Offensive Identity Still a Mystery

One positive thing coming out of the USF game was that most of us felt we understood the identity of the Gator offense and could look forward to seeing that unit evolve in the weeks ahead.

I don't know about you, but one week later I feel like the Gators are going back to the drawing board yet again.

Obviously there were a lot of positives in Saturday's 31-17 over the Tennessee Volunteers.

The Gators took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter and did not trail again the rest of the afternoon. Florida turned it over just once and John Brantley remained interception free through three outings.

Despite that, it was another game where you struggled to figure out exactly what the Gator offense is going to be this season. And there's a growing realization that those of us on the sidelines aren't the only ones who are confused. There's no indication that the powers that be on the Florida sideline is any further along that the rest of us.

Let's examine some of the key issues.

Poor starts continue ---- Despite great field position on their opening possession, the Gators once again failed to score in the opening quarter. Florida opened the game on its own 46-yard line and was in Tennessee territory after one play. The Gators got to the Vols' 27 before a penalty and a lousy snappy combined to ruin the scoring opportunity. That's three straight games coming up empty in the first 15 minutes.

Overloading Demps ---- In the Gators' first two games, Jeff Demps carried the ball 19 times as did Emmanuel Moody. Mike Gillislee added 10 runs from scrimmage giving the Gators good balance among the top three runners. That disappeared in Knoxville. Demps got a ridiculous 26 carries, which doubled the combined opportunities of Gillislee (8) and Moody (5). In my opinion Jeff Demps is not a 26 carry a game guy and I don't think anyone out there would disagree.

Using multiple options ---- One of my criticisms of the Gators week one was that only four WR played in the first game. There was some progress last week and a bit more today, but it's too little. Yes, Florida did have seven different receivers catch passes in Neyland Stadium, but three of those seven receivers caught just one pass. To be fair the Gators only completed 14 passes on the day, which makes it tougher to spread it around.

Offensive lack of balance ---- Johnny Brantley threw just 23 passes against the Vols while the Gators ran the ball 49 times. We've heard Urban Meyer and this staff preach for more than five years that the Gator offense is all about getting players in the position to do what they do best. That has not been the case this year. Three games into the season, Brantley has thrown 79 passes while the Gators have run the ball 117 times. With the Gators showing indications they are a fumble prone team, one would think they would rely more heavily on a guy who has not been intercepted yet this season and has thrown just one pick in 155 career passes.


So who are these Gators? Frankly, I have no idea. What seemed to work well in the second half against USF was not the focus this week. After balancing carries carefully the first two games, the Gators overloaded Jeff Demps in this contest.

Florida has one more game that should be a relatively stress-free victory before heading into the LSU and Alabama contests. If the Gators want to win one (or both) of those games, it would help if they could find their identity between now and then.

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