PREVIEWING TENNESSEE'S OPPONENTS: FLORIDA
The Gators swim their way into 2013 coming off an 11-2 season in Will Muschamp's second. Junior Jeff Driskel, who tossed for 12 touchdowns and 1,646 yards last season, returns to lead what should be a potent offense. Former 1,000-yeard rusher Mike Gillislee is now plying his trade in the NFL, but the Gators have plenty of highly-touted recruits at the tailback position. Matt Jones, Mack Brown, and true freshman Kelvin Taylor all will see carries and will be aided by the best unit on the team:the offensive line. Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore and Maryland transfer Max Garcia will join Jonotthan Harrison, Jon Halapio, and former all-world recruit D.J. Humphries on what is poised to be one of the SEC's best front 5s. Jordan Reed is now a Redskin, but Trey Burton, Andre Debose, and Quinton Dunbar have proved they can score touchdowns. All-American CB candidate Loucheiz Purifoy will also see action on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, D.J. Durkin enters his first season as defensive coordinator The Gators are as fast and as athletic as you'd expect of an SEC team that annually lands top -10 classes. On the defensive line, mammoth run-stopper Sharrif Floyd is gone, but Dominique Easley, former Vol commit Damien Jacobs, Dante Fowler, Leon Orr, and Jonathan Bullard comprise one of the top defensive lines in the SEC. Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins have departed, and they haven't been replaced with similar prospects, so the LB corps will be a tad worse in 2013. Antonio Morrison, Michael Taylor, and Darrin Kitchens all have experience, and Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian have been turning heads since their arrival on campus this year. Muschamp has the best CB duo in the country in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Both will be eventually drafted within the top two rounds. The inexperienced twosome of Cody Riggs and Jabari Gorman will likely get the nod at strong and free safety. Punter Kyle Christy is back, but Gator fixture Caleb Sturgis is now a Dolphin.
The Gators two losses last season were to Georgia at Everbank Field and to former Gator DC Charlie Strong's Louisville Cardinals in New Orleans. Florida opens the season with the alma mater of Bruce Gradkowski: the Rockets of Toledo, at home. Then, it's off to SunLife Stadium in Miami Gardens to face what seems to be a contender for the ACC crown in Miami. The Gators return to The Swamp to take on Tennessee, a program which hasn't taken them down since James Wilhoit was missing extra points in 2004. Kentucky and Arkansas should be relative walks in the park as the Gators prepare for a trip to Death Valley. Georgia, South Carolina, and the Seminoles of Florida State present the other threats to the Gators hopes of returning to a BCS bowl.
My record prediction: 11-2 with a victory in the Sugar