to Gainesville for their first Gators game. We live in California and although we visit Florida once every year or two, it isn’t usually during football season because they are in school. Plus, I wanted to wait until they were older and would appreciate the experience more. I planned out the trip this year knowing that our only shot was the season opener before school started after Labor Day. And I figured why not make it a bit of a reunion with some of my old friends and their families as well.

We rolled into Gainesville on Friday afternoon. The weather forecast was sketchy for the entire weekend, but I grew up in Florida and knew rain cleared out quickly this time of year and there was really nothing to worry about. While my kids spent time with their grandmother and my wife napped in the hotel room, I strolled around campus by myself, lost in past memories and dreaming of my kids one day creating their own. The rain began to fall and I parked myself on a bench outside Library West looking out at the peaceful Plaza of the Americas. I was happy the rain came Friday, figuring we’d be in the clear the rest of the weekend because of it.

UF's campus really is one of the most beautiful in the world

UF’s campus really is one of the most beautiful in the world

Saturday was absolutely glorious. The late game meant we had time for some tailgating, mixed in with a stroll around campus to show the boys the beauty of it. First mission was to find an alligator and we lucked out in the pond next to Graham Hall.

A four-footer wading in the Graham Pond

A four-footer wading in the Graham Pond

That little guy was the first gator the kids had ever seen that wasn’t at a zoo. We toured Turlington Plaza and the Rock (six-year-old “yeah, so, it’s a rock) and Century Tower (eight-year-old “it isn’t as tall as I thought it would be”).

"Hey kids, Daddy used to ride his bike right through here" "Who cares Dad!"

“Hey kids, Daddy used to ride his bike right through here” cialis
“Who cares Dad!”

We tailgated with my old friends Tom, Michelle, Jim, Jason, Kik, Bryan and their families for a few hours. It was great catching up and reliving old stories but the real joy was in watching my boys interact with the other kids. After the initial chill, my oldest son broke the ice and eventually the boys were off and running together in a pack. It was Tom and Michelle’s sons first game ever too so this was a bond they’d all share together.

It is easy to make friends when you wear orange and blue

It is easy to make friends when you wear orange and blue

Hot and sunny all day, sure enough as game time approached, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and the sky darkened.  Before we even made it inside the Swamp, the game had been delayed. Hours ticked by but I was not giving up hope. We had come too far. We wanted this too much. I needed this too much. Eventually, the tweets began that the game was going to start at 9:50 pm. We hustled back with kids in tow as fast as we could but didn’t make it in time for the kickoff. Before we entered the gates, the game was delayed once more. By now, the very real possibility that the game was going to be canceled was starting to set in.

This time we decided to wait it out inside the stadium. It was hardly the grand entrance I had experienced 23 years prior. There were still thousands of people mulling around but everyone was dazed, confused and exhausted. Every lightning strike pierced another hole in our hearts. The rain was still falling and the exhaustion weighed heavily on all of us, especially the kids. I felt like Clark Griswold. I wasn’t just going to ignore the moose telling me the park was closed, I was going to punch it in the face and get us inside if it was the last thing I ever did. I dragged the kids down to our seats and we waited for only a few minutes in the rain before the public address announcer delivered the final, crushing blow. My kids would not see their first Gators game. They would not do the Gator Chomp or sing “We are the Boys”. They wouldn’t marvel at the size of the players, the size of the crowd or the size of the stadium. The dream was over.

At least we had good seats to see the rain fall and pool up on the field

At least we had good seats to see the rain fall and pool up on the field

I’m still not over our lost trip and probably won’t ever be. The kids are just fine in the way that kids always are. They had a good time in Gainesville, had fun meeting new people, enjoyed seeing my old home. But me? Nah. Because I know that if I could have given them that first experience, that first time, they would have been Gators for life. Because we live so far away, there is a very good chance they won’t share my affection for UF, let alone attend it some day. This was my chance but it didn’t happen.

When Florida and Eastern Michigan kicked off Saturday, my wife asked my oldest son if he wanted to sit and watch some of the game with me instead of going outside to play with his friends. As if the kid could read my mind, he replied “No thanks. Maybe if I had actually seen the Gators play…” There is no maybe about it, son. You never forget your first Gators game.

