The Offensive Preview took a breather last week as I had other matters to deal with and I had absolutely no idea about UConn football, because why would I subject myself to UConn football? A fair question is why I would subject myself to Vanderbilt football any further, but if you’re reading this blog the chances are you only need look inward to answer that question. But today we return to the offensive previews for a team that I have watched in limited spurts, but know enough about to act like I know what I’m talking about: The Florida Gators.
Last Week: L 20-13 @ UK
Florida lost its second game of the season last weekend at Kentucky. Frankly that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Kentucky is a very good team and Mark Stoops has done a great job building something there. Their only other loss was to Alabama and the Gators certainly gave the Tide a better run than Ole Miss did in a narrow 31-29 defeat. The Gators lost the Kyles to the NFL last year, so I think the offense had to drop somewhat. Offensively, the best way I would classify the Gators is good, but not great.
Emory Jones has been the QB of choice for the Gators, but this has been somewhat of a position in flux. Jones is a redshirt junior He is a dual-threat style QB who has performed pretty well in the run game and kind of average to below in the pass game. Nice completion percentage, more picks than TDs, and most of his throws aren’t wow throws (only averaging 6.5 ypa). Running the ball, however, Jones has 70 attempts for 439 and 6.3 ypc.
Florida also has Anthony Richardson, a 247 4-star QB from 2020. There is a contingent of fans who are clamoring to see more of Richardson, who has shined in limited appearances this year. Dan Mullen was actually answering questions about this back in September, and last weeks loss seems to continue to produce them. It’s debatable as to whether Richardson is the better option or whether he’s just a shiny new toy, but it seems Mullen is content to stick with Jones for now.
The Gators have a stable of backs that they use in conjunction with Jones and Richardson, but that’s not a big surprise given Dan Mullen’s system. Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce, and Nay’quan Wright all contribute in the running game as well as in the passing game. Most of their output is used in the running game though. Jones exceeds all of them in carries at this point, but these guys are plenty good and none of them averages less than 4 ypc. Of note is that all three of these running backs were on the team last year and were used almost identically, but it appears Malik Davis has gotten a little more action than Dameon Pierce this year, where Pierce doubled almost doubled Davis in carries.
Jacob Copeland is the most well known of this crew. He returns after catching 23 passes for 435 and 3 touchdowns last year. The Gators lost a lot of their receiving weapons as Kyle Pitts when to the Falcons, Kadarius Toney went to the Giants, and Trevon Grimes graduated. The Gators have primarily used Xzavier Henderson, Justin Shorter, and Rick Wells as their backup targets but have used the TE position less this year with Kemore Gamble. Copeland is a good deep threat averaging 18.2 ypc.
The Gators have a pretty good offensive line and have produced what is presently the number three rushing offense in the country at 292.2 yards per game. They have also only allowed 3 sacks in five games. The offensive line only had two returning starters, but there were hopes of improvement, and it appears those hopes have been realized.
Florida lost their former offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to the NFL this past season. He was a rising star in the ranks and a recruiting guru. Johnson was unique in that Dan Mullen primarily called plays for most of his coaching career but was allowed to take an expanded role in that spot. Mullen is back to having an increased role there. The passing game has tapered off, but that’s hardly a surprise when you lose your starting QB and two elite receiving weapons to the NFL. Regardless, this team is still dangerous. I don’t know if they are 38 point favorite dangerous, but they are pretty.....pretty....pretty good.