SEC: Omarius Hines

Nine games into Florida’s season and it’s pretty clear there’s a great wide receivers famine in Gainesville. And the Gators have two weeks to feed their passing game.

Florida might sport an impressive 8-1 record (7-1 SEC), but what it doesn’t sport is much of a threat to pass. There’s an abundance of speed and athleticism at receiver, but no complete packages.

When the Gators take on No. 10 Florida State on Nov. 24 in Tallahassee, something has to be different or they won’t stand much of a chance -- not with FSU owning the nation’s No. 1 defense and the fourth-best pass defense.

That leaves two weeks of cupcake ball against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State for the Gators to fine-tune that passing game and find some weapons not named Jordan Reed.

[+] EnlargeFrankie Hammond
Kim Klement/US PresswireFrankie Hammond got off to an explosive start, but he and his fellow Florida WRs have been mostly quiet in 2012.
Outside of the junior tight end and his 33 catches, the Gators really don’t have any true receiving threats. Reed, who has been quarterback Jeff Driskel’s saving grace this season, leads Florida with 371 receiving yards and has three touchdowns. He’s the only receiving target with more than 20 receptions and more than 230 yards. He's Florida's only player with more than three catches in multiple games this season.

You can’t have your tight end be your best receiver and expect the offense to be balanced or threatening against good defenses, but that’s what the Gators are stuck with.

Since the Tennessee game on Sept. 15, Driskel has averaged just 122 passing yards with six touchdowns (four in the South Carolina game). He’s taken a good amount of criticism for his decision making, and some of it has certainly been appropriate, but if fans are going to groan about him holding onto the ball for too long, they should also groan about the lack of separation taking place down the field.

“We’re going to have to be more explosive,” Driskel said.

Yes, and more reliable.

“It is what it is,” coach Will Muschamp said about his passing game.

“It’s easy to go pick at that and that’s what everybody’s decided to do at this point.”

Very easy.

It’s obvious this part of Florida’s cupboard is pretty bare. Florida is last in the SEC in passing and is the only SEC team that doesn’t have a wide receiver with more than 20 catches this year. Right now, Quinton Dunbar leads all Florida wideouts with 20 receptions. He’s failed to record more than three catches and 40 yards in a single game.

Frankie Hammond had that 50-yard catch-and-run in the opener and a 75-yarder against Tennessee, but has caught just nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown since.

Utility man Trey Burton has 11 receptions for 126 and no touchdowns. Omarius Hines has moved between tight end and running back, but has 12 catches, and Andre Debose, who has loads of talent but poor work ethic, has just two receptions on the season.

All of these players have been on campus for at least three years.

True freshman Latroy Pittman shined this spring, but has managed just two catches this fall.

Harp on Driskel's play all you want, but nudge some of that animosity over to the receivers as well.

Nothing exemplifies the Gators’ receiving woes quite like the past month. Florida went three games without 100 yards passing in that span and have just one touchdown in the past two games, including the 17-9 loss to Georgia.

Imagine Florida's SEC championship game hopes with a decent passing game.

It hasn’t helped that the Gators have had a lot of receiving recruiting misses over the years, starting with major ones from the Urban Meyer era. Muschamp also whiffed on two big 2012 recruits in ESPN 150 members Stefon Diggs (signed with Maryland) and Nelson Agholor (USC).

All decent offenses have at least one guy quarterbacks can rely on to make plays in the deep game. Florida doesn’t have that, and it’s hurting the creativity in Brent Pease’s offense. It’s hard to fool defenses when they don’t respect your passing game and continuously load the box without repercussions.

There’s no magic pill or new formation. This one comes down to outplaying your man and creating opportunities … and it can’t continue to only be Reed.

What the Gators have done this year has been very impressive. Soon, they’ll be 10-1. But if Florida is going to have a chance at a BCS berth -- or a bowl win -- the passing game has to improve. And that means the wide receivers have to show up.

Florida is an enigma, like 2006

October, 15, 2012
Halfway through the 2012 season, the comparisons are already coming: Is this Florida team destined to repeat what it accomplished in 2006?

It sounds crazy, it really does, but the similarities are there. The offense isn’t exactly pretty, but the defense is stellar. Both running games have bulls in the backfield (2006 had a young Tim Tebow and power back DeShawn Wynn). Urban Meyer used more of a pounding spread, while Will Muschamp (also in his second year, like Meyer) has his team grinding along and outplaying everyone in the second half.

