Running backs coach Stan Drayton isn't satisfied with the distribution of carries against Tennessee, however.
"I've got to even that out a little bit. I trusted Demps at that time and I felt that he had a little bit of a hot foot and when I have a back that's kind of in a rhythm, I kind of tend to lean on that back during the course of the game a little bit more. I definitely would like to balance that out a little bit for the sake of Jeff really. His game is a very explosive game. He's a burst guy. He doesn't run the 800 meter dash, he runs the 100 meter dash and to be able to keep his legs fresh during the course of the game it's going to help him and this football team out. So, I need to do a better job of distributing those carries for that reason."
So, which RB will get those carries? Senior Emmanuel Moody continues to deal with consecutive injuries but Drayton expects to have him (and the other three backs for that matter) up to speed by Saturday.
"All four of them are ready to go. I prepare all four of them to get ready to play. Moody came out there today and looked great. Running backs get beat up during the course of the year. They're never going to feel great. It's never going to be like the start of camp with fresh legs or anything like that so certain things we just have to tough through. He (Moody) came out today and toughed through some of these elements and he'll be ready to go on Saturday."
But, let's say Moody isn't 100 percent. In fact, even if he is, Drayton can call up another guy who has been very productive. That player is Mike Gillislee. Gillislee had a solid game against UT coming away with eight carries for 27 yards and two touchdowns. Gilislee's ceiling is very high and Drayton expects even better production from the RB/special teams ace.
"He just has a north-south mentality. He plays through contact and he's a tough nut. He's on everything- special teams- and he doesn't say boo. He's an unselfish football player and really -what I just said there- ‘unselfish' is what makes me want to put him on the field that much more. He just does his job and he does it extremely well. We're going to keep expanding Gillislee to see how much he can handle. Hopefully you see a lot more of him."
In the spring, Drayton said we didn't see as much of Gillislee because he was still learning the offense and studying blocking technique. Now, Drayton said we are seeing the new and improved No. 23.
"He's improved quite a bit. He's so aggressive and when you get an aggressive athlete like that sometimes they tend to lung at the defenders and that's what his issue was. It wasn't the issue of toughness. It was an issue of him lunging and getting himself over-extended and out of position to make those blocks and finish those blocks. Now, there's a certain patience to it and he's got a nice little balance of toughness and patience. I think he's going to be a really good blocker here in the future and he's definitely heading in that direction right now."
Then there's true freshman Mack Brown who Drayton said is also ready to go also. Bottom line here: Drayton has a wealth of weapons to rely on other than Demps. That being said, you can't ignore the talent you have in a lights out speedster like Demps. He adds a whole new problem for opposing defenses and simply just having him on the field can create opportunities for other offensive weapons wearing orange and blue. Oh- and he can catch the ball pretty darn good these days.
"His route running right now is unbelievable. He still needs to work on adjustments to different coverages like man and zone and that sort but he's really doing a phenomenal job separating from defenders and getting himself open and catching the football. Is he all the way there yet? No, but he's definitely going in the right direction as far as that's concerned."
Drayton went on to discuss the slow-starting offense that has been characteristic of Florida's three victories in 2010. He said he still feels like Florida's offense is very challenging for opponents to handle.
"The thing that this offense brings is multiple looks from defenses from everybody. People don't just line up against us and play base defense. We don't see base defense. Because we have the option component, the threat of a quarterback run, receivers that can go and get it in short, medium, and long situations. It really forces defenses to give us different looks. We practice against all those looks on a daily basis so our players don't get freaked out by it. They're prepared for it. The way people are trying to defend us right now is when you have Jeff Demps in the backfield, obviously you want to try and stop the perimeter run game. So they're doing things to try and keep our speed from the perimeter and keep it from outside. It opens up our power play inside and some of those type plays which we feel like we have the mobility to switch modes and have some success in either area."
So, whether it's inside or outside, Drayton and his backs look to continue improving the run game. We just might see more of that infamous "three-headed running back monster" against Kentucky.
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Drayton Looking to Spread Around the Carries
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