Perine gives Gators all dimensions of a productive running attack

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, right, fakes a hand off to running back Lamical Perine in the first half Saturday against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Franks went 9 of 18 for 172 yards with touchdown passes to R.J. Raymond, Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland, whose 63-yard Hail Mary reception beat Tennessee last year. [Wade Payne/Associated Press]

Florida’s Lamical Perine likes to go on YouTube and watch highlights of some of the top running backs in football.

He’s studying running styles, of course. But he’s also looking at much more than just that. He’s taking in the entire aspect of each back: how they run their pass patterns, how they catch the ball, how they pass protect, how hard they run.

In his quest to become a complete running back, Perine is doing his homework.

“I feel like in all aspects of the game you’ve got to be pretty good to make it to the next level, so that’s something I’ve been trying to add to my game,” the junior said. “I’m trying to be a complete player. Come out of the backfield catching the ball, pass blocking, doing all the little things that can get me on the field. Yeah, it’s something I’m adding to my game a little bit. But I’ve always been able to catch.

“Just make sure I know everything, just the studying, looking at other players, going on YouTube looking at other players and learning from their game. I’ve always been told if you can catch out of the backfield it’s going to take you a long way. It’s something I’ve been working on.”

Perine certainly appears to have the skills, the attitude and the want to to become a complete back.

In fact, he was a complete back on the Gators’ third-quarter touchdown drive at Mississippi State on Saturday night.

Everyone remembers how that drive ended, with a touchdown pass from slot receiver Kadarius Toney to tight end Moral Stephens on a double pass. But before that, it was the Perine drive.

All the other plays were his.

He had a one-yard run, caught an eight-yard pass, rushed for six yards, rushed for 22 yards and caught a 16-yard pass to set up the scoring play.

Complete back.

“Perine’s done a great job since we got here,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “Our backs are similar, but have a slightly different style of how they hit plays. So, it ends up being a little change-up. Perine’s got speed, he’s got make-you-miss and he’s got the physicality to run between the tackles. Does a great job also with pass protection, catches the ball out of the backfield as an all-around running back.

“One of the things we always stress to those guys, it’s not just about, ‘Here’s the ball, go run with it,’ it’s all the other aspects of the position you need to do well. He’s done a great job of that.”

Perine has another quality associated with a complete back — patience and understanding that there are times he’s going to have to share the ball.

That’s the situation he’s in now. He’s sharing reps with junior Jordan Scarlett and true freshman Dameon Pierce.

Through five games, Perine has 29 carries, Scarlett 40 and Pierce 25. The three have combined to rush for 628 yards and four touchdowns and are averaging 6.6 yards a carry.

“You never know (when you’re going to get in the game),” Perine said. “So, once you get out there you’ve just got to make the best of it and just do good. You never know when you’re going to get back out there, really.”

Perine said that despite the uncertainty, and the sharing, the three backs have a good relationship.

“If we were to come out here trying to fight each other for carries, that’s not going to make us any better, you feel me?” he said. “We help each other out and just learn from each other. In the film room we help each other out if one doesn’t know something. We just all try to get each other better. Ain’t no beef between anybody. Everybody loves each other.”

The Gators don’t have a dominant back at the moment. But they’ve got a complete one, maybe even three.

Mullen is fine with that.

“If you look at us this year and say, ‘Boy, I’d love to have a 1,000-yard rusher,’ I don’t know if that’ll be the case for us, but we might have three that have put up really, really good numbers running the ball.

“That may not seem much in an individual game, but as the year goes on, they’re fresh and they can kind of pound away. We have three guys that are physical, can make you miss and have speed, that keep coming at you and can be tough to handle.”

27 COMMENTS

  1. Perine is becoming a student of the art. That is where people go when they start to look at their vocation as a profession and not as something I am good at doing. Studying others and working to get better. That will help us but will serve him far into his next step. Prove you are a student of the game. Show us. You will be rewarded on Sundays and look back and all the work will be worth it’s weight in gold. Look at your predecessors E. Smith, E. Rhett are two.

  2. Head scratcher as to why Scarlett has 11 more carries than Perine when its clear Perine is producing. Frankly so is Pierce but understand he is learning how to pick up blitzes and so forth. Perine needs to start imo. Just my 2 cents.

    • John,
      Go to you-tube and rewatch the highlights of saturday(or even better the whole game). If you keep an eye on the rb’s, even during passing downs, you will repeatedly see scarlett stop a lb or blitzer dead in their tracks. Not slow him down or miss him altogether, but stand him. straight up. Obviously you can’t put him in for only passing downs, and that is why Scarlet has the most carries. I imagine if there was a stat for passing efficiency, or time given to qb, while a rb was blocking. we all might view the position a little differently.

