We break down the 2019 Florida football team by position group. This week a look at the offensive backfield.
At this time a year ago, there was plenty of uncertainty concerning Florida’s backfield situation.
Like, who is the starting quarterback going to be?
And, will there be a dominant, go-to back to carry the load in the running game?
Well, a year later and those two questions are no longer relevant.
Even though Dan Mullen will continue to insist that the competition at quarterback is an ongoing thing, everyone knows junior Feleipe Franks is the guy.
And even though it’s a certainty senior Lamical Perine will be sharing carries with Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis and possibly Iverson Clement, he is clearly Florida’s go-to running back.
Franks earned the starting job at quarterback last August and only solidified his hold on the position the way he improved over the course of the season — and how well he played down the stretch, throwing for 862 yards and accounting for 12 touchdowns in the final four games.
For the season, he threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
He will be pushed in preseason camp by Emory Jones and Kyle Trask, which is a good thing for everyone at the position.
Trask has shown he’s capable of effectively running the offense, and Jones, the perceived quarterback of the future, brings a different element with his playmaking ability as a runner. There’s a chance Jones will get a package of plays to run in each game as his development under Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson continues.
At running back, even though Perine shared carries with Jordan Scarlett and true freshman Dameon Pierce, he still established himself at UF’s best back last season, leading the team in rushing with 826 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.
He has a chance to emerge as an elite SEC back in his senior season.
Mullen likes to spread the ball around to his backs to keep fresh legs in the game at all times. He’ll certainly be able to follow that plan again this season, with the great depth at the position with Pierce, Davis, Clement and incoming freshman Nay’Quan Wright.
Depth is a little bit of a concern at quarterback.
With the departure of freshman Jalon Jones, the Gators will enter the season with only three scholarship quarterbacks — Franks, Trask and Jones. And the way the QBs are asked to be willing runners in the offense, there certainly is the risk of injury, which could really thin out this position in a hurry.
Young guy to watch
Nay’Quan Wright. In a deep backfield, it may be difficult for the true freshman to get many carries, but he’s probably going to get some chances because he brings the home-run element to the running back position with his combination of speed, power and elusiveness.
Don’t be surprised if …
Perine rushes for more than 1,000 yards and has 400-plus yards receiving. His goal since arriving at UF has been to develop into a complete back, and that’s what he has become over the past four years.
He runs, he blocks, he catches — and he does them all well.
He’s going to get enough carries to go over 1,000 yards rushing and could be a huge weapon catching the ball out of the backfield with his good hands and route-running ability.
“He’s a competitor. He wants to win. He’s a guy that’s going to fight until he can’t fight anymore. That’s what I admire about him.He’s gotten so much better from a mental standpoint, dealing with social media, fans, things of that nature. Just growing up and being the guy to drive the ship for us. He’s been really good for us and he’s going to continue to be that way.” — wide receiver Josh Hammond on QB Feleipe Franks
Probable depth chart
5-Emory Jones OR
— Nay’Quan Wright
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.