If you are in Gainesville now, never take a game for granted. Live life like each and every game is your first. Enjoy it for all of us who would do anything to be there but can’t be. As for me, all is not lost. I’ll get the family back. And when those boys finally do see it, I’m going to see it through their eyes for the first time. How sweet that will be.

Editor’s note – Considering this is the week the #GatorsAlways video was launched, this post fits right in with that theme. We wish we were smart enough to time it that way but it just worked out (through procrastination mostly since I wanted to write this last week). If you haven’t seen the incredible video yet, check it out. Always share your memories of your first Gators game with us in the comments below or tweet them to us @OurTwoBits and @shawn_kopelakis using #GatorsAlways.

 

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Uniform Drama & Chomp Chat Episode 3

Orange_Gators

Florida had an incredible first game. Excitement in every quarter. A 65-0 drumming of Eastern Michigan. Florida “kicks-off” its SEC Schedule against Kentucky on Saturday at 7:30pm on SEC Network. For a solid recap of the Eastern Michigan game and what to look forward to against Kentucky, please listen to the 3rd installment of the “Chomp Chat” podcast.

UNIFORMS. HELMETS. JERSEYS. PANTS. AND SHOES.

debose

Some uniform news. Because some people actually care about what their favorite football team wears. The rumor on social media is that the Florida Gators will be breaking out the Orange Jerseys for Kentucky. Students and fans are calling for an Orange Out. We’ll see if there is official news from the program later in the week on the topic. Don’t buy into the curse of the Orange Jerseys.  Florida should be able to beat Kentucky for the 28th time in a row playing in their underwear.

And for even more ridiculousness, take a look at what the Tennessee Vols are going to wear against Florida in a few weeks (Editor’s Note: This is the retail version of the jersey that that Vols plan to wear.)…

Smokey

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Florida Football is fun again

HappyGators1

Picture Courtesy of Ryan Jones

It had been 336 days since Florida last won a football game. On Saturday afternoon in The Swamp, Gator Nation let out a huge collective sigh of relief – and excitement – as Will Muschamp’s guys absolutely demolished Eastern Michigan, 65-0.

After some weather forecasts called for a 100% chance of rain in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon, many Florida fans were hoping lightning wouldn’t be a factor either. We didn’t need that, especially not for a second straight week. But the football gods finally found favor in the Orange and Blue as the dark clouds somehow skirted around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The sun even peeked through for a while; it was hot, but I doubt anyone in venue objected to the temperature. We were watching football – and high quality football at that.

Check out these numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:
-65 points are the most since 2008
-655 total yards are the most since 2010
-33 pass completions and 47 pass attempts are both the most since 2002
-6 plays of 30+ yards are the most since 2008

11 different players hauled in a pass, with Demarcus Robinson leading the way with 6 catches for 123 yards and a TD. No player had more than 10 carries on the ground, but the top three rushers (Taylor, Jones and Brown) each had a run over 30 yards and the Gators as a whole racked up 259 rushing yards. The passing game was solid too. I don’t think Jeff Driskel played all that great (just 5.5 yards per completion), but he avoided silly turnovers was efficient enough (68% completions) to make Gator fans very happy. Freshman QB Treon Harris may have had the best mop-up performance ever: 2 for 2, 148 yards and 2 TDs. One of those was a nice deep ball to Robinson who shrugged off the defender and walked into the end zone, and the other was a post pattern bullet to Mark Herndon, who split the safeties and housed it.

That defense played alright too. They held EMU to 125 total yards, forced 5 turnovers and pitched their first shutout since 2012. 31 different defensive players saw the field. D.J. Durkin’s crew played angry and executed the schemes to near-perfection. Linebacker Neuron Ball led the way with six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Freshman DB Duke Dawson had a pick six in his first career game. That is what an SEC defense is supposed to do against a much weaker opponent. Not much more needs to be said, other than that Gator Nation should feel confident about this unit moving forward.

