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Today, Cardinal Dominance continues their Florida position series with a look at their consensus 1st String All-SEC Running Back and the rest of the UF Offensive backfield.  Tomorrow, C.D. Senior Writer, Shane Stovall, will introduce you to their talented Linebackers.  Last week, Florida’s dominant Offensive Line and imposing Defensive Front were addressed in different articles.  Earlier this week, their Receivers and their #1 ranked Passing Efficiency Defensive Backfield were reviewed.  Next week, Cardinal Dominance will return to their normal weekly format and discuss how U of L’s D will perform against the Gator O; how the Cards’ O will stack up against the Gators’ D; and then finally, C.D.’s Florida Football guru, Dimori, will tell you Cardinal Dominance’s official prediction and explain why in his “Tale of the Tape.”


Picture of  Mike Gillislee by

The Gator Backfield is highlighted by their First String All S.E.C. Running Back, Mike Gillislee.  Their Quarterback is sophomore Jeff Driskel who offers another piece of the puzzle in Florida’s attempt to confuse their opponents with Offensive options.


UF’s average Time of Possession is a school record 33:07 and they rush the ball a very, very stout 66% of the time.  They average 4.6 yards per carry and an amazing 5.3 on first down when they pound the pigskin.  Furthermore, they have outscored their opposition 192-78 in the 2nd half.  The Gators grind it out and wear their opponents’ Defense out and administer the coup-de-grass during the 2nd half. 


Another key Florida strategy is to throw numerous and different looks in their offensive schemes which causes a lot of preparation time for their opponents while creating confusion for the Defense.


This year, Florida ranks third in the SEC in Rushing Offense with 194.1 yards per contest and their 12 lost turnovers is tied for 6th fewest in the country.  UF’s 12 T.O.s were also the least for a Gator team since records have been kept beginning in 1949 when they had 13.  The Cards shouldn’t expect many presents from the Gators.


In their last game which matched the Gators’ O against the #1 Defense in the country, Florida State, Florida rushed for 249 yards and 5.2 average yards per carry which was the highest allowed by F.S.U. in the last 31 games.  UF won 37-26.  Additionally, against L.S.U., Florida rushed 58 times and threw only 12 times, their fewest since 1989.  Their 58 rushes were the most in any S.E.C. conference game since 1980.  At 9.3 yards, they also had the highest rushing average per carry in all SEC games this year when they beat Vandy 31-17. Their ground game has steamrolled some noted programs.  


The Gators will try to run and run and run while minimizing mistakes and wearing their opponents’ Defense out.


Florida’s Backfield Coaches

Brian White is a 26 year veteran and coaches the Running Backs.  He has been on the Gator staff since 2009 and was AFCA’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2004 while at Wisconsin. 


Offensive Coordinator, Brent Pease, also coaches the Quarterbacks and is a former pro QB.  He has shown a great deal of success and spent the last 6 years at Boise State which posted a 73-6 record while winning 4 conference championships and being ranked in the top 5 twice.  Last year under Pease’s direction, the Broncos averaged an eye popping 44.2 points and 481.3 yards per game.  Their Offensive Backfield Coaches are definitely talented. Picture of Brfent Pease by


The Florida Players

5’11” 209 pound Senior Mike Gillislee averages 4.7 yards per touch and 92.0 yards per game.  He is on the Maxwell Award watch list, the Walter Camp National Player of the Week list, Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC 1st string, Phil Steele’s Midseason All-American 1st team, Sporting News Midseason All-American Team, 1st team AP All-SEC, 1st team Coaches’ All-SEC, and Phil Steele’s All-SEC 1st Team.  Much of his success is greatly influenced by their large, experienced, and talented Offensive Line and Offensive Coordinator Pease’s deceptive schemes.  He leads the Gators with 10 of 21 Rushing TDs.  He will be a handfull to contain.


