Florida's Scoring Machine - Part II

The Florida offense was potent last season, scoring more than 500 points and 45 or more points in eight of their wins. But they were still a bit shy of the incredible numbers the 1996 team put on the scoreboard. With nearly the entire offense intact, will 2008 be the year that the scoring records from 1996 fall?

The 1996 National Championship team threw up 46.6 points per game, and that mark remains the best ever in Gator history. Last season's offensive output ranks fifth all-time behind the 1995 (44.5), 2001 (43.8) and 1994 (43.4) teams.

There are several signs that point towards Florida breaking the mark set in 1996 when they take the field this fall, but there are also factors to be considered that could point towards them scoring fewer points than last year's 42.5. Yesterday, we looked at the factors that prohibited Florida from scoring more points last season that should improve for the '08 season. Today, we'll take a look at some of the amazing stats from '07 that will be tough to duplicate.

#1 Quick Drives – The Gators had an uncanny ability to score quickly last season. Florida scored 27 touchdowns on drives that were less than two minutes long. And eight of those scoring drives were less than a minute in length. More than a third of the Gator touchdowns were on short drives and that excludes another large number of scores that came on drives shorter than three minutes. Not to say that Florida won't be a quick scoring team again in '08 because they certainly have the skill players, but their ability last fall to score quickly and the willingness of the staff to call deep passing plays enabled Florida to score lots of points.

#2 Third Downs – Florida's ability to convert on third downs was unbelievable in 2007, and it may be tough to match this fall. Florida led the nation with a conversion rate of 53.4 percent, but recent Gator teams haven't had as much success. In the national championship season in 2006, Florida converted 44.3 percent of its third down attempts good for No. 21 nationally. In Urban Meyer's first season, Florida converted on just 38.1 percent of its third downs. In the championship season of 1996, the Gators were successful 41 percent of the time. So unless Florida can repeat last season's incredible success rate on third downs, it will mean fewer points on the board.

#3 Red Zone Efficiency – Just like third down conversions, Florida was proficient inside opponent's red zones last year. Florida scored 88 percent of the time with touchdowns coming on 75 percent of those trips inside the 20-yard line. In comparison, Florida's touchdown success in '07 alone was better than their overall scoring success in '06. In 2006, the Gators scored 74 percent of the time with touchdowns on just 66 percent of their trips. Florida had better success in Meyer's first season, scoring 79 percent of the time, but the Gators got six points less than 60 percent of the time.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski

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