114, that is where Florida ranked last year in passing offense by averaging 146.31 passing yards per game in 2012.
Will Muschamp and Brent Pease have both emphasized how important it is for that number to increase this year and so far this spring, it seems the passing game is improved.
““I think we’re much more efficient,” Muschamp said. “I think we’ve made some vertical plays down the field against some corners that can cover. So that’s been pleasing to see. Jeff’s been very accurate with the football. But I’ve been pleased with the progress.”
While some of the blame has to be put on quarterback Jeff Driskel and the offensive line last year, you have to also put some blame on the receivers for not getting open.
Lucky enough for the Gators, the receivers have appeared to improve as well and Muschamp singled a few guys out that have been making vertical plays so far this spring.
“ I think the one consistent guy has been Quinton Dunbar who has continued to make plays,” Muschamp said. “I’ve already stated through the season I thought he improved tremendously. And he continues to make strides. Latroy (Pittman) has done some nice things. Andre (Debose) hit a couple of plays Saturday. So those guys have kind of answered the call so to speak.”
One player that should help the vertical passing game is Louchiez Purifoy, who has split time on offense and defense this spring.
On Tuesday, Muschamp said that fans would probably see Purifoy play some offensee on Saturday for the spring game. Fans will be eager to see what the coaches have seen so far this spring.
“Louchiez when he was on that side has done some nice things in the vertical passing game,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that understands what it takes to be successful.”
Another very important factor in the passing game is your tight end, something that Florida used a lot last year with Jordan Reed.
Reed led the team in receptions last year but has since departed for the NFL. So far this spring it appears the coaching staff has struggled to find someone to replace him.
One of the players in the mix to take over is sophomore Kent Taylor, who is very similar to Reed in both body structure and playing style.
Muschamp talked on Tuesday about the importance of Taylor developing, because of the match-up problems he can create much like Reed did last year.
“Just the way we use our personnel very similar to what we did with Jordan, Muschamp said. “We want to make it difficult for the defenses we play. How do you count him? Do you count him as a receiver or do you count him as a tight end? When you’re able to put him in the core on the line of scrimmage or step him off and motion him to create change of strength motion, but also put him in the slot and get him matched up. Do you count him as a receiver or a wide out Do you match him with regular personnel or nickel personnel? So I think all of things are issues you’re trying to pose for a defense.”
The one negative for Taylor is that he’s isn’t the biggest guy in terms of weight; he recently weighed in at only being 224-pounds.
To Taylor’s credit, he is trying to gain weight, Muschamp says that will be the key for Taylor to be physical.
“He needs to continue to gain some more girth and he needs to continue to get stronger,” Muschamp said. “We need to make some strides there. He’s done some nice things in the passing game we need to continue to improve in the physicality part of it.”
With all of that being said, Florida can have tons of play makers but if quarterback Jeff Driskel doesn’t know where to go with the ball the Gators will inevitably have more difficulties in the passing game.
Brent Pease has worked with Driskel on his decision making all spring and Will Muschamp says he has noticed a difference so far as a result.
“Just watching practice and seeing where he has taken the balls he’s better,” Muschamp said. “ But again, another year in the system, second year starting, understands where he’s protected, where he needs to go with the ball against certain looks, where it’s middle-field, split-safety, where the pressure is coming from. I also think we’re better up front right now. I think we’re going to be better in the fall up front. I think we’ll be more or well equipped to protect him better, which is going to give him more confidence.”
We have heard offensive opinions from Will Muschamp and Brent Pease, now it is up to the players on Saturday to let Florida fans make their own assumption.
It definitely looks like the Gators are destined to have a better year throwing the pigskin, a aspect of the offense that could be huge in developing the offensive scheme.