A year later and the Florida racing game is no joke

There was no way to measure how much the Florida Gators (2-1, 0-1 SEC) racing game had improved by measuring their production against their top two opponents. Florida scored 400 rushing yards in its first game, then 363 rushing yards in game two, but it was against FAU and South Florida, respectively. But when Alabama hit town on Saturday, the Gators were going to have a real test.

The racing game is over, forgive the pun

Florida had 439 yards of offense against the nation’s No.1 team and despite losing in a close game, they edged the Crimson Tide by 268 yards to 91. Normally that’s a recipe for winning games, but not this time.

Talking about hasty exploits is not about moral victories. Florida shot themselves in the foot in the first quarter and Alabama looked like the nation’s No.1 team and a bully of the playing field as they took a 21-3 lead in The Swamp forward. that the stopwatch strikes zero in the first.

It’s about answering questions and one of the most important was whether the Gators are going to be able to run the ball this year, because it’s absolutely imperative that they be able to do so. One thing Florida can take away from Saturday’s game is that they shouldn’t be in a game thinking they will be passed by whoever stays on the schedule.

What has happened in three games now is that the Gators have rushed the ball for 1,009 yards. That number is higher than any three-game start to a season in Florida at least since 1981.

The Gators led the country in rushing yards per game averaging 381.5 yards at the start of the weekend, Florida now averaging 336.3 yards. Florida has run for 336 yards in a single game just twice in the past 13 years and both were in 2009, Tim Tebow’s last season in Florida.

Compare that to last year when Florida only had two games where they broke the 200-yard rushing barrier. Florida ran for 54 yards in the SEC Championship game against Alabama in early December. The comparisons to now in terms of the Gators’ ability to run the ball are rich.

“I think we played a lot better up front today”, head coach Dan Mullen said of the comparison of the two clashes with the Crimson Tide shortly after the Gators fell 31-29 to their SEC nemesis. “But, that’s a little focus on this year’s squad, you know where we’re at. We’re a little more veteran in our top seven on both sides of the ball than we were last year. Last year, you know, you kinda – all the superstars were in the perimeter, and taking the snap and throwing the ball into the field. In the interior part, we are a little more veteran, a little more experienced this year.

The guys up front have really been underestimated at this point. I am the first to admit that I was not very sure about their ability to run en bloc. But they have done it in a big way so far.

“I really trust these guys,” Quarterback Emory jones who ran for 80 meters in the contest said after the game. “They played their tail today. I told them there was nothing to keep their heads down. They did a hell of a job today. And they gave me the time I needed there to deliver when I needed it. I am very proud of these guys.

To recover Nay’Quan Wright had a career-high 58 yards and a 30-yard run, a career-high in the contest, not to mention a huge play near the Gators’ goal line where he caught an 18-yard slant pass for start a 99-yard touchdown just before the fourth quarter.

“I mean, the O line played a lot,” Wright said after the game. “Everything… we can’t do anything without the O line, so I mean they played pretty big. They were big for us, and we took advantage of that and we ran after these big guys. “

Mullen wouldn’t go without crediting the running backs as much as the offensive line.

“Our full backs run the ball really hard… our quarterbacks are athletic and can beat you up a bit with the running game,” he said. “So we’re going to be a bit of a different team.”

Mullen also gives credit to others on offense when it comes to the running game.

“Our broads on the outside, I think they did a hell of a job today,” he said. “Look at Jacob Copeland, a catch for 10 years, you know… and two pass interference penalties for 30 yards that they had to attack or he would have been an explosive type of play. So guys on the outside, maybe not on the stats sheet to get the credit, but now they’re loading the box to stop the race, we’re getting head-to-head shots on the outside, and these guys win. We want these games to become more explosive and more real, but I think these guys did a really good job on the pitch. “

It was part of this year’s plan. With athletic quarterbacks behind center and the loss of a second-round quarterback and two first-round wide receivers of the NFL Draft, things were about to change and the focus needed to be on running the ball. . This plan began shortly after the end of last season.

“Since we started in January with this team, we knew the running game was going to be a big part of our offensive plan,” Jones said. “We’re just trying to keep working on it and I’m trying to do my part. So we keep improving and trying to improve. ”

And while gaining 763 rushing yards in the first two games, I still had doubts about my ability to run, including myself, it looks like a lot of questions were answered on Saturday, even with a loss.

“We did it the first two weeks, we just have to keep doing it,” Wright said. “Whether it’s Bama, Tennessee, LSU, whoever it is, we’re going to keep running the ball. It doesn’t matter who’s there, we’re just going to put the ball down and throw the ball. We did it the first couple of weeks, we (were) really efficient, so we’re going to keep going. “

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