[+] EnlargeChris Leak
Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty ImagesChris Leak was a legitimate threat throwing the ball for the 2006 Florida team, something that lacks in this season's version.
The 2006 team didn't really feel like a true national championship contender halfway through the season because it never blew anyone away with the offense dragging along.

But somehow, the wins kept piling up, as toughness, not flash, got it done ... just like this year's team.

But can these Gators make a run to the national championship, or even the SEC championship? Can a team that has averaged 69 passing yards in its past two games really make it through the rest of its SEC schedule and beyond?

So far a mediocre passing game has been enough with that tremendous defense and rugged running game. But for this team to get on the 2006 team’s level, some things have to change, especially with No. 7 South Carolina venturing into the Swamp on Saturday.

For starters, the Gators have to be a threat to throw. In 2006, Chris Leak, who eventually became Florida’s all-time leading passer, was very much a passing threat. He didn’t throw for a lot of yards, averaging just 210 yards a game, but defenses had to account for a balanced Gators offensive attack.

This year’s team doesn’t really have that in Jeff Driskel. He’s a tremendous athlete and can throw a good ball, but he’s averaging just 139 yards a game and has four touchdown passes.

Now, Driskel doesn’t have the receiving threats Leak had. Frankie Hammond Jr., Quinton Dunbar, Jordan Reed and Andre Debose just don’t generate the same excitement as Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, Dallas Baker and Cornelius Ingram.

Sure, the Gators haven’t exactly needed to throw the ball with their running game and defense, but when Driskel has to pass against good defenses, will he be able to? It’s still a mystery, and that has to be concerning.

When you compare the defenses, the pass rushes are very different. The 2006 team had Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey, who combined for 18.5 sacks. That team had 34 sacks. This one has just 12. Quick passing teams hurt Florida’s pass rush to start the year, but it has to be more consistent in SEC play.

This year’s team does win the kicking battle with All-American hopeful Caleb Sturgis, and you could argue that the running game is stronger with Mike Gillislee.

Even with Tebow and Harvin helping out Wynn, those Gators averaged 160 rushing yards a game. Having more of a passing game cut into the rushing numbers, but Wynn wasn’t Gillislee, who leads all SEC running backs with 615 rushing yards and is one of only two backs to average 100 or more yards a game (102.5). Wynn finished the 2006 season with just 699 yards.

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee
Kim Klement/US PresswireMike Gillislee is averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season.
Add Driskel, Omarius Hines, Solomon Patton and Trey Burton, and these Gators are second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 233.3 yards per game and 236 in conference play.

When it comes to points, both teams are pretty even. The 2006 team averaged 29 points and gave up 9.5 through the first six games (all wins as well), while this year’s team is scoring 27.8 and allowing 12.3. This year’s team is also averaging around 20 yards fewer (378.3) and giving up 40 more yards (297.2).

So the similarities are obvious, but this team doesn’t have the experience the 2006 team had, and you have to wonder if that will eventually catch up to it.

I have to admit I was very surprised to see Florida at No. 2 in the first BCS standings. Don’t get me wrong, the Gators have been impressive with those back-to-back SEC road wins, the second-half pushes, the win over LSU, and that defense and running game.

But No. 2?

In the right light, is this Florida team really a 2 or is it more like a 4, or even a 5? We’ll find out with South Carolina and Georgia next.

Florida might be a tough team to truly figure out, but the 6-0 start is a pleasant surprise. A team that was expected to be nothing more than a distant third in the East could be playing in Atlanta in early December.

That’s something the 2006 team would be very proud of.

Driskel's play is what Florida needs

September, 11, 2012
Jeff Driskel Brett Davis/US PresswireQuarterback Jeff Driskel kept his cool while leading Florida to a win at Texas A&M on Saturday.
No one was happier at Kyle Field on Saturday than QB Jeff Driskel when a bootleg was called with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M.

With the Gators clinging to a 20-17 lead inside one of college football’s toughest venues and facing second-and-10 at their own 45-yard line, offensive coordinator Brent Pease reached into his playbook and put the entire game on Driskel’s shoulders in his first career start.

Driskel loved it. For someone who looked lost as a rookie in 2011, Driskel wanted the chance to win the game and looked very confident when he faked the power play up the middle, rolled to his right, evaded an Aggies defender and darted past the first-down marker for a 21-yard gain that sealed the game for Florida.

