Ian Boyd reaches the last post of his Florida analysis and asks the musical question,
What do you do if you want or need to run the ball?
There’s four big reasons that a program on the level of a Texas or Florida wants to have a power run game.
- To take advantage of recruiting advantages in the trenches.
- To set up opportunities with RPOs and play-action
- To avoid asking the quarterback to throw the ball 40-50 times and risking injury over the course of the season.
- To have systemic answers to the problems of 3rd/4th and short or goal-to-go.
Dan Mullen may not be the world’s greatest recruiter, but he’s got a good football mind, so I’m pretty sure the above has already occurred to him. So, Florida finishing thirteenth in the SEC in rushing offense last season is an indication that he’s got a structural problem stemming from his personnel to overcome.
Boyd suggests four options to pursue.
- Texas-style pro-spread
- LSU’s 2019 run game
- Oklahoma and the quarterback read-game
- Dialing up the Emory Jones package
Three of those four present issues for Mullen. Tom Herman uses the tight end as a blocker first. As Boyd notes, Pitts’ value to the Gator offense is as a receiver; he’s a mediocre blocker, at best. LSU 2019? Yeah, well, aside from the fact that Trask hasn’t shown himself to be Burrow, Florida doesn’t have an Edwards-Helaire on the roster I’m aware of. As far as borrowing from Oklahoma, that’s “predicated on a willingness to mix the quarterback into the run game now and again”. Trask has been injured more than once over the course of his career at Florida and I’m not sure how much of a risk Mullen is willing to take with that.
All of which leaves the Emory Jones option. It has its uses.
… Jones is competent enough as a passer to really make you pay if you don’t cover those receivers because you’re overly worried about the quarterback run game.
The Gators still need some solutions from above for generating a consistent run game that eats up snaps, picks up chain-moving gains, presents a threat for play-action and RPOs, and occasionally picks up a short-yardage play. However, with sub-packages involving Emory Jones and/or extra tight ends they can manufacture some red zone and key 3rd/4th down pick-ups.
I was surprised that Mullen didn’t give Jones more touches in last year’s game against Georgia, a game in which, if you will recall, the Gators managed a grand total of 21 rushing yards.
If he wants to stick with the same plan this season, I’m cool with that. Matching Florida’s passing game against Georgia’s back seven in pass defense is a strength against strength proposition, and I like Georgia’s chances there. Besides, as of now, Florida’s run game against Georgia’s run defense does not appear to be a strength against strength proposition. Which is kind of a big deal in the Cocktail Party, as I explained to Boyd.
Dan’s got some interesting schematic choices to make.