Today, we take a look at what should be the strongest and weakest positions for Florida in 2010:
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: Mike Pouncey, Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert, Xavier Nixon, Maurice Hurt, Matt Patchan, James Wilson
Key departures: Maurkice Pouncey
The skinny: Had Maurkice Pouncey not decided to turn pro, the Gators would have one of the deepest, most experienced offensive lines in the country in 2010. Even with him gone, they should still be very good up front. They really like the way Xavier Nixon is developing after he stepped in as the starter at left tackle late last season as a true freshman. Mike Pouncey, an All-SEC performer, will move from guard to center. Carl Johnson has started at both guard and tackle, while Marcus Gilbert was the starter at right tackle last season. Maurice Hurt and James Wilson will probably fight it out for that other guard spot, and if Matt Patchan is healthy, he’ll push somebody for a starting spot.
Weakest position: Receiver/tight end
Key returnees: Deonte Thompson, Andre Debose, Omarius Hines
Key departures: Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, David Nelson
The skinny: The Gators lost four of their top five receivers from a year ago, including their top three. One of those was Hernandez, who was a nightmare matchup problem for defenses at tight end. Freshman Gerald Christian may be the heir apparent to replace Hernandez. At receiver, the Gators have some talent, but even more unknowns. Is this the year Thompson is more consistent and doesn’t have as many drops? He needs to become the go-to guy of this group. How healthy will Debose be after coming off hamstring surgery? As talented as he is, keep in mind that he’s never played in a college game. There’s also a huge opportunity for guys like Frankie Hammond, Solomon Patton and Hines to step up and be playmakers. One move the Gators made was shifting Chris Rainey from running back to slot receiver.