“It was a big call,” Driskel said. “We knew that they were going to load the box because it’s definitely a time in the game where you try to run the ball and kill the clock.

“We knew if I could make a guy miss, we could pick up some good yardage. That’s what happened.”

Driskel had the confidence to know that the play would work and that he was the one who was going to execute it to perfection.

And since Tim Tebow left, that’s something the Gators have lacked at the most important position on the field. Driskel isn’t Tebow, but his field persona and his grit are exactly what Florida’s offense needs. He scrambled to make key first downs and stood as tall as ever when he delivered a 39-yard strike to Omarius Hines that set up Florida’s go-ahead touchdown.

For two years, Florida has watched its quarterback position sputter. From John Brantley awkwardly running a spread offense, to Driskel and Jacoby Brissett getting rude welcomes to the SEC when Brantley went down with an ankle injury last year, throwing the ball has been painful for the Gators.

Driskel, who completed 13 of 16 passes for 162 yards in Saturday’s game, was far from perfect or pretty. But he was tough and he led.

The Aggies led 17-10 at halftime, and that seven-point deficit might have been insurmountable for Florida in 2010 and 2011. But with all the momentum in Texas A&M’s hands, Driskel stayed composed, and so did his team.

“It’s definitely a confidence-builder anytime you can go into a hostile environment like that and get an SEC win on the road,” Driskel said. “That’s a big deal.”

And it’s only going to help Driskel grow. Step 1 was surviving A&M’s hostile environment. Step 2 is learning how to make better decisions when things break down. Too many times Driskel tried to be the hero when he didn’t need to be. On one hand, you have to like the guts he showed, but those guts quickly turned to headaches as he was sacked eight times. Most of the time it was because he held on to the ball too long or carelessly ran out of bounds to avoid hits.

None resulted in turnovers, but all resulted in negative yards.

“He does need to get rid of the football in some situations,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We had some guys open we could've hit down the field for some big plays, but again, the game will continue to slow down for him the more reps he gets, the more experience he gets, and that's what I felt like, for both guys, Jacoby and Jeff, as we work through this season.”

And something else that will help is that Driskel is perfectly content with handing the ball off to Mike Gillislee, who has been the focal point of the offense thus far.

“We can get 4 or 5 [yards] on any given down, or we can hit a big play,” Driskel said of Gillislee.

“A quarterback's best friend is a good running game.”

Still, Driskel proved Saturday that his hesitation is dissolving. The playbook should open up more, and Driskel welcomes more opportunities to throw downfield as he continues to adjust to Pease’s offense.

His next test is a major one: on the road against No. 23 Tennessee.

Driskel isn’t intimidated heading to Neyland Stadium. He relishes the opportunity to play in yet another tough venue and possibly disappoint yet another opposing fan base.

“That’s why you come to a school like Florida, to play in these big games and be there with 'College GameDay,'” he said. “We’re excited and can’t wait to get to Knoxville.”

GatorNation links: Driskel right choice at QB

September, 9, 2012
Michael DiRocco writes: Insider A sophomore quarterback making his first start, on the road, in a charged atmosphere, in a nationally televised game, Jeff Driskel stared all of those things down and turned in a rock-solid performance.

DiRocco: Insider Analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 20-17 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday -- A&M QB Johnny Manziel’s 11-yard TD run, UF RB Mike Gillislee’s 12-yard TD run and UF QB Jeff Driskel’s 39-yard pass to Omarius Hines.

DiRocco: Three good points, three bad from UF’s win.

DiRocco: Insider Among five observations from UF’s win Saturday, offensive coordinator Brent Pease called a good game.

GatorNation links: Hines' many flavors

August, 22, 2012
Michael DiRocco writes: Omarius Hines has bounced between running back, tight end and receiver at Florida. He has another new role in 2012 — all of the above.

DiRocco writes: Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Wednesday that the receivers are much more prominent in the offense the Gators are running now than the spread-option offense that former coach Urban Meyer ran and the attack that Charlie Weis used last season.

Derek Tyson writes Insider: In this recruiting mailbag, he answers questions about cornerbacks, receivers and whether there will be more losses to the 2013 class.

One good reason: Florida

July, 17, 2012
We continue our "One good reason" series looking at the Florida Gators.

