Film Breakdown: First quarter offense vs. Arkansas

It was supposed to be a slobberknocker, the kind of game that isn’t for people with a weak stomach. Put the kids to bed, they don’t need to see this carnage. This was going to be a real SEC type of game with two power-run teams slugging it out between the tackles and under the bright lights over Florida Field.

At least that’s what they said.

Even though the matchup between Arkansas and Florida appeared to be a throwback SEC game where each team pound away and pass only when they had to, it didn’t turn out that way for either team.

The Gators rushed for a season low 115 yards while passing for 240. Arkansas gashed the Gators on the ground in the first quarter (81 rushing yards), but were held to just 30 yards over the next three quarters.

Today, we’ll break down the Gators’ first quarter of offense, diagnose why they struggled to run the ball and how the offense responded to being taken out of their comfort zone.

1st Drive: 8 plays – 37 yards – 4:03 – Punt

Arkansas won the opening toss and elected to receive. This is basically like Florida winning the toss because we all know Will Muschamp prefers to start a game on defense.

After six plays, the defense forced an Arkansas punt and the Gators came out throwing — literally —  a pass to open their first offensive drive for the first time all season. Unfortunately, it was a screen pass that went for no gain when Trey Burton couldn’t get in front of his man (Burton would make up for it later in the game).

A one-yard loss on second down led the Gators into what they want to avoid at all costs on offense, third-and-long. Tyler Moore got absolutely abused by Trey Flowers on the outside, which forced Tyler Murphy to step backwards and into D.J. Humphries. Murphy rebounded nicely, taking off to the open space where Moore should have still been blocking Flowers. Murphy kept his eyes down the field while on the move and showed great touch on a pass to Burton, who had some open space along the sideline. Murphy flicked the ball over two defenders with relative ease and Burton was able to turn up field, just like the play was drawn u … maybe.

Murphy continually makes improvisational plays like this — dare we  say, Johnny Manziel-esque?

After a successful passing play the Gators dialed up back-to-back runs and gained 11-yards behind great blocking from Clay Burton, Max Garcia and Jon Halapio.

Murphy just barely overthrew Trey Burton on a deep crossing route on first down, a catch that Burton could have and maybe should have made, but it wasn’t a routine play by any means. Murphy had a clean pocket and a lot of room to get Burton the ball. He could have delivered a better pass but at least his throw was placed where Burton had a chance to come down with it. Safe throw.

Murphy found Quinton Dunbar on second down on a naked bootleg for an eight-yard gain, but he skipped a pass to a wide-open Matt Jones on third and short.

Drive Grade: C

Florida did some good things on its opening drive. The Gators controlled the ball for over four minutes and averaged more than 4.5 yards per play. However, the drive stalled after two throws you expect Murphy to make.

2nd Drive: 4 plays – minus 1 yard – 1:13 – Blocked Field Goal

That hurt just to type.

With a drive summary like that, it’s obvious that not much went right for Florida.

The drive started off by going backwards when 6-1, 335-pound DeMarcus Hodge beat Jon Halapio to the right and brought down Mack Brown for a 1-yard loss. Murphy got a clean pocket out of “00 personnel” (0RB, 0TE, 5WR) and had all the time in the world to throw but delivered a pass that Trey Burton just couldn’t come down with. It was close to being a huge play, but instead, left the Gators with yet another third-and-long.

You be the judge: should this have been a catch?

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Tyler Moore got beat on the next play, which forced Murphy to step up into the pocket. Trey Flowers and Brooks Ellis were able to disengage from Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio and sandwich Murphy as he throws. The pass was low to Demarcus Robinson and after a review from the booth, was ruled no catch.

Austin Hardin’s field goal try barely got off the ground and was blocked by 6-10 Dan Skipper.

Drive Grade: F

When you lose one yard on offense and have a field goal attempt that your head coach says even he could have blocked, well, that’s pretty ugly stuff.

3rd Drive: 12 plays – 55 yards – 5:58 – Field Goal

Now this is more like it.

The Gators came out in “21 personnel” (2RB, 1TE, 2WR) and tried to run the ball up the gut. The offensive line blocked down and Jon Halapio was supposed to chip the defensive tackle before climbing to the next level. Halapio released but so did Tyler Moore. That left 6-3, 325-pound Robert Thomas to disrupt the run in the backfield. Brown fought through the initial contact and was able to gain four yards despite the mishap on the offensive line.

Matt Jones picked up 1-yard on the following play, which set up a third down and our first play breakdown.

