Florida Gators: D.J. Swearinger

It’s Rankings Week at GatorNation. Every day we’ll rank some aspect of the Florida football program heading into the 2013 season. Today we’re ranking the Football Bowl Subdivision teams on the Gators’ schedule. On Tuesday we’ll rank the top 10 offensive players Florida will face in the fall.

Ranking the schedule

1. Georgia (Nov. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla.): Sure, the Bulldogs lost nine starters on defense, but Aaron Murray, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are coming back, and that makes them one of the SEC’s best teams. Georgia scored a school-record 529 points last season behind those three, and the offense figures to be explosive again in 2013. It’ll need to be to carry a rebuilt defense.

Hot and Not in the SEC

November, 12, 2012
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The hot/not meter was all over the place this past weekend in the SEC:

GLOWING EMBERS

Texas A&M: This SEC stuff is a piece of cake. Just ask Texas A&M, which went into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and took down Alabama 29-24. The Aggies have now positioned themselves for an at-large BCS bowl berth and are two home wins away (against Sam Houston State and Missouri) from winning 10 games. Teams simply aren’t supposed to come into the SEC and have this kind of success this early. Texas A&M’s only two losses were by a combined eight points to a pair of top-10 teams: Florida and LSU. But the Aggies believed all along that they were equipped to come into this league and be a factor right away. Kevin Sumlin’s up-tempo offense has given SEC defenses fits all season. Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is the most exciting player in the country, and let’s not forget about the defense, either. Mark Snyder’s guys have held teams to an average of 19.2 points in their past four games since that 59-57 shootout win against Louisiana Tech.

HOT

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
John Reed/US PresswireCoach Mark Richt has his Bulldogs defense playing as a cohesive unit during the second half of the season.
Georgia’s defense: Now that all of the suspensions are history and everyone is back in their normal roles, Georgia is starting to play like a championship defense. In their past three games, the Bulldogs have allowed a total of 19 points. Nobody ever questioned the talent on this Georgia defense, but there wasn’t a lot of chemistry the first half of the season with all the different combinations on the field. Looks like the Bulldogs are hitting their stride at just the right time.

NOT

Whining about Georgia’s schedule: Enough already. The Bulldogs played the schedule in front of them and are the East champs. Case closed. Did it help the Bulldogs that they avoided Alabama and LSU? Absolutely. Did Florida get a shot at Georgia head-to-head? Absolutely ... and the Gators lost.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s an analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 44-11 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

Driskel to Reed for a TD

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
AP Photo/John RaouxFlorida tight end Jordan Reed (11) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard pass against South Carolina.
The score: Scoreless less than a minute into the game.

The situation: Third-and-goal from the South Carolina 3-yard line.

Why it worked: TE Clay Burton gets a pick on LB Reginald Bowens to clear a spot for Reed.

The breakdown: The Gators are in 12 personnel -- meaning one running back (Trey Burton) and two tight ends (Burton and Jordan Reed). QB Jeff Driskel is in the shotgun, with Trey Burton to his left. WR Quinton Dunbar is lined up wide right and WR Frankie Hammond is lined up wide left but off the line scrimmage.

Reed is lined up in the slot on the left side. Clay Burton is lined up to Reed’s left, but on the line of scrimmage. Hammond goes in motion to the right and settles just to the left of Clay Burton.

At the snap, Trey Burton heads into the left flat, where he’s covered by FS D.J. Swearinger, while Dunbar heads into the end zone. Clay Burton crosses in front of Reed and heads into the middle of the field. Hammond heads straight into the end zone. Reed settles right behind Hammond at the goal line.

Burton runs into Bowens in the middle of the field at the goal line while Reed stops 2 yards into the end zone and faces Driskel. Hammond continues behind Reed to the back of the end zone.

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SEC power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

We are just days away from the college football season, so it's time to unveil our first batch of power rankings for the regular season.