Good reasons:
Let's see what the Gators could have in store for 2012:

Florida will win the SEC Eastern Division: The Gators' defense is stacked.

We all know that defense wins championships, and Will Muschamp has a group that could be one of the country's elite defensive units this fall. Led by All-SEC safety Matt Elam, the Gators return 10 starters from last year's squad. Buck Ronald Powell, who had an exceptional spring, could miss most of the season after suffering an ACL injury during the spring game, but the staff is confident that senior Lerentee McCray will fill in nicely in Powell's absence. Even without Powell, Florida's front seven is stacked. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley should be healthy after his ACL injury in last year's season finale, and Sharrif Floyd will be at his more natural position of tackle much more this fall. Veteran tackle Omar Hunter is back and junior college transfer Damien Jacobs had a solid spring at tackle.

The linebackers are experienced, starting with All-SEC candidates Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, and rookie Antonio Morrison was a real spark for the defense this spring. The secondary should be decent as well, with sophomore Marcus Roberson back after a solid freshman season. Fellow sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy could be a budding star.

This unit finished the season ranked eighth in total defense and still didn't play up to its full potential. Muschamp came out of spring more excited and happier with his defense, which wasn't even at full strength. If the Gators can cut down on the mental mistakes and play with more attitude, this defense will be even better in 2012 and will be tough for East's top offenses to beat.

Why it won't: The offense is just too unproven.

While the defense is equipped with plenty of star power, the offense is lacking ... considerably. The players seem to be pretty excited about new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and not much will change from Charlie Weis' offensive scheme, but the pieces in place are very unproven. Florida will throw out two sophomore quarterbacks -- Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel -- who struggled in relief last year. At this point, neither has separated himself from the other in the race for the starting spot. Chance are that both will play this fall, but finding consistent throwing targets is concerning. The Gators have talent at wide receiver, but it's either unproven or inconsistent. Andre Debose has shown flashes of being a solid playmaker, but he's had a tendency to fade away during games. Quinton Dunbar was supposed to break out last year, but caught just 14 passes. And Frankie Hammond Jr. just hasn't turned the corner like the coaches have wanted. Tight end Jordan Reed could be the answer, but he has to stay more focused on the field.

At running back, Mike Gillislee gives the Gators their first true downhill threat since Tim Tebow, but he's been inconsistent when given his chances. Redshirt sophomore Mack Brown has barely done anything and Omarius Hines is moving from tight end. The offensive line has struggled mightily for the past two seasons, but the staff feels it made considerable strides this spring.

Florida was 105th in total offense last year, 89th in passing, 73rd in rushing and lacked toughness across the board. Most of the components from that unit return, so a lot of pressure is on this group to improve in Muschamp's second year.

Opening spring camp: Florida

March, 14, 2012
Schedule: Florida opens spring practice Wednesday afternoon and concludes on April 7 with the Orange & Blue Debut, presented by Sunniland, at 1 p.m. ET in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In conjunction with Florida Football's Annual Coaches Clinic, practice will open to the public twice -- March 16 and March 17.

What's new: Florida welcomes in new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who left Boise State, as its new offensive coordinator after Charlie Weis left to become the head coach at Kansas. Florida also hired former Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis to replace Frank Verducci, while Jeff Dillman replaces Mickey Marrotti as the Gators' strength and conditioning coach.

On the mend: Florida will be down a few players this spring. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley is out while he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. Cornerback Jeremy Brown is out with a knee injury that kept him out all of the 2011 season. Offensive linemen Ian Silberman, Tommy Jordan, Kyle Koehne and Cole Gilliam, along with linebacker Lerentee McCray and defensive end Kedric Johnson, are all out with shoulder injuries. Cornerback Marcus Roberson (neck) was cleared for non-contact drills. Linebacker Neiron Ball, who was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation after a blood vessel burst in his head before the 2011 season, has been cleared to resume physical activity, but not for practice.

On the move: Redshirt senior Omarius Hines is moving from wide receiver to cross train at running back and tight end. Hines has always been some sort of a hybrid player, recording 41 career receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns and carrying the ball 13 times for 164 rushing yards and two more scores. Nick Alajajian is moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle to provide depth with Easley out.

