(Editor's note: This story was written before the news of Will Grier's suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.)
One of the lasting images from Will Muschamp's farewell news conference at Florida was his confident declaration that the cupboard was not bare in Gainesville.
"We've got a deep and talented roster, so don't let that new guy tell you he ain't got no good players," Muschamp said following his firing last November. "Tell you that right now. They got some good football players in that locker room."
Maybe, Muschamp was right. For all the coaching issues that eventually did Muschamp in after four seasons with the Gators, he hauled in a top-six recruiting class in three of his four years at Florida. There was always talent in Gainesville, but getting the maximum output from it -- especially on offense -- was the biggest issue.
And now we're seeing what Muschamp was talking about. Few thought his defense would miss a beat under new management. If Mushcamp did nothing else, he continually brought elite defensive talent to Florida. But the offensive turnaround has been stellar. Despite all the overlooking of this team and new head coach Jim McElwain, the Gators enter Week 7 with a 6-0 record for the first time since 2012. Florida is ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and the Gators are in complete control of the SEC East.
Consider this as well: Florida hovered around the tail end of the ESPN Football Power Index's top 25 in 2014, rising as high as No. 14 and falling only as far as No. 29. Whether you put any stock into these rankings or not, the people in charge of crunching comprehensive numbers found that Florida always had potential. The defense carried that perception, but there was some belief this team was capable of competing with the nation's best 25 teams.
Florida even started the 2015 season ranked 21st in ESPN's FPI. This team has made a complete transformation. There was the valiant, fourth-quarter comeback against Tennessee and blowing No. 3 Ole Miss out 38-10 a week later. Florida's latest notch is tiger-striped, as the Gators left Missouri with a 21-3 win Saturday.
Clearly, the less conservative game plan from offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and McElwain has this offense moving forward, but now it's time to realize Muschamp did in fact bring in the able bodies needed to make McElwain's improbable early run possible.
The majority of us snickered at the offensive makeup of this team. We could count the quality SEC talent at receiver on half a hand, and the offensive line would be miserable at best. Kelvin Taylor never seemed to run with the same gusto you'd expect from an SEC back, and the quarterback position was a total mystery.
Now, Florida has five legitimate pass-catchers with double-digit receptions on the season. Four of them are Muschamp guys, including former running back Brandon Powell, who is finally being properly used in this offense. The offensive line has been one of the nation's biggest surprises. And Taylor has found a tougher edging, rushing for 438 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns in six games, which leaves him 128 yards away from setting a season high for rushing.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier has had his own set of cringe-worthy moments that made this position so frustrating for Florida in the past five years, but he also has had commanding performances that put the Gators in this position. While erratic at times against Mizzou, Grier accounted for 412 yards and six touchdowns in his previous five quarters. He's also thrown for 200 yards in three straight games, something no Florida quarterback has done since Tim Tebow in 2009.
Florida isn't mowing defenses down with its offense (384.7 yards per game), but it's finally complementing a fantastic defense. For the first time since the Urban Meyer days, you can honestly look at this offense and believe it can keep drives together. Just look at the consecutive scoring drives to stun Tennessee and the 38 points Florida put on Ole Miss.
This past weekend, Florida sprinted out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead on Mizzou's excellent defense with drives of 75 and 82 yards. Clearly, a more offensive-minded coach like McElwain is going to lean more on his offense, but he always needed horses. Scheme and development are on McElwain and his staff, but Muschamp brought in the majority of the pieces pushing this offense.
McElwain has done the majority of the lifting during Florida's 2015 transformation, but maybe Muschamp should get a little more credit for his offensive recruiting efforts. He might not have put those players in the best positions, but McElwain certainly has.