In his first two seasons since returning to Gainesville, where he won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback in 1966, coach Steve Spurrier has led the Gators to a combined 19-4 record (13-1 in the SEC), mainly by employing a high-tech passing game. The main beneficiary of Spurrier's presence has been quarterback Shane Matthews, who this season has a chance to become the only player besides former Georgia star (and 1982 Heisman winner) Herschel Walker to be named conference Player of the Year three times in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big Eight, Southwest or Pac-10.
When Matthews can't find primary down field receivers Tre Everett, Willie Jackson and Harrison Houston, he will go to tight end Greg Keller and tailback Errict Rhett.
Matthews may have to scramble a bit in the early part of the season while the young offensive line pulls itself together. The defensive line will miss end Darren Mickell, who left school after being suspended for cutting classes.
4. Florida State
Playing their first season as members of the ACC, the Seminoles will have a tough early league test on the road against Clemson on Sept. 12. Once again, however, their fate will be determined largely by how they fare against Miami on the road on Oct. 3 and Florida at home on Nov. 28. Casey Weldon's replacement at quarterback will be basketball player Charlie Ward. Coach Bobby Bowden likes Ward's scrambling style so much that he delayed spring practice until Ward had completed his basketball commitment.
Last year linebacker Marvin (Shade Tree) Jones became the first sophomore finalist for the Lombardi Trophy. The secondary is anchored by strong safety John Davis and free safety Leon Fowler, both seniors.
Tailback Amp Lee and cornerback Terrell Buckley both left for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining.
The Huskies won a share of last season's national title despite a big disadvantage in TV exposure and Sunday-morning newspaper coverage in the East, and they might be championship contenders again. The schedule is favorable, with their three toughest foes—Southern Cal, Nebraska and Stanford—all visiting Husky Stadium. Coach Don James will alternate quarterbacks Mark Brunell and Billy Joe Hobert (who took the reins last fall after Brunell went down with a knee injury in spring practice), going with the one who's hottest on a given day.
The linebacking corps, led by Dave Hoffmann, is deep and talented, and the secondary, with safeties Tommie Smith and Shane Pahukoa and cornerback Walter Bailey, might be Washington's best ever. At tailback, sophomore Napoleon Kaufman is good enough to wrest playing time from senior Beno Bryant, whose average of 5.7 yards per carry has him on track to break Hugh McElhenny's school record of 5.5. Tackle Lincoln Kennedy, 6'7", 325 pounds, will lead the blocking.