Florida Football: Ranking the 8 Best Offensive Weapons for the Gators
The Florida Gators' offense was, well, inconsistent in 2012.
Sure, Mike Gillislee became the first Gator to rush for 1,000 yards in nearly a decade. However, he was pretty much the only Gator that was effective with regularity.
Luckily, things are looking better for the upcoming season. Jeff Driskel is returning for his second season as the team's starting quarterback, and some of the country's most promising young freshmen will be looking to leave their mark on the scoreboards at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Here is an early look at who should be the Gators' top offensive threats during the 2013 season.
8. Kent Taylor
Kent Taylor is not necessarily the most complete Gator tight end. However, he has the most upside offensively.
Taylor had no measurable impact on the passing attack last season, catching only two passes. Because the Gators seemingly lack a dependable red-zone threat at the moment, they would benefit immensely from an improved Taylor. His size and athleticism are extremely unique for a tight end, which makes him a potential mismatch for defenses.
Until he shows any sort of significant improvement, though, Taylor is not a huge offensive threat.
7. Andre Debose
Based on production, Andre Debose should be nowhere on this list.
Then again, he should be at the top based on his talent level. For now, though, we'll leave him at the seven spot.
In terms of offense, Debose was nothing short of useless last season. He caught a measly three passes for a total of 15 yards. This came only one year after he averaged 27 yards per catch as a sophomore.
If he miraculously improves his work ethic and attitude, Debose could be a deadly weapon. Thinking realistically, however, he should be nothing more than a special teams extraordinaire in 2013.
6. Kelvin Taylor
It is hard to judge exactly how much Kelvin Taylor has grasped the Gators' offense thus far. Even if he has yet to make significant progress, however, Taylor can still be a valuable contributor based solely on his skill level.
His senior season of high school was nothing short of incredible. He rushed for 2,423 yards and 41 touchdowns, numbers which are simply absurd. He even added three pass completions for 46 yards.
He also came within a hair of breaking the national record for career rushing yards.
Yes, he's fast. However, he also has a unique combination of agility and toughness that makes him extremely hard to stop. Once he understands the intricacies of Brent Pease's offense, he could easily be considered Florida's top offensive weapon.
Until that happens, he is an extremely valuable backup that should make serious noise as a freshman.
5. Trey Burton
Trey Burton exploded onto the scene his freshman year when he scored six touchdowns against the Kentucky Wildcats. Although he has not lived up to the lofty expectations that resulted from that game, he is still a valuable weapon for the Gators.
Burton's best asset is his versatility. His combination of solid hands and great speed makes him the perfect choice for the Wildcat formation. He is not afraid to take hits and run between the tackles, but he can also create open space as a receiver. He is a threat simply because he can fill so many roles.
Although he is not a featured piece of Florida's offense, Burton is a skilled athlete that should make his fair share of plays this season.
4. Demarcus Robinson
Demarcus Robinson may only be an early-enrolled freshman, but he already has the chance to be a prime offensive weapon.
He has good size and solid hands, and he also possesses the toughness to muscle his way past opposing defenders. With the apparent lack of depth in Florida's wide receiver corps, he could easily work his way into a significant role by the beginning of the season. The fact that he enrolled early only helps his cause in this regard.
The Gators have not had an upper-tier receiver to rely on over the past couple seasons. However, Robinson could change that within the next season or two.
3. Jeff Driskel
Jeff Driskel plays the most important role on the Gator offense. He is a dual-threat that can make throws out of the pocket, and he efficiently managed the football during his first season as a starter.
So why isn't he No. 1?
Until he can prove it, I do not completely buy Will Muschamp's assertion that he has vastly improved his game. There were so many occasions last season when he missed an open throw or took a bad sack that he never looked like he was completely in a groove. His pocket presence was subpar, and his accuracy was never completely dependable.
Simply put, he struggled. Often.
He may come out firing this season and prove me wrong. Until that happens, however, he should not be considered the top offensive threat on this team. He is a terrific athlete, but not an elite quarterback.
2. Matt Jones
Matt Jones has had a minimal sample size that only gained any sort of substance toward the end of 2012. Based on what I saw during those final weeks, however, I think he is the real deal.
If Mike Gillislee was able to have success in this offense, then it is almost a guarantee that Jones will do the same thing. He has the size and speed to pound through the line of scrimmage and earn the tough yards. Furthermore, his performance during spring practice leads me to believe that he has also come full circle in fully understanding the small details of the offense.
I have said that Jones is primed to break out in 2013, and I stand by that assertion. He and Kelvin Taylor can form a formidable duo when all is said and done.
1. Quinton Dunbar
One could easily argue that Jones will be the most productive Gator in 2012 and deserves the top spot. However, I still think that Quinton Dunbar is the most dangerous Gator that opposing teams need to worry about.
Like Jones, he had a stronger second half. However, he was still a solid contributor before that. Aside from Jordan Reed, it was clear that Dunbar had the most chemistry with Driskel, and he finished second on the team in receptions as a result.
Furthermore, Dunbar has the raw talent. He is relatively large and pretty quick. However, he particularly excels as a route-runner. It is this skill that Driskel needs in a wide receiver because he has yet to show the elite precision of a champion quarterback. The fact that Dunbar can be this safety blanket adds to his stock.
It might be a stretch to say that Dunbar will reach 1,000 yards, but it is entirely possible. No matter what happens, however, he is still the best offensive weapon for the Gators.