Florida position breakdown: Backfield


UF junior fullback Trey Burton brings versatility to the backfield with his running and pass-catching ability.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

The Sun looks at the 2012 Florida football roster one position group at a time.

Facts

Editor's note

This is the first in a series breaking down the Florida football roster. Next Sunday, we'll take a closer look at the secondary.




BACKFIELD

Probable depth chart

QB

12-Jacoby Brissett OR

6-Jeff Driskel

10-Tyler Murphy

17- Skyler Mornhinweg

TB

23-Mike Gillislee

33-Mack Brown

20-Omarius Hines

32-Chris Johnson

24- Matt Jones

FB

8-Trey Burton

41-Hunter Joyer

The upside

Quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel learned some painful lessons when they were thrown into the fire as true freshmen last season. But they also gained some valuable experience that seems to have accelerated their development. Both look like they're ready and capable of running Brent Pease's offense. They were very effective in the spring and in the Orange and Blue Debut and came out of the spring in a dead heat for the starting role. UF coach Will Muschamp said throughout his Gator Club tour that he feels the Gators can win with both quarterbacks. That may be what it takes. Muschamp would like to name a clear-cut starter before the Sept. 1 opener. But he also hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing both Brissett and Driskel because they are so even. At tailback, the Gators finally have what they consider to be some downhill runners in Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown, Omarius Hines, Chris Johnson and incoming freshman Matt Jones. Gillislee has flashed star potential in limited carries the past three seasons. Brown came to UF highly rated, but has battled injuries. Depth appears much better here now that Hines and Johnson showed in the spring they can provide productive minutes. At fullback, Trey Burton is one of the Gators' most versatile offensive players. He's a threat running and catching the ball, and will line up at slot receiver at times. Hunter Joyer is a classic I-formation fullback— big, strong and tough — who has some tailback skills with the ball in his hands.

The downside

The Gators likely won't know who their starting quarterback is until the week before the opener, which could prove to be a distraction in preseason camp. Brissett and Driskel are both talented QBs, but they were limited in what they could do in the offense last season due to their inexperience. Other than Gillislee, the rest of the tailbacks have little or no experience, and Hines and Johnson are playing the position at UF for the first time. Gillislee is the clear starter, but the senior has had injury issues throughout his career. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he is not a prototypical between-the-tackles runner, although that is where he has been the most effective in the past. Brown also has had injury issues and has carried the ball only 15 times.

Young guy to watch

Florida (under Urban Meyer) first started recruiting Matt Jones when he was just a sophomore in high school, and he was the only running back signed by the Gators this past February. Although slowed somewhat in his senior season by a knee issue, Jones is a big, fast, athletic back who fits the mold of what Will Muschamp is looking for in a downhill runner. With the lack of proven depth at the position, Jones may have a chance to contribute immediately.

Ranking the SEC backfields

1. LSU

2. Arkansas

3. Alabama

4. South Carolina

5. Georgia

6. Texas A&M

7. Missouri

8. Florida

9. Tennessee

10. Auburn

11. Mississippi State

12. Vanderbilt

13. Kentucky

14. Mississippi

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