2014 SEC Football Preview: Florida Gators


Ole Hotty Toddy is going to prepare you for the upcoming 2014 season with all the information we can provide you. We are even going to give you an in depth look at each SEC team.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the Florida Gators and what to expect from them in the upcoming 2014 season. We will go over which impact players are returning in 2014, who left, a look at there schedule, and then our staff will predict how the Gators will do in the 2014 season.


The Florida Gators are coming into the fourth season under Head Coach Will Muschamp. The 2013 season was not a friend to Muschamp and the Gators, as they finished with a 4-8 record, 3-5 in the SEC (fifth place in the east), which resulted in one of the worst seasons in Florida football program history. Muschamp is a bit on the hot seat this season. The only great season under Muschamp came in 2012 when the Gators finished 11-2, 7-1 in the SEC (second place in the east), but it resulted with a loss in the Sugar Bowl to Louisville. Muschamp will come into 2014 needing a complete turnaround from last season. Can he do it? Or will the Gators suffer a similar blow to last season? Would that lead to a short era for Muschamp at Florida? Lets take a look at the Gators’ schedule, who left, who is returning, and who is coming into the program for the Florida Gators this season.

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Who Has Left?

Dominique Easley (DT) – Dominique Easley was one of the Florida Gators biggest defensive tackles last season, but was relative ineffective all season. Easley would tear his ACL in non-contact drills at the beginning of the season, resulting in a season ending injury. Easley was able to post five tackles and two for a loss before his season ended. He was a very valuable player on the Florida defense in 2012 that resulted in a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Even with his injury, Easley was picked in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the 29th overall pick by the New England Patriots. Aug 31, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dominique Easley (2) reacts during the first half against the Toledo Rockets at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Solomon Patton (WR) – Solomon Patton received his first quality game time as wide receiver in the 2013 season and his performance was exceptional well for the Florida offense. Patton finished the 2014 season with 44 receptions for 556 yards, averaging 12.6 yards per catch. Patton also scored his first career touchdowns in 2014, finishing the year with six total touchdowns. Patton went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Jaylen Watkins (CB) – Jaylen Watkins had his best collegiate season in 2013. Watkins finished the year with 52 total tackles, nearly doubling his total tackles from 2012. His performance in 2013 sealed himself a spot in the NFL. Watkins went in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and was the 101st overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Other Notable Players: Jeremy Brown (CB), Darrin Kitchens (ILB), Damien Jacobs (DE), Kyle Koehne (OT), Jon Halapio (OG), Ronald Powell (OLB)

Who Is Coming?

Kurt Roper (Offensive Coordinator) – There is no doubt about it, Muschamp was in need of change after last season. Call it job security if you will. Muschamp went out to replace the offensive coordinator role and found Kurt Roper. Roper comes from Duke as the Blue Devils former offensive coordinator. The Blue Devils are coming off one of the best seasons in program history. It was the first season where Duke finished a regular season with 10 wins. Roper has traveled everywhere with David Cutcliffe since 1996 when Cutcliffe was at Tennessee. Roper served as Cutcliffe’s offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and followed him in the same role to Duke in 2008. It is going to be interesting to see what Roper will bring to the table, and for the first time in ages, under a different head coach. Dec 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Duke Blue Devils offensive coordinator Kurt Roper speaks at a news conference for the Chick-fil-A Bowl from the Sheraton Hotel. Duke will face off against Texas A&M in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Years Eve. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Tabor (CB) – Jalen Tabor comes to Florida as the Gators highest rated recruit of the 2014 class. Tabor was rated a 5-star prospect and the 3rd highest rated cornerback in the country coming into 2014. Tabor enrolled into Florida early this year and was able to join the team for spring practices. Tabor already looks to be a big factor to the Gators defense and is expected to see some good playing time in the upcoming season. Tabor is a defensive back who has amazing recovery speed and good instincts. His length and quickness will be a nightmare for opposing team’s wide receivers. Apr 12, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (11) is defended by defensive back Jalen Tabor (5) during the first half of the spring game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Willis (DL) – Another defensive player expected to come into 2014 as a true-freshman is Gerald Willis. Willis is a 5-star prospect of the 2014 recruiting class and was rated as high as the 2nd best defensive end prospect in the nation. Willis has the perfect size and frame to play any position on the defensive line. His quickness and point of attack is something Muschamp will be looking for out of his defense this season.

Other Notable Players: Will Grier (QB), Thomas Holley (DT), David Sharpe (OT), Treon Harris (ATH), J.C. Jackson (WR), Khairi Clark (DT)

Who Is Returning?

Jeff Driskel (QB) – Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel will be returning in the 2014 season. With incoming talent coming in for the Gators offensive line, and a new offensive coordinator, Driskel could have another season compared to the 2012 season. In 2013, the Gators lost Driskel due to season ending leg injury in the game against Tennessee. Driskel looks to be the starting quarterback for Florida in upcoming season. He showed his injury was clear in Florida’s annual spring game. Driskel finished the 2013 season with 477 total passing yards, two touchdown passes, and 38 total rushing yards with one rushing touchdown. Sep 21, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) drops back prior to the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Taylor (RB) – Kelvin Taylor maybe the Gators lead running back in the upcoming season. Last season, the Gators switched back-and-forth with Taylor and Mack Brown. Now that Brown is gone, Taylor could see the most starts due to his experience. Taylor finished last season with 111 rush attempts for 508 total rushing yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Taylor would also add on four rushing touchdowns.

Dante Fowler Jr. (DE) – Dante Fowler Jr. played linebacker for the Gators in the 2013 season, and was one of the team’s leading tacklers. Fowler finished 2013 with 50 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. Due to his size and performance last season, Fowler has been moved to the defensive line this season. Watch for him to be an impact player for the Gators defense this season.

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Florida football: Billy Napier disappointed in how Gators' handling success /

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    Ole Hotty Toddy’s Thoughts on Florida…

    Dave Bevan: This is an important season for Florida coach Will Muschamp. Florida fans are having a hard time getting over the 4-8 season from last year. Muschamp will be depending on a lot of new talent and a new offensive coordinator to get the Gators back to that 2012 season status. There are few things that could work in Muschamp’s favor this season. One is the return of a veteran quarterback, Jeff Driskel. Most of the SEC East teams will be looking at a fresh new face behind center. The other is that the east will be rebuilding this year as well. It looks as though on paper, Georgia and South Carolina are the only other two teams who have great a shot at contending on the eastern side of the conference. If there is one thing that will not work in Muschamp’s favor, it is the Gators schedule. The Gators 2014 schedule is one of the most brutal in the entire SEC and the country. The Gators drew both Alabama and LSU from the other side of the conference. They head to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face the Tide and I just don’t see any chances for an upset over Alabama. They do get LSU at home, and that will be a deceive game for the Gators season. Other important games will be against South Carolina and Georgia, which they get the Gamecocks at home and Georgia in the annual neutral site. If the Gators can some how get past South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU, you could only guess that they will be contending for the SEC East title. Then of course, they wrap up their season facing the defending national champions in Tallahassee. God help them. I see the Gators at best winning seven games this season, with upsets over South Carolina and LSU.