The following report was submitted by Bob Redman over at FightinGators.com. On Thursday, we'll run Bob's take on the Florida defense and special teams. Special thanks to Bob and his staff.
About the Gators
The Florida Gators as much as they are riding high with a 4-0 start and residing in the top ten, still really have some questions to answer. They seem to be improved in almost all phases of offense heading into the matchup with LSU, and we know the defense, but they haven't put a complete game together yet even with a shutout of Kentucky. Here is a breakdown of what we do know.
Sophomore Jeff Driskel (6-3, 235) can run very well. He has a huge prototype arm and all the intangibles you are looking at in a quarterback. The one thing he is lacking is experience and he is getting that week in and week out.
He has been pretty efficient with his passing completing just under 70% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns with only one interception. He is only throwing the ball 20 times a game and that number will slowly rise as he gets more and more comfortable All four touchdown passes have been more than 25 yards with a 50 and 65 yard pass thrown in the mix. He has gotten better and completing the long ball.
The Gators gave up sacks in the Texas A&M contest, and six of them were on Driskel. In the two games following he has been sacked just once. It has required a mindset change and a little bit of growth on his part, but he has done better.
Senior Mike Gillislee (5-11, 208) is the back bone of the offense right now. He is second in the conference in rushing (100.5 yards / game) while being hampered in this early season with a groin injury. He has had a week off and should be better to go. He runs with authority and has the speed to take it all the way. Florida head coach Will Muschamp has praised his ability in pass blocking as well.
Gillislee is backed up by true freshman Matt Jones (6-3, 230) and sophomore Mack Brown (6-0, 216). Jones has quickly learned all the stuff outside of running the ball very quickly and so he sees a lot of playing time when Gillislee needs a rest. He is also the best [pass catcher of the group. Brown may run the hardest of any of them and he has been used in critical situations early this year to get first downs and has produced.
Sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer(5-11, 245) has to be talked about when mentioning the best fullbacks in the conference. He is an excellent blocker and is often times the reason Gillislee gets the hole he is aiming for.
Two H-back players are really important to the offense junior Trey Burton (6-3, 240) and senior Omarius Hines (6-2, 225) could line up anywhere on offense. Burton has 158 yards of total offense this year while Hines has 108 yards.
Receivers and Tight Ends
Senior Frankie Hammond (6-0, 187) has emerged as a play maker for Florida so far. He has the two longest touchdowns on the year (50 and 65 yards) and he has been pretty reliable. He has a 22.8 yard average on his nine catches this year amassing 205 yards. Sophomore Quinton Dunbar(6-1, 189) has 10 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown so far in 2012.
Other complimentary receivers of note include junior Andre Debose (5-11, 189) who has more big plays under his belt in his career than any receiver on the team, but hasn't caught a pass this year. Solomon Patton is the other and while he has only caught one pass for 17 yards he has seven rushes on "Jet Sweeps" for 71 yards and is constantly in motion in this Brent Pease offense.
Florida's starting tight end Jordan Reed (6-3, 243) is Driskel's most common target and leads the team with 16 catches for 193 yards. He is the best physical mismatch for Florida opponents that the gators have. LSU will have to stick a big safety on him to cover him adequately. Florida's other best options at tight end are trey Burton and Omarius Hines mentioned earlier and they have six catches each totaling 158 yards.
The Gators are averaging a nice 6.2 yards every time they snap the ball and the coaches continue to sing the praises for the offensive line as to why this is happening. In fact, they have blocked and protected very well and should not be counted responsible for most of the sacks in the A&M game as mentioned before.
They have had to do their work with two of the top three tackles missing all or a lot of playing time as sophomore Chaz Green (6-5, 310) has missed the last two games and senior Matt Patchan (6-6, 290) has missed all four games this season. The top tackle now is senior Xavier Nixon and he has been nursing a shoulder injury that has caused a battle between him and true freshman D.J. Humphries this week in practice as to who will start. Put your money on the senior in my opinion and Green is likely back for this game.
Inside, junior center Jonotthan Harrison (6-4, 299) is in his second season snapping the ball and has been very solid. Junior Jon Halapio (6-3, 321) gets more praise from the coaching staff than any lineman in the group. Senior James Wilson (6-4, 323) is in his first full year of starting but is also producing good results up front.
Bottom Line On Offense
Florida should get better as the season progresses even though playing a defense like LSU might not show it. There is no doubt this will be the Gators toughest defense to face so far and maybe the entire year, but I expect to see some new wrinkle show up that gives Gator fans even more of a glimmer of hope for this unit.
Pease wants to use motion in his offense and you will see it on almost every play. That has been where Driskel has been impressive, he has really learned how to deal with all the motions and make adjustments on the fly given what the defense shows.
The main motion guys are Burton, Hines, and Patton. Depending on what LSU does, one of those three could very well be the main target in this game. As I suspect LSU will try and play a lot of "man" defense, I suspect one of those three will get the ball a lot.
At the end of the day it is about the running game. If Florida can hit 150 yards rushing I think they can win the game. All of course is also dependent on not turning over the ball.
Scouting Report: Florida Offense
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