We are a fourth of the way through the 2022 season and the Gators’ hold a 2-1 record. Gator Country provides you with a mailbag, answering all your Florida football questions.
GeaauxGators05: After running the ball effectively against a weak defense last week in the first half, why did we go to an empty backfield so often in the second half and try to win the game with a passing attack which is clearly ineffective?
With Dean and Burney out of position as frequently as they are, will we see more of Williams and Shemar at LB this week and perhaps move Moore back to safety to give us a talented cover back with speed to rotate in Dean’s spot and develop better options at that position?
Nick M: Florida ran the ball 30 times against USF and only threw it 18 times. 60% of the offensive plays were runs, you won’t see it get much more than that. Nine passes for Richardson in each half against USF. Florida ran the ball a little over 61% of the time against Utah. If you run much more than that your offense starts to become very predictable. It was a weird game with just 48 offensive plays.
Burney isn’t going anywhere. You’ll see Shemar and Scooby in at LB often as well; I’m hoping to see more Shemar James. Moore is a cornerback, the staff likes him there and he’s playing really well, no sense in moving him around. Dean isn’t going anywhere either.
Bulous33: It seemed we were not playing off coverage in the secondary in the first two games, then we employed that at crucial times against USF to great failure. Am I right that we did not do that against Utah and UK? Do you know why they employed that against USF?
Nick M: I would have to go back and look at the numbers, but I agree we played off the receiver more against USF, so it was clearly by design. I don’t think playing off the line was a great failure by any means. Kimber was nine yards off the LOS on his pick-six. It allows the players to watch the quarterbacks’ eyes and make a break on the ball. It’s not for every situation, but Patrick Toney has it under control.
Juggernautz: Do you think we’ll have a specific game plan(offense & defense) just for the Vols?
Nick M: We are going to see much of the same. Gators’ need to find success running the football and keep Tennessee’s offense off the field.
Jcmiller910: Nick, now that we’ve played 3 games will we see the staff cut down on some rotations, plays, and players as we get into the heart of conference play? I feel as if we should have a great idea on our deficiencies and our strengths. Will we see a more centralized game plan moving forward? I feel we know that we should be a running team but it still has not become our identity. Thoughts?
Nick M: I think as the season progresses you will have players make larger strides than others, allowing them more playing time. As of now, there’s still uncertainty at several positions, especially on defense. Jaydon Hill is returning but he won’t immediately jump into a starting role. Who’s the top two corners for the Gators? Marshall, Moore, Kimber, Hill, and Helm are all fighting for playing time and will continue to rotate. Who makes the rotation at OLB and DE? Powell didn’t perform great last week, perhaps the staff wants to rotate in other players there. Justus Boone didn’t play as much as I would have liked. There’s still a lot of uncertainty and position battles going on that will likely take a while to get straightened out. The offense seems to be fairly set in stone; however, I would like to see more of the younger WR’s. I’m not seeing enough from Henderson and Shorter that leads me to believe they should be playing every down.
I would say this team has pretty much established themselves as a running football team. They ran the ball over 60% of the time in the Utah and USF games. The Gators passed the ball slightly more against Kentucky, but they still ran it 30 times. Gators were also trailing Kentucky in the 2nd half, allowing for more of a passing attack.
I’m not sure I answered your question, but I hope it helps.
ColoradoNoVaGator: Does Napier approve of AR talking with Denny Thompson? Are Thompson’s goals aligned with Napier’s goals for the team?
Nick M: I can’t tell you what Napier thinks of Denny Thompson or if he approves of AR talking with him. I can tell you that AR is not going to stop talking to Thompson, that’s his QB coach and trainer. I know that Denny Thompson is a Gator fan and a HUGE fan of Billy Napier and Ryan O’Hara.
Gatorteachuf : How hard is it to add something to the playback mid-season? For instance a 2 RB set, or like said in the podcast, a RB screen.
Nick M: I think it’s hard to add wrinkles and a new set of plays into your offense when you are already inefficient with the current offense. Napier’s priority is executing an offense. I believe the set of plays the Gators are working with is good enough to win games. I think everyone is having an entirely different conversation about play calling if Richardson is just more effective, accurate, and confident in the passing attack. I think over time you’ll see Napier get more creative with the play calls. As of now, Napier is worried about the offense grasping the current scheme. I would love to see the Gators implement a RB screen, or just get the running backs more involved in the pass game. They are the Gators’ best weapons and it’s something that could help with Richardson’s confidence as well.
Ajoseph: With three games in, what is your thoughts on both offensive and defensive half time adjustments? And what are your thoughts on how we improve in this area going forward?
Nick M: I think the defense has adjusted well in the 2nd half of games, it’s been far from perfect, but I’ve seen enough to know that Patrick Toney is making an effort. What I don’t understand is why the offense seems to hit a brick wall after halftime. Florida has 0 points in the third Q this year. Something needs to change at halftime.
Docwells7: Is there a target weight for Dez?
Nick M: I’m not sure where they want him exactly. The staff has been pleased with his recent work. I thought he played his best game BY FAR against USF, and not just because of the one great play everyone is talking about. In my opinion, you want him down at least another 50 pounds.