Questions: The major question on the minds of fans in Gainesville is what will happen at the quarterback spot. Now that John Brantley is gone, Florida will be working with rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy this spring. One of those three will be Florida's starter this fall, and after what people saw last year from Brissett and Driskel, there's a bit of an uneasy feeling in Gainesville. Florida is also looking to replace running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Senior-to-be Mike Gillislee enters the spring No. 1 on the depth chart, with Mack Brown behind him. Gillislee has played some in the past, while Brown has barely seen the field as a running back. Wide receiver and the offense line also have their own issues. Florida returns four starters up front, but this group struggled significantly last season. Keep an eye on early enrollees D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker. Florida has a handful of receivers, but none are proven and none return with more than 16 catches from last season.

Key battle: If Florida's offense wants to take any steps forward, the Gators have to figure out their quarterback situation. Brissett enters spring with the most experience of the trio, but people around Florida believe he and Driskel are pretty even when it comes to physical ability. The difference right now seems to be that Brissett has more of an edge to him and more confidence. And he did pass Driskel on the depth chart last year. Murphy is pretty athletic, but in his two years on campus he has yet to take a collegiate snap, so he is clearly behind the other two. Pease is a quarterbacks coach, so one of his biggest jobs will be improving the play of all three of these players. One needs to step up and separate himself as both a player and a leader heading into summer workouts.

Don't forget about: Safety Matt Elam might be Florida's best defensive player and he's talented enough to put himself in the conversation as one of the top defensive backs in the SEC. In his first year as a starter at strong safety, Elam was second on the team with 78 tackles and was first with 11 tackles for loss. He also had two sacks, broke up seven passes and recorded two interceptions. Elam plays both the run and the deep ball well. He's turning into a true leader of Florida's defense and is primed for a real breakout season in 2012.

Breaking out: Tight end Jordan Reed was supposed to be one of Florida's top offensive weapons last season, but injuries and poor offensive execution hurt him in 2011. Now that he's healthy and he has young quarterbacks lining up, Reed could get a lot of attention this spring. Don't expect these quarterbacks to go deep much, so they'll have to rely on Reed underneath. Gillislee has shown flashes here and there, but has yet to put everything together. One moment he's running over players, the next he's yanked for poor blocking. Now, he enters spring as the guy at running back and with a bulk of the reps coming his way, Gillislee should be able to do a little more this time around.

All eyes on: Pease has a lot to do in such a short amount of time this spring. He'll be adding a few of his own wrinkles to Florida's offense, but don't expect him to change too much of the offensive terminology. Making things easy will be crucial as he attempts to fix Florida's offensive issues, starting with the quarterback position. The good news is that younger players tend to take to coaching a little better than vets. This is a chance for some reinvention on offense for the Gators, but it will start with Pease's coaching. Weis seemed to struggle a lot last season with communicating his messages to Florida's offensive players. Pease can't have that issue this spring. Everything has to clear and concise for Florida's offense.
It's Depth Chart Day on the SEC blog.

We've already seen Arkansas' and South Carolina's and now we'll take a look at Florida's. Mike DiRocco of ESPN's GatorNation has the complete two-deep depth chart right here.

What you'll notice is that there wasn't a lot of turnover at all on the defensive side of the ball. Florida returns 10 starters, after saying goodbye to defensive tackle Jaye Howard. Rising senior Omar Hunter and redshirt sophomore Leon Orr will man the interior of Florida's defensive line this spring, with Dominique Easley out, as he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered in the regular-season finale. Easley is expected to be back this fall.

Sharrif Floyd will cross train at defensive end and tackle. When Florida is in the 3-4, Floyd will move inside.

Also, with cornerbacks Marcus Roberson (neck) and Jeremy Brown (knee) dealing with injuries, rising sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy and Cody Riggs will start out as the top two corners. And with Lerentee McCray out with a shoulder injury, Darrin Kitchens will begin the spring No. 1 at Sam linebacker.

Offensively, Florida enters the spring with a handful of questions at every position. Sophomores-to-be Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are at the top of the quarterback depth chart, now that John Brantley is gone. Mike Gillislee is listed as the No. 1 running back, with Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps gone. The wide receivers are pretty unproven, but there are a handful of players to work with.

Keep an eye on Omarius Hines, as he will be cross training at running back and tight end after playing wide receiver.

SEC scrimmage notes

August, 25, 2011
The season is exactly a week away (thank you Mississippi State and Kentucky) and teams are still looking to work some more of the kinks out before game week officially starts.

