Muschamp notebook: Improving the run

The Gators want to control the clock and have success on the ground when they have the ball. The yards are there because of the volume of run plays, but the Florida offense hasn't shown the necessary production on the ground this year. Matt Jones and Mack Brown are averaging 4.3 and 3.7 yards per carry respectively after Mike Gillislee averaged 4.7 last year. It needs to improve this week at LSU.

The film showed the Florida staff the lack of production on the ground. The Gators struggled to get push up front, and while it came against a defensive line that Will Muschamp called the best group Florida had seen to that point, the lack of open holes has happened too often this season.

"We need to run it better," Muschamp said. "We need to do a better job inside of getting some movement in the run game."

Matt Jones was expected to carry the load on the ground this season, but he missed all of fall camp while battling a viral infection. He returned against Miami but admitted he wasn't back into a groove for that game or Tennessee two weeks later. He ran for 176 yards against Kentucky while showing signs of hope, but it was back down to 17 carries for 50 yards against the Razorbacks on Saturday, only 2.9 yards per carry.

Mack Brown had the best game of the two against Arkansas, getting to 40 yards on 11 carries and averaging 3.5 yards per carry.

The two-headed monster hasn't been scaring many teams. For an offense that wants to pound the ball on the ground, the Gators need more yards to come from their running backs. It all starts up front with the interior of the offensive line getting push. It's a veteran group with seniors Jonotthan Harrison at center and Jon Halapio at right guard, but they need to get back to where the run game was last year.

"Movement -- movement inside," Muschamp said about the key to improvement. "We had a hard time with their inside guys. They did a nice job, a nice job scheming with some movement on some things. But just movement inside. There wasn't a whole lot of movement inside as far as what we were trying to do. We did bounce the ball on couple runs in some situations to get some success but more than anything it was just movement inside."

DRISKEL STILL AROUND: Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel stayed with the team at its hotel on Friday night before the Arkansas game. He continues to sit in the quarterback room with his teammates, wanting to be involved and help the group however he can.

Muschamp would like for Driskel to make the trip to Baton Rouge with the team on Saturday, but no final decision has been made.

"Having Jeff around, certainly Tyler and he have a great relationship," Muschamp said. "Anything that helps Tyler play well, we'll do."

VETERANS STEPPING UP AT RECEIVER: Muschamp doesn't want to give up on players early in their careers. The wide receiver position on the Florida roster is a clear example of why. With two seniors and a junior leading the Gators in the passing game, Florida is finally seeing Trey Burton, Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton emerge into the players they need on the edge.

All three players have been through recent years and heard about Florida's lack of playmakers at the receiver position. They're now starting to disprove those claims.

"Looking at it defensively, you better account for Solomon Patton. Quinton Dunbar has made vertical plays down the field. Trey Burton has been a guy that's been in the intermediate zones as far catching," Muschamp said. "As you watch the tape, you're sitting there thinking we're going to create some one-on-ones. We need to win those one-on-ones. There's no question the success and the explosive plays of the passing game will help the running game."?

Patience has been the key at the receiver position in Gainesville. They are getting improved production because of the coaching. First-year receivers coach Joker Phillips has taken over the position, and now under his wing, it's not a coincidence the Gators are seeing receivers get open more this year. Extra years of experience has helped the unit, too.

"We all mature differently," Muschamp said. "We all want it to happen when they're freshmen in their first game, but that's not always the way it happens. Solomon Patton is a great example of that. Tyler Murphy is a great example of that. When they get their opportunity, they cash in and play well.

"Been extremely proud of those guys, but a lot of the vertical plays have happened when people outnumber us in the box. So now we've been able to make some of those vertical players where last year we didn't consistently do that."


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