Had someone come up with an over/under for the number of receptions Florida starting tight end C’Yontai Lewis would have through the first three games of the season, it likely would have been close to double figures.
That’s because throughout training camp, one of the popular storylines involved the tight ends, about how they were going to be an integral part of Dan Mullen’s passing attack and how their production would soar.
So, 10 receptions in three games would definitely seem doable.
Well, through three games, Lewis’ reception total is: 0.
And the other tight ends — Moral Stephens, Kemore Gamble and Lucas Krull — have combined for five receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown.
So, a position that many are anticipating putting up big numbers this season is averaging only 1.6 receptions and 23.3 yards a game so far.
Obviously, the tight ends have gotten off to a slow start.
But despite the lack of production, Mullen and tight ends coach Larry Scott seem pleased with where the tight ends are at this early stage — and where they think they’re headed.
“I think they’ve played pretty solidly,” Mullen said. “Like any position, you want more production. I always want more production at every position. We’re always trying to get better at every position.
“Overall, they’ve played pretty solidly.”
Scott is stressing patience. Patience to the tight ends. Patience to all of those who have been expecting so much more out of the position.
“We’ve had a couple of drops in there,” Scott said. “They understand that when you have opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. They’ve been really patient.
“They understand what’s going on.The ball has been evenly dispersed among our team, a lot of different guys. That’s the power of team and the beauty of the offense. One group doesn’t have to carry the load.”
Scott said the tight ends are starting to learn that there’s much more to their role in the passing game than just catching passes.
“Sometimes you ought to get more joy out of understanding that I ran my route the correct way, the depth and different things needed to attract who I needed to attract for my buddy that’s coming underneath me to be wide open,” Scott said. “Just learning that it’s not always just about the ball being thrown at you, but where do you fit in the big scheme of things and if you do your job in the passing game, it opens up for everybody.”
The tight ends have played a prominent role in Mullen’s offenses at Florida, when he was the offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer, and at Mississippi State.
They eventually will in this offense, too, Scott said.
“It’s getting better each and every week, playing with more and more confidence as we go,” Scott said. “The guys are getting comfortable with all the technique. A gradual build each and every week, getting better. So, happy with the progression but we still have a long way to go.
“It’s happening. As we continue to grow and getting comfortable with the offense, you’ll see more and more as we go, those guys making plays.”
Opportunities are in the forecast for the tight ends.
“Absolutely,” Scott said. “When we do, we have to make the plays.”