First of all perception can be reality during the recruiting process for many student athletes. One perception being thrown out there is that the Gators are not landing top name receivers because they do not throw the ball down the field. I am not sure I buy into this argument. To me, this is a myth that perpetuates with negative recruiting. The fact that UF's passing game does include a variety of bubble screens give ammo to the argument. Sprinkle in the fact that this is not Steve Spurrier's offense anymore and some are using that against UF.
I think the Gators will land a top flight receiver and maybe even two in this signing class. If an athlete does not believe UF is the place to better themselves as a wide receiver they may want to look at the numbers from last season compared to there rivals.
Let's see how UF's passing game stacks up with other's in the SEC and rivals Miami and Florida State. UF was the only team to play a true freshman quarterback and he did not even start until his fifth game of the season. I will also remind you he won at Arkansas, versus Georgia and in Baton Rouge against the National Champions. Florida had the SEC's number two passing offense behind only Ole Miss .
Florida averaged 7.9 yds per pass
Florida averaged 13.1 yds per catch
Florida averaged 5.9 yds per play
Florida had 20 touchdowns passing and 21 td's rushing.
Miami averaged 6.8 yds per pass
Miami averaged 11.4 per catch
Miami averaged 5.6 per play
Miami had 15 touchdowns passing and 18 td's rushing
FSU averaged 8.0 per pass
FSU averaged 14.1 yds per catch
FSU averaged 5.8 yds per play
FSU had 26 touchdowns passing and 20 td's rushing
Georgia (#3 in SEC Passing)
Georgia averaged 7.5 yds per pass
Georgia averaged 12.5 yds per catch
Georgia averaged 5.2 yds per play
Georgia had 14 touchdowns passing and 22 td's rushing
Tennessee (#4 in SEC Passing)
Tennessee averaged 7.2 yds per pass
Tennessee averaged 12.7 per catch
Tennessee averaged 5.5 per play
Tennessee had 28 touchdowns passing and 14 td's rushing
LSU (#5 in SEC Passing)
LSU averaged 8.1yds per pass
LSU averaged 12.8yds per catch
LSU averaged 5.9 yds per play
LSU had 30 touchdowns passing and 24 rushing
Ole Miss (#1 in SEC Passing)
Ole Miss averaged 8.3 per pass
Ole Miss averaged 13.2 per catch
Ole Miss averaged 6.0 per play
Ole Miss had 31 td's passing and 18 rushing
Miami, FSU, Georgia and LSU started junior quarterbacks this season. Matt Mauck will turn pro and Tennessee and Ole Miss had seniors who started multiple years for their programs. The stat that stands out the most to me is yards per catch. This means it was a perfect job of getting the center exchange and delivering the ball to the receiver for a completion.
Ole Miss with Eli Manning averaged more yards per completion than Florida. Manning may be the overall number one pick in this year's NFL Draft and led the Rebels to their best season in thirty years. UF's also averaged more offensive yards per play than anyone except for Ole Miss. The Rebels nosed out the Gators by averaging 6.0 yds per play this season. UF tied with National Champion LSU at 5.9 yds per play. UF was also comparable in total touchdowns with most teams but balance was the most important factor for the Gators.
There are a few contributing factors to the myth that UF does not throw the ball down the field –
1. They not only run the bubble screen, but they are very effective with it.
2. UF started a true freshman at quarterback for eight games.
3. The spread offense is about wearing down defenses with a numerous amount of plays.
4. Steve Spurrier probably threw 2% of the bubble screens at UF.
Why is UF's offense and the bubble screen good for players?
1. It allows many receivers the opportunity to receive the ball. Nine different players caught touchdowns this season and nine had more than ten receptions.
2. The bubble screen gets the ball into your playmakers hands quickly on the perimeter. See Carlos Perez's touchdown vs Georgia.
3. The bubble screen also can tire out the defensive line, which lends help to the running game.
The screen can also help open the middle of the field for #3 wide receivers and tight ends. Ben Troupe became an All-American and a first round draft pick in this year's offense.
This information and rationalization give some credence to what UF did this year offensively, but the fact remains that when you win eight games and top your opponents win 10 and 11 games you will encounter some negative feedback.
Negative recruiting has become common practice against the Gators in the first two years under Ron Zook and with it as such wins and losses can be expected. But the fact remains the Gator offense is very comparable to some of the top teams in the country. In fact UF had 53 plays of 20+ yards this season while National Champ LSU had 37 such plays. These are facts that can put a stop to the myth that UF does not generate big pass plays in their passing game.
Snippetts and Tidbits
By my unofficial count UF has roughly around 67 players on scholarship, which means they could only sign 18 on Wednesday. But the Gators will probably sign more. Certainly, when you over sign, the thought that there could be some attrition and transfers. I believe UF could lose as many as five to seven from the current roster for various reasons. By my counts UF will have 25 upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) on scholarship in the spring. That means 61% of next years team will be underclassman.
Speaking of scholarship players I had the opportunity to see Markell Thompson on the hoof for the first time. He is huge and looks like a fit big offensive tackle. He played on both sides of the ball in Juco and could end up at defense if some others tight end prospects work out.
One tape Chris Leak will be watching the next six weeks is third down cut-ups. Florida was only 33% on third downs last season and Leak will study each down and distance situation to see how he could get that number up near 40%. This is a percentage that the coaches would be much more comfortable with.
With the final two days of recruiting going on, here is my final-final prediction by position: QB, WR(2),OL (1), DL (2), LB(2)and 1 more "other" to give UF 25 signees.
The Gators blew an opportunity to gain ground Saturday with the loss to Tennessee in Knoxville. Tennessee attempted 30 free throws in the game while UF only had 23 free throws. UF was also out rebounded 43 to 24.Billy Donovan was not excited about the officiating and will send the tape of the game to the league office. There were several questionable calls including a blatant miss by the referee with three minutes to go when a Volunteer had possession of the ball while standing out of bounds. One glaring reminder that UF did not do a great job rebounding is that the center combo of Colas and Moss combined for three rebounds. Kentucky has won four in a row vs UF and if the Gators lose at home they will be 4-4 at the halfway point in the conference schedule. For UF to win David Lee must play better but keep an eye on the backcourt of Fitch and Hawkins who not only can play offensively but will dog you on the defensive end.
Stat of the Week: 2,000
When UF faces Vanderbilt Saturday in the O Dome it will be the Gators 2,000th game in basketball history.