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September 25, 2012

In-depth Florida - Kentucky Breakdown



After rewatching TV tape, here's a laundry list of thoughts, stats and highs/low from Florida's beat down over Kentucky:

Disclaimer: All kicking plays and victory formation snaps are not included in final totals. Also, these stats are hardly 100% scientific. Without the coaches tape, I can't see everything and the TV tape oftentimes cuts away before/after play.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Motions/Shifts: 22-of-36 first half snaps (61%), 17-of-34 second half snaps (50%) 39-of-70 (56%) total ... up 4% from both TAMU and UT contests.

Wildcat Snaps: 0 ... No Trey Burton, no one to run the Wildcat, but still no problem running against the 'Cats.

Missed tackles: 8 total, but 6 in the first half (Gators had just one versus Tennessee a week ago)... *** De'Ante Saunders (2), Josh Evans (2) & Jon Bostic (2) biggest offenders.

Five-wide/empty sets: 6 snaps compared to 10 against Tennesse. Jeff Driskel and the Gators had middling success in empty sets against UK. Driskel was 3-of-4 for 24 yards, but was also sacked badly twice.

Throws: First play to Omarius Hines (-1 yard swing pass), first down toss to Quinton Dunbar (9 yard crossing pattern, opening play of UF's first TD drive), incomplete pass to Jordan Reed over the middle (ball that should've been caught but Reed left his feet too early, also, Gators lined up in a BIZARRE formation: Kyle Koehne was split out wide in the slot, in-between Matt Jones and Dunbar. He ran the "bubble screen" route), first-down strike on long third-quarter drive (16-yard slant toss to Frankie Hammond Jr.)

Sacks: UK sent six when UF only had five to block; Driskel tried to escape but he held ball way too long. The second one was at the end of the first half, where again, Driskel didn't get rid of the ball soon enough. Of note, Xavier Nixon's man beat him off the ball several times including the sack, and thusly, the senior was benched for much of the second half (more on that later).

WHAT'S NEW
Intrigued by all of Florida's formations and substitutions, this week I tracked two new elements: Pistol formations & fullback Hunter Joyer snaps.

Pistol: Turns out, tracking UF's Pistol formations was much simpler than I anticipated. The Gators only used the formation three times, running the read option every time. Driskel's 38-yard scamper to jump-start the offense was Saturday's first play out of the Pistol, while the other two runs were hand-offs to the tailback.

Joyer: Florida's sophomore fullback has quickly made a name for himself as a skull-crushing lead blocker, but as several analysts have pointed out during multiple Gators' telecasts, it seems like the Gators run every time Joyer's in the game. Was that true Saturday? Yeah, pretty much. The fullback played 17 snaps, 15 of which were runs. Florida threw just twice (15-of-17 rushing snaps) when he was in the game, and one was his goal line reception for a first down.

Backup Shines: Joyer's day was cut short thanks to the big lead, but lest we forget, his backup, Scott Peek, was monumental in sealing the edge and opening up holes for Jones, Mack Brown and Chris Johnson late in the game. He really played well. It may have been against weak and tired competition, but it didn't go unnoticed.

A tale of two halves: Florida allowed allowed 111-yards rushing in the first half, giving up more yards on the ground in one half than Kentucky was averaging per game. However Florida allowed just 59 total yards in the second half (just 11 yards passing).

Blitzes: The Gators blitzed early and often against the 'Cats, especially versus the run. Florida blitzed 8 times alone in the 1st quarter (out of 24 total snaps, so 33%). The Gators rushed five plus 20 times total, i.e. 20-of-61 snaps Florida brought additional pressure (32.7%) -- up from 20% a week ago. The extra pressure made sense considering how abysmal Morgan Newton was at quarterback. None of the blitzes were particularly exotic, although twice Bostic lined up as an edge rusher with his hands in the ground, opposite of Lerentee McCray. Matt Elam, and later Jabari Gorman, blitzed a bunch from the nickel slot.

Also, Dan Quinn's defense brought pressure five straight times to open the second half.

THIS & THAT
Slow Start: The Gators were sluggish out of the gate and looked as if all their mojo and energy were still in Knoxville. One long run seemed to switch on the light-bulbs, but the first six plays were marred with miscues: Joyer badly missed a block, Mike Gillislee whiffed on pass protection, not once but twice, a fumbled quarterback-center exchange and nearly back-to-back interception throws by Driskel. Simply ugly.

