You could argue that with all of the turnovers and the inefficient running game that Florida didn’t have much go right on offense against Miami. Despite all of the struggles that Florida had on offense last Saturday, there were some positive takeaways from the game. Here are two plays that worked and a breakdown of why both plays were effective.
The first play comes after Loucheiz Purifoy’s blocked punt that set the Gators up at Miami’s nine-yard line. Trailing 7-0, this was a situation that Florida had to find the endzone and it took just two plays for the Gators to do just that.
Florida lines up in a diamond backfield. Driskel is under center with both Gideon Ajagbe and Hunter Joyer (both outlines in blue) lined up in front of Mack Brown (outlined orange).
This was the fourth time Florida had lined up in this formation in the first quarter — including the previous play that resulted in no gain. Each of the previous three times that Florida lined up in this set they ran the football. The first was a counter to Matt Jones for nine yards, the second was a one-yard gain by Matt Jones and the third went for no gain. At no time had Florida shown a read-option look out of this personnel and that is what makes this touchdown run possible.
In the picture below you will see that Jeff Driskel reads the unblocked outside linebacker. This player is left unblocked on purpose, it’s Driskel’s job to read him and make the decision wether to keep the ball or hand it off to Brown. Driskel reads the play properly by holding onto the ball as the linebacker keeps his focus on Brown and ends up running into Ajagbe.
At this point, it’s all gravy for Driskel. He follows his lead blocker Hunter Joyer (outlined in blue below) who picks up the safety and paves the way for Jeff to get into the endzone.
What set this play up is the three previous times that Florida ran out of this formation. The other times that the set was used the Gators ran a counter and two direct handoffs to the left side. The outside linebacker recognizes the formation and the read-option fools him, gets him out of position and clears a whole lot of running room for Driskel to walk into the end zone untouched.
The second play is Driskel’s 46-yard connection to Solomon Patton. Florida lines up in “20 personnel” meaning there are two backs, three wide receivers and no tight ends in the formation. Before the play begins, Valdez Showers gets motioned out of the backfield. One of the outside linebackers slides over to pick up Showers (yellow arrow).
When the ball is snapped, the first thing you can see is that the pass blocking on this particular play is horrendous. Max Garcia gets whipped off of the ball (outlined in blue) and Tyler Moore can’t stay in front of his man (outlined in yellow). This forces Driskel to rush his throw and absorb a big hit.
What makes this play work is the route that Trey Burton runs. Both Burton and Patton run post routes on the outside. That is where a receiver runs 10-20 yards up the field then slants inward at a 45-degree angle. You can see in the picture below that Burton’s route pulls the safety in (outlined in yellow), leaving Patton in single coverage and in great position to make a play.
With the safety sucked in following Burton, Patton now has a huge opening in the middle of the field (blue oval). This is where Driskel should hit Patton with the ball. Because of the pressure that was allowed by the offensive line, Driskel’s throw is rushed and he doesn’t lead Patton in the direction that the arrow is pointed.
Despite a poor throw, Patton shows off his improved route running and is able to change his body position while the ball is in the air to make a great play.
If Driskel would have had more time in the pocket, he could have stepped into his throw, led Patton correctly and this play could have gone for six.
Nonetheless, the play was a huge 46-yard pickup and a well designed play by offensive coordinator Brent Pease.