A few teams scrimmaged Wednesday and here are some notes from how things went:


New coach Will Muschamp has been pretty complimentary of the Gators during preseason camp. But that love fest was put on hold Wednesday.

After a sloppy scrimmage, Muschamp was reportedly fuming when he met with the media.

"Very immature football team at this point," Muschamp said. "Just disappointed overall with the mental effort tonight. Some procedure issues we should not be having at this point. Some mental mistakes we should not be having at this point. Overall, pretty displeased."

Muschamp said there was "no sense of urgency" from some players Wednesday and that "there ain't no doubt" players could lose their starting jobs because of Wednesday's effort -- or lack there of.

Muschamp also said that quarterback John Brantley was limited because of back soreness and wide receiver Omarius Hines is listed as questionable for the opener against Florida Atlantic with a hamstring injury.

You can check out video of Muschamp's not-so-happy news conference on Florida's official website. You can also read more news and notes here and here.


The Bulldogs held their third scrimmage of the preseason Wednesday at Sanford Stadium.

Coach Mark Richt made things pretty interesting by putting the scout team ahead 31-0 to start the second half. The Bulldogs made up the ground and came out with a 38-34 victory.

Richt also announced the captains for the season opener in senior center Ben Jones, senior cornerback Brandon Boykin, senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and senior punter Drew Butler. They served as captains in Wednesday's scrimmage as well.

The highlight of the day came when receiver Tavarres King caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Hutson Mason with 11 seconds remaining for the win. Mason finished 7-for-9 passing for 98 yards and King had three receptions for 21 yards. Aaron Murray started and was 5-of-9 for 79 yards. Tight end Orson Charles had three catches for 31 yards.

The good news was that freshman running back Isaiah Crowell returned after a sore groin kept him out of a few practices. He rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

Defensively, Boykin potentially would have had two long touchdowns on an interception (75 yards) and a fumble recovery (80), but Richt blew the whistle to stop the play.

"I thought we had a really good scrimmage on both sides of the ball," said Murray. "Coach Richt moved the ball around, and we had to drive the field a few times and the defense created some turnovers. I thought we executed plays all around."

Here are more notes from Georgia's scrimmage on the Bulldogs' official website. There are more notes here and here.


The Gamecocks scrimmaged for about an hour inside Williams-Brice Stadium on Wednesday and the quarterbacks seemed to come to play.

South Carolina's three quarterbacks combined to complete 19-of-25 passes for 310 yards with two touchdowns. Stephen Garcia completed 9-of-13 attempts for 136 yards and a score. Connor Shaw finished 8-for-9 for 100 yards with a touchdown. Andrew Clifford connected on two of his three pass attempts for 74 yards in limited action.

Receivers Lamar Scruggs and Damiere Byrd both had a touchdown reception. Scruggs' was a 37-yarder from Shaw, and Byrd's was a 38-yarder from Garcia.

You can read more about the scrimmage and check out some nifty stats on the Gamecocks' official website. There are more notes here.

SEC position rankings: WRs/TEs

June, 16, 2011
Today we take a look at the wide receiver/tight end positions in the SEC. This one gets tricky since we’re basing rankings on two different positions.

Let’s take a look at what we came up with:

[+] EnlargeJoe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs
AP Photo/April L. BrownJoe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs combined for 2,260 yards last season.
1. Arkansas: The Razorbacks could have the best wide receiver corps in the country. Making things even better for Arkansas is that each member of its tremendous trio is a senior. First, there’s Greg Childs, who would have taken part in the NFL draft this year had he not suffered a knee injury late in the season. Childs is Arkansas’ best receiver when he’s healthy. Joe Adams really came on strong last year, especially after Childs went down. He’s the best when he gets the ball in open space and will command the slot. Then there’s Jarius Wright, who is the fastest of the three and got even stronger this spring as well. The three have 324 combined career receptions for 5,404 yards and 41 touchdowns.

2. LSU: The Tigers might have lost Terrence Toliver, but they’ll still have weapons at receiver. Junior Rueben Randle is expected to be the go-to guy in LSU’s offense and is coming off a season where he caught 33 passes for 544 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Shepard was right behind him last season, catching the same amount of balls, but only totaled 254 yards and one touchdown. He looked sharper this spring and is looking to break out this fall. Tight end Deangelo Peterson should also get more attention this fall. He only caught 16 passes, but that number should increase.

