Are the Florida Gators "back?"
Judging by their No. 2 ranking in the first BCS Standings of the 2012 season, the answer is a resounding "yes."
Florida has burst back onto the scene on the heels of its always-stingy defense and a running game that has been revitalized under first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease and senior running back Mike Gillislee.
Pease's no-nonsense approach to a vicious running game was apparent from the moment that he took the job, and he confirmed that desire at Florida's pro day in March.
Some things are easier said than done, but to Pease's credit, his plan has succeeded with flying colors to the tune of 233.33 rushing yards per game.
Previously known as a changeup back, Gillislee has successfully made the transition to becoming an every-down back, leading all SEC running backs with 102.5 yards per game. He's running between the tackles, an art that was lost in Gainesville ever since former quarterback Tim Tebow exhausted his eligibility following the 2009 season.
Because Gillislee has been so successful this season, it has allowed quarterback Jeff Driskel to take advantage in the running game himself. Driskel has rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns this season, including a season-high 177 yards and three touchdowns vs. Vanderbilt last week.
Florida's offensive success this season can directly be tied to big plays in the rushing game, which was a sore spot last season.
Through six games this season, the Gators have eight rushing plays of 30 or more yards. In 2011, with the "decided schematic advantage" that former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has, they had eight rushing plays of 30 or more yards all season.
Judging from the stats, you'd think that the Gators are incredibly one-dimensional, considering that they rank last in the SEC in passing offense with 145 passing yards per game—17 yards per game worse than Auburn, which is the punch line in seemingly every offensive joke these days.
But that's not true at all.
Driskel hasn't lit up the stat sheet through the air because the dynamic rushing attack that he and Gillislee brings to the table has—for the most part—worked.
Of course, none of this matters unless you have a solid offensive line, which the Gators have. Florida's offensive line has allowed the third-fewest tackles for loss in the SEC this season (33), after allowing the third-most in the SEC last season (96).
They don't allow many negative plays and have a dynamic running game that they have confidence in.
Sounds like a recipe for success to me.