Sans two kickoffs out of bounds from Austin Hardin, special teams were very good. Fresh off his brand new scholarship, Francisco Velez went 3 for 3 on his field goals and Kyle Christy punted the ball like he did in 2012. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet and Andre Debose is still very dangerous in the return game. The sixth year senior nearly sent the stadium into a frenzy in the 3rd quarter with a punt return that made at least five EMU defenders look silly. It was #4 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays, and probably could have been #1 if he reached the end zone. Regardless, we’ll see Debose do plenty of that this season.

Now before fans start touting UF as a team that could win the SEC after one game, Eastern Michigan is not exactly a quality football team. In Will Muschamp’s tenure at Florida, his teams have usually had issues with penalties. That did not change on Saturday: 10 penalties for 100 yards. It was overshadowed by the great play in every other aspect of the game, but it’s something that should be noted. The Gators did not exit the day unscathed on the injury front either. Heralded tight end transfer Jake McGee brought a lot of promise to the position that was virtually non-existent last season, but he went down in the second quarter with a broken leg. He is out for the season. Left tackle D.J. Humphries also sustained a bone chip in his ankle that will sideline him for two to three weeks (that may include the Alabama game). In 2012, the big motto from Muschamp in reference to injuries was “man down, man up.” In 2013, it seemed like it was just “man down, man down.” We shall see what happens in 2014.

For now there are positives aplenty for Florida fans, who have justifiable reason to be very excited about Kurt Roper’s offense as they face tougher defenses down the line. Something else that should be fun? This week’s Chomp Chat podcast (Episode 1 | Episode 2)! SHAMELESS PLUG! We’d love to get your thoughts on the Eastern Michigan game and what you might expect to see against Kentucky next Saturday, so shoot us an email at thechompchat@gmail.com and we’ll address your question on the program. Also, our question of the week from the previous show: What’s the strangest scenario (weather or otherwise) you’ve encountered at a University of Florida athletic event? Send your stories to that same address. Be sure to tune into the show and share with your friends!

P.S. If you’re attending the game against Kentucky, WEAR ORANGE!

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In All Kinds of Weather – Chomp Chat Podcast Episode 2

The “rain out” of the Idaho game can be described in one tweet…

Take a listen to Chomp Chat Podcast Episode 2 properly entitled “In All Kinds of Weather”!!! Relive the the weather experience, but enjoy the Eastern Michigan preview as well…

 

And because God wants to make things interesting…check out the weather forecast for THIS Saturday…
Weather

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#ChompChat Transcript

On Wednesday August 27th Adam Silverstein from OnlyGators.com and Andy Hutchins from AlligatorArmy.com along with our very own Scott Francis from OurTwoBits.com participated in a Twitter Chat, answering GATOR NATION’s questions about Gator Football. Enjoy. Read from bottom to top.


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What is Chomp Chat?

The term “Gator Nation” is often used to describe the close knit family-like atmosphere of being a part of the University of Florida culture and “way of life”. It’s a big draw, and it creates an incredible feeling to be a part of that legacy.

Here’s a dirty little secret: that close knit family-like atmosphere does not always necessarily extend to the journalists and fan blog sites that cover the University of Florida. Whether its the pressure to break the story first or take a new angle on an existing story or just general personality conflicts these rifts are noticeable through sniping via social media or flat out ignoring the existence of another Gator entity; some folks just do not get along. And I think we can all agree that that is NOT what Gator Nation is about. The ones most hurt by this are the Gator fans, whether they are aware of it or not.

As an exercise in co-operation, in an effort to heal wounds, but most importantly to provide more value back to Gator Nation as a whole….”Chomp Chat” was born. Chomp Chat started as a formal twitter chat utilizing the #ChompChat hashtag. Gators fans online can submit questions the day of the chat or even during the chat and have them answered by various journalists and fan sites that follow the Gators religiously.

