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How Important is Earnest Graham to Gators?

[MEDIA:33888]<BR>How important is <B>Earnest Graham</B> to the Florida Gators and their success? He is a vital part to Florida's offense. Lets take a look <B>"Inside the Numbers."</B>

How important is Earnest Graham to the Florida Gators?  Last season, he was critical to their success and failure.  In their two loses (Auburn and Tennessee), Graham did not play.  Coincidence?  I do not think so.

Since Earnest Graham became a regular in 1999, he has been paramount to the success of Steve Spurrier's Florida teams.  The Gators are 28-4 when Graham just suits up, 19-1 when he rushes for 50 yards or more and 7-1 when he rushes for 100 yards or more.  The lone loss came in the Sugar Bowl against Miami, where Graham rushed for 136 yards.

In the nine Florida defeats since 1999, Graham did not play in four of those games.  The Gators only rushed for 52.3 yards per game with an average of 2.9 yards per carry.

Had Graham stayed healthy, Florida may have played Miami for the National Championship this past season.  And though Coach Spurrier loved to throw the football all over the field, the running game was paramount to their ultimate success.  Lets look back over the past ten years or so.  Florida's offense was THAT much better and productive when Errect Recht, Fred Taylor and Earnest Graham could control the football between the tackles.

Graham is now a senior and Steve Spurrier is now gone.  The Fun and Gun is a distant memory and Florida now moves into the Ron Zook/ Ed Zaunbrecher era.  The Gators promise to have another wide open, fun offense, where they will pass the ball and pass it often.  But again, the ultimate key to Florida's success this season, will be their running game and Earnest Graham. Lets take a look "Inside the Numbers."

1999

Earnest Graham Rushing Team Rushing Attempts/ Yards
Florida 55 Western Michigan 26 158 41/ 289
Florida 58 Central Florida 65 42/ 117
Florida 23 Tennessee 21 85 27/ 123
Florida 38 Kentucky 10 3 33/ 224
Alabama 40 Florida 39 did not play 21/ 140
Florida 31 LSU 10 did not play 30/ 118
Florida 32 Auburn 14 did not play 36/ 189
Florida 30 Georgia 14 46 39/ 171
Florida 13 Vanderbilt 6 124 40/ 126
Florida 20 South Carolina 3 105 34/ 139
FSU 30 Florida 23 41 22/ 62
Alabama 34 Florida 7 27 20/ 31
Michigan State 37 Florida 34 did not play 30/ 67

2000

Earnest Graham Rushing Team Rushing Attempts/ Yards
Florida 40 Ball State 19 19 34/ 136
Florida 55 MTSU 0 85 30/ 158
Florida 27 Tennessee 23 40 21/ 39
Florida 59 Kentucky 31 128 35/ 190
Mississippi State 47 Florida 35 3 22/ -78
Florida 41 LSU 9 46 34/ 175
Florida 38 Auburn 7 46 29/ 116
Florida 34 Georgia 23 13 32/ 69
Florida 43 Vanderbilt 20 60 38/ 141
Florida 41 South Carolina 21 55 31/ 152
FSU 30 Florida 7 33 20/ 37
Florida 28 Auburn 6 169 35/ 191
Miami 37 Florida 20 136 20/ 140

2001

Earnest Graham Rushing Team Rushing Attempts/ Yards
Florida 49 Marshall 14 53 28/ 111
Florida 55 Louisiana-Monroe 6 82 31/ 168
Florida 44 Kentucky 10 86 32/ 168
Florida 52 Mississippi State 0 74 30/ 133
Florida 44 LSU 15 55 26/ 128
Auburn 23 Florida 20 did not play 18/ 36
Florida 23 Georgia 10 131 38/ 177
Florida 71 Vaderbilt 13 36 37/ 168
Florida 54 South Carolina 17 91 31/ 170
Florida 37 FSU 13 43 30/ 123
Tennessee 34 Florida 32 did not play 23/ 36
Florida 56 Maryland 23 149 25/ 203

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