Inability to establish run limits Florida’s offense

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Florida running back Lamical Perine looks for an opening in the Georgia defense Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida eclipsed 250 passing yards for the eighth time this season, although ultimately the Georgia Bulldogs were the team making the throws when it mattered. A glass-half-full approach would imply potent passing is back in Gainesville, but the flip side is disconcerting for coach Dan Mullen and the Gators. 

Florida tallied a paltry 21 rushing yards on 19 attempts, although UF’s running backs did have modest success when given an opportunity. 

Gators running backs Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce combined for 42 yards on 10 rushing attempts — although 19 of Perine’s 31 yards came on the final drive — while UF frequently struggled to sustain drives, and late sacks of Kyle Trask ultimately deducted 22 yards from that total. 

One could simply credit Georgia’s front-seven and game-plan, yet Florida’s inability to establish the run at times this season has simply lowered the offense’s ceiling. 

And the way things went Saturday, Mullen had to all but abandon the run in the second half as the Gators tried to claw back. 

He acknowledged it was the latter rather than the former, saying Georgia didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to counter UF’s rushing attack; the Gators simply couldn’t get anything going. 

“They didn’t do anything. You know, we fell behind, wanted to take a lead, we fell behind early. So we were throwing a little bit more. The goal is to try to take the lead,” Mullen said. “We just didn’t call many run plays.”

With just 1,160 rushing yards this season, the Gators sit at second-to-last in the SEC in team rushing yards with just 153 more rushing yards than Vanderbilt, albeit on 47 more rushing attempts.

Which might underscore why Trask’s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter were impressive: he’s making throws in tight windows against a defense dropping seven into coverage. There’s no shortage of reasons as to why UF has struggled at times when it comes to establishing the run; like the inefficiency on third down Saturday, there’s a fair share of blame to go around. 

Mullen, taking the heat away from UF’s running backs and offensive line, acknowledged as much in the aftermath Saturday.

“It’s not that complicated. You’ve got to execute. You’ve got to throw, catch, run, block, tackle. Execute,” he said. “We’ve got to do a good job as coaches making sure we’re putting the best guys in position to make plays.”

Fortunately for Florida’s offense, a match-up with Vanderbilt’s defense awaits. The Commodores are allowing opponents 453.6 yards on average this season, good for dead last in the SEC. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s rushing defense comes in ranked 13th in the conference, having allowed 202.5 rushing yards per game. 

If Florida’s rushing attack is going to get going this season, the next game is seemingly the team’s best opportunity. 

“We got a lot of football left. We got two SEC games coming up, we just got to focus on them, hopefully we get a win,” said senior wide receiver Freddie Swain, who led the team in receiving with 91 receiving yards and a touchdown Saturday. “We’re still a good team. I’m not letting this loss define us. We’re still a good team and can still be elite, we just got to focus on the little things as a team, and once we do, we’ll be all right.”

25 COMMENTS

  1. “19 of Perine’s 31 yards came on the final drive” … when we should have been throwing every down. That drive lasted 6 minutes 50 seconds … in the forth quarter … with 10 minutes on the clock… when we were down two scores. 6:50!!! I don’t know how the coaching staff expected to win with that. Were was the urgency?

    • I agree with you David, although I heard CDM say, and Shane Matthews concur, that you have to make sure you score on that drive to have any chance at all. I understand that, but I agree with you that they needed to give the D more time to get the UGA offense off the field, since the D had struggled with that all game. Still, Brad Stewart was only a couple of inches away from making the play on 3rd down and giving the Gator offense the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock.