Holding on to the ball: Yes, Newton was dreadful, but it was at least encouraging for Florida's coaches that their players finally caught the damn ball. Numerous picks were still left on the field (looking at you Louchiez Purifoy and Evans), but I didn't count exactly.

Saunders interception was a great display of concentration, but I have no idea why Newton ever even rushed the throw. The Gators ran a front-four stunt that was picked up, but Newton hurried a lob pass for no reason when he had his slot guy running a deep post with a step on Elam -- only Newton never looked his way.

Watkins' pick was a nice reactionary read, but again, not sure what Newton saw as there was minimal pressure on the play.

BUSTED COVERAGE
Last week, the Gators burned the Volunteers with wheel routes, and UK tried to return the favor to cut the deficit last Saturday. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, their quarterback was having a rougher day than the NFL replacement officials. Florida was fooled on the play, but after watching it on replay, I don't think it would've been a guaranteed touchdown like many people insinuated. Saunders had the angle, albeit 50 plus yards down the field; Again, no idea how Newton overshot a wide receiver by 10 yards on a day barely breezy.

JOSH EVANS BAD ANGLE OF THE WEEK
If you still have the tape on the DVR, cue to Kentucky's third series in the first half; Epitome of an Evans angle gone wrong. He just guesses. Many times, incorrectly. The 'Cats ran a straight draw play up the middle for a first-down, only for some unknown reason, Evans sprinted over to the left tackle first, taking himself out & away from the hole so that the running back could easily pick up the first down.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL
Pretty. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty good. The Gators covered 76 yards on just seven plays (1:18) after taking over possession on their own 24-yard line with just over two minutes until halftime. Driskel was 4-of-6 for 56 yards, but played behind great protection. Reed took a vicious shot on one play, while Dunbar went across the middle to grab the touchdown. Note, protection was fantastic, but Driskel made crisp/sound decisions and every throw was from the pocket.

HUFF & PUFF & END YOUR DAY NOW
Florida's 15 play, 72-yard drive was "monstrous" as Mick Hubert called it. It was also perfectly balanced eight runs, seven passes. The Gators converted four 3rd-downs on the drive. The screen pass on 2nd-and-14 was a great call, and Jones might still be running had he taken the ball outside and followed Jon Halapio.

Speaking of backup tailbacks: Jones and Brown ran hard Saturday. They weren't awesome, but both looked more decisive and confident and they actually got to the second level for a change. Brown had a couple of nice runs taken away by penalties, but I thought he showed glimpses of promise.

Quick note on Reed: Very surprised he was even in the game in the third quarter to drop the deep scramble pass. The tight end appeared totally out of sync in the huddle after his first down grab earlier in the drive, and then was dizzyingly dazed on the sideline following the drop. Muschamp said Monday Reed has a "head injury" after calling it a shoulder stinger Saturday afternoon. The Gators might've botched the concussion test protocol on this one.

GOOD, BAD & UGLY
* Nifty catch by Hines on Driskel's 50-yard heave. Good body control and awareness.

* Three more fumbles -- all recovered by Gators. Can't keep playing with fire.

* Ian Silberman pancakes -- yeah, two of them.

* Peek making holes for backup tailbacks.

* Poorly timed jet sweep motions - Too often, the sweep man was already at Driskel before the ball was ever snapped.

* D.J. Humphries - The kid's gonna be a stud. Nixon was benched after halftime (although he did see a few snaps at right tackle, sparingly), but the freshman didn't miss a beat after being inserted into the starting lineup. Muschamp wants to challenge Nixon, and there's no better way than playing a hungry freshman. Also, Halapio had an inconsistent day. Really good in run blocking, but multiple blown assignments in pass protection.

* Earl Okine & Leon Orr. Omar Hunter deservedly won the SEC Defensive Linemen of the Week, but Okine and Orr played great too on Saturday. The backup linemen have really solidified Florida's depth up front. Orr clogged up the middle nicely and gave relentless effort, while Okine had several key tackles and disrupted Newton with his length.

* Not so good day for linebacker Antonio Morrison. It was tough go for the freshman. Struggled shedding blocks early and UK ran at his side often. Frequently stood up or pushed away from hole (see: 'Cats draw plays and Newton sweep).

* Final kudos to Clay Burton. Big brother Trey might've been MIA, but the younger Burton played well as UF's No. 2 tight end. Burton made the key block on both Joyer's play action catch and Gillislee's touchdown run -- sealed inside zone -- on back-to-back plays.

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