- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at WR Solomon Patton.
14 carries for 140 yards; one catch for 17 yards
Role in 2012: Patton was rarely involved in the passing game, but he was used as the primary ball carrier on jet sweeps until his season-ending injury against Georgia.
The good: The coaching staff was looking for a way to take advantage of Patton’s speed and found it by using him on jet sweeps, which is the play that former Gators standout Percy Harvin ran so effectively. Patton isn’t as fast as Harvin, but he is a shifty runner who is quick enough to get the edge. He’s also got an unusual benefit: his lack of size. At 5-foot-9, 169 pounds, Patton sometimes get lost behind the offensive linemen, and that confusion can freeze defenders for a split second.
The bad: His size also was a concern because he was taking quite a beating on those jet sweeps. He is giving up 70 or more pounds to linebackers and he took some pretty hard hits at the end of his runs. It didn’t catch up to him until the Georgia game, when he suffered a broken arm when he landed awkwardly after being tackled up high near the sideline.
Crystal ball: Patton should be fine for spring practice. He’ll likely continue as the Gators’ main ball carrier on the jet sweep in 2013, but the Gators might need more from him than that. The receiver position is still a question mark, even with the expected addition of four signees. Somebody has to emerge as a consistent receiver to complement Quinton Dunbar. Patton has more experience than any other returning receiver, so he’ll get the first shot.
16hSam Khan Jr.
6dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough