Big, belated start for Gators


Last week’s prediction blog was suspended due to unsafe writing conditions (too many distractions in the newsroom) and is now filed under the category “no contest.” Like Idaho, I will be getting paid (I hope). So, after that false start last week, the real season starts now.

Weather permitting (I do think we might have a lightning delay or two Saturday), we’re going to see a much different (and much better) Florida team than a year ago, especially on offense, where Kurt Roper is going to make a huge difference. The players love his spread, uptempo style and the positive approach he takes to coaching, kind of like the last offensive coach the Gators hired away from Duke.

Based on those open practices in camp, the Gators are going to stretch the field vertically, spread the ball around and use all their playmakers, something we never really saw last year with all the injuries. I know some still question whether the Gators have playmakers on offense. They do. The list is actually pretty long and includes the following: Matt Jones, Kelvin Taylor, Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood, Demarcus Robinson, Latroy Pittman, Andre Debose, Jake McGee and others.

And then there’s the quarterback.

Jeff Driskel should thrive in this offense under Roper, a proven developer of quarterbacks. He had an excellent camp and has come out of it appearing to be a complete player, one who has the right mental stuff to go along with all the physical tools.

It also should be interesting watching another Gator quarterback develop this season — true freshman Treon Harris, who could make his UF debut as early as the first half Saturday. I don’t want to go all Urban Meyer on Harris and call him the next so and so (like Meyer when called Debose the next Percy Harvin), but Harris does remind me a little of Charlie Ward. The only difference, I think, is Harris has a bigger upside as a passer. The kid has a very live arm and seems to make quick decisions on where to throw the ball.

Overall, the offense will be balanced and should score a bunch of points, especially this week, and the defense will be a typical Muschamp brand, meaning it will keep the Gators in every game, just like it did a year ago when there was almost zero help from the offense.

It’s a tough schedule down the road, but let’s keep this one Saturday at a time here.

Prediction: Florida 45, Eastern Michigan 6.