Low marks for UF in preseason magazines


A group of the 2012 football preview magazines.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.

When you're coming off a 7-6 season, have some huge question marks on offense and play in the strongest conference in college football, you're not going to get a whole lot of love in the preseason.

Facts

TEAM RANKINGS

Athlon
1. Southern Cal
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Oklahoma
6. Ohio State
7. Michigan
8. Georgia
9. FSU
10. South Carolina
26. Florida
48. Miami

Phil Steele
1. FSU
2. Oklahoma
3. LSU
4. Southern Cal
5. Alabama
6. Oregon
7. Texas
8. Georgia
9. Wisconsin
10. Florida

Lindy's
1. LSU
2. Southern Cal
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Oregon
6. Georgia
7. Michigan
8. FSU
9. Arkansas
10. West Virginia
20. Florida
49. Miami

USA Today
1. Alabama
2. Southern Cal
3. LSU
4. Oregon
5. Oklahoma
6. South Carolina
7. FSU
8. Ohio State
9. Michigan
10. Arkansas
14. Florida

That's pretty much where the Florida Gators stand here in early June.




The preseason college magazines have already hit the newsstands (signaling college football isn't that far away now), and the consensus is the Gators will be, well, OK in their second year under Will Muschamp.

Most of the magazines are picking the Gators to finish third in the Eastern Division (behind Georgia and South Carolina) and have a hard time cracking the top 20 in the nation.

UF is getting some love — much of it coming from Phil Steele's College Football Preview.

Steele has the Gators ranked No. 10 in the nation in his preseason poll and predicts UF will win the Eastern Division.

Here's what Steele has to say about the Gators:

“The Gators have my No. 2-rated defense in the country and should get vastly upgraded QB play and have a more powerful run game between the tackles. I thought they played Bama tough last year in the first half before losing their top two QBs, and played Georgia even.

“Four second-year head coaches have won national titles in the last 11 years and Will Muschamp is the best candidate this year. I expect the Gators to be in the SEC title game.”

USA Today also thinks pretty highly of the Gators in its preseason magazine.

USA Today has UF ranked 14th in its preseason poll and has two Gators on its preseason All-SEC team — defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and middle linebacker Jon Bostic.

The magazine offers a best-and-worst-case scenario for its top 25 teams in the nation. Here's the take on the Gators:

Best-case scenario — “The defense is indomitable. The Gators find a quarterback. The offense, under (Brent) Pease, progresses to the point where it is not a liability. Florida takes three out of four against LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State to finish 11-1 and win the SEC East.”

Worst-case scenario — “A replay of 2011. The defense is good but not great. The offense is unimpressive, undermined by injuries and hindered by a third system in three years. Florida struggles through the SEC, limping to another 6-6 regular season finish.”

The Gators also cracked the top 25 in Lindy's preseason poll, coming in at No. 20. The magazine has linebacker Jelani Jenkins on its first-team All-SEC defense and ranks the UF defensive line as the ninth-best in the nation.

Here's Lindy's synopsis of the Gators:

“Muschamp needs more fireworks to give the people what they come to see. The spring signs were mostly positive, but if one or both quarterbacks prove to be duds, Florida's title chances go up in smoke. Florida remains a rung (rungs?) below Alabama and LSU.”

Florida did not make it into Athlon's preseason top 25. The magazine has the Gators just outside of it at No. 26 and predicts UF will finish third in the Eastern Division with an 8-4 record (and 5-3 in the SEC) and play Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

Here's Athlon's take on the Gators:

“The Gators have recruited as well as anybody in the SEC but have managed only 15 wins the last two years. Although 17 starters are back, Florida still seems a year away from contending in the East. The offense was one of the worst in the SEC last year, and the Gators lack a proven quarterback and reliable weapons at receiver. The defense should be one of the best in the SEC but needs to force more turnovers to help a young offense.

“The Gators should be improved, but it may not show in the win column.”

Athlon says the secondary is the Gators' strongest unit, putting the defensive backs at No. 2 in its SEC position rankings. The weakest area, according to Athlon, is running back, where the Gators are ranked No. 12 in the SEC out of 14 teams.

Last summer, UF's players received very little recognition (almost none, in fact) on the preseason All-SEC teams. That's changed a little bit in this year's preseason magazines, although it's obvious they don't think too much of the Gators' offensive talent.

UF has no offensive players on the first two teams of the All-SEC teams of Athlon, Phil Steele and Lindy's.

The Gators have a presence on the defensive side.

Bostic is a first-team preseason selection in Athlon and USA Today, while linebacker Jelani Jenkins is on the first team in Lindy's and tackle Sharrif Floyd is on USA Today's first team along with Bostic.

Overall, the preseason consensus seems to be the Gators will be improved in 2012, but still have ground to make up before they are serious championship contenders again in the SEC, and nationally.

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