The Florida Gators’ passing game wasn’t too impressive last season. The Gators ranked 118th in the nation, averaging just 146.3 passing yards per game, the fewest in the SEC. In addition, Florida threw only 13 touchdown passes; it seems terrible, but don’t be fooled. The Gators found plenty of ways to beat their opponents, averaging 187.7 yards rushing per game. Running back Mike Gillislee was a force to be reckoned with when toting the rock, rushing for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Jeff Driskel was also effective for the Gators. He had 11 carries for 177 yards and three touchdowns in one game alone.
The running game was practically the highlight of Florida’s offense in 2012. Unfortunately, it won’t keep the Gators going this season. Opposing teams watch the film and pay attention to the strategies of teams they’re about to face. If Florida keeps attempting to hand off the ball and run it up the middle, it won’t get very far against teams who have done their research, even with an admirable running back like Matt Jones on the field. Enter wide receivers here.
Florida is by no means lacking at the receiver position. Demarcus Robinson, Latroy Pittman, Ralph Andrades, Solomon Patton, Quinton Dunbar and Andre Debose are just some of the wideouts on Florida’s roster. What the Gators are lacking at the position is reliability. Debose has been useful for the Gators as a fierce kickoff returner, but as receiver, he’s just not there. He needs to show the consistency the coaches are looking for. Patton, one of the fastest players on the team, broke his arm in the game against the Georgia Bulldogs and was out for the rest of the 2012 season. He didn’t really get a chance to show everyone what he could do, but he will now. Of course there’s always that once-in-a-while wide receiver solution in cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.
Obviously, not having enough receivers isn’t the issue for Florida. The Gators have plenty of depth at the wide receiver position to improve the passing game. They need players to show they are eager to improve, ready to put on a show. Who will it be? Only the season will tell.