Chomp Chat has become widely popular and has already been praised by Gatorzone, the official Florida Athletics website, and current/past athletes. The third instance of the chat is happening this week with @OnlyGators, @AlligatorArmy, and @OurTwoBits answering your questions. Please join us…

ChompChat

In an effort to continue the good will and offer a non-social media related platform, a Chomp Chat podcast has also been launched. The first episode hit the internet this week and features University of Florida students Lucas Dolengowski and Morgan Moriarty, along with Andy Hutchins from AlligatorArmy.com and Scott Francis from OurTwoBits.com.  Gator fans can find the audio here…

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Gator “Summer Nights”

[scene opens with defensive coaches sitting in bleachers after practice chatting] Defense DJ Durkin: “Hey, I wanna hear about what Will did in the offseason.” [The other defensive coaches begin to clamor] Will Muschamp: “Ah, it was nothing.” Brad Lawing: “Aw, sure, nothing, Muschamp, right?” Travaris Robinson: “C’mon, Will. You got a new offensive coordinator, right?” Durkin: “Yeah, c’mon, c’mon, tell us about that OC.” [cut to the offensive coaches in the cafeteria] Offense Chris Leak: “What’d you do this offseason, Kurt?” Kurt Roper: “Oh, I spent most of it here in Gainesville. I met a coach here.” Brian White: “You hauled your cookies all the way here to Gainesville for some coach?” Roper: “He was sorta special.” White: “There ain’t no such thing.” Roper: “He was really likable.” [cut back to defensive coaches begging Muschamp for details] Muschamp: “C’mon, you don’t wanna hear all the boring details.” [The coaches continue to prod him] Muschamp: “Alright! I’ll tell you!”

♫ Offseason love had me a blast Offseason love happened so fast I met an OC crazy for me Met a coach sad as can be

Pro-style days drifting away To, uh oh, those up-tempo nights

Well-a well-a well-a huh Will we score, will we score? Will we get very far? Will we score, will we score? Is Jeff Driskel a star?

He came from Duke, looked good in camp He called me up, “This is Muschamp.” Please save my job, I’m going to drown He needs points, and some first downs

Summer sun, something’s begun But, oh, oh, the up-tempo nights

Well-a well-a well-a huh Will we score, will we score? Can you fix this shit show? Will we score, will we score? Will we beat Idaho?

Gonna throw deep touchdowns all day We’ll hurry up and run every play Scoring points would be a shock Let’s all pray that the line blocks

The spring game, don’t mean a thing But, oh, oh, the up-tempo nights

Will we score, will we score? We’ve got some tricks in the bag Will we score, will we score? Last year made us all gag

We”ll score fifty with so much ease We’ll all forget about Brent Pease Will said he won’t intervene Kurt is good, you know what I mean?

Summer heat, two coaches meet But, oh, oh, the up-tempo nights

Will we score, will we score? Are we bucking the trend? Will we score, will we score? Tell me, how does this end?

The season nears, time to compete This has to work or we’re deadmeat Then we made our coaching vow We know we have to win now

Pro-style dreams ripped at the seams But, oh, oh, those up-tempo niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiights Will we score, will we scoooooorrrrrrrre? ♫

– This exercise in creative writing was done by Blake Edwards and the creator of the Muschamp Intensity Meter.

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2014 Gator Football Predictions

The Our Two Bits Team has been pathetic at providing you all with content this summer. We’re sorry. It’s hot, and we’re tired. Anyways, with Gator football kicking off its 2014 season in less than two weeks (!!!) the OTB team put together 2,000 words with our sure to be incorrect predictions for how the Orange and Blue will do this fall. Enjoy!

Paul Sjoberg:

Finishing record: 8-4, Second in the SEC East

Wins: Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, Vandy, Eastern Kentucky

Losses: Alabama, LSU, USC, FSU

Will Muschamp is a defensive coach searching for his “offensive” match. Let’s face it. The offensive coordinator job has been a dead man walking under Muschamp’s tenor year in and year out. So I won’t be around the bush. If Kurt Roper is the “ying” to Muschamp’s “yang” then the Gators go 9-3, or maybe even surprise some people going 10-2.

But honestly I think our schedule has 8-4 written ALL OVER IT! If a couple of losses are close losses against GREAT teams and the offense looks much improved then Muschamp keeps his job for another year. If the “offensive” stench continues then fans can start obsessing over the “next” Gator Football coach (Kliff Klingsbury?). Maybe even recycling a few of the old standbys (Shanahan, Spurrier, Stoops)?!

