Gators need offensive improvement during bye

The Florida offense looked on its way to a big season under first-year coordinator Kurt Roper following a blowout win over Eastern Michigan to start the year, but the beginning of Southeastern Conference play changed that. The Gators now have things to fix in the coming bye week.

QUARTERBACK PLAY: It all starts here. Jeff Driskel simply has to play better for Florida to have success the rest of the way. He played the worst game of his career at Alabama, ending 9-28 for 93 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He looked rattled in the pocket, despite the offensive line actually doing its own in pass blocking situations.

The concern is what kind of improvements Driskel can make in the two weeks of practice before playing at Tennessee on October 4. The accuracy and inability to hit deep balls has been a problem during the previous years of his career, and after a full offseason to work with Kurt Roper, is there hope that the accuracy on throws down the field will improve in two weeks?

The Gators desperately need that to happen this week. Driskel did get more involved in the rushing game against Alabama, running the football 11 times on Saturday after just seven total rushes in the first two games of the year. Roper could lean more on using Driskel in the running game and hope to make an impact that way.

The questions that continue over the next two weeks center on freshman backup quarterback Treon Harris. His two-pass, two-touchdown performance in the Eastern Michigan game ramped up the expectations. This would be a good time to get Harris prepared to play more as soon as Tennessee. The Gators have two weeks of practice to get Harris more reps and ready to make an impact during a game.

It seems unlikely that the Florida coaches would bench Driskel after three games this season, but it could be in their best interest to get Harris more snaps. He worked out of a wildcat formation against Eastern Michigan and showed the arm to be able to throw down the field later in that game.

GET MORE RECEIVERS INVOLVED: Remember when six different receivers and 11 total players caught passes in the Florida opener? It feels like a long time ago. Since that game, two players have caught more than two passes in one game -- Demarcus Robinson’s 15 catches against Kentucky and Clay Burton’s three catches against Alabama. A big part of this is on Driskel's inability to hit receivers down the field.

Robinson will still be featured. Quinton Dunbar caught a pass against Alabama, his 31st straight game doing so, even with an important third-down drop. But what’s surprising is the lack of involvement from other players.

Ahmad Fulwood looked like an impact receiver during fall camp. He was targeted down the field routinely and came down with the ball more often than not. He was targeted in the end zone against Kentucky, but that was it. Most of his six catches have come close to the line of scrimmage, which isn’t the best way to use his 6-4, 200-pound frame.

Before the Kentucky game, Muschamp said the coaches needed to get Andre Debose more involved in the offense after he didn’t catch a pass in the opener. In the two games since, Debose has one catch that lost three yards. He won’t be the game-changing receiver most expected out of high school, but he should still get a few touches a game.

USE THE RUNNING BACK DEPTH: The backfield depth was billed as one of the most positives parts of the Florida roster on offense, but during conference games, Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor are the only two backs to rush the ball. Even then, Jones has out-touched Taylor 41-19 in conference games. Jones has been a bruiser, averaging 86 yards per game this season, but Taylor needs to get more rushes. Both backs are averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

Mack Brown can also fill in, but I don’t have much of an issue with Jones and Taylor getting touches of him. Freshman Brandon Powell is the one that should be more involved. He’s versatile and can catch passes out of the backfield, but he has the game breaking speed from the backfield that Florida needs. For as good as Jones and Taylor are, neither of them are a threat to break off a long run for a touchdown.

Powell is that. Going into the Kentucky game, Muschamp said Powell would be more involved. Since that, he hasn’t touched the football. He might be a freshman with more experienced players ahead of him, but his skillset is one that the Florida offense needs to find ways to utilize during the bye week.

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