Using Personnel Wisely; Offense

With all the talk about the stability of the coaching staff, I thought I would take a look ahead to next season and talk about the personnel on the football field at Florida and maybe how that personnel could be better utilized. This has been a major issue on offense, not only this year, but for the last four years or so. Something has to give but here are my thoughts.

We will start at the head of the offense. The quarterback for 95% of the teams in America is the most important position on the offensive side of the ball. This has been a position that has been so under played in Gainesville since Tim Tebow left played in the Sugar Bowl as a senior in 2009. This will be the fourth full year at Florida without quality play at the quarterback position. To me it is the pinnacle of reasons for the major issues on the team, whether that comes from lack of coaching or lack of personnel, this position has hurt the Gators more than any.

2014 Quarterbacks: Jeff Driskel (JR), Tyler Murphy (JR), Skyler Mornhinweg (SO), Max Staver (FR), Will Grier (FR)

Key Losses: Maybe nobody

One thing in the favor of Florida heading into 2014 is that they will head into the season with a possibility of having three quarterbacks with big game experience. Driskel, Murphy, and Mornhinweg will all have played in big games both in The Swamp and on the road. The first two have won games, while the last will have to pull off one of the biggest upsets in a long time to make that happen this year.

But, let's assume Driskel is the starter and maybe with good reason. The thing that most needs to happen is whoever is the coach next year on offense has to learn to utilize Driskel's talents. There is no sense in having a 5-star physical talent playing for you unless you actually use the skills that make him a 5-star talent. For Driskel, that is a combination of an easy 2-look passing game and a combination of his running ability. We have all seen Driskel throw some beautiful footballs and make some amazing runs as a Gator. The use of both of those tools on a regular basis has to mean you get the best results out of him.

I am going to kind of lump Murphy and Mornhinweg in the same boat here. We saw a little bit of elusiveness from Mornhinweg on Saturday and a bit of pocket presence. Neither guy has a great arm although Murphy is much better than he showed after his injury in the LSU game, still neither guy is going to scare defenses with their arm. And I am making a little bit of an assumption here, but I would imagine that Mornhinweg is an intelligent kid, being a coach's son and all.

Let these guys run a lot of zone read plays in the running game and west coast style (short and medium) passing game mixed in with some fades that Murphy threw well in the Tennessee game. There is some talk that Murphy may transfer after the year because he wants to start somewhere, but we wll have to see where that goes.

Staver and Grier are the same type of players. More traditional drop back guys with strong arms, but a bit of mobility to play in the running game. I really like that you have two similar types because they can be game planned together well. These two can make all the throws and Grier's background as a coach's son and prolific passer likely means is more adept at reading defenses than most.

Whoever is the guy, they need to coach to that player's strengths. With really three different types of quarterbacks, that might not be easy, but when they figure out the starter, they need to go with it.

2014 Running backs Mack Brown (SR), Matt Jones (JR), Kelvin Taylor (SO), Adam Lane (FR), Dalvin Cook? (FR)

Key Losses: Maybe nobody

Here the Gators need to find a second starter type. We know that Kelvin Taylor is that type and have to expect him to grow with another year of maturity. Taylor has gotten better at the power runs and I expect that to continue as he gets older.

I am a big fan of Mack Brown as a power runner. We have seen his limitations in the open field and I think that is where they have to find that second guy. Maybe that is Jones, maybe Adams, maybe if Cook shows he is Taylor's partner on the front line.

At the end of the day, with the late arrival of Taylor on the field this year I think we learned they need to get the best two guys on the field as often they can and really get them coaches up as early as they can.

If they continue to have issues on the offensive line, they need to really work on the screen game. It seems the play was called correctly a bunch of times this year, but the execution was horrible more times than not. To neutralize bad Oline play, the screen can be a very good friend.

2014 Receivers: Quinton Dunbar (SR), Andre Debose (SR), Latroy Pittman (JR), Raph Andrades (JR), Ahmad Fulwood (SO), Demarcus Robinson (SO), Chris Thompson (SO), Marqui Hawkins (FR) Alvin Bailey (FR), Ermon Lane? (FR)

Key Losses: Solomon Patton, Trey Burton

Dunbar is a proven commodity and if they can figure out a way to get him in the number two spot instead of as the number one receiver, I think he could actually be more productive there. He is a guy that can make all the catches, but isn't usually going to get you a lot after the catch. CA very solid two guy in my opinion.

