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Florida Gators preview: Five things to watch

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: August 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

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Wide receiver watch

Florida is hoping for more production from its receiving corps. The Gators haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2002. But with seniors Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar returning, and sophomores Ahmad Fulwood, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson seemingly ready to contribute, the group could be at its best during coach Will Muschamp's tenure. One problem might be coaching. Joker Phillips resigned in June, and former graduate assistant Chris Leak was promoted to coach the position.

Dominant defense

While the Gators have had their issues on offense, the defense has been solid, if not stout, under Muschamp. Although Muschamp acknowledged that his current unit doesn't have as much talent as it did in 2012, he believes the Gators are good in the right spots. They have pass rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Jon Bullard, penetrating tackles Leon Orr and Darious Cummings, plenty of depth at linebacker, shutdown cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and versatile safety Keanu Neal.

Kicking woes

The team was close to awful in the kicking game in 2013, missing 10 of 22 field goals — many of them in close games. Florida rotated among place-kickers Austin Hardin, Brad Phillips and Frankie Velez, but never settled on a go-to guy. Harden and Velez remain in the mix, and Muschamp is confident things will be better this season.

Transferring talent

Florida's tight end situation would be a precarious one without former Virginia starter Jake McGee. The fifth-year senior transferred in May and should pay dividends for the Gators this fall. The 6-foot-6, 255-pound McGee led the Cavaliers with 43 receptions for 395 yards last season. He will provide new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper with a versatile threat in the passing game and a seasoned veteran in the locker room.

Tough slate

Having lost to Georgia Southern late last year, there are no gimmies for the Gators. Still, the 2014 schedule has few easy stretches. Florida plays at No. 2 Alabama (Sept. 20), at Tennessee (Oct. 4), against No. 13 LSU (Oct. 11), against No. 12 Georgia (Nov. 1), against No. 9 South Carolina (Nov. 15) and at defending national champion No. 1 Florida State (Nov. 29).

No.

Name

P Ht Wt

Year

School

89

Alvin Bailey

WR

5-11

187

R-Fr.

Armwood

39

Ryan Ferguson

TE

6-3

210

Indian Rocks Chr

48

William Few

K

5-9

164

R-Fr.

Plant

6

Dante Fowler Jr.

DL

6-3

261

Lakewood

92

Connor Gilboy

P

5-8

167

R-Fr.

Sunlake

75

Chaz Green

OL

6-5

300

R-Sr.

Tampa Catholic

8

Jacob Guy

QB

6-5

209

R-So.

Pasco

1

V. Hargreaves

DB

5-11

194

Wharton

91

Joey Ivie

DL

6-3

271

Pasco

24

Matt Jones

RB

6-2

235

Armwood

41

Hunter Joyer

TE

5-11

232

Tampa Catholic

30

Michael McNeeley

WR

5-8

176

R-Sr.

Palm Harbor U.

73

Tyler Moore

OL

6-5

325

R-Jr.

Countryside

8

Leon Orr

DL

6-5

305

R-Sr.

Gulf

27

Deiondre Porter

DB

6-0

165

Jefferson

28

Jeremi Powell

LB

6-0

215

R-So.

Pinellas Park

18

Justus Reed

DL

6-3

213

CCC

17

Jordan Sherit

DL

6-4

247

R-Fr.

Hillsborough

No.

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Year

High School

89

Alvin Bailey

WR

5-11

187

R-Fr.

Armwood

39

Ryan Ferguson

TE

6-3

210

Fr.

Indian Rocks Chr

48

William Few

K

5-9

164

R-Fr.

Plant

6

Dante Fowler Jr.

DL

6-3

261

Jr.

Lakewood

92

Connor Gilboy

P

5-8

167

R-Fr.

Sunlake

75

Chaz Green

OL

6-5

300

R-Sr.

Tampa Catholic

8

Jacob Guy

QB

6-5

209

R-So.

Pasco

1

Vernon Hargreaves III

DB

5-11

194

So.

Wharton

91

Joey Ivie

DL

6-3

271

So.

Pasco

24

Matt Jones

RB

6-2

235

Jr.

Armwood

41

Hunter Joyer

TE

5-11

232

Sr.

Tampa Catholic

30

Michael McNeeley

WR

5-8

176

R-Sr.

Palm Harbor U.

73

Tyler Moore

OL

6-5

325

R-Jr.

Countryside

8

Leon Orr

DL

6-5

305

R-Sr.

Gulf

27

Deiondre Porter

DB

6-0

165

Fr.

Jefferson

28

Jeremi Powell

LB

6-0

215

R-So.

Pinellas Park

18

Justus Reed

DL

6-3

213

Fr.

CCC

17

Jordan Sherit

DL

6-4

247

R-Fr.

Hillsborough

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