On this play Murphy lines up in the gun with Matt Jones to his left.

Jones (red) and Tevin Westbrook (yellow) will run matching dig routes. Dunbar (blue) is running a “go” on the outside and Trey Burton is running a deep dig, just past midfield. Patton is going to run a comeback route on the bottom of the screen.

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Almost immediately, Murphy gets pressure from his blindside when D.J. Humphries gets beat by Trey Flowers. In the image below it looks like Tyler Moore is also getting beat but he does a good job of using Chris Smith’s momentum against him and pushes Smith too far up field and out of the play.

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Calm, cool, and collected, Murphy steps up into the pocket with his eyes always down the field.

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Murphy is caught in-between steps as he steps up into the pocket. He isn’t able to properly step into and through his throw as he has to wing it off of his front foot.

Murphy, on arm strength alone, is still is able to find Trey Burton for a first down and big 15-yard gain on third down.

With a new set of downs the Gators go back to the passing game and get a little fancy while they’re at it. The Gators line up in “21 personnel” (2RB, 1TE, 2 WR). It’s a formation that tells the defense it’s going to be a run.

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Murphy takes the snap and quickly pitches the ball to Jones. Rather than running the ball, Jones hands the ball back off to Murphy in a flea-flicker variation.

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First, Murphy turns his attention down field to Solomon Patton. He makes a wise decision and doesn’t try to force the ball to Patton who has two defenders draped on him. Instead, Murphy finds a wide open Quinton Dunbar — and thanks to an outstanding catch from Dunbar — a first down.

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The play gains a first down, is labeled an explosive play by the coaching staff, looks cool and is an amazing catch by Dunbar but this isn’t a good pass from Murphy.

Murphy throws the ball high and behind Dunbar but if he leads his receiver (into the area shaded in blue) Dunbar would have been able to catch the ball in stride and would have just one man to beat on his way to the endzone.

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While I agree with most fans that the offense has run smoother and been more efficient with Murphy, he hasn’t been perfect and there is still room to improve.

With a new set of downs, the Gators brought an extra lineman (Ian Silberman)on to the field and went back to the ground and pound. Silberman got lost on the play, didn’t  block anybody, then Jones was stopped for a gain of three.

Solomon Patton came on an end-around on the next play and I want to highlight the blocking jobs done here by Gideon Ajagbe and Quinton Dunbar.

Patton comes around and takes the ball from Murphy, bobbling it briefly. Quinton Dunbar (blue) quickly turns his body to face the middle of the field and squares up to block. Gideon Ajagbe (yellow) is coming from the backfield and he will be Patton’s lead blocker on the play.

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Just look at the job that Dunbar is doing here. Outstanding blocking from a wide receiver.

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Ajagbe takes a good angle for his block and while he doesn’t get to engage his defender, he does force Will Hines outside and completely out of the play.

Martell Spaight, who took a fantastic angle on the play, catches Patton from behind to hold the running play to just nine yards. Patton could have taken this the distance if he didn’t have to slow down for that split second when he bobbled the handoff in the backfield.

The third drive bled into the second quarter, but we’ll continue on. Jones picked up three yards on first down and Patton picked up another first down on a screen pass after that.

That’s when the train derails because on first and goal offensive coordinator l Brent Pease dialed up a wildcat.

On this play Trey Burton keeps the ball and loses two yards. Burton made the correct read to keep the ball, but when Florida comes out in this package, just look what Arkansas is able to do.

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The Hogs throw nine men in the box and this play is essentially over before it can even begin.

Florida went with a two tight end set on the next play but a miscommunication between Tevin Westbrook and D.J. Humphries left Trey Flowers unblocked and Flowers tackled Jones for another 2-yard loss.

Murphy lined up in “10 personnel” (1RB, 0TE, 4WR) or what Brent Pease calls “jets personnel” on third down. Halapio was beaten off the snap and Murphy was forced to his left. He cut back to his right but the line was in a zone blocking scheme and Moore let his man go when he disengaged and got up field. Harrison wasn’t in position to pick up the defensive end and Murphy was sent running for his life. Murphy fired a pass low to Trey Burton in the end zone for an incompletion.

The field goal team came on and Brad Phillips knocked down a 28-yard chip shot.

Drive Grade: B-

The Gators had a nice, long drive here but the wildcat on first and goal really killed the momentum of the drive and it stalled. The drive ended in a kick — which is always good — but this was a missed opportunity to tie the game up.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC