Studying the Florida Gators Offense

The Florida Gators are a much different team on offense than the one that crushed Ole Miss on October 3rd. Will Grier was famously suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and backup Treon Harris has only lost one game so far this season as the starter. Florida State fans are very familiar with Harris, as the quarterback was once committed to the Seminoles and faced them last year in Doak Campbell Stadium. He isn’t the passer that Grier is, but is a very athletic player who is dangerous with his legs. He is more athletic than Deshaun Watson, who gashed the Florida State defense for over 100 yards on the ground. Assuming he is healthy, look for the Gators to get Treon Harris on the move early and often.

Nevertheless, the Gators are much better offensively under first year head coach Jim McElwain. They rank 88th in the country at 5.2 yards per play, but it is an improvement from last year, when they were 94th in the country. The Gators are very good at home, with 5.5 yards per play and scoring 4.0 touchdowns at home compared to 2.6 touchdowns on the road.

Kelvin Taylor has quietly been having a very solid year at running back. He is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but much of his has been masked by poor offensive line play. He leads the Gators with 13 touchdowns and is every bit the workhorse back the Gators ask him to be. Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkite, two true freshmen, are quality rotational players but look for the Gators to mainly use Taylor and quarterback Treon Harris as their main running options.

This year, the Gators have playmakers on the outside with Demarcus Robinson and Antonio Callaway. Robinson is a very good playmaker, but has been overshadowed by bad quarterback play in recent years. He shined when Will Grier was the starter, but has struggled ever since Harris took over. Meanwhile, true freshman Antonio Callaway continues to be a quality option on the outside. He was a three-star recruit, but has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Gators. Together, they have been a good tandem but neither has the size you normally see in a true #1 receiver. To counter this, look for the Gators to get the ball to 6’6” tight end Jake McGee if cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Marquez White can lock down the outside.

The Gators offensive line has been a rotating door this season due to injuries and inconsistent play. In the last three games, Treon Harris has been sacked 11 times and the Gators are only averaging 121.3 rushing yards per game. Martez Ivey is the five-star tackle that they brought in, but is mostly playing guard this season. David Sharpe is another blue-chip recruit and has been a solid option at left tackle. Perhaps the biggest indicator of their struggles is the fact that they only have two seniors on their two-deep depth chart. They have a very young offensive line, one that is prone to mistakes and false starts, much like Florida State’s own offensive line.

Overall, the Florida offense is young and inconsistent, especially over the past couple of weeks. They needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic, which is ranked 72nd in total defense and only averaged 4.1 yards per play. They did only score 9 points against Vanderbilt, but the Commodores have one of the best scoring defenses in the country. The Gators might not be the best offense in college football, but they posses individual players that are capable of being game changers. If they Florida State can limit the big play on Saturday, Florida might not be able to drive down the field on this ‘Noles defense.

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