The Crimson Tide's SEC home opener on October 2 will be a big one. The Tide will host the Florida gators in a matchup that will bring together the last two SEC Champions and the last two winners of the BCS National Championships. The game itself will not only have conference implications but will most likely end the loser's hopes at winning a national championship.
Much like the Tide, last year the Gators were undefeated through the regular season and had an impressive Sugar Bowl, pounding Cincinnati 51-24. The big question of course is how on earth they will replace possibly the best college football player of all time, Tim Tebow. That job falls to John Brantley, and he definitely has some large shoes to fill at quarterback. Even with the loss of Tebow, Florida is ranked in the top five in most of the preseason polls out there.
Not only do the Florida Gators have to replace the team’s top passer and rusher in Tebow, but they will also have to replace the team’s leading receiver from a year ago in Riley Cooper. Another key departure for the Gators offense was tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was also one of Tebow’s favorite targets. Brantley will have some support from returning players. In total, the Gators will return six starters from last year.
Both running backs Jeffery Demps and Emmanuel Moody will be back, but the most important returning player is center Mike Pouncey. Pouncey will give the Gators much needed protection on the front line, especially with a first year starter behind him. Given the lack of game time experience Brantley has, relying on proven offensive linemen like Pouncey will definitely give him some much needed confidence under pressure. He may not have the stats and will have some growing pains, but Brantley is absolutely poised to put up some impressive numbers with the offense around him.