The Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators will meet on Saturday, August 24th in Orlando at Camping World Stadium. The ‘Canes head into the season opener ranked 19th per the S&P+ while the Gators are ranked 6th. I wrote a way too early preview of the Florida Gators earlier in the summer, focusing more on the defense (click here). However, Dan Mullen is an offensive coordinator at heart so let’s focus on the Gators scoring machine.
Personnel and scheme
Dan Mullen really likes to use 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) and 10 personnel (one running back, no tight ends) to get his offense going. Like most of the NCAA in 2019, that ‘tight end’ could line up in the back field, the wing, split out wide, or on the line.
The starting quarterback will be Feleipe Franks, the quarterback. The running back room lost Jordan Scarlett but retains Lamical Perrine who ran for 800 yards a year ago. Van Jefferson is the returning top wide receiver. Jefferson caught 35 balls for 503 yards and six touchdowns in 2018.
Florida is running a zone play where the h-back / tight end blocks the defensive end on the back side. However, the running back’s vision is horrible and he runs directly into the offensive line even though there’s a massive hole. Zone backs are taught “slow to / fast through” in other words, slow to the hole, fast through the hole. But this is so slow the back side defender actually chases it down.
Florida runs an outside zone play-action, the post is there and open and the wide receiver drops the wide open touchdown.
The Gators offense attempts an RPO off of split zone but the defender jumps it and comes away with a pick six. There’s a true lack of vision here on seeing the flat defender who was on the slots hip the entire time.
The Gators use a trick play early in their orange and blue game to get things going. A jet sweep reverse pass is a thing of beauty and while it’s almost stopped it comes off well in the end.
Last season Florida’s offense finished 15th per the S&P+. Six-foot-six, 240 pound quarterback Feleipe Franks threw for over 2,000 yards and scored 31 times, with six interceptions. As well as he played at times, averaging 7.6 yards per attempt, the spring game was anything but spectacular.
The ‘Canes defense matches up well against the Gators. Florida has a weak offensive line and Miami typically has a good defensive line with rising stars in Jonathan Garvin and Nesta Silvera. The Gators are weak at tight end and running back where Miami is strong at linebacker with Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Romeo Finley. The Gators don’t have a break out wide receiver and they could have taken advantage of Miami’s lack of experience at safety but Trajan Bandy could lock down Jefferson.
Of course, it’s the Miami offense that has to step up against the Florida defense. That’s what I’m not sure can happen. Miami’s offensive line will struggle against the UF defensive line, the ‘Canes receivers and tight ends are solid but can the quarterback take advantage of the skills? It’s the first start and first real playing time for Jarren Williams as he was named the starting QB for the Hurricanes heading into the football game. Can Williams handle the pressure of a night game in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium over a rival?
When it comes to the polo shirts, Dan Mullen has the nod over Manny Diaz (as far as an X’s and O’s guy). Mullen is a former national championship coordinator and has been a head football coach ten seasons to Manny Diaz’s none. Mullen managed to win ten games once in Starkville, MS as the head man of Mississippi State and now ten again in 2018 as the head coach of the Gators. Mullen has also coached his teams to bowl games in nine of his ten years as a head coach.
Prediction: Florida by 1