The Florida Gators have a ridiculous amount of talent and depth in the running back stable this season. “Pick your poison” has been a common phrase used to describe the room of Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine, Malik Davis, Adarius Lemons, Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement throughout camp.
But the run game can only thrive with the help of a strong offensive line.
Sure, these running backs have the ability to make plays based on skill alone from time to time, but a getting a strong push and blocks up front could be the difference between a decent year and a great year.
Co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach John Hevesy thinks his guys should have a little extra fire under them knowing there is so much talent in the backfield.
“We’ve got to take care of our business up front,” Hevesy said. “To me, that’s the grind of just getting tougher every day. To look behind you and every day point out the film of who’s behind you, between Scarlett, Perine, we have Pierce behind all those guys. It should make you want to block a little harder. They’re great running backs, all of them. They each bring their own thing, but to me, it should make you want to work a little harder and be a little tougher about what you’re doing to get those yards for them.”
Hevesy has a (loud and intimidating) way of getting his points across, and he feels like it has finally registered for the offensive line with game day quickly approaching. The next few Saturday’s will tell a lot more than words ever could.
“I think they’re finally realizing when you point out to them, ‘Hey, they are good backs and they’re going to help us tremendously if we do our job,’” he said. “They’re going to bonus things. Those eight-play drives become four-play drives if we finish those blocks and finish until the end like we’re supposed to.”
With the goals Florida’s running backs have set, they better hope it all transfers to the game environment. Scarlett said they made a deal with each other that they would all rush for 100 yards in the first game.
That’s a pretty steep bet, and most likely not a realistic one, but it is something they want to start doing this season. Every week, they will come together and set a goal as a unit for that game and constantly compete with each other.
After working with them throughout the offseason and in fall camp, Scarlett likes what he’s seen from the offensive line and trusts that they will help him and the rest of the backs succeed in 2018.
“A lot more confident,” Scarlett said. “Because these guys are actually starting to understand scheme and what we’re trying to get done in the backfield, and that plays a big role when they know what they’re actually doing and not just out there trying to do it. So, once I feel like they get that down pat, and Coach Hevesy is on them every day, they can be a great one.”
The run game is definitely not something the offensive front shies away from. In fact, Tyler Jordan said he’d love to see Florida run the ball 50 times a game if that’s what it took to win.
The Gators have an experienced offensive line, but it is one that still has a lot to prove. Having some added motivation may be just what it needs to take the next step.