The Gators seem convinced they are going to be better on offense in 2013. Better in the passing game. Better at making big plays down the field. Better at putting up big numbers against the lesser teams on the schedule (something they could not do last season in games that remained in doubt in the fourth quarter).
After listening to Jeff Driskel, Will Muschamp, Brent Pease and others this week, they seem pretty confident Saturday’s opener will reveal this improvement. It makes sense that Driskel will be more comfortable and more efficient in the offense in his second year as the starter. And he does seem to have more options at wide receiver, more guys who seem to have the potential to become playmakers, especially Quinton Dunbar and true freshman Demarcus Robinson, who had a huge preseason camp.
I’m not all in. At least not yet.
I keep thinking back to some of those poor performances a year ago and wonder just how much better things can be given the overall lack of proven talent at wide receiver and tight end. The shaky offense led to some really shaky wins last year. UF struggled in the opener to beat Bowling Green. The Gators needed to block a punt for a touchdown in the closing seconds to beat Louisiana. They let Jacksonville State stay in the game midway through the second half.
This, of course, brings up another point. Along with showing improvement on offense, the Gators really need to kick the habit they had last season of playing down to the competition. They need to set a high standard going into every game and strive to achieve it, instead of doing just enough to get by.
The Gators should be able to take care of all of this Saturday. The Toledo defense gave up almost 480 yards a game last season, which makes you tend to believe the offense has a chance to go up and down the field like it rarely did last season. The UF defense will be tested by Toledo’s spread, hurry-up offense. The Gators might struggle early on defense, but once they settle in they should dominate.
It should be a much more pleasant opener than a year ago. But, well, you never know.
Prediction: Florida 35, Toledo 17.