Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Week in the Dawg House: Florida Offense

Ladies and gents, as you well know it's time for the annual showdown in Jacksonville. In an effort to be more politically correct, I will henceforth and now on refer to it as The Planet's Principal Non-Indoor Libation Revelry. I hope that doesn't hurt Mike Adams' feelings. Anyway, the Dawgs are rolling into town as a 4-point favorite which, by mine and Dawgola's count, is the first time we've been favored since 2004.

While the Dawgs offensive woes haven't been apparent in the last few weeks, the Gators are struggling to catch stride on the that side of the ball. UF is 9th in the conference in total offense per game coming in at a paltry 329.7 yards per contest. Georgia is 8th, but is averaging about 53 yards more per game. The passing offense, led by Johnny Brantley, is ranked 8th with about 187 yards gained per game. The rushing offense is 10th in the conference at 142 ypg. As far as scoring offense, the Gators also rank 9th in the SEC at 27.7 points per game. Needless to say, the season thus far for Florida has been an anomaly over the past 5 years. Maybe we can find out why.

As is customary, let's take a look at the offensive personnel position by position.

Johnny Brantley, #12, leads the Gators at QB. He is a 6'3, 220 pound, redshirt junior who sat behind "He Who Shall Not Be Named" for the past three years. He's numbers go like this: 129 of 208 (62%), 1266 yards, 6 TD/5 INT, which is good for right around 180 ypg. With a very strong arm and average wheels, he is pretty much the prototypical pro-style quarterback. Backing up Brantley is true freshman #13 Trey Burton. Burton is more of the type of quarterback that fits into Meyer's run and gun system. He is also the goal line back, as 1/4 of his carries have resulted in a touchdown (32 for 138 and 8TD). He has only attempted two passes all year, one of which resulted in an interception. 

The most telling stats of Brantley's season are his average of 6.1 yards per attempt and 29.7 attempts per game. Meyers system is predicated on keeping defenses off-balance with the treat of the big play from the pass. That hasn't been an option this season. "He Who Shall Not Be Named" averaged about 9.2 yards per attempt, which is a huge deal considering you have to run 1/3 as many more passing plays to result in the same yardage. Because of the Gators off-week and the "running in mud" look of their offense lately, I think we'll see Trey Burton get more of an opportunity this week. As far as the quality of Brantley, I would say based on what we've seen so far, Brantley is about two notches below Mallett and one below Hartline and Garcia. 


Running Backs:
The Gators have a veritable merry-go-round in the backfield with #2 Jeff Demps, #21 Emmanuel Moody, and #23 Mike Gillislee. Demps leads the team with 450 yards on a meager 69 carries, which is good for about 6.5 yards a clip. Gillislee has 37 carries for 202 and Moody has carried it 48 times for 162 yards. All together Gator running backs are averaging about 5.3 yards per attempt. As a team, they are averaging just over 4 yards per carry. 

UF has a serious problem with running backs. For some reason, Corch can convince these guys (eh Mack Brown) to come to Gainesville by telling them he'll change his offense to suit them. Well, it's not going to happen. I realize that speed is what he wants in the backfield, but that comes at the expense of only getting about 10 carries per game. Demps is an extremely good athlete, but I'm not sure he fits at running back because of his build. I don't think he could ever go over 15 carries per game. I'm not a fan of splitting carries because it's not conducive to getting a guy in the groove. Meyer seems to love it, however. Being 10th in the conference in rushing sure wouldn't inspire me to pack my suitcase and head for Gainesville. 

Grade: C-

Offensive Line:
Florida comes in with a lot of experience on the offfensive line. The unit is led by #55 Mike Pouncey, who has 34 starts to his name. Mike was named 2nd Team All-American last season. Pouncey's company along the staring line includes RG #66 James Wilson, RT #76 Marcus Gilbert, LG #57 Carl Johnson, and LT #73 Xavier Nixon. The most inexperienced starter is Xavier Nixon, but as you can see Meyer has a great deal of confidence in him starting at LT. He started the last five games of 2009 there as well. This unit returns 87 starts, with the big hit coming from the loss All-American C Maurkice Pouncey. That ranks them in the mid-twenties in returning starts this season. This group is third in the SEC in sacks allowed with nine, but as I said earlier, ball carriers are only averaging about 4 yards per carry.

This is without doubt the best line that the Dawgs have faced this year. Statistically Kentucky's line is probably better, but in terms of the quality of players it isn't close. As you might expect, all of these guys were very highly recruited out of high school. In my opinion, you can't necessarily blame the low yards per carry on the offensive line in this case. Because the play from the QB position has completely changed and Brantley isn't at a all a running threat, the o-line suffers. This position group worries me most, as our system is predicated on getting pressure on the QB. You know what happens when we don't? Check THIS out.

Grade: A-

Wide Receivers/TE:
This is where you look at Florida's depth chart versus production and you scratch your head. This group is led by #6 Deonte Thompson, who has 25 receptions for 353 yards. #9 Carl Moore is a JUCO transfer from 2 years ago and has hauled in 20 passes for 296 yards and a TD. Because I'm sure Meyer will do the Meyer thing and start Rainey, #3 Chris Rainey will line up in the slot. Because he has been "suspended" he only has 6 receptions for 34 yards and a TD. Backups are listed as #82 Omarius Hines, #85 Frankie Hammond Jr., and #4 Andre Debose. Debose also doubles as a Flash Gordon on his days off, but has been gimped up lately and may not play because of a serious ankle issue he suffered at Mississippi State.

As far as TE go, the Gators are very, very young with four freshman leading the way. TE/QB/whatchamacallit #11 Jordan Reed is listed as the guy atop the depth chart. #80 Desmond Parks is listed at number two and fellow freshman #32 Gerald Christian provides depth.

For some crazy reason, Florida has all of this speed on the outside yet they have no game breakers (wait...reverse jinx...these guys are soooo good we won't be able to handle them). There really hasn't been a go-to guy and the pass offense has suffered. On paper they look very ominous, but teams don't seem to really respect these guys and, consequently play a lot of man coverage. It's hard for me to grade these guys  because they all have the potential to be great, yet haven't played like it to date. I'm just gonna err on the side of the reverse jinx.


It looks like #19 Caleb Sturgis will assume his role again this Saturday after being out since the Bama game with back issues. If he can't go look for #97 Brad Phillips to take on kickoffs and #17 Chas Henry to place kick.

GRADE: PASS (If Sturgis doesn't play, FAIL)

Here is what the depth chart will look like on Saturday for the Gators: (via their Rivals site)

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