6’4” 237 pound sophomore Quarterback Jeff Driskel has put up some very competent numbers as he is 140-216(64.8%) and has 1727 passing yards with 12 TDs with only 3 interceptions.  His average completion is 12.3 yards.  More importantly, his measly 3 interceptions in 216 attempts currently rank him 6th in SEC history.  For comparison purposes, Teddy has 7 interceptions in 387 throws.  On the season, Jeff also has 108 rushes for 409 yards (3.8 average) and 4 TDs ----- BUT --- when his negative yardage due to sacks are removed, Driskel is averaging 9.4 yards per carry on 6.25 carries per game.  However, the large QB will run more depending on what the Defense offers as shown by his 177 yards in 11 attempts against Vandy.  He is 2nd on the team in Rushing TDs with 4.  Driskel was SEC Player-of-the-Week due to his efforts against uk.  Driskel and Florida do have a couple tendencies that the Cards could exploit.  Firstly, his blockers have allowed 36 sacks, an average of 3.0 per game and rank them the 105th team in sacks allowed in the FBS.  Secondly, Driskel has 4 lost fumbles in 108 Rushing attempts.  Driskel’s feet could hurt the Cards and his low interception count is perfect for the Florida Offense whose rushing game is its main weapon.  The result is the Cardinal Defense has yet another challenge they have to minimize.  Picture of Driskel by


Getting to Driskel during passing situations – and putting the Florida O into passing situations are instrumental for the Cards to stop the Florida Offensive machine and off the field.


Other Backfield Contributors.  OC and QB Coach Brent Pease likes to use many different formations,  a lot of trick plays, and various personnel groupings as it burdens the opponent Coaching staff and players to use precious practice time to be adequately prepared for Florida’s many different Offensive sets and weapons --- it complicates the prepping of the Defensive players. 


This year, in their 12 games, Pease installed a starting lineup made up of 6 different configurations.  One beginning starter structure had 4 Wide outs and 1 Tight End with a naked QB.  Another time, there were 2 extra Linemen, a T.E., a Fullback, and a Running Back.  The one Florida has mostly used at the beginning of the game has 2 Wide Outs, an RB, and then either two Tight Ends or one Tight End and a Fullback. 


5’10” 249 pound true sophomore Hunter Joyer usually plays the Fullback position.  Hunter is Cardinal Offensive Guard Kamran Joyer’s younger brother.  Hunter has played in all 25 games of his two year career and has started in 10 of them. picture of Hunter Joyer by 


So What does it Mean?

Florida’s running game is a formidable weapon to try and stop.  They have the S.E.C.'s premiere Running Back who the SEC Coaches and area Sports Writers think is the best in the conference.  Coupled with a huge and highly rated O Line that has a lot of experience, the Gators personnel make up an opposing Offense.  Add a QB who will make his opponents pay should they make the oversight and fail to keep him corralled and danger signs for the Defense start to blare their brilliance. 


The Cardinals have had a month to prepare for all the different options from an Offensive Coordinator who has a history of putting up tons of yards and points and hopefully they have learned their lessons well.  If U of L cannot slow down the Gator rushing attack, the Cards are in big trouble.  


UF will rush the ball until their opponent stops them as shown in their game against LSU when the Gators ran the ball 83% of the time.  Minimizing the Florida ground juggernaut is the key for the improving Cards Defense to have a shot at winning the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd.


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Views: 305

Comment by dimori on December 20, 2012 at 9:02am

Awesome Pic Lak..Good Post as usual.Gilleslie was recruited by Charlie Strong and Kenny Carter at UF as He was coming out of Deland HS.As a senior He was a solid 3*-4* Star Recruit depending on who You ask and had a great senior year at Deland as He rushed for over 1100 yards and 11 td's.UM wanted Him as well but He was sold as a Gator by CCS!!!

Comment by Shane Stovall on December 20, 2012 at 1:39pm

Great article, well done! The Cards will definitely have their hands full trying to stop the run.


Comment by TowerLower on December 21, 2012 at 7:10pm

Anybody know how to photo edit that tractor red w/a Cardinal logo on it?

Comment by Terry Jackson on December 22, 2012 at 5:02am

A little small.


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