Florida Gators: Daniel McCullers

Bold predictions for SEC in 2013

January, 15, 2013
Everybody loves predictions, especially when the previous season has been over for only about a week.

What can we expect in the SEC in 2013?

Let me look into my crystal ball and give you a few bold predictions to write down in ink. OK, maybe in pencil:

The SEC will make it eight in a row: Yep, the SEC will run its streak to eight straight national championships, leaving the rest of college football to wonder whether it should create its own league. Who’s it going to be? We can’t give everything away this early.

Everybody will predict the SEC’s streak will end: This is the surest bet out there. Get ready to hear all the pundits spouting off about how the SEC’s run is finally coming to an end. Promises, promises.

Alabama won’t go unbeaten: It won’t be the end of the world for the Crimson Tide, who lost a game each of the past two seasons and still managed to win the national championship. Getting through the SEC gantlet unscathed simply doesn’t happen very often.

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney
Kim Klement/USA TODAYJadeveon Clowney will be a force to contend with next season.
Clowney hits Broadway: It's probably a stretch to think that any player who plays exclusively on defense, even a player as dynamic as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, can win the Heisman Trophy. But Clowney will be in New York City as one of the finalists after making a run at 20 sacks in the 2013 season.

Manziel-mania: Where do we start with Johnny Football? For one, he will lead the SEC in rushing again even though defenses will do everything they can to keep him in the pocket, and he will be the most must-see player in college football. But we're not ready to jump out there and predict that he will win a second straight Heisman Trophy. At least, not yet. There's a reason only one person has done that.

Auburn bounces back: Gus Malzahn has hired a first-rate staff on the Plains, and the Tigers aren’t lacking for talent. Look for them to bounce back and win eight games next season.

Record-setting Murray: Now that he’s coming back for his senior season, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will obliterate just about every SEC career passing record. Murray has 10,091 passing yards. The record is 11,528, held by Georgia’s David Greene. Murray has 95 touchdown passes. The record of 114 is held by Florida’s Danny Wuerffel. Murray has 696 completions. The record is 895, held by Florida’s Chris Leak. The one record Murray won’t challenge is career interceptions. He has 32 entering the 2013 season, but Georgia’s Zeke Bratkowski threw 68 picks from 1951 to '53.

South Carolina’s starting quarterback: Good luck with that one. Connor Shaw will miss the spring because of foot surgery, and Dylan Thompson was clutch against Clemson and then against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Something says the Head Ball Coach will find a way to play them both. Just a hunch.

Bayou Blues: Nobody is predicting that LSU will fall completely off the radar next season. There’s too much young talent in the program, and Les Miles’ track record of consistency speaks for itself. But with a killer schedule and 10 underclassmen leaving early for the NFL draft, the Tigers will fail to win 10 games for the first time since 2009.

Going bowling: We predicted a second straight bowl appearance for Vanderbilt this time a year ago and heard a few snickers around the league. Who’s laughing now? The Commodores will make it three straight bowl appearances in 2013.

Breaking out: If you’re looking for some of the top breakout players in the league next season, keep an eye on Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, Vanderbilt offensive tackle Wesley Johnson, Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Alabama noseguard Darren Lake, LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander, Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and South Carolina tight end Jerell Adams.

Big plays carry UF's offense

September, 16, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The big play is back in Florida's offense, and it was one of the main reasons the Gators beat Tennessee 37-20 in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.

The Gators had nine rushes or passes of at least 20 yards, which is one more than they had in their first two weeks combined. Three of them resulted in points: Trey Burton ran 80 yards for a touchdown, Frankie Hammond had a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, and Jordan Reed had a 23-yard touchdown catch.

[+] EnlargeTrey Burton
John Sommers II/Getty ImagesTrey Burton scored two critical touchdowns on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
In addition, Mike Gillislee had runs of 45 and 33 yards.

"You can't give up those plays in this league and expect to win the game," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "You just can't."

But the Vols did, and at critical times, too. The Gators were trailing 20-13 in the third quarter and had just failed on a fake punt to give the Vols the ball at the UF 47. Florida's defense forced a three-and-out, and the Gators got the ball back on their own 20. Burton took a wildcat snap, faked a jet sweep, and ran off right tackle, cut to the sideline, and out-raced UT's secondary into the end zone to tie the game.

"I knew he was fast but I didn’t know he had that kind of speed," UF QB Jeff Driskel said.

UF intercepted a Tyler Bray pass to stop UT's next drive, and Gillislee started the possession off with a 45-yard run. Two plays later, Driskel hit Reed for the go-ahead touchdown.

"It was very deflating," UT nose guard Daniel McCullers said. "When you do so good and then you lose a block and they run right past you (it's frustrating)."

Florida-Tennessee game preview

September, 14, 2012
No. 18 Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 23 Tennessee (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.

Three storylines

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee
Brett Davis/US PRESSWIREThe SEC's leading rusher is Florida's Mike Gillislee, who has 231 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries.
1. Ground and pound: The team that has rushed for more yardage has won 20 of the last 22 meetings in the series. During UF’s seven-game winning streak, the Gators have out-rushed the Vols by an average of 108.3 yards per game. UF’s Mike Gillislee leads the SEC in rushing (231 yards). UT has struggled to run the ball the past several seasons but is averaging 187.5 yards per game rushing behind a huge offensive line that averages 318 pounds.

2. Rivalry renewed? During the 1990s, this game was the top rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. It has lost a lot of luster since then, mainly because Florida has dominated the series over the last seven years, and Tennessee has been struggling to remain relevant in the Eastern Division. But both teams enter the game ranked for the first time since 2007 and College GameDay is in Knoxville for the first time since 2004. The Vols have looked impressive in their first two games while the Gators have won close games and UT fans can smell the upset brewing. So too, apparently, can city officials. The Knoxville Police Department posted a warning on its Facebook page than anyone who rushes the field will be arrested.

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Depth charts for all 14 SEC teams are out, so let's take a look at them.

I'll handle the Eastern Division, while Chris takes a look at the West later today.

I've added some notes of my own for each team:


Depth chart
  • The first thing you notice is that "Or" comes up a few times. The quarterback spot is still up for grabs, as sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will play by quarters against Bowling Green Saturday. The "X" receiver spot has three names by it with Frankie Hammond, Latroy Pittman and Andre Debose competing for that spot. Everyone is still waiting for Debose to be more of a complete player.
  • Both corner spots might appear to be up for grabs, but it would be a shocker if sophomores Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy didn't start. Roberson has the talent to be an All-SEC player at some point, while the staff thinks Purifoy is an extremely athletic player. Also, seeing Antonio Morrison behind Jelani Jenkins is impressive. He's been solid since arriving this spring.
  • You don't see De'Ante Saunders on there at free safety. Will Muschamp said he's battling a hamstring injury and will be out two weeks. Corner Jeremy Brown is also battling a wrist injury and isn't on the two-deep, either.

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McElwain discusses new Florida football
SEC Network's Greg McElory and Booger McFarland sit down to discuss the future of Florida football with head coach Jim McElwain.