Just continue to pray and hope beyond ALL hope that the Gators stay healthy. Would love to see us get a fair shake from the injury gods.

Blake Edwards, Formerly known as The Unsportsmanlike Gentleman:

Finishing record: 9-3, First in the SEC East.

I’m trying so hard to be optimistic that my ears are bleeding as I type this. My fingers didn’t want to type nine wins, they kept hitting six, but that has more to do with demonic possession than my opinion on Florida’s season. Anywho, the majority of experts, pundits, analysts, journalists, bloggers, radio hosts, TV personalities, Twitter folk, message board folk, and man and woman on the street all seem to think that Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina will easily replace a really good quarterback.

Florida’s defense will be fine as usual, so a first year quarterback against Florida’s defense does not favor the opponent’s offense. HAIL SATAN! Er, whoa, um, sorry about that. Not myself. Anyway, the concerns for Florida are health and the offense. Assuming they stay relatively healthy, the offense will be improved since it won’t take much. There’s enough talent at the skill positions to move the ball efficiently and score.bamaflorida

The biggest concern I have about the team as a whole is the offensive line. The starting five should be serviceable, but if injuries besiege them again, you can lower my prediction of nine wins to six six six…gah, sorry about that. Darn fingers. Please leave me be, spirit! Back to Florida, I just don’t trust the depth along the line yet.

I’m not saying they don’t have talent, but they’re young and inexperienced and it scares me to the point that I just want to pull the bed sheets over my head and hope it all goes away, like when I was possessed by The Devil. Only the bed sheets didn’t protect me from El Diablo. I just hope the line does a better job of protecting ALL HAIL SATAN AND HIS KINGDOM! LEEF YM REWOP EDISNI OUY. EHT SSENKRAD SESSESSOP OUY. REHTEGOT EW LLAHS NGIER ROF YTINRETE!

Lucas Dolengowski

Finishing record: 9-3, First in the SEC East

Maybe it’s overconfidence in Kurt Roper’s new offense, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking that there won’t be any catastrophic injuries, but I’m picking Florida to go 9-3 (6-2 SEC) and win the East. I’m predicting a loss up in Tuscaloosa and expecting one loss and one win between the Tiger games, leaning more towards the win being against Mizzou.

I fully believe this is the year Will Muschamp gets over the hump and defeats Georgia in the World’s Largest Scoreboard Party. Uh, I mean cocktail. I think the Dawgs will go as far as their defense takes them, which I see as 5-3 in the conference with losses at South Carolina, either at Mizzou or Arkansas, and finally to the Gators. Missouri will be good once again this season, but not having Michael Sam and Kony Ealy on the pass rush (along with the loss of Dorial Green-Beckham) will really hurt. I’ve Missouri them going 6-2 in the conference with defeats at the hands of USC and UF.

I have the Gamecocks losing at Auburn for their first SEC loss, which will set up November 15th as a winner-goes-to-Atlanta matchup in The Swamp. I think the defense will find a way to contain Mike Davis and supply pressure to Dylan Thompson as they eke out the Head Ball Coach for a berth in the SEC Championship.

I find it difficult to see the Orange & Blue taking down FSU up at Doak with a healthy Jameis; however, it is a rivalry game and I’ve seen much weirder things happen. The Gators might drop a close one in the Georgia Dome too-probably against Bama.

Bowl game: Florida vs. Texas in the Will Muschamp-Charlie Strong ALL THE STORYLINES (Cotton) Bowl! Coach Boom takes down his former employer and keeps his job with a 10-4 final mark.

Morgan Moriarty

Finishing record: 7-5, Third in the SEC East

Okay yes, I realize I have the lowest expectations of the OTB Team for this Florida Gator team, but I’ll serve the Ms. Rational role within this post.