The guy left that took the greatest steps is Fulwood, as a freshman. He has come on a lot lately and has been able to make the tough catches over the middle. A long strider, if he can learn to get better releases from man coverage, he is a guy that could be that number one guy.

The X-factor here could be Debose. The staff was so high on him in the fall before his injury. It really did seem like it might be his year. We already know he can stretch the field and a focused Debose could do a lot of good for this team.

Robinson is a wait and see at this point. He could be a transfer type player because of off the field indiscretions, but there is no doubt about his talent. He needs to focus on staying clean and focus on the playbook to get back in stride for a lot of playing time.

I think a lot of folks forgot about Pittman. The fact is coming out of spring he was listed as a starter along with Dunbar. Off the field issues set him behind and he never has caught back up. I kind of put him in the number two receiver type spot as well. Like Dunbar he has the flare for the spectacular catch but not the breakaway speed.

Andrades got on the field more as a freshman than he has as a sophomore, I am not sure if he may be red-shirting. He is a bit of an enigma, certainly not a number one guy, but a good blocker on the edge and could be a good possession receiver.

Hawkins is a physical type receiver as well. He could be a deep threat and fight off bigger corners, he has had a good fall on the scout team.

Thompson and Bailey are jitterbug types. Thompson has the pure blistering speed that can stretch the field fast. That is something they need to work with when they open up the passing game a bit. Bailey is more of the quick type player, but is fast in his own right. Neither guy is a big receiver, but both can be explosive, something so drastically missing from this offense.

Lane is the current receiver commitment of which they hope they can land a couple more. He has the size, speed, and strength to be the man in the offense. His physical traits are the kind that they need to find a way to utilize him early on and keep building on it. Something they haven't done well on offense this year.

2014 Tight ends: Tevin Westbrook (SR), Clay Burton (SR), Kent Taylor (SO), Colin Thompson (SO), DeAndre Goolsby?(FR)

Key Losses: Maybe Nobody

The most underutilized position on offense, they have to find someone to step in and supply good minutes here. I have all the love in the world for guys like Westbrook and Burton that come in and were supposed to play on the other side of the ball but make the move and do whatever they can to get on the field. But, they have to find someone that can both at the line of scrimmage and go out and catch a pass and be an issue for opposing defenses.

Maybe one of these two can break the trend they have been in and we have seen some positive things from Westbrook this season, but they have one more year to figure it out.

Thompson was supposed to be that guy, but the kid just can't get healthy. He has the ideal tools to be the dual blocker / receiver, but can't seem to use them because of his health. Taylor is strictly a pass catcher, and depending on who you believe may be a transfer risk. Depending on who is coaching this side of the ball next year, Taylor could be a weapon.

Goolsby committed this month and is a guy that fits both the blocking and receiving role. Again, he is another freshman they need to get in the mix early.

2014 Offensive linemen: Max Garcia (SR), Trenton Brown (SR), Chaz Green (SR), Ian Silberman (SR), Tyler Moore (JR), D.J. Humphries (JR), Trip Thurman (JR), Quinteze Williams(SO), Octavius Jackson (FR), Tevin Young (FR), Roderick Johnson (FR), Cameron Dillard (FR)

Key Losses: Jonotthan Harrison, Jon Halapio, Kyle Koehne

The offensive line returns seven upper classmen that have played a good deal of football. That is highly unusual. The line as a whole hasn't played well this year. They have had to deal with injuries a great deal, but they should be better. Something has to happen here to snap them out of that.

The big one to find in this unit is at the center position. They like Dillard as a freshman, but I would look for Moore to move inside where most think he is probably a better player anyway.

It should be a good fight at tackle with Humphries, Brown and Green to figure out two of the three starters. Garcia could option out there as well as he seems to be playing well at the position right now.

Garcia, Silberman, and Thurman all have some experience and should fight for the guard spots.

Depth from the freshman class will most likely come from Jackson and Johnson along with Dillard. Jackson was the guy most likely to step on the field this year out of the class, but Johnson is probably the one in the long run they lie the best. He had an injury that kept him from getting playing time in year one. I think these two guys could end up inside or outside honestly, they both are quick and have size. Young is also promising and a guy that has come a long way since moving to tackle in mid-August.

At the end of the day there are only two receivers and three linemen that are graduating and moving on. If they avoid the transfers and get healthy, there could be a lot of familiar faces that should have played more this year tossed in with some talented youth at the skill positions. Coach them up right and it could be a surprising offensive roster in 2014. But getting the put in the positions that favor their skills is something the staff has to do a much better job of.


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