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What’s wrong with Florida’s offense?

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The good news for Florida fans is that the Gators are 8-1 and ranked #6 in the BCS, setting them up for a perfect opportunity to get a road win in Tallahassee and jump into the SEC’s at-large selection, assuming Alabama wins out.  The defense, special teams and turnover margin have all been stellar, lifting this team to heights many thought wasn’t possible.  The bad news, however, is that the offense is going in the wrong direction.

Let’s start by taking a statistical look at Florida 2011 compared to 2012 through nine games.

Florida 2012 Florida 2011
Scoring Offense 26 ppg 25.5 ppg
Total Offense 332.8 ypg 328.7 ypg
Rushing Offense 192.67 ypg 143 ypg
Passing Offense 140.1 ypg 185.7 ypg
Scoring Defense 12.1 ppg 20.3 ppg
Total Defense 286.9 ypg 299.5 ppg
Rushing Defense 100.33 ypg 132.69 ypg
Passing Defense 186.6 ypg 166.8 ypg
Turnover Margin +11 -12
Sacks By 20 28
Sacks Against 26 23

We talk about the mental and physical toughness and the running game as the main differences from ‘11 to ‘12. However, the biggest glaring difference is the turnover margin.  Going from -12 to +11 in one season is crazy – just crazy enough to take a 7-6 team to 8-1.  Defensively, it’s the same players, coaches and scheme, but there’s a year of maturity under the secondary’s belt and a better overall comfort level on defense.  But the offensive numbers are pretty close to being the same as they were under Charlie Weis.

Florida started out the season iffy on offense against Bowling Green, but Jeff Driskel and company really started to evolve and gain an identity of toughness and improvement from weeks 1 to 7.  But when looking at the last two games, the offense has gone backwards, partly due to Georgia’s gelling defense and costly turnovers. And even against South Carolina, the offensive struggles were apparent.

Here’s a breakdown of the offense in the first seven games versus the last two.  And again, the offense wasn’t “firing on all cylinders” through the first seven, but better balance and less turnovers gave them a much better chance to win, as opposed to the last two games.

Games 1-7 Games 8-9
Scoring Offense 30.14 ppg 11.5 ppg
Total Offense 350.43 ypg 271 ypg
Rushing Offense 212.71 ypg 122.5 ypg
Passing Offense 137.71 ypg 148.5 ypg
Turnovers 4 7
3rd Down Conv. 39-99 (39%) 9-29 (31%)

You can point the finger at Jeff Driskel; you can point the finger at the receivers and the offensive line.  The reality of the situation is that there is no one reason for the struggles, but it’s more of a combination of several factors.

1.  Offensive Line:  This group has just been getting mauled against better defensive lines.  They were overwhelmed in the first half against LSU and South Carolina.  They were overwhelmed the entire game against Georgia, and Mizzou’s Sheldon Richardson lived in the backfield last weekend.  It’s not so much run blocking, but pass blocking has just been atrocious.  A younger quarterback cannot develop correctly behind weak pass protection.  Granted, this group has been banged up with injuries some this season, but they are still struggling as a unit nonetheless.

2.  Wide Receivers:  There is not one game-breaking receiver on this roster.  The biggest play threat at receiver has been tight end Jordan Reed.  And athlete Omarius Hines, who was a receiver turned tight end, turned running back, turned Uber back, has done a nice job.  Florida doesn’t know what position he plays, but they don’t use him enough.  True receivers Frankie Hammond and Quinton Dunbar have been adequate, but they struggle to get open against bigger physical corners in the SEC.  The separation is simply not there, leaving Driskel to scan the entire field with no receivers open and large men wanting to rip him apart.  Teams have loaded up the box and left their corners to play many one-on-one situations against the receivers.  They still struggle to get open.

3.  Jeff Driskel:  Driskel has been a slow developer through the first nine weeks.  He made a big jump from weeks one to four, but has not continued to develop the way everyone thought he would.  He’s only recently learned to throw the ball away and not take a sack, again something he’s learned with experience.  You can’t ask a quarterback to develop quickly with no pass blocking and receivers who simply can’t get open.  Has he been a slow developer?  Yes, but it may be attributed more to the lack of players around him than his own lack of progression as a quarterback.