  2. The answer to that is quite simple. Our current coaching staff considers all games to be equal, no one game is above another. Until Dan Mullen realizes we have rivalries this will continue. Steve Spurrier hated Georgia, he hated Tennessee. Mullen does not, his cavalier statement of “If you can’t get up for this game you don’t need to be here” is wrong. Spurrier and Meyer as well as Muschamp knew Georgia is a different animal, you better come ready, you better come prepared and you better come ready to hit. Saturday we did none of those things. The very first series when you have to call not one but two timeouts shows how totally unprepared you were for this game. I will state one more thing, Florida State is down this year they have had some horrible games but you can bet every dollar you have when they show up in Gainesville they are coming loaded to the gills. This game WILL BE their season and if the team that showed up in Jacksonville shows up for that game Florida WILL get beat. I don’t care what you say about talent or anything else. It IS a rivalry game and they will come prepared to knock your head in.

    • I agree about FSU and I’ll raise you Vandy and Mizzou to boot, 76…..but it will be humiliating to lose in the Swamp to FSU in particular, and particularly this year. Somebody had to say it, and you said it, pardner.

      But what I can’t get my mind around is how you reason that Dan Mullen does not realize that we have rivalries, regardless of what ever words he uses to motivate his team for each game. This ain’t his first rodeo here, you know.

      • Because this game was obviously not planned for. How can you possibly go into a game of this magnitude so totally out of sequence, discombobulated or any other term you care to use. This team especially the offense was not ready for this game. You can see that as plain as day by referencing that fact the offense did not really get anything going until late third and into the fourth quarter. Let me also make this statement just how long can you use injuries and offensive line as your excuse? We have been hearing and have heard for so long these same two excuses. How long can high ankle sprain excuses go on? They’re sure not excuses for the Alabama quarterback. As far as the offensive line how many sacks, missed blocks and general ineptitude must we endure before somebody actually says “Hey this line is NOT getting any better” before anyone starts to questioning the coaching. Are they incapable of learning as players or are they not being taught? Don’t say the offensive line IS progressing when you gain 21 yards rushing, I don’t care if you’re billy bob podunk high school out of Prestinking Nowhere if you can’t gain anymore than 21 yards guess what? You Suck !!There is simply no justifiable reason for that….None whatsoever. 21 yards ???? Come on. This post is not to criticize any one person or any particular coach. This falls on the entire team, you were unprepared and have been all season. Think different? Look at the Miami game, Look at Townsend !!!!!! Townsend for crying out loud……you struggled against Townsend. The only game this team has really showed up for was LSU.

          • OK, now I got you lima charlie, bud. I’ve felt at various points this season that the sum of the parts didn’t exceed the whole…..which when it does is nothing short of magic. We saw that late in the season last year, and when it did happen we were on fire. But this is only Year 2 — I’m confident that Mullen will fix it.

            Thanks for the explanation.

          • The Gators are good, but they just don’t have the horses on the D-line to match the UGA O-line. They’re the best in the conference and have been the last 3 seasons. The Gator D did well to contain the run, but they couldn’t put any pressure on Fromm. I think that’s the key issue, and it’s mostly a matter of being physically beaten one-on-one on the field, rather than a lack of preparation.

            The Gator O looked ready on the first two plays, which were both completions to Pitts for 14 and 11 yards respectively. Then they got an 8 yard run from Perine and were looking pretty good at 3rd and about a foot until a backup TE in a power formation flinched. They were still looking good when they picked up a first down on a completion to Perine on 3rd-and-6. That is until, for the second time this season, the Gators lost the first down to a spot review. Then 4th-and-1 happened, and the Gators only ran 14 more plays in the half.

            Imo, UGA is just better, and they won a close game, albeit a close game that they controlled. To borrow from Bum Phillips, their’n is better’n our’n. That’s what needs to change.

  3. Why Mullins doesn’t use Jones with a RPO package is beyond me. Trask is big and SLOW, good for a few yards falling forward when you need that like the forth and one against UGA when we throw and lose momentum Create some packages for Jones with RPO, read options or roll him out get him in space where his quickness, which neither Frank or Trask have and be used. This changes up the one-dimensional offense UF has especially in the Red Zone. If Mullins doesn’t start using Jones he is gone via the portal shortly.

