An underwhelming season for the Florida Gators culminates Saturday afternoon. There will be no bowl game, there will be no .500 or better season. But what players and fans alike are hoping for is an all-time upset of potentially Pasadena-bound Florida State.
This week's film review checks out the Gator strategy on offense, defense and the rabid fans in the Swamp stands.
Second year offensive coordinator Brent Pease has shuffled philosophy and personnel probably more than even than he thought possible in the preseason. Offensive line, tailback and quarterback have all taken hits at varying points this season, and barring the unlikely return of Tyler Murphy under center, the Gators will have to continue their creative run of playcalling in order to trip up the 'Noles.
Before unveiling some of the oddities, we'll review an old concept that Florida is certainly going to implement Saturday afternoon.
The Gators took advantage of five turnovers in the 2012 win at Doak Campbell Stadium, and after quarterback EJ Manuel's fourth-quarter fumble, Florida struck quickly. The concept for the Mike Gillislee touchdown, noted below was simple power.
Florida pulls the right guard to lead the way, with a misdirection end-around fake. Why would the 'Noles have to honor such a fake? Let's flash forward to a game just two weeks ago and see why.
In a hard-fought loss to South Carolina, the Gators had to venture into the dusty depths of gimmick playbooks. One such example is noted below.
The Wildcat concept is nothing new, but in watching this play develop, there's a power wrinkle combined with a shotgun spread look too. Trey Burton (yes, he's still there) takes the snap and uses his read-option instincts to either give the ball or keep it for a run up the middle.
The run up the middle, however, is made more potent by a pulling left tackle. Though it is just one play out of the Wildcat look, this power option shows how multiple the Gators are forced to be on the ground.
Among the tricks Pease's offense pulled in Columbia, South Carolina, this play sticks out the most. The formation here is an offset pistol with traditional quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg taking the snap. Though this is a rather benign looking set, check out all of the movement for each player before we show you the action shot.
Receiver Solomon Patton is actually lined up as a tight end, and it is Patton who will fire back towards the quarterback after the snap. What could be a triple-option by the motioning receiver combined with the tailback is actually an end-around from the tight end, which is actually a wide receiver. Got all that? Call it a fake triple-option tight receiver end around.
As if this trick is not enough, the Gators also ran a direct snap play in which Mornhinweg took off for the sidelines on a fake timeout. For the Seminole defense, always being alert and staying assignment sound are immense understatements. Think back to the power example from 2012 shown above. FSU will have to honor the motioning receiver on a play like that and any other deviation.
UF Defense: On injuries and versatility
With a matchup against a battered and bruised Florida Gators football team, many are questioning if UF will be up for the challenge this weekend in Gainesville. The injuries to the Florida Gators this season have been well documented, but none have been more impactful on the defensive side of the ball than the loss of defensive lineman Dominique Easley. At 6-foot-,2 285 pounds, Easley was able to play multiple techniques along the defensive line, wreaking havoc against the run as well as the pass.
To fill the void of Easley, Florida moved nose tackle Damien Jacobs to defensive tackle. A bigger body, Jacobs lacks the quickness and pursuit which made Easley such a nightmare for opposing offensive lines to block. To put Easley's loss into perspective, Florida's defense allowed 212.33 yards per game with him and is allowing 334.75 yards per game without him.
In addition to Easley, the Gators'lost another impact player when mike linebacker Antonio Morrison tore his meniscus during Florida's loss to Vanderbilt. Morrison was the team's leading tackler at the time.
Despite all these injuries, Florida is still the most athletic defense Florida State will have played to this point in the season. Jameis Winston will have to show more discipline in the pocket than he has the past few weeks because the Gators have a fast secondary along with two very talented pass rushers.
Linebackers/edge rushers Ronald Powell and Dante Fowler Jr. are first and second on the team in sacks and have combined for 15 quarterback hurries this season. Both will take snaps as the "Buck" this Saturday against Florida State. (The term "Buck" is used to define the outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, responsible for setting the edge against the run and rushing the passer during obvious throwing downs.)
While both Powell and Fowler share snaps at the same position, it's important to note that both play multiple positions on the field. This is mostly due to a lack of depth from injuries, but it also speaks to both players' athleticism and versatility.
Here against South Carolina, the Gators will actually place both Fowler and Powell on the defensive line as ends.
Nose tackle Leon Orr does an excellent job of drawing the double team from the center and left guard to create a one-on-one matchup for Fowler to pressure the quarterback Connor Shaw. While he doesn't get the sack, the pressure forces Shaw to break the pocket early but cannot manage to gain more than a yard on the scramble because of Florida's speed.
If there is one criticism of Winston this season, it's that he has a propensity to hold on to the ball too long in the pocket. Unlike Shaw, Winston is not known for his scrambling ability and will need to be more efficient in his decision making in order to avoid sacks and turnovers. In other words, less could potentially be more when it comes to moving the football against the Gators' defense.
Film Study: Gator fan
The boys from old Florida have endured a fall from grace this season, but that did not stop this gentleman from sporting his awesome tie-dye shirt straight from the 1960's.
His arms are outstretched, as though he is begging to be taken from the earth rather than continue watching his orange and blue lose to a FCS opponent for the first time in school history. Unfortunately the fans in front make it impossible to tell if he is indeed sporting "jorts", but if history is any indication, those are absolutely wrangler cutoffs. Will this gentleman's groovy attire provide better fortune for the Gators this weekend against their bitter rival?
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