3. South Carolina: For starters, the Gamecocks have the league’s best receiver in Alshon Jeffery. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound freak snatched just about everything that came his way last fall and registered 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s nearly impossible to stop in one-on-one situations. Senior Jason Barnes didn't make a major impact in 2010, but he does have 60 career receptions under his belt. The smaller Ace Sanders should be even better after bursting onto the scene with 25 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns. D.L. Moore, who caught 17 passes in 2010, should have a more expanded role as well.

[+] EnlargeTavarres King
Dale Zanine/US PresswireWith A.J. Green in the NFL, Tavarres King should become the Bulldogs' main receiving threat.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs are still looking for a few playmakers at receiver, but there is definitely talent in Athens. Junior Tavarres King has moved into A.J. Green’s flanker spot and while he’s not Green, he proved this spring that he’s ready to be the Bulldogs' main receiving threat. Tight end Orson Charles is the best at his position and can flex out to receiver if needed. His 26 catches for 422 yards should increase this upcoming season. Marlon Brown also made strides this spring and should be the No. 2 receiver.

5. Tennessee: Neither Justin Hunter nor Da'Rick Rogers had a ton of catches last fall, but that will change with a strong passing game in 2011. Hunter caught 16 passes, but registered 415 yards and seven touchdowns in the process. He’s a solid deep threat and playmaker. Rogers also only caught 16 passes, and while he didn’t have the yardage Hunter had, he made tremendous strides this spring. Tight end Mychal Rivera caught 11 passes in 2010 and with Luke Stocker gone he takes over as the Vols’ weapon at tight end.

6. Alabama: There aren’t a lot of questions surrounding the Crimson Tide, but receiver isn’t Alabama’s best area. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks should get the brunt of the catches. They combined for 70 catches for 1,013 yards and six touchdowns last season. There is a long list of other inexperienced players who should grab some catches as well and former Ohio State receiver Duron Carter, who just transferred in, could be a factor this fall.

7. Florida: The Gators have talent at wide receiver, and Florida should have a more pass-friendly offense, but the group is very unproven. Frankie Hammond Jr. could be Florida’s best weapon at receiver with his speed and athleticism. Omarius Hines has the size and speed to be a major mismatch for defenders in the slot and on the outside. Freshman Quinton Dunbar was Florida’s top deep threat this spring and should get ample playing time. At tight end, Jordan Reed was called Florida’s best athlete and could end up being the Gators’ top playmaker. Trey Burton should catch a few more passes as well.

[+] EnlargeChad Bumphis
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireMississippi State's Chad Bumphis caught 44 passes for 634 yards and five touchdowns last season.
8. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have a ton of depth at receiver, starting with Chad Bumphis. The junior has yet to really break out, but this could be the year he finally puts it together. Alongside him, Mississippi State has Chris Smith, Brandon Heavens and Arceto Clark, who all had solid springs. Those four combined for 115 catches last fall. The Bulldogs also have a host of young receivers who appear ready to compete.

9. Auburn: There is still some talent left on the Plains at receiver. Sure, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery are gone, but the Tigers will look to Emory Blake and Trovon Reed to make up for their departures. Blake is the leading returning receiver, while Reed will be used all over the field by Auburn’s coaches. He can be a threat in the slot and on the outside. Philip Lutzenkirchen will be more of a staple in the offense as the Tigers’ trusted H-back.

10. Ole Miss: Athletically, the Rebels are fine. However, this group is very inexperienced and was inconsistent this spring. The incoming freshmen will have every opportunity to take a starting spot and Tobias Singleton could be the best option of Ole Miss’ youngsters. Of the returners, Melvin Harris did the most in 2010, catching 30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Vincent Sanders will also get a chance to heavily contribute after making strong strides this spring.

11. Vanderbilt: Four of Vanderbilt’s five receiving leaders return, but the group wasn’t tremendously productive last fall. The Commodores didn’t have a receiver go over 320 yards last season and tight end Brandon Barden caught a team-high 34 passes for 425 yards. Vanderbilt's top two wideouts -- John Cole and Jonathan Krause -- are back, but the Commodores might have to turn to their youngsters for help.

12. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost a lot when do-everything Randall Cobb left early for the NFL and things didn’t get any better by losing No. 2 wideout Chris Matthews. Now, it’s back to the drawing board in Lexington. La'Rod King should be the top target for quarterback Morgan Newton, but he disappointed at times this spring. Matt Roark and E.J. Fields will compete for time, but both need vast improvement. The top athlete could be Brian Adams, but he spent spring playing for Kentucky’s baseball team.
It’s not like Florida coach Will Muschamp doesn’t have enough to worry about this offseason.

