Through eight games, Florida's five tight ends have accounted for a meager two receptions.
What is even more dumbfounding is how a team that averages 175.3 passing yards per game has yet to look outside of its core group of receivers for production.
Interesting question for Florida TE recruits: Do you watch what Jordan Reed can do or what Florida's current TEs are doing?— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) November 3, 2013
Former 4-star prospects Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson have caught more grief than passes. Clay Burton only sees the field in warm-ups, and converted defensive end Tevin Westbrook leads the position in every major statistical category.
But new wrinkles, motions and route combinations could benefit the group. And when Florida faces Vanderbilt on Saturday, it could be an opportunity for the coaching staff to employ its tight ends as more than just in-line blockers.
Can Florida's tight ends make an impact versus Vanderbilt?
Take Florida's misdirection run game for example.
Coordinator Brent Pease loves to call the jet sweep. As it goes, Solomon Patton comes in motion to take the quarterback hand-off and Florida creates a wall of defenders to the weak side of the formation in hopes of getting hat-on-hat blocking toward the sideline.
Typically, defenses adjust to the motion Patton presents pre-snap and counter with motion of their own to defend the flank.
This can make complementary plays off of the jet sweep that much more effective. And one of those attacking points can be with a tight end.
If Pease wants to create a one-on-one advantage, this play could pay dividends.
Generally, Pease calls the jet sweep from 21 personnel (two halfbacks, one tight end and two receivers), so it's unlikely to see the Gators dial it up from any other grouping, including 10 personnel as suggested by Doug Pearson in the 2012 Nike coaches clinic.
For the sake of specificity, we'll stick to Florida's tendencies running the play from its typical personnel.
As the picture above illustrates, Florida is lined up in 21 personnel with Clay Burton in at tight end.
As Patton comes in motion before the snap, notice the right cornerback hovered over Patton stays, indicating zone coverage across the board. It's also worth mentioning Arkansas' secondary slowly creeps toward the line of scrimmage given the sweep motion.
Knowing a defense will counter Florida's motion with its own, Pease can catch a defense off-balance with a tight end pop to get the big-bodied Burton over the deep middle versus an undersized safety and away from the sweep action.
And it appears Burton gets a free release off the line of scrimmage, too, but of course stays in to run block.
This call would've certainly given the Gators a chance to get vertical and challenge the deep middle of an Arkansas defense that was baited toward the line by Patton's motion. It simply becomes a game of releasing off the line and finding an open area to attack.
TE Jordan Reed led #Gators in receiving last year (45 catches, 559 yards). Tight ends obviously not on pace to reach those numbers this yr.— Scott Carter (@GatorZoneScott) October 6, 2013
With few games left to play, it would behoove Florida not to open up its playbook to find new ways for its tight ends to get involved.
What do the Gators have to lose?
Not only can it give Florida a spark of offensive ingenuity, it can make its already-predictable offense less...predictable.
Follow Charles Kingsbury on Twitter at @chuckkingsbury