A lot goes into our power rankings. It isn't just about how strong teams are right now. We look into our crystal ball as well to get a good read on how each team will finish the season -- before it has even started.

For each school, we look at talent coming back, coaching, roster changes, how teams have looked in practice now compared to the spring and uniform style. Well, maybe not that last part, but you get the point.

Here are our season-opening SEC power rankings for 2012:

1. LSU: The gap between the Tigers and Alabama got a lot smaller after Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal, so this could be viewed as 1A and 1B. Mathieu is a big loss for LSU on defense and special teams, but there is just way too much talent for this team not to make another title run. LSU's offense still has one of the best/deepest running games around and gets an upgrade with quarterback Zach Mettenberger. LSU also might have the best offensive line/defensive line combo in the nation.

2. Alabama: The defending champs lost a lot of star power on defense, but that unit should still be pretty darn good this fall. There could be some growing pains at times, but the Tide should still have one of the league's best defensive units this fall. The offense might be better and more balanced this fall, even without Trent Richardson. There is a good stable of backs, the nation's top offensive line and quarterback AJ McCarron has a little more explosiveness and athleticism to work with at receiver.

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Ranking the SEC's safeties

July, 17, 2012
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Now that we've ranked the SEC's secondaries, it's time to take a look at the league's top cornerbacks.

Past rankings:
Here are our top 10 SEC safeties:

[+] EnlargeEric Reid
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesLSU safety Eric Reid has tremendous cover skills.
1. Eric Reid, Jr., LSU: He might be the league's best ball-hawking threat and he packs quite the punch. He had a knack for making all sorts of plays in LSU's secondary last year -- none bigger than his game-changing interception in the first game against Alabama. He tied for the team lead with 76 tackles, broke up three passes and intercepted two. Pro scouts love his ability to roam all around the field and his tremendous cover skills.

2. Bacarri Rambo, Sr., Georgia: He had a true breakout season last year and could have easily left for the NFL draft. The first-team All-American led the SEC and ranked second nationally with eight interceptions and was second in the SEC with 16 pass breakups. He takes the deep pass away, but is also very solid in defending the run and shorter passes.

3. Matt Elam, Jr., Florida: The headliner of Florida's defense, Elam found himself playing all over the field in 2011. He was second on the team with 78 tackles, but led the Gators with 11 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He loves contact, but also has improved his coverage skills and can line up at the nickel if needed.

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ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is South Carolina (Oct. 20 in Gainesville).

Steve Spurrier and Connor Shaw
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackIn Connor Shaw, Steve Spurrier may have his best fit at quarterback since he's been at South Carolina.
SOUTH CAROLINA

2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC), beat Nebraska 30-13 in Capital One Bowl.

Coach: Steve Spurrier, eighth season (55-35); 23rd season overall (197-75-2).

Series record: Florida leads 23-6-3.

Top returners: QB Connor Shaw (123-188-6, 1,448 yards, 14 TDs; 525 yards, 8 TDs rushing); RB Marcus Lattimore (818 yards, 10 TDs); DE Jadeveon Clowney (36 tackles, 8 sacks); FS D.J. Swearinger (80 tackles, 3 INTs).

Did you know? The Gamecocks are 8-0 over the past two seasons against rivals Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson.

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Now that you've seen the recruiting needs for the SEC Western Division teams, it's time to check what teams in the East needed to focus on when it came to recruiting for the 2012 class:

FLORIDA

Offensive line: There's no getting around how much Florida's offensive line struggled in 2011. Florida doesn't lose a lot from its line, but the Gators need more talent. There are a lot of questions surrounding this position and getting qualities bodies is a must.

Running back: Florida loses seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, and will enter the fall with unproven players in Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown. As Florida continues to move closer to a more traditional/pro-style offense, the Gators also need to add size to the position.

Wide receiver: Again, this is a position in which the Gators need to improve in the talent category. Florida lost just one senior from last year's squad, but unproven players lurk. What Florida needs to get in this class is a true playmaker at receiver. There is hope that Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose and Frankie Hammond can step up, but some solid competition won't hurt.

GEORGIA

Offensive line: Georgia loses three starters in Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson. The Bulldogs would like to add a few more big bodies up front in this class to help with all that unproven depth.

Linebacker: In Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense, linebackers are extremely important. The Bulldogs will likely lose a couple bodies at outside linebacker next year, including star Jarvis Jones, and would like to add a couple of true playmakers at that position in this class.

Wide receiver: Come 2013, Georgia will have taken some hits at its wide receiver depth. There is young talent in Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett, but veterans like Tavarres King, Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten will be gone. Adding a couple standouts at wide receiver in this class would be nice.

KENTUCKY

Offensive playmakers: Whether it comes at quarterback, wide receiver, running back or tight end, the Wildcats need to find players who can make plays when they get the ball in their hands. Kentucky's offense was hard to watch all season because there was no one who could consistently move the ball.

Offensive line: Kentucky loses three starters -- Chandler Burden, Stuart Hines and Billy Joe Murphy -- from its offensive line and needs to load up here in this class. There is a handful of young players at each offensive line position, but the Wildcats need to think about adding more for the future.

Defensive back: Veterans are leaving the Wildcats' secondary, so it's time to stock up. Winston Guy, Taiedo Smith, Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley will all be gone, meaning the Wildcats are in need of adding some depth to both the cornerback and safety positions.

MISSOURI

Running back: Leading rusher Henry Josey suffered a severe knee injury toward the end of the 2011 season and the Tigers have some veterans jam packed at the top of the depth chart at the position. Getting help to add to future rosters would really help this offense as it moves to the SEC.

Defensive line: The Tigers are losing three starters along the defensive line and 10 players from 2011 will be gone by the end of next season. There are some youngsters there, but it's time to getting into restocking mode along the defensive line. Also, this is where games are won and lost in the SEC. Finding more athleticism here is crucial.

Offensive line: Like the defensive line, Missouri will lose three starters here. There are some bodies to fill in for now, but you can never have too many offensive linemen and now that the Tigers are headed to the SEC, getting some bigger, more athletic linemen will be key to survival in this jungle.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Defensive line: The Gamecocks have gotten a ton of production from here lately, but South Carolina will lose two starters in Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson. South Carolina might want to add to defensive end the most, with Ingram leaving and Devin Taylor getting ready to depart in a year.

Linebacker: Over the next two years, the Gamecocks will lose some quality players at linebacker and even the spur position. A handful of veterans occupy the depth chart at linebacker, so that means South Carolina needs to add a few quality bodies for the future.

Defensive back: South Carolina's depth in its defensive backfield could be considered thin. The Gamecocks are down two starters at cornerback and will lose solid players in D.J. Swearinger and DeVonte Holloman in 2013.

TENNESSEE

Running back: The Vols never figured out how to run the ball last year and will now turn to a group of unproven running backs. Marlin Lane has the talent to excel, but he needs to be more consistent. Finding a couple talented backs in this class would help this position tremendously.

Defensive tackle: The Vols need some help inside, and now that they are moving to the 3-4, getting quality nose guards is a must for Tennessee. Adding some girth inside will be very important in order to improving this position.

Defensive back: Tennessee will say goodbye to quite a bit of their defensive backs in the next couple of years, so getting a head start on adding to players to both safety and corner would be a plus.

VANDERBILT

Offensive line: The Commodores return the bulk of their offensive line next year, but after that, Vanderbilt will be pretty thin and very young up front. Adding four or five bodies to the offensive line would go a long way for Vanderbilt.

Linebacker: Vanderbilt loses one starter, in Chris Marve, here for next season, but the year after will see a lot of turnover at the position, with four rising seniors on the roster.

Defensive end: Two starters — Tim Fugger and T.J. Greenstone — are gone and Vanderbilt will lose a handful more after the 2012 season. Getting some help at this position is another must for coach James Franklin.

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