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Florida 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch

Treon Harris

Treon Harris

A new era will begin in Gainesville once fall camp begins. After a 7-5 season, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was fired and the school hired Colorado State Rams head coach Jim McElwain to replace him.

Now that McElwain is running the show for the Gators, what can fans expect from Florida in 2015? Can Florida shock the SEC and win the East division?

Related: Setting First-Year Expectations for Florida's Jim McElwain

Florida’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines

1. Grier or Harris, Who Will Start at Quarterback?

Redshirt freshman Will Grier left spring practice with a slight edge over last year’s starter, sophomore Treon Harris, because of his strong throwing arm and decision-making.

Grier is probably better suited for McElwain’s offense because it is based off short, high-percentage throws, mixed in with some vertical throws off of play action.

Harris has more experience than Grier, but he didn’t perform well in the nine games he played in 2014. He finished with 1,019 yards pass, nine touchdowns, four interceptions, and a completion percentage of 49.6.

Related: SEC 2015 Preseason Quarterback Rankings

2. Losses on the Offensive Line

Florida returns only one offensive lineman who has ever started a game in college. The team has only six healthy scholarship linemen on its roster.

Because of the lack of experience, the Gators will need guard Trip Thurman to be 100 percent coming off a shoulder injury. The team will also need sophomore left tackle David Sharpe and incoming freshman Martez Ivey to both live up to their hype.


Related: 14 Position Groups Under Pressure in the SEC for 2015

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3. Can Jake McGee Become a Reliable Target?

During his final two seasons at Virginia, McGee recorded 71 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. McGee transferred to Florida last year, but broke his fibula and tibia in the Gators’ season opener against Eastern Michigan and was out for the rest of the season.

Since 2012, tight ends in the Gators’ offense have caught only 30 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. McElwain’s offense while at Colorado State utilized the tight end not only as a pass and run blocker, but also as a receiver.

Whoever is named the starting quarterback, they will need a bit (6-6, 249) target like McGee in the red zone. Florida could have used McGee when the team dropped two balls in the end zone in the team's 30-27 loss against LSU last season.

4. How Will the Defense Perform Under the New Regime?

You can say a lot of negative things about the Muschamp era in Florida, but one thing you can’t say is he fielded a terrible defense.

The Gators hope to keep the same dominant defense under new coordinator Geoff Collins. He will have a talented secondary to lean on, led by All-America candidate Vernon Hargreaves III.

Florida’s linebackers are a huge question mark. Leading tackler Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis are both coming off knee surgery.

Senior Jonathan Bullard and Junior Alex McCalister will help bolster a defensive line that will often rotate up to 10 players.

5. Special Teams

Junior placekicker Austin Hardin has to become more reliable. In two seasons, he has been successful on exactly half (11 of 22) of his field goal attempts.

Florida also has to replace talented returner Andre Debose, who scored five special teams touchdown while in Gainesville. Receiver Demarcus Robinson is expected to return kicks, while Hargreaves will be the Gators’ punt returner.

If Golden doesn’t have Miami contending for an ACC Coastal Division title, he could be shown the door at season’s end.

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.