4.  Coaching:  Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease is in a tough spot.  He can’t be too aggressive with a young quarterback and limited receivers.  But deep down, I truly think that Muschamp has his hands all over the offensive game plan and play calls week to week.  While I think Pease can be more creative with his play calling, certainly on first down, Muschamp may be the one behind it all and the one to blame for the conservativeness of the offense.  If not, Pease needs to be more creative with Driskel in the running game – more quarterback draws and screen passes to negate the porous offensive line.  The play calling was very weak against Georgia, and it had no creativity against Missouri, either.

5.  Opposing Defensive Schemes:  Against better defenses – LSU, South Carolina and Georgia – Florida was held to an average of 229 yards per game and 129.3 yards per game on the ground. Naturally, good defenses and defensive coordinators will try and take away one thing the offense does well.  In Florida’s case, it’s the running game.  Pease’s offense involves motions and shifts, and coordinators are getting more and more tape on the Gators week-in and week-out. Perhaps the LSU game exploited weaknesses and other teams have capitalized on it.

Above all, Florida fans are just going to have to get over it and accept winning ugly under Will Muschamp.  It’s not Steve Spurrier’s Fun ‘N Gun offense; it’s not Urban Meyer’s electric jet sweep calls for the ‘Percy Position’.  It’s Muschamp Ball – win at all costs with defense, special teams and the running game.

Photo Credit: Rob Foldy-US PRESSWIRE





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Comments 4

  1. Florida is still a year or two away from championship caliber. The cupboard was bare in Gainesville at the end of Meyer’s tenure. It will take a while to bring the talent level and depth back up. I think Muschamp was a good hire though and he’ll get them there.

    • I agree. Mushchamp has improved the gators from where they were when he was when was hired on. Finding a OC that fits well and stays will also help the gators offensively, esp with the recruiting aspect.

  2. Offense going in the wrong direction? Bcuz of 2 games? What r we comparing this too? An offense from earlier this year? 2011? 2008?
    While, I’ll admit our Offense isn’t great, shoot barely even good, I disagree it’s heading in the wrong direction.
    I’ll agree, the past 2 games have been horrible. I really think the Missouri game was due to injuries, not setbacks on offense. Kinda hard when u play 3rd string guys bcuz u have to, not bcuz u can afford to. UF’s RB isn’t running just bcuz he’s good; he has good help. Look at his stats, some of the best in the league. He didn’t do that on his own. YOu brought up LSU and USC manhandling UF in the first halves. What about the second half? 3rd qtr vs. USC UF racked up 16 pts against a great D. And I think the last 26 of 27 plays ran against LSU were running plays, i.e. UF’s O-line DOMINATED LSU for 27 plays.

    I think not having a stand out WR is killing us, I will agree with that. However, we do have some decent prospects in underclassmen, but they haven’t had time to mature.

    Jeff Driskel? Really? A wrong direction from Brantley? He’s a sophomore that has no real threat at WR, yet somehow’s he taken pretty good care of the rock and made plays. Yes he’s made mistakes, but mistakes any young QB makes. He’s a sophomore, he has less than a yr as a starter and yet he has more wins against top 25 then Aaron Murray.
    I don’t know how much Coach Boom has his hands on the offense, but Pease is in a rough spot i agree. He has a young QB, young WR/WR that hadn’t panned out (cough cough Debose). Driskel isn’t Kellen Moore, but I don’t see y he can’t be a good QB without the right weapons.

    I just think we’re asking too much. Muschamp has taken a bare-bones football team from barely winning last year to 8-1 this year. It was beaten 3/4 top 25 teams, and has a good chance of running the table the rest of the season. All this without a good Offense. Personally, yes i am frustrated with UF’s Offense, but we’re 8-1 and we are moving the rock, not like we all want, but it’s moving.
    I think UF had a horrble game vs. UGA and UGA played lights out (finally this year). Missouri, like stated before, c’mon it’s hard to play 3rd string guys bcuz u have too.
    To say the Offense is going backwards due to 2 games, idk, it all depends on who ur comparing the offense to.