Playmakers Being Sorted Out

The Florida offense went into fall camp with questions about the playmakers. Through the first three games of the season, the Gators are starting to get some answers. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel has continued to improve his play while pass catchers are starting to emerge on the outside. Frankie Hammond and Jordan Reed have emerged as playmakers in the passing game this year.

"Everybody's a playmaker whether you're catching deep balls or catching an eight-yard pass and getting a first down out of it," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. That's a playmaker to me. Your opportunity when you get the ball in your hands and what you do with it—and moving the chains is a playmaker."

The Tennessee game was a good opportunity for Florida to get multiple playmakers involved. Frankie Hammond showed off his speed and athleticism with a 75-yard touchdown catch late in the game. Trey Burton was used in the wildcat formation and also as a receiver out of the backfield to create mismatches. Jordan Reed became a red zone threat on a 23-yard reception for a touchdown when Driskel stood in the pocket and took a hit.

The Florida offense didn't look like an explosive one on paper before fall camp started. There's still a long way to go and improvement to come, but the offense is starting to show what it can be.

"So who are you going to start to defend and how are you going to defend a formation?" Pease said about problems the offense can create. "There's a lot of guys defensively you have to account for."

Pease also named Omarius Hines and Quinton Dunbar as two playmakers that fit into the Florida offense but haven't been featured yet. He insists their day will come. Florida continues to use Hines in the backfield and at receiver, while Dunbar had three catches for 30 yards at Tennessee over the weekend.

Solomon Patton has also created a role for himself in the offense this year. The junior is being used in the run game on jet sweeps to stretch the defense laterally and keep them honest. The Gators have even used fake jet sweeps to hold the defense when they run between the tackles.

Pease has even called the play in key situations late in the game. It's an important part of the Florida offense.

"There are a lot of things off of it," Pease said. "He's done a good job of when he gets it and hitting the edge. For us, it's more causing lateral movement. We cause some lateral movement. It helps the linemen up front with the blocking scheme for them. Getting him out in space as long as the guys on the edge will block for him, which they've done a good job of—he's been very productive with the play."

Patton spoke last week about wanting his role to increase, and that showed signs of happening on Saturday. On a play late in the first half, Driskel rolled out of the pocket to the right and threw on the run to the sideline. Patton made a catch while dragging both feet in the field of play.

He's starting to show that he can be involved in the passing game, but there's no doubt the key is being able to use his speed and elusiveness.

"He's such a threat on the edge," Pease said. "Kid's fast, he gets good, productive yards. He's very smart as a football player. His role is growing. You saw him do a good job on Jeff's scramble, make a good catch and get his toes down on the sideline. He's worked at it and give him a lot of credit. He's practiced hard, and he's getting better."

TRUSTING THE FULLBACK: The Florida coaching staff challenged Hunter Joyer to improving his blocking in the offseason. It's easy to see how much he has improved through three games in his sophomore season.

"I think he's really improved on his blocking," Pease said. "He's developed a form of physicality that we need because it is a thankless job sometimes."

Joyer can also be a threat in the offense. He caught a pass as Driskel scrambled at Tennessee during a first-quarter drive, and Pease thinks he has the skillset to become a weapon.

It's his work ethic that has earned him time on the field during the early part of his career.

"He just brings that hard work ethic and I guess I'd kind of relate it to a Mike Alstott when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Pease said. "He's just the type of guy like that that works and never complains and goes out and he doesn't get a lot of credit all the time because he doesn't have rushing yards and touchdowns and all that. But, if it wasn't for him, our plays wouldn't break the way they do."

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