Inside the Numbers - Lets Compare Systems

[MEDIA:33888]<BR><BR> <B>Ed Zaunbrecher</B> was the offensive coordinator for the Marshall Thundering Herd in 2000 and 2001. He now holds the same position at the University of Florida. While at Marshall, his offense put up numbers strikingly similar to Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n Gun offense. Lets take a look "Inside the Numbers."

Steve Spurrier forever changed the SEC and Gator football.  The 'Old Ball Coach' instantly installed his offense in Gainesville and it showed instant success, and at the same time, revolutionized the conference.  He has now moved on to the NFL and Ron Zook has taken over reigns.  But the offensive reigns belong to Ed Zaunbrecher.  In a bold move, Zook hired him away from Bob Pruett and Marshall.  Zaunbrecher's teams have put up some incredible offensive numbers over the last two seasons.  Let's compare those to Florida's.

  • Florida's offense under Spurrier was lethal when two things happened - they rushed for over 100 yards in a game and had three go-to receivers.  Since 1999, Florida is 27-2 when they rush for 100 yards or more in a game... Marshall is 12-1 since the 2000 campaign when they rush for 100 yards or more. 
  • Last season, Marshall's triple threat at receiver was outstanding.  Darius Watts caught 91 passes for 1,417 yards and 18 TDs.  Josh Davis caught 79 passes for 961 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Denero Marriott caught 56 passes for 800 yards and nine touchdowns.  The three totaled 226 catches for 3,178 yards and scored 32 touchdowns.  Florida's big three last year, Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell and Taylor Jacobs had super seasons as well.  Gaffney caught 67 passes for 1,119 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Caldwell caught 65 passes for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Jacobs caught 38 passes for 712 yards and scored 7 touchdowns. The Gator trio recorded 170 receptions for 2,972 yards and 30 TDs.
  • Florida's red-zone efficiency last season was an astounding 89.8 % (53/59 with 40 touchdowns and 13 field goals).  Last year, Marshall was slightly more efficient.  They scored 46 of 51 chances inside the 20 (39 TDs and 7 FGs).  That is a percentage of  90.2%.
  • Last season, Marshall had a third down conversion percentage of 48.8% (79/162) and in 2000 it was 36% (63/173).  In 2001, Florida's 3rd down percentage was 45% (60/132).

One thing both offenses have in common over the last two seasons is the triggermen.  Rex Grossman and Byron Leftwich (above) are two of the nation's finest quarterbacks that execute wide open, offensive styles.  Now, Florida's Grossman gets to operate Zaunbrecher's scheme. 

There are some subtle differences between Zaunbrecher and Spurrier in terms of offensive scheme.  Spurrier's passing game is more vertical and he would go over the top every chance he got.  Zaunbrecher's passing scheme is more horizontal, meaning shorter passes, stretching the field in all directions.  He will also use the shotgun formation much more than Spurrier did.  In addition, Zaunbrecher will use the one-back set more. 

When it comes to the running game, Spurrier used three or four different run plays per game.  Zaunbrecher will use seven to eight including counters and traps.

  • The run pass ratio for both teams last season was obviously more skewed to the pass.  So, who ran the ball more and more effectively in 2001?  Marshall.  They rushed for 1,859 yards (on 403 attempts) at a clip of 4.6 per rush.  Florida gained 1,346 yards (on 324 attempts) at 4.2 per rush.  Marshall threw 477 times last season while Florida threw 464 times.  The overall run/ pass ratio for Florida last season was 41/ 59% in favor of the pass.  Marshall was 46/54% in favor of the pass.

These are just numbers comparing the schemes and squads.  Zook hired Zaunbrecher for a reason... the guy can coach and he has an excellent offensive scheme that has had great success over the last two seasons at Marshall.  The big question is will Zaunbrecher's offense show this kind of success against the competition level of the SEC, Miami and Florida State?  Yes he will have better players then he had at Marshall and the top quarterback in college football, but how will it unfold in 2002?

Several things will be critical for Florida's success this season. First, you have to start with Grossman. He was sensational in spring, picking up the offense and picking apart the defense. The ball rarely touched the ground with Grossman at the helm.

Second, the offensive line must gel and gel quickly, with critical September contests against football powers Miami and Tennessee. In addition, the entire offense needs to be on the same page.

Third, Florida needs a consistent running game each and every game. If Earnest Graham and Ran Carthon stay healthy, hitting the century mark should happen more times than not. The past has proven in Gainesville and Huntington that 100 yard rushing games equal victory.

Finally, receivers need to emerge. We all know Taylor Jacobs will be the go to guy. But who will become the second and third receivers? It's now Carlos Perez and Kelvin Kight's time to shine. If not, someone better step up.

If these four things happen, Zaunbrecher's Gator offense shouldn't miss a beat. At least the numbers say so.

Time will tell.



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