First off, I’m penciling in losses at Florida State and Alabama. There’s simply way too much talent returning in Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee on both sides of the ball. I know Alabama still doesn’t have its quarterback situation figured out yet, but with the deep running back corps and wide receivers the Tide has, whoever the starter is simply has to be a game manager under Lane Kiffin. And yes, to your dismay, Kiffin will excel as a coordinator at Alabama this season.

muschamp stare

The LSU game will be close, but the Tigers’ experienced offensive line will benefit whoever their starting quarterback is. Not to mention they have a true freshman running back in Leonard Fournette who was compared to both Michael Jordan and Adrian Peterson during SEC Media Days. A kid who is getting that much praise and he hasn’t even played a down of college ball yet? Must be pretty darn good.

I think Florida is capable of beating Missouri, especially with that game being at home. The toss up game for me is South Carolina. I do have SC winning the East, but that’s if Dylan Thompson can prove to be legit. Mike Davis is one of the best running backs in the country, so he’s not a concern.

It seems that Muschamp should in his fourth try finally beat Georgia this season, but it’s going to be no easy task. The Dawgs have, in my opinion, the best running back in the country in Todd Gurley. Don’t believe me? Just watch the final seven minutes of last season’s game in Jacksonville—maybe then you’ll believe me. He single-handedly ran down that entire clock to seal the Dawgs’ victory last year.

Pair that with a potential healthy Keith Marshall and the Dawg’s backfield is lethal. Replacing Aaron Murray at quarterback is tough, but Hutson Mason is a fifth year senior and has a skill set scarily very similar to Murray’s. Not to mention Mark Richt hired Jeremy Pruitt, one of the best defensive coordinators in the country this offseason.

Seven wins doesn’t cut it for Will Muschamp, and Jeremy Foley is forced to let Coach Boom go—which conveniently puts Kliff Kingsbury as a dark horse to replace him. (I know this will never happen, but LET ME DREAM PEOPLE!)

Shawn Kopelakis

Finishing Record: 8-4, Third in the SEC East

The health of this team so far this preseason [knocks on every piece of wood in a 25-mile radius] and the general feeling that “we can’t play any worse than last season” has me cautiously optimistic for 2014.

With this defense, just by being semi-competent on offense for 5-6 drives per game will give the Gators a chance to win all but two games on the schedule: ‘Bama and That Team Out West. Georgia is the lynchpin for the whole season and it is no understatement to say Muschamp must win that game to survive the firing squad.

I’m not a big believer in Jeff Driskel, but I think Kurt Roper’s offense will make him and the offense better. I see an 8-4 season with a 5-3 SEC mark, including the key win in Jacksonville. Despite the four losses, I think we’ll actually enjoy watching most of Florida’s games this year, which will be a whole lot of fun after the pain and agony of last season.

Losses to the Tide, Tigers, Cocks and Noles will keep Florida from returning to prominence, though, and force Jeremy Foley into another tough decision to keep plugging away with Muschamp or to blow it up and start over.

Scott Francis

Finishing Record: 11-3, First in the SEC East

This upcoming season has been called the #RevengeTour, but perhaps a better moniker would be the, “If this, then that” year. No doubt we’ll be better, we can’t be much worse. However, I think we are back to the norm of our season hinging on the four games that could go either way. This year, those are: Missouri, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina. Here’s how I see it.

driskelmia

Week 1 vs Idaho: We win and either cover or almost cover. Florida Football is fun again. Yay!

Week 2 vs EMU: We win with lots of rushing yards out of vanilla formations.

Week 3 vs Kentucky: Another year, another win. Hell, they went 0-3 against Florida in the sport that they ARE good at.

Week 4 at Alabama: While I have penciled this in in DARK pencil as a loss, there is an “If this, then that” component to this one. We have a chance if we can maintain some possession and keep the defense off the field and if Alabama doesn’t have their QB situation all figured out at this point, our defense could create some havoc and and we could steal one. However, this game CAN’T be at night in Bryant Denny.

Week 6 at Tennessee: If Justin Worley is still their QB, they’re toast. If Josh Dobbs has taken the reigns by then, they’ve got a puncher’s chance. Ultimately, I don’t think Tennessee is ready yet. They’ve eventually got to break this streak. This isn’t the year.

