Gator Gadgets: Explosive Backups

Simply put, the backups on the 2008 Gator team could beat about 95% of the nation’s starters.

You think I’m crazy?

So with Cam Newton at QB, Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey at running back, Aaron Hernandez at tight end, Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore at receiver- not to mention 4 of last year’s starting 5 at offensive line- you don’t think this offense could light it up?

(Side note: Cornelius Ingram was going to start at tight end, but he tore his ACL before the start of the season. So technically Hernandez was the backup tight end.)

How about on defense?

janoris jenkins

Janoris Jenkins, Will Hill, Ryan Stamper, AJ Jones, Justin Trattou, Terron Sanders and Duke Lemmens all started the season on the bench (though Jenkins made his first true start in the BCS Championship against Oklahoma).

And on special teams, while Brandon James was sick, who do you think would want to deal with Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps on punt and kick returns?

What category does ultimately fall into?

Recruiting.

But it’s more than that. It’s more than simply saying, “Come to Florida!!!” to some three star recruit, it’s saying to a legit four or five star, “Listen, you will get your shot here at UF. I promise. Bear with us and you’ll soon be a star”.

And that four/five star might have offers from other big time schools- like Alabama, LSU, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, etc.

But there was one miracle that Meyer had to have pulled off at least once or twice.

What if a recruit said to him, “How do I know that’s true?”

And then Meyer pulled him in anyway?

Well, the good- no, fantastic- news for Florida now is that Will Muschamp won’t have to pull that off. Because he can just point to Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, or any of the above players and say, “Look at how they did.”

The point is, it doesn’t matter if Meyer is a better recruiter than Muschamp or vice versa. Because the fact is, Florida is so much higher now on recruits/coaches/TV priority lists than it was before Meyer came.

And that means that Muschamp has less work to do.

Obviously, Meyer had help. Dan Mullen, Charlie Strong, Chuck Heater and even that bumbling moron Steve Addazio were all great recruiters.

But Muschamp shouldhave plenty of help, too.

So Florida hasn’t lost anything for good, they’ve just traded a lot.

And gained.

In fact, I’m willing to make a bold prediction- take the 2008 Gator football team, let them play in the pros for 5 years, and put them on the same field as an NFL team.

Unless that NFL team is New England, Indy, and maybe Green Bay, I really, truly do believe that Florida would win.

Oh, and to our opponent, you can even pick our QB. Tim Tebow, or Cameron Newton.

How would you stop our speed? We had 17 players that could run under 4.5 40 yard dashes, and 4 of those players can run under 4.3.

Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, Maurkice Pouncey, Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright, Joe Haden and David Nelson all got multiple starts last season, and many of them started all season.

Percy Harvin already has a Pro Bowl appearance and Rookie of the Year Award.

And  these guys were all backups at one time in their career.

With a lot of teams, they haul in one big time recruiting class, have a couple successful seasons and then flop right back down.

But Florida never rebuilds. Rebuilding is dropping from 10-3 to 4-8, within two years, like Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama have all done in the last 30 years.

Rather, Florida reloads, and in a truly horrible year, Florida wins 8 games.

Do you know how many teams in the country would kill for 8 wins?

Do you know how many of those teams that reach that goal would duplicate that success in the SEC?

Very few.

So Florida is apparently doing something right in recruiting, wouldn’t yall agree? They’re working on the latest in a string of top 5 classes.

And remember: The players on those previous top 5 classes were all backups, and lit it up when they played.

The truth is, this incoming class should be no different.

6 thoughts on “Gator Gadgets: Explosive Backups

  1. Great post Neil, you’re absolutely right. Our backups in 2008 could beat anyone; they were just that damn good. And the only reason we had those great player’s is because we have always done a great job at recruiting. That will never change.
    I can’t wait to see how good this incoming class will be!:D

  2. What killed me was I think many of the best players rode the pine in 2010 – Where was Mack Brown? Why was not Robey playing Center and Pouncey moved back to Guard (One of the best in the country). And what about all those D linemen (Freshman) who showed up in the Outback Bowl?

    What good is a great recuiting year if they don’t see the playing time?

  3. It’s not 2011 that will be so great but 2012. Wait until these kids get around Coach Mellow and see all those stones adorned by his coaches.

    But then again I am sure they can’t hold a candle to Mr Jazz Coach Daz.
    MusChomp vs “Give a Hoot” Now that’s a choice

  4. Neil as always great work. One question, when you said we would beat NFL teams you did mean with Mullen as OC? If Dumbazzio is the OC we would be the Buffalo Bills.

  5. You’re playing semantics to make Florida’s depth sound even more amazing than it was.

    The term “starter” is a title for the most part and is almost irrelevant now. It’s one thing to say “they return 8 players with starting experience.”

    However, to say someone is the starting whatever is almost a backhanded compliment.

    Case in point – Janoris Jenkins. He was the #2 corner behind JH in 08. Does it really matter ie he didn’t play the first snap of every game ?

    Hernandez was actually supposed to be part of a 2 TE set. Whether Mullen opened every game in that formation is one thing. Whether Meyer followed through on it would have been another. Regardless, the coaches had big plans to heavily involve AH in a role more significant than just a backup.

    As for the Dls and LBs, come on – CS loved rotations. Who played the first snap of the game means nothing – it’s all about plays.

    As for Demps and Rainey – no. Moody was the titular starter as part of a rotation. However, platoon backfields have no bell cow ergo they have no “starter”

    It’s a similar argument I have had at another board regarding Wuerffel and Dean. My stance is simple – Wuerffel threw more passes his first two years than Dean did, so it doesn’t matter who is listed at the top of the depth chart in the seasons opener’s program.

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