2012 Florida Football Preview: Appease The Fans, Brent Pease


What happened in 2011 for Florida football? 

A transition happened. And, as you’d expect for a transition, the wheels came off, by Florida standards. In fact, Florida’s 7-6 season was the worst since Ron Zook mediocre’d his way out of Gainesville when he posted a 7-5 record back in 2004.

But this was a transition, let’s not forget. Because while this was Will Muschamp’s first year in Gainesville, he also had to deal with an incredibly inexperienced squad. In fact, the team had just nine seniors on the squad. Nine. 9. Nueve.

All while having freshmen and sophomores dominating damn near every position available on the squad. Three of Florida’s four top wide-outs? They were sophomores in 2011. And of the 55 football players that sports-reference.com’s lists on the squad’s roster, 38 of them were either freshmen or sophomores.

So this team was incredibly young last season. We know, we know: It’s been done, but considering Will Muschamp had to deal with this kind of thing his first season, it’s OK to give the guy a break.

Especially when he’s producing a dominant defensive unit despite all this youth.

Because in 2011, the team ranked 20th in the nation in points against, ranked ninth in total yards allowed per game, and eighth in passing yards allowed, all while the unit was predominantly full of young, incredibly inexperienced talent.

That wasn’t the issue for Florida, though. What lagged — and we’re being kind with the wording here — was the offense. Like, all of it.

In fact, Florida ranked in the lower half of the SEC in scoring offense, rushing offense, total offense, third-down conversions, first downs, and time of possession. It was that bad.

Of course, things are looking up for these Gators in terms of offense. Speaking of which …

The biggest question concerning Florida football in 2012: Quarterback, because football. 

The single-most important position in the sport of football (at least in this millennium) is quarterback. If you disagree, then you probably think that this whole football thing is a fad and will go away as soon as hockey makes a comeback.

While that’s a painfully obvious fact, another more painfully obvious fact facing this Florida team is that it has yet to name a starting QB. And, to make things even weirder, fans are pretty damn split between two sophomores that were highly-touted out of high school in Jacoby Brisset and Jeff Driskel, so even choosing a QB to please the fan-base won’t work here.

Of course, both of these players are maddening to quite a few Florida fans. They struggle constantly with consistency (see what I did there?) but have an incredible amount of upside. But what’s most nerve-wrecking about this decision, though, is that the loser of the QB battle could transfer to find playing time elsewhere, meaning Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease (more on him a little later) will be faced with the task of selecting a good QB and losing a solid back-up plan should they realize they gave the wrong QB the nod in the first place.

Be grateful that you aren’t making this decision, OK?

And who’s this Brent Pease guy? There’s a joke about his name, I just can’t seem to put my tongue on it. 

If you forgot, Muschamp willed Pease away from Chris Petersen at Boise State.

Pease was at Boise from 2006 to 2011, helping lead a prolific offense led by the winningest QB in college football history in Kellen Moore. And, if you’ve forgotten, Pease was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos in 2011, when the squad ranked fifth in the nation in points scored and 11th in the nation in passing yards.

(This was against the Mountain Western Conference, mind you, but let’s pretend that fifth in the nation is still fifth in the nation, and it is.)

Pease should be an upgrade, though, because he’ll come after one of Florida’s ugliest offensive seasons in recent memory. Basically, when the offense hits rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. Smile, I guess.

So how should Florida fair in 2012, and what can we expect?

There’s always an “if” in these football previews. Obviously, for Florida, that “if” is hovering over the offense and, namely, the QB position.

Because Pease will have to work out all 10342346 of Florida’s offensive kinks. He doesn’t have a starting QB yet (seriously, it’s late in August; this should be a concern), his receiving corps looks dreadfully thin and inexperienced, and the offensive line he inherits will be lacking in cohesion and, again, largely untested.

Of course, let’s note that Florida has had some solid recruiting classes, so all this inexperience means the group is dripping with potential. Things could be great in Florida if Pease adapts his system to match up with the dominant defenses that the SEC features, and if he can figure out how to utilize the talent he has at his disposal.

Or the wheels could fall off entirely, and more so than they did last year. Pease could struggle to implement his explosive passing offense, neither QB might never get it together, and the receivers could fail to pan out the way their recruiting rankings suggested they would. That defense could stay strong, but while defense wins championships, offenses are still supposed to put points on the board in order to aid the defenses in winning championships.

(Obvious, I know, but tell that to the 2011 LSU Tigers and every other college football team that was blanked in 2011.)

Schedule-wise, Florida’s not in the worst position ever. They don’t have to play Alabama or Arkansas in 2012, but they still have to swallow losses to the likes of LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

While we’ll get into individual match-ups as we move along for the final eight days of the offseason, let’s set the bar at eight wins this season. Let’s fabricate a best-case scenario season of ten wins and a worst-case scenario season — and damn near offensive to Florida fans — at six wins.