Top 25 Countdown

No. 1 Florida

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Last Season: 13-1 (defeated Oklahoma in the BCS championship game).

Returning Starters: 17 (6 offense, 11 defense).

Key Game: at Louisiana State, Oct. 10.

Why They're Worth Watching

Well, let's see: The Gators have a former Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, every starter back from a top 10-ranked defense, and more depth and athleticism than they probably know what to do with. Tim Tebow will be gunning for his second Heisman and his third national title in four years, and he'll be joined in those efforts by a supporting cast that features a solid offensive line and a pair of dynamic sophomore running backs in Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey.

Player to Watch

Aaron Hernandez, Jr., TE

Because of Florida's lack of sure-fire production at wide receiver, look for Hernandez to be Tebow's go-to target this season. Hernandez was Florida's third-leading receiver last year (34 catches), and he should be much more prolific this fall.

Why They're Vulnerable

Compared with the rest of the Gators' offensive tools, their wide receiving corps is unspectacular. Opposing defensive coordinators will not lose sleep trying to shut down Riley Cooper and David Nelson (sleep will be lost because of a plethora of other matchup issues). Sophomore Deonte Thompson is unproven and freshman Andre Debose may have to contribute immediately, though he may be hindered by a hamstring injury. Chances are that one of those guys, or another of Florida's young wideouts, will emerge. If not, Tebow's final hurrah might not be as glorious as anticipated.

-- Steve Yanda

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