Today, Cardinal Dominance continues their series on the Florida Gators with a look at their receiving corps and the many different ways they are used. Last week in separate articles, C.D. took a deep drill down on UF’s Offensive Line and their Defensive Front which showed some Gator tendencies and a few things that Cardinal fans might want to know going into the January 2nd contest. Tomorrow, Senior Writer Shane Stovall zeros in on UF’s talented DBs --- who are #1 in the FBS in Defensive Passing Efficiency. Latter this week, C.D. will spotlight the Gators’ Offensive Backfield and then their Linebacker position. Finally on Christmas week, Cardinal Dominance will continue their normal game week series matching the Florida Offense versus the Cards’ Defense, the Gator D against the Louisville O, and then finally, C.D.'s Florida Football Guru Dimori will put it all together and make the official Cardinal Dominance prediction in his “Tale of the Tape.”
Florida uses their Receivers in many different ways. We have heard that the Louisville Coaches’ video breakdown was much, much longer than any other team this past season because the Gators employ so many different formations, trick plays, and they engage some of their most athletic players differently than most teams.
Throwing so many different looks at an opponent creates issues for the coaching staff of their upcoming competitor because those Coaches have to prepare their players for so many various formations and plays. It takes more precious Coaching and practice time. It also maximizes the potential of one of these weird maneuvers to be highly successful should a Coach not have his troops ready for that certain manipulation. It bides the Cards well to have a month to prepare.
However, the Florida Offense has one great big modus operandi. They rush the ball over 66% of the time. At the same time, the Gators have some extreme athletes in the skill positions and they use them a tad differently.
UF throws 21.6 times per game. Comparatively, UL makes 35.3 passes per contest and generate nearly 300 yards per game versus the 144 by the Gators.
By far, UF’s leading receiver is Tight End Jordan Reed with 44 receptions. Wide Out Quinton Dunbar has 31 catches and Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines have 20 grabs each. For comparison, the Cards leading Receivers are Damian Copeland (48), Eli Rogers (42), DeVante Parker (38), Jeremy Wright (38), and Andrell Smith (30).
Picture of Florida's leading receiver, Tight End Jordan Reed by fanonfiresportswire.com
The Florida Position Coaches
WR Coach Bush Hamdan was at Sacramento State for one year before joining UF although he played back up QB at Boise State under current Florida Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease. Tight End Coach Derek Lewis started Coaching in 2007 and this is his 2nd year with the Tight Ends at Florida. He played his college ball at Texas.
The Primary Receivers
What You can Expect Florida to do
UF’s most predominant stat is they rush the ball 66% of the time. They also have a healthy 33:07 average Time of Possession. The Gators throw almost 14 completions per game with 2.1 of those going to Running Backs and 3.9 ending up in the hands of one of their Tight Ends. This leaves only 7.9 passes per game for their Wide Outs (U of L's Wide Receivers average 15.8 grabs per game). However, first year Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease utilizes his receivers differently than most teams. For instance athletic Trey Burton will line up in the Wild Cat formation and has run the ball 24 times and thrown four times to go with his 17 receptions. He has also faked a running play only to lateral back to QB Jeff Driskel for a pass. Receivers Omarius Hines, Quinton Dunbar, injured Solomon Patton, Andre Debose, and two CBs have 36 additional rushing carries. Pease uses his Wide Outs on 5 rushes per game while they only have 7.9 average receptions per contest.
Picture of Trey Burton by orlandosentinel.com
So what does it Mean?
Once again, Florida’s absolute and most glaring Offensive stats have to do with the Gator running game. UF Wide Receivers only average 7.9 catches per contest and Florida's single leading receiver is by far their Tight End at 3.7 per game.
Strong and Bedford will definitely try to stack the box and put their CB’s out on an island in one-on-one coverage. Hakeem Smith will be out there, too, when Florida has three wide outs lined up while Calvin Pryor will be playing center field.
A Linebacker will then have to cover leading receiver and Tight End Jordan Reed. However, look for Bedford to use 5 DBS. The extra DB would probably cover the third wide out and Hakeem would shift in to cover Reed. The other two LBs are going to have to keep an eye on the RB as Florida throws to one of them over twice a game. Combined with their huge experienced O line, you can count how many --- or not so many --- Defensive players are left to “stack the box” and you realize why Florida rushes so well. It also points out why Florida is ranked 106th in the country in allowing sacks with 3.0 per game --- they don’t have many blockers to protect the QB.
Now add the Wild Cat Formation and the Gators’ propensity to utilize the wide outs as rushers and you can see the flexibility challenges that the Cardinal Defensive players face.
Expect the Cards to take a few shots at QB Jeff Driskel in obvious passing downs --- and for the D to be successful, they will have to put the Gators in that situation. The Cardinal Defensive Backs will have an opportunity to be heroes by stopping the Florida not-so-tall Wide Outs and not letting them improve on their 8 TD receptions. The biggest challenge though will be corralling the Tight Ends and Running Backs who have a combined 6 receptions per game --- while watching for the Gator rushing and the trick plays.
This is going to be a tough and challenging contest for the Cardinal Defense. Florida’s use of their Wide Outs in their running game and their excellent Tight End in the passing game is going to stretch and put quite a bit of pressure on Bedford and his troupes. If the Cards can shut down the Wide Outs and the Tight End, UL has a much better chance of stopping the Gators’ potent rushing attack and putting the Cardinal Offense back onto the field and into a position to win this game.