Hollywood Bob: After Further Review

Okay, I took last week off on this one because I just thought we needed to try and move forward instead of rehashing the same old stuff everyone was blistering on the boards about a loss. This week I decided to concentrate my watch on the replay of the UF-Arkansas game on specifically two areas. Run blocking and use of formations and also the five wide receiver set and its use in the passing game.

To me the most important to talk about is the running game, because I just get the feeling that people watch a game and even when the plays are successful a lot of the time, they get bogged down on the plays that aren't working. I don't know why that is, but after analyzing the game on the replay, the Gator's ran the ball well, even despite the very long runs for touchdown.

Now all of this has to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt after acknowledging that Arkansas is not a very good run stopping defensive team. Still, the point that I am trying to make is that fans are still caught up after a game like Saturday and complaining that the running game is stagnant or not working. At least on Saturday, that is not the case.

In order to make my point we have to define what a successful offensive play is. For purposes of "staying the course" when putting together an offensive drive, most coaches adhere to just a couple of rules when it comes to the success of the play. For our purposes we are going to say that a successful 1st-and-10 play, is one that nets at least four yards. On second down, the play has to net half the distance to a first down and on third down the play has to net a first down. With those three simple rules in mind we will continue.

Against Arkansas the Gators ran the ball a lot, which we knew they would do. After analyzing the running plays through the first 11 drives, which was until the second teamers were all inserted I came up with these numbers. The Gators had 23 successful running plays and nine that were not. Almost 75 percent of the running plays they called were successful. Here are the details.

The Gators ran the ball 12 times on 1st-and-10 in the 11 series and were successful on eight of them. They successfully ran the option once for eight yards to Harvin and again on a keeper for Tebow for nine. They ran a H-back lead over the left guard where Rainey got five yards. They ran two Inside Zone plays with Demps for 11 and 5 yards respectively. They finished off the 11 series with successful runs on 1st and 10 and with three sweeps of 4 and 5 yards to Harvin although Harvin cut back the opposite direction on one of them because of penetration by the defensive line. The last successful 1st and 10 run was another sweep with Rainey on the left side (the wide side) for 11 yards.

The four unsuccessful runs on 1st-and-ten were all very minor errors in execution. Harvin was stopped for a loss in the first drive on a play that actually netted a 15 yard face mask penalty. On the play, the RT is supposed to brush block the defensive end enough to slow him down. He brushed, but the DE had enough momentum to shoot to the backfield and get Harvin. If Jason Watkins holds that block for a half second more, Harvin scores as the rest of the blocking on the play was absolutely beautiful.

On the second unsuccessful 1st-and-10 run, the right guard was supposed to pull and the H-back as a lead blocker for Rainey. Mike Pouncey pulls out of his stance a moment too late and missed his block and his man hits Rainey in the backfield but he manages to scrape one yard out of the run.

The third unsuccessful run saw a six man offensive line and another Inside Zone run. The straight ahead blocking is probably the easiest mentally on the line, but tougher physically because it means you are just called to whip the man in front of you and push them back. On this particular play center Maurkice Pouncey didn't quite get enough his man and Jeffrey Demps was only able to get one yard on the carry.

On the last unsuccessful 1st-and-10 offensive run, the Gators implored a five man offensive front. With Harvin and Demps in the backfield with Tebow the play was a sweep left, but the entire left side was caved in when two linebackers just bull rushed the line on that side and Harvin miraculously turned a loss into only a two yard gain. We can chalk this one up to good play by Arkansas.

The most successful running play on the day was the straight up Inside Zone. This is a true indicator that the offensive line of Florida was just more physical than the defensive front of Arkansas. Through the first 11 series the Gators ran the Inside Zone 13 times and were successful on ten of them.

The next most successful play was the option. From a percentage stand point it was actually more successful than the zone runs. On the option the Gators were successful on five of the six times they tried it. The lone bad play was on the second series of the game when Brandon James lost six yards. Tebow had the option to keep or hand to James on an a sweep left. The DE got such a late start up field that it actually helped him keep from losing containment on James and he slammed inside for a six yard loss. Had Tebow kept the ball and started right, he had a swinging gate and a lot of room to run on that side. The read on whether to hand off is whether the DE is slamming down on Tebow or not, this time Tebow read it wrong.

The Gators tried five non-option sweeps and were slightly successful overall finishing with three good plays. The same exact numbers happened on plays that had a pulling guard or tackle in them. The least successful run on the day was the straight ahead run with a lead blocking H-back. The Gators only made one good play of three and so they went away from that.

What I found most common with plays that didn't work was either a bad read by the quarterback or a slightly missed block where an Arkansas defender made a play. Like I mentioned, some blocks are just scrapes to slow down a defender and then move on to the next level, however, the first defender is the most important in the beginning of the play and every once in a while in the Arkansas game, the blocker released his guy a tad faster than would be optimal. These things are going to happen.


Five wide receiver set...

This is probably the least liked formation for Gator fans, yet we continue to see it from the Gators. I caught a few things with the formation during the Arkansas game.

First, one reason the fans don't like it is because the success rate is very low. Well, that didn't change in the Arkansas game, but there is an underlying reason for that. The Gators ran the 5-wide set 11 times in the game Saturday and were only successful twice. After further review, the evidence shows that the staff calls the play when the Gators are in very bad down and distance situations. On the 11 calls the down and distance situations were, 2nd -16, 3rd -16, 1st -20, 1st -25, 1st -35, 2nd -35, 3rd -3, 1st -10, 1st -10, 2nd -10, 2nd -13. Only three of those situations would be deemed normal to good down and distance situations.

The Gators had successful gains on only two of the 11 and that was the 3rd -3 with a short pass over the middle for a 1st down and also the 2nd -13 in the drive where Percy eventually caught his touchdown pass. Almost every one of the other situations a good play was going to be close to impossible getting half the distance to a first down or a first down from a third down play.


Here is one last note on the offense. We saw John Brantley do something in his lone drive that I wish the offense would use more readily under Tebow. It is a simple play and almost an after thought, but something that could really be a devastating tool for this offense. Brantley hit Jeffrey Demps, the running back on a pass play, for a simple flare out pass. Demps was most likely the last or next to last option on the play, but he simply ran a little two to three yard flare route and was thrown the ball after Brantley didn't find a receiver open. With Demps, Rainey, and Moody out there, this could be a huge play waiting to happen.

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