Florida Football 3-2-1 Offensive Preview

Aug 30, 2022 | 1 comment


(Photo Courtesy USA Today Sports)


After a lackluster 2021 season that saw Florida go 6-7 and make a coaching change, football is back in the Swamp with a new staff, a new starting quarterback, and new energy for the 2022 season. However, the schedule isn’t favorable with two ranked teams to begin the season. To start, Florida hosts No. 7 Utah, the reigning PAC-12 champion, on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Even with the consistent open portions of fall camp practice, it was tough to make detailed observations due to time constraints and drills being on air. With a new coaching staff, new faces on both sides of the ball, and a top-ten team coming into the Swamp, the 2022 season opener is more compelling than previous years.

Here are three observations, two questions, and one prediction about the offense based on what we’ve heard in press conferences and seen at practice.


 

Three Observations

 

  1. This offense won’t put up Kyle Trask-like numbers passing the ball. The clear strength of this season’s offense is the running backs and offensive line. The backs are four-deep with Nay’Quan Wright and Lorenzo Lingard returning, Montrell Johnson transferring over and Trevor Etienne enrolling. Add in that Anthony Richardson’s strength is running the ball. On the line, Florida returns five players who have starting experience while adding recently named Second-Team AP Preseason All-American O’Cyrus Torrence at guard. Florida should have no issue running the ball in 2022 and could be a top-rushing team in the country.
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  3. The depth behind Richardson is concerning. In spring, Napier brought in transfer Jack Miller III to add to depth and push Richardson for the starting spot, and 2021 starter Emory Jones eventually transferred to Arizona State. However, Miller III injured his thumb in fall camp and is expected to miss the first two games of the season, according to Napier. The backup spot is now a competition between redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna, who has zero in-game experience and walk-on Kyle Engel. Napier said the true freshman Max Brown is not quite ready to see the field, and that he has full trust in Kitna should he have to go in. Even with Miller’s struggles in the spring game, having him healthy adds insurance, and should something happen to Richardson, the Gators will be in trouble at the quarterback spot.
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  5. There may not be a true No. 1 receiver in the room, but that’s okay. Florida returns all but two of its productive receivers from last season while adding transfer Ricky Pearsall and true freshman Caleb Douglas. That being said, Napier’s offense isn’t a “one true wide receiver with a few secondary guys.” His offense is run-heavy with some play-action, according to running back Johnson. Don’t expect any Kadarius Toney or Trevon Grimes-type numbers but expect a lot more production than last season. Florida won’t have a thousand-yard receiver, but there should be plenty of 400-yard and maybe a couple 500-yard guys with five or so touchdowns, similar to the 2018 and 2019 teams.

 

Two Questions

 

  1. How good will the tight-end group look under Napier’s 12-man personnel? I wrote in my camp observations that the quantity of the room is not an issue, but the quality might be. This may be an issue for an offense reliant on having two tight ends on the field. There aren’t any unicorns in this room. The strength of this group is blocking as there are plenty of big bodies, but the group had the most drops of any group during open portions of camp. Additionally, this is the most inexperienced group of any, with Keon Zipperer being the only one with true in-game experience. With the offense’s strength being running the ball, how good will this inexperienced group do in an offense reliant on their production?
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  3. Will Florida rise to the challenge of defeating a top-ten team in the Swamp, even if the atmosphere is on their side? There’s no question that the weather and the stadium atmosphere will be on the Gators’ side on Saturday, but that doesn’t guarantee a win. We saw it in 2020 against LSU and last season against Alabama, both games Florida could have and probably should have won but fell short. 2021 quickly turned to a failure due to players and coaches checking out and failing to rise to the challenge in games. Utah’s going to put up a fight on Saturday. Will Florida rise to that challenge under a new staff, or will they buckle down like 2021?
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    One Prediction

    1. There will be growing pains offensively, especially passing the ball. Napier has raved about Richardson’s running ability but has said there’s still work to do passing the ball. The receivers have battled injuries in fall camp, and while there’s talent there on paper, this group hasn’t been able to prove it due to last season’s misfortunes. Offensively, the strength is running the ball with big bodies on the offensive line, a deep running back room and Richardson’s strength being a runner. Don’t be surprised if Florida runs the ball 65% of the time, with Wright, Lingard, and Johnson being the stars of the show.

     

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