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Breaking down the Florida Gators' 2009 starting line-up

GAINESVILLE -- OK, it's finally time to start writing about the fun stuff. Over the next week, Gator Clause will shift its focus from the BORING ankle-sprain updates of training camp to the GAME WEEK! discussions that get everyone excited. Let's start with a broad topic: Who's going to play?

Well, let's project the field...

OFFENSIVE LINE
Your projected starting offensive line: left tackle Matt Patchan, left guard Carl Johnson, center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard Mike Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

Guard James Wilson is the top reserve and Maurice Hurt will be in the rotation as well. Freshman Xavier Nixon could also see the field.

QUARTERBACK
Pretty clear cut here. Tim Tebow is the starter and John Brantley will likely receive a few more snaps this season than he did in 2008. Not too many, though. Timmy needs to keep his stats up! Because we all know Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy are going to put up some big numbers this season.

RUNNING BACKS
Sophomore Jeff Demps is the de facto starter but Meyer will give redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey plenty of love as well. Rainey didn't know much of the playbook last season but he still averaged 7.8 yards per carry (as did Demps). If Rainey can remain healthy for an entire season, he could have a breakout year. Of course, Rainey has been plagued by injuries ever since his sophomore year of high school.

Emmanuel Moody is the great unknown. It's time for this guy to produce. Now a redshirt junior, Moody's career (both at USC and at UF) has been slowed by ankle injuries.

RECEIVERS
The top four receivers are Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, David Nelson and Brandon James. For some reason, that combination of players doesn't exactly jump off the page. Maybe it's just me. Thompson needs to be a legitimate downfield threat or the Gators' offense will be handicapped. Offensive coordinator will Steve Addazio will need to be creative to get James involved. James is pretty small (5-6), so he's not going to be much of a target.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Frankie Hammond Jr. see the field at some point this season. He's an extraordinary athlete and despite only being a redshirt freshman, Hammond Jr. has a firm grasp of the Gators' playbook.

TIGHT END
We might as well list Aaron Hernandez as a receiver. After all, I wouldn't be surprised if Hernandez led the Gators in receiving this season. Keeping Hernandez healthy is key. There's no back-up.

FULLBACK
Hernandez will see some action at fullback but T.J. Pridemore will be used as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham are the starting defensive ends but Justin Trattou, Duke Lemmens and William Green will get plenty of reps as well. Inside, Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders are the returning starters. Redshirt freshman Jaye Howard and redshirt freshman Omar Hunter will play regularly.  

LINEBACKERS
Your starting linebackers to the begin the season: strong-side linebacker A.J. Jones, middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and weak-side linebacker Ryan Stamper.

Brandon Hicks was the projected starter at the strong-side position at the beginning of training camp but Hicks will begin the season with a nagging ankle injury. Dustin Doe is the top reserve at weak-side linebacker. He's back with the team (was suspended for repeatedly driving with a suspended license) and should be ready to go by the Tennessee game. Freshman Jon Bostic will be the second-string linebacker in name only. If Spikes goes down in the middle then Stamper will slide inside.

CORNERBACKS
Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins are entrenched at the two cornerback positions. They're not coming out of the game unless they're injured. Seniors Markihe Anderson and Wondy Pierre-Louis are the top reserves.

SAFETIES
Here's where things get interesting. Coach Urban Meyer has said all preseason that he has four starting safeties: Major Wright, Ahmad Black, Dorian Munroe and Will Hill. Munroe went down with a knee injury during two-a-days and probably won't be available until the LSU game. That leaves UF with three starting safeties. But, of course, you can't start three safeties.

Projecting the field, I'd say that Wright and Black are the every-down starters and Hill will be used often as a nickelback. Can UF play three safeties in some sort of zone coverage? Doubtful, at least according to Meyer. He has said all preseason that UF's defense is a man-defense. No zone. We'll see...

-jo-

Comments

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I'm curious as to why you don't see Coop as a legit downfield threat? He is the most well-rounded receiver on the team and he is as or close to as fast as Deonte. I think he will be Tim's go-to guy this year BEFORE Aaron.

Make no mistake, Hernandez is THE go-to receiver this season. Just my opinion. Cooper is a reliable receiver with great hands but until he actually scores on a long touchdown throw and proves he can go get the deep ball, he's not a proven downfield threat.

-jo-

"Tim Tebow is the starter and John Brantley will likely receive a few more snaps this season than he did in 2008. Not too many, though. Timmy needs to keep his stats up! Because we all know Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy are going to put up some big numbers this season."

Bullshi* statement, Fu** the Heismann along with Bradford and McCoy, are we really going to sacrifice next year for an individual award, Brantley needs reps, we all know we are going to rock this year, getting Timmy stats is not a priority
Agree on the receivers, someone needs to step up. not sure what you are watching on Cooper, all that guy did two years ago was catch long touchdown passes, you can't blame it all on him, I mean look who is throwing to him

Cool it on the language, pretty please. I can make a strong case that Tebow winning a second Heisman is more important than getting Brantley reps.

1. Tebow wants to win a second Heisman. He was pretty angry he got ripped off in 2008. What Tebow wants, Tebow gets.

2. Tebow winning a second Heisman would bring more positive exposure to the Gators' program in the long run than if Tebow splits time with Brantley.

3. Tebow winning a second Heisman would generate more money for the university.

4. Only one player has won multiple Heismans, Archie Griffin of Ohio State. UF wants the recognition of having a player win two Heismans.

5. TV ratings.

6. Winning a second Heisman will help Tebow raise more money for charity.

7. No player in the history of college football has ever won two Heismans and three national championships. 'Nuff said.

-jo-

Good points all but I agree with MiamiGator -I'd still rather get Brantley reps! We need to get him ready to play THIS YEAR (just in case).

It's not about the Heisman or Brantley getting reps. It's about winning games...convincingly. Florida has a relatively weak schedule on paper. They just can't afford to have it come down to pollsters choosing between several one-loss teams (if UF does indeed lose a game).

Oh and Coop is definitely a better receiver than A.H. A tight end will NOT lead the team in receptions this year. second is very possible.

You cannot give Tebow credit for he first National Championship, I'm always amazed how all the UF lemmings do this, We had another quarterback that year, yes Tebow got some time, the same time that Brantley should get this year

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