Josh: It’s no secret the Florida offense was the team’s weakness throughout the 2012 season. Some might think it was detrimental to the Gators’ 2013 campaign that leading receiver Jordan Reed declared for the NFL Draft last weekend.
However, the defense will be crippled by losing defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to the pros.
He consistently closed running lanes and drew double teams to create opportunities for the rest of the defense.
Reed didn’t have the same effect on his teammates with his blocking, which never caught up to the rest of his game, or his receiving. He might have drawn some coverage away from his teammates, but it wasn’t enough as the team’s second-leading receiver, Quinton Dunbar, had just 36 catches.
Adam: Dude, Josh. C’mon, man. Yes, Sharrif Floyd dominated on the defensive line and looked like the scariest person on the field — sorry, Dominique Easley. You don’t mess with No. 73. But the Gators have defensive talent coming back.
Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard had impressive freshman seasons, which earned them both All-Southeastern Conference honors. A healthy Ronald Powell, the return of Easley and those two freshmen will make up a solid Florida defensive line next season.
The real loss comes at tight end with Reed. He led the No. 118 pass offense in receiving yards and receptions.
Florida heads into the offseason with unproven playmaking ability on the outside reminiscent of your ability to pick up girls during a night out in Gainesville. It isn’t there.
Josh: Florida’s incoming recruits soften the blow of Reed’s departure. After Monday’s commitment from Rivals.com’s No. 5 wide receiver, Demarcus Robinson, the Gators now have five receivers in the fold for the class of 2013.
Between them and returning tight ends Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson, it’s not much of a stretch to assume Florida can get enough production out of them to rank at least 118th in passing offense again.
We do agree on one thing, though: Fowler and Bullard showed promise this season. But they, along with Easley, play primarily on the outside. Floyd’s 13 tackles for a loss this season were 7.5 more than any returning interior lineman.
Losing that much production, the Gators could very well end up more lost on defense next year than you were on Bourbon Street.
Adam: I was not lost. I knew exactly where I was going. Florida got away with lacking a consistent passing attack in every game except two — Georgia and Louisville.
Against Georgia, linebacker Jarvis Jones had a full serving of gator tail for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the Sugar Bowl, the Gators were too slow against the Cardinals.
The defense let the team down for the first time all season, and yet Floyd had two sacks and a blocked kick. Reed, dealing with pain in his left knee, caught one pass for 7 yards.
It’s unreasonable to think the Gators defense can bail out the offense consistently. They need help every now and then.
The defense’s lone pass-catching help is gone with Reed going pro. Reed caught 28.9 percent of Jeff Driskel’s completions this past season, and if you want to play the “leaving game,” Florida loses four of its top six pass catchers.
You honestly think an offense ranked 104th will have an easier job replacing its top weapon in the passing game than the fifth-ranked defense with more talent returning replacing its top defensive tackle? In other words, 1+1=2, Josh.
Josh: You might not have been lost, but your 4 a.m. text messages to me sounded like a little boy who had lost track of his mommy at the mall. The “leaving game” certainly does apply to both sides of the ball.
In Debose and Dunbar, you mentioned two returning pass catchers who have done something of significance. The situation is similar at defensive tackle with Damien Jacobs and Leon Orr being the only two returning players with any experience. We saw flashes from each, but neither has proven they can contribute on a consistent basis.
It’s easier to make an impact as a freshman from the wide receiver position than it is from defensive tackle. That’s why I’m banking on one of the young guys to step up. The physical transition from high school is tougher to make when playing right on the line of scrimmage. That’s why Floyd’s absence will be felt in 2013.
Adam: You can’t be serious about Debose and Dunbar. What games have you been watching? You must be on Facebook too much in the press box, and quite frankly, you are diverting attention from the question at hand: Who will the Gators miss more — Reed or Floyd?
Florida won 11 games in spite of an anemic passing attack. Reed, the lone bright spot, is gone.
The tackles for loss, sacks and blocked kicks from Floyd can be substituted by a number of defensive playmakers on the current roster. Tell me who can emerge as a vertical threat to replace Reed? Without him, banking on this offense to stretch the field is quite a stretch.