Chris Rainey & Jeff Demps Against Top Defenses: What Do The Numbers Tell Us?

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Death, taxes, Rainey and Demps.  There are few certainties in life, for the 2011 Florida Gators, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are the closest things they’ll get to sure bets.  Just look at what they have done so far this season.  Jeff Demps, College Football’s Usain Bolt, has shredded defenses for 320 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns.  His counterpart, Heisman dark horse Chris Rainey, has exploded for 411 yards rushing, 214 yards receiving, and a combined 4 touchdowns (not to mention a blocked punt AND returning a blocked punt for a touchdown).

But, even the most optimistic Gator fan realizes that all of this production was done against less than stellar defenses.  In fact, the top defense they have faced so far, Tennessee, is only ranked 59th in the nation against stopping the run.  So that got SDS thinking, just how good are these two speedsters against top-flight defenses?  If you’re a Gator fan, look away, you may not like what you see.

The following are Demps’ and Rainey’s stats against top 50 defenses throughout their career:

2008 Chris Rainey Jeff Demps
Team (Rush Defense) Att. Yards Avg. TD Att. Yards Avg. TD
Alabama (2) 1 1 1.00 0 14 53 3.79 1
Ole Miss (4) 3 9 3.00 0 1 0 0.00 0
Tennessee (12) 9 37 4.11 0 0 0 0.00 0
LSU (17) 11 66 6.00 0 10 129 12.9 1
Oklahoma (20) 1 -3 -3.0 0 9 23 2.56 0
Georgia (27) 6 11 1.83 0 7 19 2.71 0
Florida State (42) 8 97 12.13 0 9 89 9.89 1
South Carolina (43) 7 55 7.86 1 4 43 10.75 1
2008 Average (top 50) 5.75 34.13 4.12 .13 6.75 44.50 5.33 0.50

Next, we take a look at 2009:

2009 Chris Rainey Jeff Demps
Team (Rush Defense) Att. Yards Avg. TD Att. Yards Avg. TD
Alabama (2) 2 7 3.50 0 1 9 9.0 0
Georgia (36) 4 12 3.00 0 5 31 6.20 0
LSU (46) 4 11 2.75 1 16 86 5.38 0
2009 Average (top 50) 3.33 10.00 3.08 0.0 7.33 42.00 6.86 0.00

Lastly, we look at the disaster that was Florida’s 2010 season:

2010 Chris Rainey Jeff Demps
Team (Rush Defense) Att. Yards Avg. TD Att. Yards Avg. TD
Alabama (10) Did not play (suspension) 11 47 4.27 0
South Carolina (12) 5 32 6.40 0 2 -1 -0.50 0
Mississippi State (15) Did not play (suspension) 5 36 7.20 0
South Florida (22) 1 15 15.00 0 11 139 12.64 1
Miami, Ohio (25) 3 1 .33 0 8 98 12.25 1
Florida State (28) 11 73 6.64 0 9 44 4.89 0
LSU (42) Did not play (suspension) Did not play (injured)
2010 Average (top 50) 5.00 30.25 7.09 .13 7.67 60.50 6.79 0.33

Now mind you, the 2008 and 2009 seasons were the Tim Tebow Show when it came to running the football so it’s difficult to blame the lack of rushing yards solely on going against top defenses, but the numbers speak for themselves.

Both Rainey and Demps have had difficulty breaking open big plays against the better defenses they’ve faced.  The main reason? Speed, Demps and Rainey have it, but so do SEC defenses.

Florida will have its hands full Saturday against a defense that’s ranks 3rd against the run and is holding opposing offenses to 184 yards per game, the 2nd lowest mark in the nation.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has done a great job of calling formations that force running backs towards the middle of the field, essentially neutralizing their speed.

Much of Rainey and Demps’ success this season has been due to the fact that Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is keeping both running backs involved in the passing game, something they were not asked to do under former head coach Urban Meyer.  Florida will need to continue doing this if they want to give Rainey and Demps the open field they need to setup the big play, if they don’t, it may be a very long day for the Florida speedsters.



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  • I agree with the point behind the article somewhat, but all the numbers are really saying is that Demps and Rainey haven’t played very much and they both have had decent yds/carry when they do play. I do think that more players than just Demps and Rainey are going to have to step up in a big way if the Gators want to have a chance. GO GATORS!

  • The Gators will need a lot of breaks, take care of the ball, and Brantley’s best game ever. GO GATORS!!

  • The numbers are interesting, but it’s a totally different system and I think that Weis knows how to get these guys in space better than Addazio/Meyer was doing in the previous system. With that said, Muschamp has called the SEC a “line of scrimmage” league. Chris Rainey and Demps would probably both win the Heisman at a place like Oregon where they don’t face the defenses like they do in the SEC. This week and next week will offer a great opportunity to see if these guys can play against the best defenses in the country.

    • I agree Florida Dawg. 2010 wasn’t terrible for either player when they had touches. They weren’t on the field very often together that year either. The difference between Weis and Addazio are staggering as is the production Weis is getting out of his players by putting them in the best situations for their abilities. Just look at John Brantley. I wont be surprised if both manage 100+ yards on the ground vs Alabama on Saturday. Just a side note, the Offensive line is much improved from last year and that always helps tremendously.

  • Bama’s defense this year has only given up an average of 184 yards a game. Thats 2.8 yards of total defense.
    If Fla cant get a balance offense going the Fla wont be going very far with any one. Time and Time again they catch the RB in the back field before they get a chance to see the line of scrimage. This will be a game where no mistakes will be allowed. No penalitys for either side special teams will have to let their presence be known as well. The best game either team has played up to this point and still it wont be enough for one.
    Roll Tide

  • Did not play (suspension) LOL

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