It’s the day that you dreaded in school; it’s quarterly report card time. With three games under their belt the Gators are officially one quarter of the way through the 2013 season.
After each set of three games we’ll go through each position group and assign a letter grade based on that group’s performance throughout those three games. It’s pretty straightforward and we’ll be as fair as possible throughout the process.
Teacher’s pet: Tyler Murphy
This grade is for Jeff Driskel’s play.
Through two games Driskel was being asked to do more than he had been asked to do the previous two seasons. Driskel was averaging 27.5 pass attempts per game, up from just 20.4 in 2012. His yards were up — a product of more passing attempts — but his turnover numbers were also up. Through three games Driskel had thrown three interceptions and fumbled the ball 6,396 times (slight hyperbole).
To make matters worse, Tyler Murphy came into the game against Tennessee and looked more confident than Driskel has ever looked at quarterback. I don’t want to beat a dead horse or kick a man while he’s down but Driskel wasn’t playing good football before his injury and I think that was very apparent.
Teacher’s pet: Mack Brown
Mack Brown has been the teacher’s pet here. Brown has 59 carries for 227 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Overall, running backs have 145 carries for 463 yards (3.193 ypc). Will Muschamp said that the team would go with whoever has the hot hand at running back the rest of the way. This bodes well for Mack Brown and not so much for Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor. After saying that they needed to get Kelvin Taylor the ball more and get him more involved in the offense, Taylor’s number was called just once on Saturday.
The yards per carry could be better but considering how poorly the offensive line has played, the number isn’t as bad as it looks.
Teacher’s pet: Max Garcia
Speaking of the offensive line, their performance has been offensive to watch. A lot of it can be attributed to losing Chaz Green right before the season, Jon Halapio’s absence and D.J. Humphries being less than 100% for the whole season but that’s like telling the teacher that your dog ate your homework. It didn’t fly in fourth grade and it won’t fly here.
The offensive line that was talked about as being much better this offseason looks just like they did in 2012. The group as a whole has a long way to go.
Teacher’s pet: Tevin Westbrook
We all knew that losing Jordan Reed was a big blow to the offense. He was Driskel’s favorite target last season and led the team in receptions and yards. What we didn’t know was that the position would go from leading the team in targets, receptions and yards to basically another offensive linemen.
Tight ends have one reception for one yard this season.
The Grade isn’t an “F” because the blocking from the unit has been improved. It’s still not good or where it needs to be but both Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook have improved as blockers this season.
Teacher’s pet: Solomon Patton
How about Solomon Patton? Patton was basically non-existent on the team until last season when he found a role running jet sweeps and it looked like Patton would continue in his minor role this season. That was until we saw how much Patton had improved his route running and hands. Patton has been the Gators biggest playmaker on offense through the first three games. He’s averaging 21.20 yards per catch and leads the team with 218 receiving yards (which would have ranked him 5th on the team last season).
Quinton Dunbar has also improved. Dunbar, who has been hyped for three pre-seasons in a row, is finally living up to his offseason billing this season. Dunbar has been a reliable target for Jeff Driskel and will continue to be for Tyler Murphy. Murphy and Dunbar connected on what is probably the prettiest pass-and-catch from any combination of Gators in the past three years. He doesn’t have a touchdown yet, but he appeared to have a good chemistry with Murphy and he now has a quarterback who isn’t afraid to take shots down the field.
Trey Burton has done well in his new role in the slot but with Murphy coming in for Driskel, I would expect his targets to drop. Driskel and Burton had a very strong chemistry and it doesn’t appear that Burton and Murphy have that same connection. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Florida needs to spread the ball around to all of their receivers rather than focusing on just one or two.
Speaking of spreading the ball around, the freshmen receivers need to start getting more involved in the offense. Demarcus Robinson (who was suspended against Tennessee) and Ahmad Fulwood have combined for 1 reception and five receiving yards in three games. There’s no excuse for an offense that struggles to not use the weapons you have on the team. If Robinson and Fulwood are as good as advertised (I believe they are) than it is an unforgivable error to not get them in the game and let them help your football team.