Position breakdown: UF's backfield
Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:08 a.m.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series breaking down the Florida football roster. Next Sunday, we'll look at the receivers.
PROBABLE DEPTH CHART
-- Chris Wilkes
-- Max Staver
-- Adam Lane
Now that Jeff Driskel has a full season of experience as the starting quarterback, the coaches are expecting dramatic improvement from him in 2013 in terms of making the right reads, finding the open receivers and being more consistent and productive in the passing game. Driskel (threw for just 1,646 yards in 2012) has a strong arm and has shown he can make big plays running. His job should be made easier by what is expected to be a strong ground game, led by sophomore tailback Matt Jones, who is coming off an impressive spring. Jones (52 carries, 275 yards, three touchdowns last season) fits the mold of a downhill runner. He's got size, speed, strength and the ability to make people miss. Jones also has good hands, which he's expected to use often with the Gators planning to get the tailbacks more involved in the passing game this season. Mack Brown and true freshman Kelvin Taylor also figure into the plan at tailback and are expected to get significant carries. Leading the way for the tailbacks is Hunter Joyer, one of the best blocking fullbacks in the SEC. Gideon Ajagbe, a former outside linebacker, made a successful transition to fullback in the spring and should see playing time behind Joyer.
Behind Driskel, the Gators have zero experience at quarterback. They have four scholarship players, but none have played at the collegiate level at the position. Tyler Murphy emerged as the No. 2 QB in the spring after competing with redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg. Both, however, struggled with consistency and do not appear ready to take over if something happens to Driskel. The wild card here is Chris Wilkes, a former pitcher in the San Diego Padres' farm system who left pro baseball and will be a 23-year-old freshman. He's got good size and a strong arm, but he hasn't played football in more than five years. Depth is also a concern at tailback. The Gators have three they feel comfortable with, but three is not always enough to get by with in the physical SEC. UF will try to get true freshman Adam Lane up to speed during camp in August.
YOUNG PLAYER TO WATCH
With the coaches resting Jones for most of the spring game, Taylor became the featured tailback and he had an impressive day, showing natural running skills to go along with an ability to run through tackles. The son of former UF All-American Fred Taylor, he finished his high school career as the state's all-time leading rusher. He's still learning the offense, so the coaches will not try to rush him into a prominent role. Once he learns the offense and feels comfortable in it, Taylor could be a major contributor.
RANKING THE SEC BACKFIELDS
2. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
8. Mississippi State
14. Ole Miss