Gillislee is the guy

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For the first time in his three-plus years at Florida, Mike Gillislee has the ball in his hands and absolutely no one in front of him (except his offensive linemen, of course). His competition is all behind him at tailback.

“Mike has distanced himself to be that guy,” UF coach Will Muschamp said.

To be THE guy at tailback for the first time in his career.

He’s had such a good spring that now in the final few practices the coaches are giving Mack  Brown and Omarius Hines the bulk of the carries to sort out the pecking order behind Gillislee.

“We need to start creating some separation there (between the backups) because when you get in the season, those reps, practice reps, become hard for everybody to get,” Muschamp said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Perhaps the key for Gillislee is the fact that he’s stayed healthy and in the lineup. Over the past three seasons, he’s been hampered by numerous nagging injuries, usually to one of his ankles.

For Gillislee to remain the guy at tailback in the fall, he will have to stay healthy. He said last week he’s taking measures to make sure that happens by working out hard (and smart) and taking care of his body.

Given Gillislee’s injury history, though, Muschamp is still considering all possibilities at tailback, including the position being handled by committee in the fall if that’s the best way to go.

“We’ll let that situation play its way out,” Muschamp said. “You’d like to have the one guy, but obviously if it’s got to be by committee, we’re going to do what it takes to win games. I’m not ready to say right now what that will be.

“Mike is a guy who has been banged up a lot. You’ve got to prepare and have enough depth prepared for that. You’ve got a guy, Matt Jones, coming in as a freshman. I hope he can contribute.”

There is one certainty at tailback. The Gators are going to be much bigger and stronger at the position than they were last year with the two mini-backs — Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

“It’s tremendously different,” Muschamp said. “We’re able to run with a bigger, physical back that can take more hits. There’s no question it’s going to help us.”

23 COMMENTS

  1. As much fun as it was to watch Rainey and Demps run loose and make people miss, it was sometimes ebarrassing when they would be thrown around behind the line of scrimmage like rag dolls. The coaches and players keep repeating “down hil running” so I hope we will see postive yardage on every play, even if it’s less than a yard, there’s hopefully going to be a physical push by the backs and line this year.

  2. It seems like every time Mike Gillislee got the ball good things would happen. He is big enough to run between the tackles. He can slash. He stays low to the ground and he change direction on a dime. He’s got the speed to get past the front seven and gain big yards. Most of all Mike seems to have the vision and instincts of a very good college running back. He seems to cut back at the right time but when he has to he is strong enough to lean forward for those extra yards. All he has to do is stay healthy. With Mack Brown, Omarious Hines, Juice Johnson and Matt Jones plus two fullbacks who can run with the ball in Burton and Joyer PLUS the possibility of Driskell as the starting QB and his running ability Florida has the chance to be an excellent running offense which makes it a lot easier for the passing game.

  3. I agree with Mike, but I also understand the importance of playing two SR.s’ last year who helped FLA get a National Championship in ’08 as Freshman. So, now the slate is clean, and it sounds good for M.G, and hopefully the FLA O-Line will stay healthy as well. The 2012 season, honestly, has to be better than last years & I think not having an EGO as big as Coach Weiss’ around is going to be a positive for FLorida’s Offense, too. The Orange/Blue Debut should be revealing, but nothing like when FLorida kicks it off in 6 months. GO GATORS!

  4. @ Mike – Didn’t you read the part about Gilly being injured? He has been injured every year! He would have gotten a lot more carries last year, if he hadn’t hurt his ankle! From what I am hearing, he has really bulked up his legs and arm stregth, to keep the ball from being stripped so easily. Hopefully, the kind of training they are doing now will help reduce the number of ankle injuries we have experienced over the past few years.

  5. The changes to the strength and conditioning program are so important to what Coach Muschamp is trying to do. Urban had the S&C set up to train track stars, and in his scheme that worked well. But for the style of smash mouth (Alabama) football Coach is going for, the change to Olympic style S&C was needed.

    I think Muschamp was in a tough position last year trying to keep some continuity in the coaching staff and still change it to meet his style. Maybe he kept a couple guys he shouldn’t have (or hired ones he shouldn’t have) but you don’t know which were a mistake until it’s too late. Now it looks like we have our staff together the way they need to be and it is all Muschamp’s. So this year we’ll see what Muschamp and the revamped Gators are really capable of. I am excited to see what the season holds!

  6. I am also very excited about this coming year! We should be much better as a team and we will be far more physical!…Last year was a transition…This year is the first year of a new program!!! My real concern is….All this talk about smash mouth football like Bama!…
    I ask this? Do we really want to be like Bama?? Hell no!!!
    The Gators are known for Hi Flying Offense combined with Good defense during the years we were great!!!
    Think about it…..Spurrier years!!! Great offense averaging like
    45 points a game with an O that nobody could figure out!
    Natl Champs 52-20 Not 9-6!!!!!!! Then Urban comes along with
    an unstoppable Spread…..2 Natl Champs with an incredible run through the SEC… I want an OFfense……Spurrier said it best.
    Score Often and early!!! Take the refs and the opposition out of the game!!! Go Gators Bob in Jupiter….

  7. in response to what Ive read from a couple other posters,

    1) a player should never play in front of another player because of being a senior or past contributions to the team. The best player should be the one playing. If it isnt that way, you end up 7-6.

    2) People should quit buying this garbage that the reason Gillislee did not get more carries was because of injuries. There were games where he was clearly not injured. There were games where he did play but still got very, very few carries. He simply was not given the ball enough. Plain and simple, no excuses. Even Muschamp admitted during the season last year that he wasnt giving Gillislee the ball enough. Now, he was hurt and couldnt play. What a farce.

  8. I agree with your sentiment Bob. I’ve been thinking this all along, we don’t want to be like Bama or LSU. We want to keep our Gator brand of football!!! I do think having Pease will help, our offense is going to look a little more like what were used too. The decptive thing about Meyer though, is that we actually had both. We were very physicall….we just ran did it in the spread…..regardless…..lets just win some games!!!!!