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Better Know an Opponent: Florida Gators

So ...well, I hope y'all enjoyed seeing an offense on the field last Saturday, because this game is going to set the cause of offense back at least 20 years. Punting!

Mike Ehrmann

I'm not looking forward to this game. That has very little to do with my opinion of Tennessee's chances of winning on Saturday and more with this game being utterly impossible to watch.

A slight digression: a couple of friends I'll usually watch football with up here on Saturdays are Florida fans. This can result in occasionally disastrous consequences (normally when some team implodes with the other person being amused), but normally goes fairly well - with one caveat: I've had to watch a lot of Florida's offense over the last couple seasons.

Don't do that. Don't ever do that. (Well, don't do that unless you want to develop a finite appreciation for the football equivalent of watching Calvin hammer nails into a table.)

I mean, teams with horrific offenses always feel beatable - in theory. In practice, this Florida team is just ....weird.

  • Yes, Jeff Driskel may or may not be good, and the sight test points to LOLNOPE. That being said: he's still a sight better than Justin Worley, courtesy of a yards-per-attempt that's not anemic (8.1 ypa) and a 70.9% completion rate. To twist the knife a bit more: he has less attempts, more completions, and - go figure - more total yards in fewer games played.
  • There is a very real - if possibly implausible - chance Driskel is emerging as an actual good QB. I don't necessarily know if I'd believe it, but the numbers actually look half decent sans context.
  • A digression: you can apply a much weaker version of this defense to Worley. This sounds every bit as bizarre as you'd imagine when you try this.
  • Florida's been fairly consistent as far as total yards-per-play goes (5.93 against Toledo, 5.36 against Miami). That may seem surprising, but remember that Florida waited until after they got into the red zone to utterly blast their own foot off.
  • The running game resembles blunt force trauma applied to the defense's face, between Mack Brown (4.03 yards per carry), Matt Jones (2.61 yards per carry), and Driskel (2.24 yards per carry, but that includes sacks so it's probably not quite as bad as that). Of course, the change-of-pace backs are doing damage, up to and including Valdez Showers (A- name) and that's actually kind of it.
  • Of course, this makes as little sense as you'd imagine, and that's because Driskel is not good at doing something very important in a lo-fi offense: turnovers.
  • Seriously, Florida's got a negative turnover differential for the season, thanks to the surprise observation that once you get inside the red zone in Sun Life Stadium, it's actually lava.
  • Florida can and will shoot themselves in the foot to the tune of 70 penalty yards per game. (That's 56% of Worley's average passing yards per game.) It's quantity and quality, too - 20 penalties so far (so 10 penalties per games, or 53% of Worley's attempts per game). You can probably safely count on at least a handful of Florida drives imploding; you may also want to figure on a couple Tennessee drives randomly extending.
  • Driskel's ability to pass needs to be respected; unlike last week where Marcus Mariota was able to fake a run to get a free pass as the defender came up, I'd be more than content letting Driskel run.
  • I haven't mentioned the receivers yet because I can't tell Solomon Patton, Trey Burton, and Quinton Dunbar apart. Whatever. They're a three-headed receiving tandem of holy cow why don't they get the ball more. Trey Burton used to be Tim Tebow 2.0 or something like that? Right?
  • Quinton Dunbar also has a pick, by the way. Florida is a weird, weird team. (And a weird, weird place, but that's a different topic for another day.) EDIT: this is actually incorrect - well, partially incorrect. Vernon Hargreaves has both of Florida's picks. Florida, however, is still a weird, weird team.
  • The total picture is - quite frankly - confusing. Florida has an offense that's heavily run-based - 63% - and has a passing premium of nearly 4 yards (4.2 yards per rush to the aforementioned 8.1 yards per pass). That's a heavy inefficiency, but I'm not convinced that Will Muschamp will exploit it, because the passing game is not a sledgehammer you can apply to someone's face.
  • Defensively, Florida will play aggressively (sometimes too aggressively - see the penalties point above), and lock basically everything down that they can.
  • That being said, they really haven't gotten behind the line too frequently, save Ronald Powell (6 tfl). This is basically a defense designed to beat you in the face with a claw hammer.
  • They also don't really force as many turnovers as you'd expect. This, combined with the lack of behind-the-line tackling, seems to point to a very reactive but not as explosive as you'd guess defense. Vaguely, this means something. (Probably doesn't mean anything for Saturday, though.)
  • Special teams: again, in theory dangerous. In practice, eh? Seriously, no punt return or kick return TDs in the last three years. Look it up.
This is going to be the most depressing 24-10 loss ever.