Thursday, November 19, 2009
Still time for Gators to crank out big plays
By ESPN.com staff
The lack of big plays in Florida’s offense this season has been pinned primarily on the Gators’ receivers.
But the running backs certainly don’t get a pass.
Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey don’t have a run of longer than 25 yards in SEC play this season.
Compare that to last season when five of Demps’ seven touchdowns were 36 yards or longer and three of the seven were 40 yards or longer.
Rainey had a 75-yard touchdown run last season against Arkansas.
A year later, the Gators can’t seem to buy a big play, which Florida coach Urban Meyer was worried about after losing Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy to the NFL.
But he also thought others would step up quicker than they have.
“Deonte Thompson got hurt, and that sort of set him back,” Meyer said. “I was expecting a few more hits out of our tailbacks than we’ve gotten. But we still have some big games left. I know we’re down, but we’re also up in other areas. Whenever you lose good players, you anticipate a little bit of a drop-off. But I still think we can, maybe not catch (the big-play numbers from a year ago), but still be very productive the last part of the season.”
There was a bit of a breakthrough against South Carolina last week. Senior receiver Riley Cooper caught a shorter ball over the middle early in the game and turned it into a 68-yard touchdown.
It’s that type of catch-and-run play that has been missing this season from the Florida offense.
“I remember Bubba Caldwell catching a bubble screen and taking it 60 yards (a couple of years ago),” Meyer said. “We haven’t had that yet this year.
“Once again, there’s still plenty of time.”