Over the past five years (oh yeah, I celebrated my five year Gator Country anniversary on July 12), I have tried to explore every statistical avenue when it came to the Florida Gators football team. I have looked at positives and negatives, individual and team, and team and opponent – all to varying angles.
However, rarely have we explored the “obscure”. Now, what is considered obscure? I’ve classified them as things that you may overlook when looking up statistics online and in reality play a much bigger role than you may imagine. Or, in one case, just a really, really weird case of bad luck.
Opponent Punt Return Yardage
The Gators very well could have been a victim of their own success last season. The Gators had, and have, one of the top punters in the country in Johnny Townsend – who averaged 47.15 yards per punt last season. However, the Gators allowed 9.79 yards per punt return, which ranked 96th in the country.
Florida who had one of their longest punt averages in history, also allowed an average of more than 10+ yards per punt return in for the first time since 2012 and for only the second time in the last nine seasons. Florida also gave up their first punt return touchdown since Missouri in 2014.
While Florida still held their opponents to starting on the 28 yard line (38th best in the country), that was more of a result of punting closer to mid-field than most FBS teams.
If Florida wants to use one of their best weapons, Townsend, they are going to have to figure out a way to get down the field quicker and wrap-up better.
Penalties and Penalties Per Play
The Gators have struggled with something terribly since Urban Meyer started at Florida and have not been able to shake it – they commit a lot of penalties.
Again, in 2016 the Gators were a highly penalized team – 6.77 penalties per game for 58.3 yards per game, which ranked 89th in the country and ranked 102nd in the country in penalties per play (0.10 – 1 per 10 plays).
Last season, the Gators ranked 53rd in the country and over the last nine years, they have ranked below 70 nationally seven times.
Florida has not proven they have the offense to make up penalty yards like they did from 2007-09, and even more importantly, it is a sign of undisciplined football – something I know Jim McElwain does not accept.
Yards per Pass Completion Allowed
Despite the Gators prolific defense last season, they ranked 97th in the country in yards per pass completion.
With the loss of Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson, and Jalen Tabor, the Gators will rely on three new defensive back starters and this is one year that could stand some improvement.
The argument has been, “well, Florida didn’t allow a lot of passes so it’s bound to happen.”
Of the teams that finished in the top-10 in lowest completion percentage, only one (North Texas) ranked lower and three finished in the top-25 for fewest yards per pass completion.
If Florida wants to continue to be #DBU, they must figure out a way to improve here.
Opponent Penalty Yards
This is the one random, really weird case of bad luck.
Last season, the Gators ranked:
- 125th in fewest opponent penalties
- 112th in fewest opponent penalties per play
- 125th in fewest opponent penalty yards
- 103rd in first downs allowed by penalty
There is not much you can do here, except hope that next year is better.