Week 7 vs LSU: The first of the “either way games”. I actually don’t think much of LSU’s offense and where they are at the QB position, but then again, they played for a National Title with the PuPu Platter of Lee and Jefferson splitting time a few years ago. Given that we played them pretty tough last year when they were good and we were offensively anemic, I think we take this one by 10 or more. Big day for Austin Hardin in this one.

Week 8 vs. Mizzou: I went out to Columbia last year and I left saying that they were the only team last year that legitimately kicked our ass all over the place. I left saying they could win the SEC. They aren’t the same team this year.  Maty Mauk will be good, but without that NBA-like stable of receivers and losing a lot on defense, I think their status is a bit overstated this year. Gators win handily.

Week 10: Georgia: Nothing has changed how I’ve felt about this game. It is the ultimate toss up and the ultimate “If this, then that” game. If we don’t turn it over 6 times, if we don’t let Gurley gain 750 total yards in a half, etc. I think the difference here is the bye week. And no more Aaron Murray, either. That SOB was a Will Hill INT away from possibly being 4-0 in his career vs. Florida. He’s gone, and I think Florida snaps the mini-streak and gets Muschamp his biggest win at Florida.

Week 11 at Vandy: Last year was some bullshit and we all know it. They’re not terrible, but order is restored in the universe here.

Week 12 vs South Carolina: Everything in me says that Carolina is not as good as everyone thinks. They just lost 2 of the best players in program history in Jadeveon Clowney and Connor Shaw. Mike Davis is good, but I don’t think he’s a strong enough leader to carry a team of this make up. Florida wins.

Week 13 vs. EKU: I won’t blow off this pick since, you know Georgia Southern, but Florida wins and back up quarterbacks see action.

Week 14 at FSU: OK, so I have an unreasonable hunch that Jameis Winston is going to get injured this year. There is no basis for it, just a feeling. Maybe it’s because all returning Heisman Trophy winners get hurt. Anyway, it’s rare for me to pick us to win at this place without us flat out having a better team, which I’m not sure we do. Florida gets the short end here. If you’re keeping track, Florida is 10-2 (8-1) after the FSU game. Oooooh baby!!

This sets up a rematch against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Unfortunately, that loss puts us out of College Football Playoff contention.

We follow that up with a pedestrian win over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl to finish 11-3. Most importantly, it will be more entertaining to watch than the past 2 seasons.

Dustin Davis

Finishing Record: 8-4, Third in the SEC East

Let me start by saying that the two SEC institutions from which I hold a degree, Arkansas and Florida, went a combined 8-17 last year.  I haven’t seen either of my Alma Maters win since October 5th, 2013—consequently, Florida beat Arkansas on October 5, so it almost feels like that day of my life never happened.  My prediction is clearly skewed by wanting—no—NEEDING one of these teams to win.  The Hogs are still recovering from an incident involving a motorcycle and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Needless to say, I’m pinning my hopes on the Gators this year.

Unfortunately, the Gators have a brutal schedule.  I think the defense will be solid again and the offensive success will depend on the offensive line’s ability to protect as well as Driskel’s ability to produce.  I’m choosing to be optimistic because if I get any more depressed about football my wife will have to start hiding the vodka and Lady Schick razor blades.

dunbar

I’ve got the Gators starting at 3-0 before getting their teeth kicked in at Bama.  We find a way to split the next four games.  We upset South Carolina at home because well, I don’t have a good reason, but it sounds like fun.  The Gators go to Tallahassee and lose despite sending crab legs with cocaine laced butter to a certain quarterback’s room the night before the game.

Billy Heilman

Finishing Record: 9-3

I’m hoping for 9-3 and I can’t envision anything better than that no matter how hard I try.

Florida will be much improved but have too many SEC teams on the schedule, which is a pretty common problem amongst SEC teams.

In addition to the 2 “gimme” losses of Bama and FSU, I think they drop the home game against USC. I like us to beat UGA coming off a bye, even though the Dawgs got smart and started taking a bye week before the game also. The stretch that worries me is the LSU and Missouri back-to-back games. I feel good about those games bring at home, but if the season is going to fall apart, this is where it will be.

 

 

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