Gators’ goal upon return to action: Establish the run

Florida running back Mark Thompson picks up yards as Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel (23) gives chase last Saturday in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Florida struggled to get anything going in the run game last week against Michigan.

But count Florida senior running back Mark Thompson as someone who thinks the Gators may have abandoned the run too quickly.

“In my opinion, receivers are gonna hate me for this, but we need to run the ball more,” Thompson said.

Getting the ground game going will be a priority for the Gators when they resume play next week at home against Tennessee. Florida managed just 11 yards rushing on 27 carries against the Wolverines. The loss of 55 yards on six sacks factored into that total, though Gator rushers still managed to net just 66 positive yards.

Up next

Who: Tennessee vs. No. 22 Florida

When: 3:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Thompson, who rushed five times for 13 yards, had a 47-yard, reverse-field touchdown run called back in the second quarter because of a holding penalty called on center T.J. McCoy. With the ball backed up 10 yards and facing a third-and-13, Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks threw an incomplete pass and the Gators were forced to punt.

“Regardless of if it got called back or not, that’s momentum,” Thompson said. “The penalty is obviously going to take one back, but get right back and run the ball. I don’t think we had very much of a problem in running the ball. I just think we have to trust the running game and continue to do it. When something doesn’t work, you don’t just give up. You keep going until it works.”

Florida coach Jim McElwain said his goal each week is strive for offensive balance.

“Everything you do comes off of it,” McElwain said. “Your ability to run the football and establish the line of scrimmage allows you to be a pretty decent team.”

McElwain was critical of how Florida was unable to establish both lines of scrimmage during the Michigan loss. Open holes were hard to come by, as Michigan’s front seven consistently stuffed the run and forced the Gators into obvious passing situations. Florida was also hindered due to the absence of junior running back Jordan Scarlett, who was one of 10 players suspended for the game. Scarlett, UF’s leading rusher last season with 889 yards and six TDs, remains uncertain to return for UF’s next game against Vols.

Asked how much of the inability to run could be pinned on the running backs compared to the offensive line, McElwain said: “Everybody has a part, I mean, that’s a good question, but it’s a team game.”

Thompson said he’s not about to blame UF’s offensive line for the running woes last week.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with the O-line,” Thompson said. “They blocked their tails off. You know, like I said, everyone makes mistakes, I feel though in the running back group, when I get the ball, I’ll run hard enough to whatever I do I’ll make them right.”

One bright spot in the run game last week was freshman Malik Davis, who showed good speed on the edge in gaining eight yards in his lone carry of the game. Thompson said Davis and freshman running back Adarius Lemons have showed promise in practice. Both could play a factor in the coming weeks, especially if Scarlett is still out.

“They both run hard,” Thompson said. “Malik and Adarius have very good vision. Malik is very good at making cuts. That’s something we see in practice every day. Adarius is a very aggressive runner. He’s not afraid to lower his pads. Like I said, those guys have a pretty bright future at UF.”


  1. Run game, pass game, both are only as good/productive as the OL plays, and as Michigan showed, that wasn’t very good, you can bet TN and others will run the Wolverines defensive game plan, which could spell disaster for the Gators, we’ll see what develops.

  2. Michigan blitzed all day and most of the time had 9 in the box daring us to throw, The middle of the field was wide open and with Franks in the gun we never threw a tight end screen or quick slant or to the running back out of the backfield. I know the O line had an off day but 5 cant block 9. I have been a season ticket holder and Gator Booster since 1982 and have seen poor play before but Bottom Line is we need better offensive coaching.

  3. Sooo – it’s not the fault of the o-line, it’s not the predictability of the play calling, and we shouldn’t establish the vertical passing game to get the 9 defenders out of the box.

    Do we ever expect to win again?

  4. What I’m saying is the coaches have to put our players in a position to be Successful and that means taking what the defense is giving. I Love the Gators but it’s pretty obvious our offensive coordinator needs some help. All I’ve heard from camp was the Offense was much improved and Franks best throw was the deep ball, We saw neither. I’m just hoping Coach Mac can get it straight. Go Gators…..

    • Franks is never gonna get the opportunity to throw many deep balls, because WRs won’t have time to run deep routes before the defense is all over the QB, gotta check down to the TE, throw screens and crossing routes in order to soften the defense, which should open the running game, which should then allow for some deep routes. Are you getting this Nussmeier?

  5. ”Malik is very good at making cuts. That’s something we see in practice every day.”
    ~Gator R.B., Mark Thompson.
    And all summer long, Gator fans heard about ”the good practices” from Coach Mac’s pressers. Now it’s time to deliver in the games, too! And while I enjoy watching Mark Thompson run over opponents (and not fumble), it’s time to get Mark Thompson the ball with more pass plays (like the 1 run he scored against Iowa in the Outback Bowl).
    Let’s also see Malik Davis hit another nice ‘8’ yard run (or more) on a simple sweep play, like the one running play he made against Michigan. However, I also believe and subscribe to the philosophy that a ”good passing attack” can loosen up a stingy ‘D’. Here come the Vols, and Coach Mac’s 1 out of 2 against them. Only time will tell us, the Florida faithful, what U.F’s offense is really like now!

  6. Whoever wins the run game has a better chance. That being said. Telegraphing every run play the way this offense is set up will lead to disaster. Telling jokes and blocking press conferences hurts. Being glib with no apparent fixes hurts. I wish these college players were able to play with intelligence and not bridled with transparent play calling. Innovation to run right or left could and would open plays. If the line is stacked with 7 players on defense then quick passes. Why have 29 games been so hard to watch. If this was an IQ test who would fail. Not the players. Unless!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I love how they want to commit to the run, really we’ve heard that for three seasons now. Our Offensive play caller calls the same plays over and over. I could call his next play it’s not hard and if you have a good coach your going against you have lost already. I think we have good players just not very good coaches. Sorry Mac hurtful but truthful. Mac and Nuss are not SEC coaches I know Nuss was with MI but he is not very good in SEC play calling.

  8. Jimmy said it best. A good defense dictates the offense. You can’t establish the run against cover 1 press man with 10 guys at the line of scrimmage (i.e., MICHIGAN!!). I’m stunned million dollar coaches don’t get this basic concept.

    • I thought foley couldn’t do worse when he hired Ron zook, then he hired mushchamp and now this clown , out university president at the time who was president at Utah and urban coached their was responsible for bringing urban here and when he left urban did too, foley also ran spurrier out of town and Billy Donovan yet “he’s the greatest athletic director of all time !!!!” Makes me so bleeping mad anytime someone from the fake news yells that out on tv or radio ……. hire a real football coach please ! I don’t care about our success in random sports that don’t matter !

  9. Anybody watching Will Grier playing qb? Didn’t he used to be a gator? Pretty cool huh!!!!! Mac keeps making mistake after mistake. I thought he could coach his dog to play quarterback. Go on back to the 70’s coach.

  10. You guys see where Cincinnati is giving Michigan fits and has scored 2 TWO offensive touchdowns on them??????? Vinci would beat us by 3 TDs when dies this nonsense stop ? It’s all Jeremy foley said fault in so happy for our softball program but he nuked our football program it’s time we start firing administrators until we find one who goes out and hires chip Kelly, then make that person athletic director in so sickbif this garbage this lost decade

  11. Does se thanyone else find the satirical humor in this article’s title “establish the run” because everyone including opponents defenses totally don’t already know evare going to run on fist down right ??????? Does anyone else think Tennessee knows Nus is going to call a run play on fist down ?