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NCAA Football Florida Gators

Florida Football’s Success Depends On Running Game

Jeff Blake - USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Blake – USA TODAY Sports

Here is a sentence I never thought I would say: The Florida Gators finished dead last in the SEC in rushing yards last season.

In fact, the Gators averaged less than 150 yards per game and only scored 14 touchdowns on the ground. This telling statistic explains the Gators’ struggles last season. The injuries and lack of continuity at the running back position completely limited Florida’s offensive capability. The Gators fared a little better through the air. The result of this anemic offense was Florida’s worst record since 1979.

The answer may come with the changes made by Kurt Roper, the new offensive coordinator. The Gators will be running a more uptempo spread offense rather than the painfully slow jumbo schemes of the last couple of years. Jeff Driskel will be healthy and able to run the read-option plays that will be required of him. With his athleticism, he seems to be more suited to taking snaps from shotgun and attacking the perimeter.

Kelvin Taylor looks to be the starting running back, but that may not mean much. Roper attacks offenses with a platoon of backs and luckily for him, the Gators have six healthy running backs on scholarship. Driskel will not be alone in the backfield and for this, the Gator faithful can breathe a sigh of relief. Pushing the pace will not be an issue as long as the offensive line holds up.

If the running game opens up, then Driskel will be able to find his talented receivers roaming downfield without running for his life. Ahmad Fulwood and DeMarcus Robinson are two receivers who have developed into favorite targets this spring. They will look to improve on last year’s passing touchdown total of 11, the lowest in the conference.

There is a concern about Driskel’s decision-making in the pocket, but this is a new year. If the Gators are able to grind out yardage on the ground, look for the 4-8 performance from last season to be a distant memory.

Brad Stephens is an SEC Football writer for Rantsports.com. Feel free to follow on Twitter @bradstephens320 or add him to your Google network.