      • Agreed. Scarlett has been a key in the O-line’s improvement. He consistently makes good decisions in picking up blocks and has the strength and technique to completely shut his target down — not just get in the target’s way or chip him to slow down the rush like RBs typically do. There are some key moments in the last few games when Scarlett picked up a rush or a CB blitz where, if he hadn’t, Franks would have been hit on the blindside and bad things could have happened.

        Btw, he’s a great runner too. He does not quite seem to be in his 2016 form but it’s been a weird offensive year. There have been a lot of short fields, a lot of short passing (that is working), the O-line has to be schemed around, etc. Thus, the Gators have only averaged about 19 carries TOTAL between these three running backs per game. Scarlett is the kind of RB that has to hit and wear down people and get 15-25 carries by himself per game to really show his stuff. He simply hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. But the Gators are winning anyways despite the offensive conservatism. The players seem to be fine with that and are trusting their coaches — so the fans really need to understand that concept too.

        I am not saying don’t criticize anything. If you want to have a discussion about clock management or something, sure, we can talk. But when it comes to stuff like Scarlett starting or Franks starting over other random options — the coaches know what they are doing.

      • By the way, I want to emphasize that I am not against productive criticism or discussion. But when you hear the same thing again and again after every game.. Anyways, I am sure folks will get their wish as the season progresses or next year — if Scarlett is not able to get back in form.

    • willgator. Exactly why he starts. The Gators need him back there behind the pass protection challenged OL. Scarlett may be stronger and more physical than some of the OL on the team. And Scarlett goes from the first snap in the game with the opposing LBs and DL are fresh. Pierce has gained most of his yards late in game and against backups, frankly. But Pierce is going to be a great RB at Florida and will likely get more and more carries as the season goes along. He is probably the most explosive of all the Florida running backs with possibly the exception being a health Malik Davis.

    • Scarlett is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and Perine is averaging 5.9. Overall every one of their stats are pretty much identical, including receptions, so it’s kind’ve confusing as to why Perine should be starting over him.

  3. Perine appears to be to be the best of the three running backs. He has shown the ability to find the rare hole that may open from our weak offensive line, and more importantly knows when to reverse or bounce outside. He also appears to be the stronger running back. I know that the number helps, as he does remind me a bit of Emmitt. I think he should be getting the majority of the carries.

  4. I’ve liked Perine since his freshman year. The depth chart shows him to be heavier than both Scarlett and Pierce. Scarlett is a physical specimen, but Perine appears to be a stronger inside runner, because he gets his pads lower. I’ll stop short of saying he should be starting, since I’ve been taken to task for previous opinions perceived as a slight against the Six Million Dollar Man. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way against CDM, but my critic did point out, and rightly so, that it’s CDM and not me who’s being paid 6 million. At any rate, it’s great to have three excellent backs available, plus Davis and Clement waiting in the wings.

    • And yet with everyone thinking Scarlett’s mechanics are poor and Perine is the better runner, their almost identical stats don’t really back up those assessments. Lets play a game. Can anyone tell me whose stats are whose without looking it up?

      rushing: 170 yds with 5.9 yards per carry 0 TDs; receiving: 3 rec for 42 yds with 0 TDs
      rushing: 203 yds with 5.1 yards per carry 2 TDs; receiving: 4 rec for 48 yds 0 TDs

      • Almost a whole yard per carry is pretty significant, Joe, especially if you need the extra yard. Not to suggest that Scarlett shouldn’t start or that he isn’t the best pass blocker, but I do think that’s a significant difference. On the other hand, they have so few carries at this point that a couple of big runs could quickly flip the ypc in Scarlett’s favor.

  5. Scarlett needs to work on his pass catching or he will end up on the bench. He drops everything thrown his way. I feel that Perine is the best overall of the backs. He runs smart and his running style reminds me of that other #22 also.

  6. I don’t see emmitt in this years #22 but I do see a very good back, a little like John L Williams. Williams was a great fullback and played tailback with the seahawks I believe but couldn’t take the tailback job from Neal Anderson. both had the same attitude about who got carries. and Lo HAmpton was in that 3 first rounder backfield. of course they ran behind the great wall of Florida, but they knew that once they got something down on film it didn’t really matter about words in newspaper articles. I prefer Perrine to Scarlett but right now it may be the smartest thing to not change what’s working..my guess is a tough LSU game will put the premium on running over pass blocking which may change the number and portion of carries.

  7. One thing I like about Scarlett is his blocking in the backfield for Frank’s. I’ve seen many blocks that have extended for a completed pass. Working all the backfield for the specific play has worked out. Keep rotating the RB’s to the plays needed.

  8. Perine has always been one of my favorite guys. As a high schooler from Mobile, AL he paid his own way to a UF football camp because he WANTED to be a Gator. He has always been dedicated to TEAM and is one of the hardest workers on the team. Lets not forget how in 2016 here in Baton Rouge he was dragging tigah defenders with him on that 22yd run on the way to a field goal in that game. He will give it his all on Saturday-you can believe that. GO GATORS!!