    • Despite your inability to spell Mullen’s name correctly, this has been my entire point since Saturday. Want the running game fixed immediately this year? Start Emory.

      Problem is, Trask is simply throwing the ball too well to be pulled, and so the offense will not have a running game until he’s gone, or next year if/when the O Line improves their run blocking.

      With Emory, we can run _right now_ even with the poor run blocking. So far this year, he has 20 rushes for 118 yds and a touch down. Imagine with him as the full time starter running RPO with the likes of Perine and Pierce. Who are you going to defend? Take a chance on the RB and let Emory burn you? or double down on Emory and let one of the backs sneak off with it?

      With Trask, as great a thrower as he is, the offense is too one dimensional. With Emory, he can already throw it “well enough” to keep the defense unbalanced.

      • Well Mullin is better than Mullet, lol. Agree, Mullen should have a Red Zone package with Emory and the two P boys or Toney giving UF a full range of options on how to score inside the twenty instead of field goals. I am sick of the run up the middle in spite of the fact there rarely is a hole to run through.

  4. David and Joe were you guys paying attention??? On that drive the defense lined up with only 3 men rushing dropping everyone else into coverage. That is called passing to set up the run! It is crazy to try and throw against such coverage, that is when you RUN! Coach had to take what they gave us and we were successful with the run then! Coach couldnt pass on coverage like that. he tried to 1 play and failed then he ran it. That was appropriate choice in that situation. Im sure he would have liked to thrown it there but that’s NOT what the defense gave us! Smart of Ga really because we were carving them up with passing, they couldnt stop it so they sold out on the pass coverage and in the process forced us to kill clock.@nd, the reason that they didnt g”get anything going till the 3rd or 4th qtr” is that Mullen didnt sell out to the passing game until then. When he did they drove right down and scored 2 TD’s!
    1976 I agree in part but disagree about this: This team has been “up for other games too, like Auburn. Tn, we beat towson 30-0!,, SC who has a very good defense and had just beaten Ga! Even GA, I think we saw poor coaching to start, those timeouts because too little or too many men on the field is a coaching failure , NOT a player lack of being “UP” failure! Ive previously said we were outcoached in that game! 2nd, the reason that they didnt “get anything going till the 3rd or 4th qtr” is that Mullen didnt sell out to the passing game until then. When he did they drove right down and scored 2 TD’s!
    Now to Hall: In the broad sense The i”inability to establish the run limits the offense” is true but as Ive so clearly stated before this is the 1st offense Ive seen that doesnt need a running game. We win games with just the pass and in fact have limited ourselves in games by wasting tooo many downs trying to run the ball. PROOF in the Ga game, once we sold out to the pass, with the pass setting up the rare run, we drove right down on ga’s awesome defense and scored twice on back to back drives. Had we been doing that sooner we would have WON the game, we did it too late! Point is, we proved we didnt need the run except rarely when ga sold out on pass coverage ,then we made them pay with a run! Our pass off. was highly sucessful against LSU but we wasted too many critical downs trying to run when we had to make a 1st down and failed with the run. A heavier pass ratio would have seen more success. Even so we still might have won if we had our 2 best defenders in the game whom we were without! Any srtuggle we had against SC was because we were without those same 2 defenders. So as I have PROVED we dont need the run as long as we have this phenominal QB and WR’s(the best group in the NCAAF this year! We only need to go pass heavy, only running when the defense cheats to pass coverage when we will be very successful on the run and force them to come back to the line to defend the run as we did in those 2 scoring drives against Ga. im sure we will look great running the ball against Vandy and Im sure coach Mullen will but that will be false hope for Mo. because everyone can run against vandy!
    I agree with you Joe that Ga was the better team sat, BUT they didnt have to be. we could have contained the passing game if we had not played such SOFT coverage just like we did with LSU. I could NOT believe how far off their receivers our backs were playing. You cannot block passes playing like that, you can only tackle after they catch it! True we have 2 ends that couldnt get pass Ga’s awesome O-line but they were awesome against the RUN! Man to man tight pass coverage would have made a huge difference even with the return of their passing game with Cager back!
    Ok you 2 saying this “Why Mullins doesn’t use Jones with a RPO package is beyond me” are out of your gourd and arent watching the games. Jones did come in sat and went NOWHERE trying to run the ball. In fact he has been used in several games and has gotten NOWHERE against top opponents, you are just dreaming! Reality has shown different! BTW Emory has also failed overall throwing the ball. He has been able to do neither successfully!

