Officially, the college football season kicks off tonight. There are a few games – Pitt/Utah, Southern Miss/South Carolina and Hawaii/Southern Cal – to pop the cherry on the 2010 season but like most virgin encounters, they’ll be awkward and uncomfortable and leave you wanting to go again as soon as possible. So Saturday’s smorgasbord is the feast we’ve waited eight long months for.
And even though the Gators haven’t played a BCS school in the opener since well before the internet existed, we look forward to that first game like a fat bride looks forward to cutting her wedding cake.
This year is no different… even if it feels different. Gator Nation is in a frenzy as it looks forward to kickoff a little after noon on Saturday. But there are feelings of sadness as well. Our Tebowners aren’t quite as hard without Timmy, Spikes, Brandon James Bitch, Riley, Joe Haden, Major Wright and a few others. Last season was the end for the most successful group of players in UF history and as much as we’re excited for 2010, we can’t help but miss those badasses who have moved on.
But that’s what Bourbon Meyer is here for. We’ve got a list of guys who haven’t done a whole lot in Gainesville just yet. But we’re guaranteeing big things for these cats in 2010.*
Omarius Hines – we swear, we loved this guy months ago as a breakout player. But now, the “Greek God” is on everyone’s radar. He is taking over Aaron Hernandez’s hybrid TE/H-Back position in the offense and that surely means big numbers from the redshirt sophomore.
Mike Gillislee – without Tebow filling the role of short-yardage specialist, a running back has a chance to be a significant factor in the red zone for the first time in five years. While the initial calls will be for Emmanuel Moody, injuries will surely surface as they have each of his three years at UF. That means Gillislee will be the guy and could end up with double digit scores.
Carl Moore – everyone is talking about Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson and Andre Dubose. But we are nominating Carl Moore for the 2010 Dallas Baker award. He’ll be a steady presence on the outside, across the middle and in the red zone. Moore will finally live up to the hype he brought with him from California and will finally justify the scholarship the Gators gymnastics team had to give his girlfriend to get him to G-ville.
Jon Bostic – whether he starts at the Mike or Will backer, this guy is going to emerge. Frankly, the linebacking corps as a whole has gone from a concern to a strength, which is just amazing considering Spikes and Stamper’s departures.
William Green – the defensive line has seen plenty of hype for Jaye Howard and deservedly so. Plus, the five-stars from the past few years – Hunter, Powell, Floyd, Easley – are the popular picks to emerge. But don’t overlook Green. He has teased for a couple of years now but this is his chance. Duke Lemmens is a nice player but Green can be electric. Look for him to be starting by Tennessee.
Teryl Austin – of course, he isn’t a player. But we’re including him here because he is replacing a legend (Charlie Strong replaced Bob Stoops as the most beloved former assistant coach) and because he hasn’t been talked about much. Austin’s style as a coordinator is unknown since he’s never been one before. But he paid his dues in the NFL and throughout the collegiate ranks. He will mix his packages, blitzes and coverages throughout each game, and the bottom line is he has an unseemly amount of talent to work with. This defense has a chance to be special and the coordinator gets props when that happens.
*Obviously, you don’t need us to tell you about John Brantley, Jaye Howard, Jelani Jenkins and Will Hill. These cats are dudes that aren’t household names yet.