Joyer a bright spot for Gators
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
Fullback Hunter Joyer has been one of Florida's most important and consistent players over the past three years.
Joyer was a catalyst in allowing UF coach Will Muschamp to turn the Gators into a power running team, and he helped them become one of the SEC's best rushing attacks and average 188 yards per game in 2012.
This season, injuries to Florida's starting quarterback, running back and top three offensive tackles have prevented the Gators from doing what they want to offensively.
UF has run more of a spread system since Tyler Murphy took over for the injured Jeff Driskel, and that has kept Joyer off the field.
He's not being asked to block as much as he was in the past and has just two touches — one carry and one catch that both went for seven yards.
Last season he finished with two rushes and four receptions for 18 yards, and he rushed for two touchdowns and 82 yards on 18 carries as a freshman.
Despite his lessened role, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Joyer has performed well when given the opportunity.
“I think he's done a good job,” he said. “He's really in a spot where you don't see his name a lot because of what we ask in his role and what he does positionally. He's done a good job blocking.
“It's kind of a rule that you get a lot of 'thank yous' from your teammates when they see what you do. He's been one of the kids that — through the last three, four games — has been steady for us.”
With Murphy nursing a shoulder injury and Skyler Mornhinweg having zero game experience, the Gators will likely lean more on the run game regardless of who plays Saturday against South Carolina.
This could lead to more blocking assignments for Joyer, and with the way Florida's offensive line has struggled, he will be counted on to carry them out.
“We know they have a pretty good pass rush,” he said of the Gamecocks. “I'm just trying to pick up anything I can (in protection).”
Joyer is also trying to block out the negatively surrounding Florida's football program, as the 4-5 Gators are under .500 for the first time since 1992 and could have their 22-year streak of going to a bowl game end this season.
“It's very shocking, but it's life and we just got to deal with it and move on,” Joyer said. “We're just trying to get these wins. You never want to have a losing record or not be able to make it to a bowl game, so we're just trying to win for our pride and for ourselves. Most of our goals are out. There's no SEC Championship to be playing for, but we're still trying to win, trying to compete.”