Florida Football 2012: Can Mike Gillislee Make Good on the Big Projections?

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 19, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 03:  Mike Gillislee #23 of the University of Florida Gators attempts to run past Marcus Bartels # 27 of the Florida Atlantic University Owls during a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

If you have not heard the news, Florida's Mike Gillislee, the starter at running back in 2012, was pretty bold about what he wanted to accomplish in his final season with the Gators. Our man, Barrett Sallee, over at the SEC Blog, caught it on tape and has the footage here, for your enjoyment. From the video, Gillislee says:

My goal is to take my team and put 'em on my back. Get 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.

The media laughs as the senior drops the lofty predictions for the 2012 season. Gillislee has never had more than 328 yards in a season, and his total career number is 920; just 580 short of where he'd like to be in 2012. While the goals are quite high and most folks are not taking them too seriously, the fact is if Fitzgerald Toussaint at Michigan gets to make 1,600-yard predictions, then Gillislee, who averages 6.34 yards per carry, gets to have his numbers taken seriously.

The Florida Gators, as a team, have not had a 1,000-yard running back since Ciatrick Faison's 2004 season that saw him post 1,267. Only one Gator in history has ever topped the 1,500 yard mark: Emmett Smith, with his 1989 season of 1,599 yards. Errict Rhett and Fred Taylor, two of the greatest in Florida history, never crossed the 1,500-yard Rubicon.

Is it likely for the senior? Not really. However, it is not out of the realm of possibilities for a Florida football team that wants to be run heavy, has a solid offensive line and will need Gillislee to produce on the ground. Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are still finding their ways into the Brent Peas scheme, and that means heavy leaning on the senior running back. 

Behind an offensive line led by Xavier Nixon, it will be on Gillislee to come out and produce. Fifteen-hundred yards is lofty, but getting to 1,000 should be in order for a team that is focused on using the running game to set up its passing attack and help out its quarterbacks. For the first time in his career, Gillislee will be the feature back, and that per-carry number is going to be put to the test. If he can keep it above five yards per carry, then the senior should top that 1,000-yard mark, and that would be a milestone in and of itself in Gators' history.

Fifteen-hundred yards is not likely happening for Mike Gillislee in the 2012 season. Good for the senior to dream big, but a more realistic number of 1,000 yards is something that offensive line, coaching staff and Gillislee should absolutely have their sights set on.


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