Patton Creating His Role on Offense

It took until his third season on campus to find a role, but Solomon Patton has created a unique fit in the offense this year. The Florida offensive coaches want to use his speed and elusiveness on the edge and have done so with jet sweeps. The coaches have also faked the jet sweeps, making opponents respect Patton's speed while the Gators continue to run the ball between the tackles.

"They just try to get me the ball as fast as they can, put me on the edge," Solomon Patton said. "We practice that play at practice every day. It's all about the timing, so that's really basically it. Just trying to get me the ball as fast as they can so I can try to make a person miss."

It's part of the pre-snap motion and shifts that are key in Brent Pease's offense. Patton lines up at receiver and starts his run toward the quarterback when Jeff Driskel motions him. Driskel snaps the ball just in time to hand it off to Patton, who is already running at full speed when he touches the ball. The undersized receiver hasn't been able to go down the field and catch the ball, so the Gators are trying to find ways to get him the ball and make plays.

It also helps the traditional running game. The Gators use Patton and fake the handoff on the jet sweep, forcing the opposing defense to respect his speed and follow him outside. That opens holes and can take the linebackers away from the middle of the field, and Driskel can hand the ball to Mike Gillislee with one or more fewer defenders in the middle of the field.

"With Our run game being so good as it is right now as far as Gillislee and Mack Brown and all those guys—it puts me in motion," Patton said. "It throws the defense off because they don't know if I'm getting the ball or they're going to hand off to Gillislee. It actually gets the running backs a good way to get open in the field."

It's the third year in Gainesville for Patton. He totaled seven receptions for 62 yards and one rush for six yards in his first two seasons on campus. His biggest impact came in 17 kickoff returns in his first two seasons at Florida.

The jet sweep play has revived his career in the offense and created an impact for him. On Florida's final drive when the Gators were trying to kill clock and secure the win, Pease dialed up the play again. The Aggies were loading the box and trying to stop the run, so Driskel handed it off to Patton for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

The junior showed the coaching staff that he's capable of making plays when the game is on the line, and Patton is hoping that turns into more touches for him.

"I'm hoping it'll get better," he said. "I've been working pretty hard, and the coach is telling me I've got a lot of stuff coming my way, so I'm pretty excited about that."

It won't be easy this weekend for the Florida wide receivers. The Gators don't have a receiver on the team with more than 89 receiving yards through the first two games of the season, and the Tennessee secondary returns experienced players.

"They're pretty solid," Patton said. "They've got some safeties and definitely some backs, but I feel pretty great about this game."

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