After playing in back-to-back SEC championship games in 2008 and 2009 with an upperclassmen-laden team, Florida will enter 2011 still feeling the effects of losing such a veteran corps of players.
The Gators head into fall camp with just 23 upperclassmen on scholarship, meaning the other 49 scholarship players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores entering the season.
Needless to say, Florida lacks key experience at several positions heading into the fall.
GatorCountry.com took it upon itself to do a little investigative research to see which positions will enter the season with the most and least experience to give Florida fans a better idea what to expect in 2011 and also illustrate the areas the Gators need to focus on in their 2012 football recruiting.
We recorded appearances and starts for each of the 72 scholarship players on the roster and broke it down by position.
You can find complete results of our data in the tables below, but first we’ll summarize our observations.
The positions with the most experience are running back, defensive tackle and wide receiver.
Florida’s four scholarship running backs have combined to make 107 appearances with 31 starts. Three of the four running backs are upperclassmen with at least 25 game appearances, making it the deepest unit on the team.
Defensive tackle was close behind, as Florida’s six scholarship defensive tackles have logged 95 appearances and 31 starts. Three of the six are upperclassmen with at least 15 game appearances.
Wide receiver was an evenly mixed group, with a trio of upperclassmen with at least 20 appearances and a trio of sophomores with at least 10 appearances. The nine-player group has totaled 133 appearances with 31 starts.
The positions with the least experience are safety, tight end and defensive end.
Florida has just one upperclassman scholarship safety in its six-man group. The group has accounted for 35 appearances and just three starts.
The Gators have four scholarship tight ends with 20 appearances and just four starts between them. The group is made up entirely of underclassmen.
Meanwhile, at defensive end, Florida’s six scholarship players have accounted for just two starts in 65 appearances. The Gators have just one upperclassman defensive end.
What does it all mean?
By the numbers, it looks like the Gators will be greenest in the secondary and on the edge of the defensive line.
There is potential on both units, but a lack of experience could spell some early-season problems in those areas.
On the other hand, Florida has plenty of experience at both running back and wide receiver, which bodes well for the offense.
While the wide receivers have few proven playmakers, several have been around long enough to see the field frequently.
Additionally, the Gators should be solid in the middle of the defensive line with an experienced and talented corps of defensive tackles.
|Experience on the Florida Gators Roster|
|JR||Frankie Hammond, Jr.||22||0|
|Player experience by position|
|Special Teams (2)||32||32|
|Wide Receiver (9)||133||31|
|Running Back (4)||107||31|
|Defensive Tackle (6)||95||31|
|Offensive Tackle (5)||50||13|
|Offensive Guard (5)||58||12|
|Tight End (4)||20||4|
|Defensive End (6)||65||2|
|Average player experience by position|
|Special Teams (2)||16.0||16.0|
|Running Back (4)||26.8||7.8|
|Defensive Tackle (6)||15.8||5.2|
|Wide Receiver (9)||14.8||3.4|
|Offensive Tackle (5)||10.0||2.6|
|Offensive Guard (5)||11.6||2.4|
|Tight End (4)||5.0||1.0|
|Defensive End (6)||10.8||0.3|