    • The only thing wrong with your argument about Jones is that it is factless. Jones has played two plays in the last two games and token plays at best, not a series or actual opportunity to be effective since everybody knows he is in to run the ball including the defense that stacks the line when he comes in. Check out these stats for Passing yardage: Jones YTD CMP % is 60.7 percent. While not as good as Trask or Franks it is not bad for not be given the opportunity to get into a rhythm. Jones has run the ball 20 times for 118 yards or +5.9 YPC. Frank ran the ball 21 times for 68 yards or +3.2 YPC. Trask ran the ball 38 times for – (minus) 5.3 or -1.4 yards per carry. Facts are always going to undo a baseless argument. I have no problem with Trask as our starter but Mullen needs a package for Jones inside the Red Zone where he can offer a RPO threat that Trask does not possess.

  5. “not a series or actual opportunity to be effective since everybody knows he is in to run the ball” Those Stats you mention are like lying to the ignorant! Those numbers are against the SCRUB teams that we played and he got many tries, yet even against those he had only 1 sucessful drive for a TD. Against real competition, he hasnt been able to sustain any play or drive he has come in for. To even mention Yrds/carry about Trask who is a passing QB with a rare run that sack and kneel down numbers are subtracted from is also a lying projection for the ignorant. You make my point in your quoted statement. teams know when he cpomes in he is going to run so they play the run so his success rate should fall so there is NO point in sending him in, in the red zone against good teams. They are gonig to play the run especially the QB run and his passing ability against good teams has been poor. Ive watched him carefully, i know what Ive seen. I would want nothing more than for him to be successful be he hasnt been against good teams. He is certainly NO Tebow who could run over people! They knew Tebow was going to run and they still couldnt stop him! THAT is the only kind of QB that you send in for RPO in the red zone! Otherwise you put them both in in the red zone and mix it up as to who takes the snap(even disguise a direct snap), throwback to the other QB etc.!

    • Daz, ignorance is an opinion base on your feelings not facts. Your comments are baseless. Jones can run (5.9 ypc) and throw (60.7% cpm) while Trask at -1.4 rushing is going in the wrong direction. How do you know Jones can not play against better opponents since he has not been given the opportunity. UGA one play, USC one play and how many plays against LSU? For your information Jones can run and throw, Trask passing is excellent but his running is none existence. Trask is going to pass because he is good at it and he can not run effectively so he is one dimensional and our opponents know this. That is why Jones is a better option in certain circumstance like the Red Zone where he can run or pass. You do know RPO means run pass option, correct? To assume Jones well run inside the red zone is based solely on the way Mullen used him by putting Jones in for one play and have him run the ball, this is the problem. If the play is going to be that obvious why bother. Jones is an option quarterback, was a option quarterback in high school and recruited to Florida by Mullen to be a option quarterback so why not use his talent. Instead Mullen puts Jones in for one play and says run the ball over and over, here is your one token play of the game son, go for it, what a joke and waste of a down. The only reason Jones runs the ball is because that is the play Mullen calls. Your factless attempt is so understand this point is disjointed, all over the place and incoherent. You make about as much sense as Mullen putting a option quarterback into a game for one play to run the ball. without allowing him to be an OPTION quarterback.