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Florida Football

Stacked backfield looks forward to a productive season

August 17, 2019

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Last season, being able to successfully run the ball was an essential aspect of Florida's balanced offensive attack. The team racked up an average of 213.3 rushing yards per game, good for 4th in the SEC, while adding an average of 213.5 passing yards per game.

This season looks to be no different.

With a backfield consisting of La’Mical Perine, Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement, the running backs will look to continue their success into the 2019 season.

The one key loss at the position came with Jordan Scarlett's decision to leave early for the NFL. However, Florida almost faced the prospect of having to replace their top two running backs.

According to Perine, he almost didn't return for his senior season for the Gators. He attributes his decision to come back for a final season to running backs coach Greg Knox.

“He made it hard for me not to want to come back because, I mean, how detailed he is, he's helping me with the game of football and just being a good coach who makes me bring out the best in me every day,” said Perine. “That's a guy I need in my circle. And I needed to come back for another year and get comfortable with just the game of football."

After nearly doubling his rushing yards from 2017 to 2018, Perine looks poised for big numbers this year. Perine looks to make the jump to be the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Gators since Kelvin Taylor did so in 2015.

Not only should he carry the bulk of the load when it comes to running the ball, he also wants to get more involved in the passing game this season.

“Coach [Dan] Mullen will have me out there every once in a while, just to show my attributes and things I can do outside of just running the ball. He’s definitely making it effective for me.”

Even with being the featured back, Perine is more than happy to share snaps. One thing he’s emphasized is how the snap count can influence health as the season progresses.

“Honestly man, I don’t want to play 70 plays,” relayed Perine. “If I have to for my team, I will, but, on my body? I’d take 40 plays. I rotated a lot with Jordan Scarlett last year, so I felt like that helped me and him out. We’re not too beat up. I feel like that helped him in the process of going to the NFL and things like that. So, I’ll take that. I like being fresh and things like that.”

With Scarlett gone, Davis looks to fill that rotation role with Perine. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game of 2018, and is hoping to bounce back in a big way in 2019.

When asked about the Florida running backs Davis could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

“We’ve got Perine, me, Dameon [Pierce], Iverson [Clement]. Everyone has a role. With our room, everyone lays their role well. We’ve got great guys in the room, including myself. It’s easy when you’ve got guys that want to win and are all striving to do the same thing.”

When asked about his role on the team, Davis talked mainly about staying healthy. Davis credits strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage for much of his progress.

“This is my first time of going through a full off-season with him, being that I was hurt. He helped me out a lot.”

Pierce, a rising sophomore for the Gators, showed flashes of talent in 2018. Against Tennessee, Pierce rushed for a 47-yard touchdown, and led the Gators in rushing through three games, with an average of 10.7 yards per carry.

Pierce will look to get reps as rising redshirt freshman Iverson Clement enters the arena of running backs for the Gators. Clement is vying for reps in practice, contributing on special teams during 2018 and the spring.

When asked about his development and making sacrifices, Clement commented:

“You’ve got to understand the scheme the coaches want to run,” explained Clement. “He doesn’t want players in there the whole game. He wants players in there that are fresh. He wants people that understand what they are doing and that can execute. That piece right there is how you win a National Championship. You’ve got ten guys that know what they are doing and you can sub in and out, that every player that are going got give 110 percent, to have depth at a position that you can sub in different guys that all have different value. That right there is key.”

With preseason camp all but finished, the backs now look ahead to their match-up versus Miami on August 24.

Perine is ready to get it on sooner rather then later.

“If the coaches got to get us excited for this game, then we shouldn’t even be able to play it,” said Perine. “I feel like everybody’s excited right now and juiced up, tired of hitting each other and ready to go hit some Hurricanes.”

Stacked backfield looks forward to a productive season

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