Florida Football: Breaking Down the Gators' RB Battle
Entering into the second year of the Muschamp era in Gainesville, the Florida Gators offense is again under construction due to the departure of Charlie Weis to Kansas and the arrival of former Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Pease was also Boise State's assistant head coach and wide receivers coach from 2007-2010.
Now that track stars Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have departed, the question in the minds of many in the Gator Nation is who will become the next go-to RB in Gainesville?
Under the pro-style offense that Coach Muschamp wants to install, the aforementioned Rainey and Demps struggled to move the chains especially in between the tackles. Once SEC defenses figured out to close out the ends, the Gators running game basically came to a screeching halt in 2011.
Let's take a look at the current RBs on the roster and list them in probable starting order going into the 2012 season.
Finally, Mike Gillislee will get his shot as the starter going into the opening game against Bowling Green at home on September 1. After use in mop-up or occasional goal-line stands for three seasons, Gillislee will be given the opportunity to shine.
The 5'11" senior out of Deland is known as a powerful runner and will perform better between the tackles than his starting predecessors.
Entering into the 2012 season, Gillislee will bring with him a 6.3 yards/carry average and 10 rushing and one receiving TD.
When RB Mack Brown announced that he would sign with Florida, it brought a serious buzz throughout the Gator Nation. Now that he's a redshirt sophomore, he may be given a serious opportunity to live up to the hype.
Don't be surprised if the Lithonia, GA native out of King High School challenges Gillislee for serious playing time if not the starting role.
To say that Trey Burton has provided excitement in The Swamp over the past two years would be an understatement. He's lined up as a QB, RB, TE and WR, and performed admirably in each role.
That being said, where Burton will end up is unknown at this time. Don't be surprised if he continues to be a role player in 2012.
If you are going to employ a pro-style offense, then the running game will need an excellent FB. Sophomore Hunter Joyner fits that role perfectly.
Expect Joyner to continue to blow open holes for Gillislee or Brown and ground out those tough goal-line or third-down yards that every offense needs.
Coming out of high school, both Rivals.com and Scout.com had Joyner as the No. 1 FB.
Out of Corsicana, TX, Omarius Hines is entering his redshirt senior season in 2012, and on top of playing TE and WR, don't be surprised if Hines lines up at the RB position.
During the 2011 season, Hines was slated to become the new "hybrid" player, i.e. Aaron Hernandez. However, his numbers tailed off due to an overall poor offensive team performance.
It remains to be seen how Hines ends his career in Gainesville, but hopefully, it ends well, or at least, better than the 2011 season.
Currently on the 2012 roster as a RB, Chris Johnson played at the S position during his freshman season in 2011.
Don't expect to see Johnson much except for mop-up duty as he develops into the role.