Between the carousel of booster club meetings and deciding on an appropriate punishment for senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Muschamp has to be sweating over how his players will take to summer workouts, especially his offensive skill players.

Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will be limited with players, so strength coach Mickey Marotti and the players themselves will be left with the responsibility of making sure spring improvements bleed over into fall practice.

Player-organized 7-on-7s will be the crucial next step to finding that player the offense can consistently rely on.

Florida has a stable of unproven wide receivers and tight ends and while speed is the name of Florida’s running game, none have proven to be capable of being a primary running back.

So who will step up to help out quarterback John Brantley this fall? Let’s take a look at the options:

Chris Rainey
: When he’s good, he’s dangerous, but Rainey has always dealt with inconsistency and he’s not the strongest athlete. At 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, he’s not an intimidating player to look at, but he’s one of the most elusive runners in the SEC. He’ll be used as a receiver at times and Muschamp praised him for having one of the best springs of any of Florida’s players.

Jeff Demps: He’s a national champion in the 60-meter dash and he was one of the most exciting players in the country to watch during his first two seasons. However, he proved that his 5-foot-8, 181-pound frame couldn’t handle being an ever-down running back last season when he went down with a foot injury after carrying the ball more than 20 times against Tennessee. He’s Florida’s best weapon in space, but he can’t be asked to carry a heavy load out of the backfield.

Trey Burton: He’s no longer a quarterback and will be used more out of the backfield. He was a major running threat at times and caught 32 passes in 2010. He wasn't terribly shifty or much of a deep threat, but he became a consistent target for Brantley last season.

Deonte Thompson
: Thompson was supposed to be Florida’s next great deep threat, but inconsistency with his hands has hindered that. He was a top recruit coming out of high school, yet enters his senior season with the unproven tag. His speed isn’t questioned, but he’s got to shore up his catching ability before he can be a major factor.

Frankie Hammond Jr.: He’s got big-play ability, but he’s never really been used extensively in Florida’s offense. He’s got pretty good speed and left spring as a starter on the outside. He said during spring that he and Brantley have developed good on-field chemistry, but will it carry into the fall?

Omarius Hines: Hines was hardly used last season, but combines his 6-foot-1, 211-pound frame with exceptional speed to become a mismatch for most defenders. He’s got the traits to be a playmaker, but he needs to be used more.

Andre Debose: Coming out of high school, he was expected to immediately replace Percy Harvin on offense, but severe hamstring injury sidelined him his freshman year and his inconsistency in practice cost him playing time in 2010. This spring, he was held out of the latter part of practice and the spring game with an ankle injury. Debose had the gifts in high school, but he’s yet to fully show them at Florida.

Quinton Dunbar: Dunbar became one of Muschamp's most talked about offensive players this spring because of his big-play ability and speed. He's inexperienced, but appears to have the tools to be a deep threat in Florida's offense.

Robert Clark: He was solid in the slot this spring and could be a guy that gets the ball in the backfield as well. He’s elusive and has good speed, so he could be a real threat in the middle of the field for the Gators this fall.

Jordan Reed: He’s back at tight end and during spring he drew tons of praise from his teammates and coaches. Brantley called him one of the most athletic players on Florida’s team, regardless of position. Now that the tight end is a major part of the offense, Reed could end up being a prime target for Brantley this fall.

Gators take two hits to WR unit

April, 15, 2011
The wide receiver unit at Florida is starting to become more of a concern for the Gators. It was a very unproven group heading into spring and now two of the younger faces are gone.

Friday, coach Will Muschamp announced that freshmen receivers Chris Dunkley and Javares McRoy are transferring from Florida to pursue football careers elsewhere.

“We wish both of those guys the best of luck in their future endeavors, both on and off the field,” Muschamp said.

McRoy, who enrolled in January from Lakeland, Fla. but missed the spring game after undergoing a minor procedure on his lung, intends to transfer to Texas Tech in order to play with his brother Ben McRoy, who is in his second year as a running back for the Red Raiders.

“I enjoyed my time at Florida, but I really want the chance to play with my brother Ben, who is at Texas Tech,” McRoy said. “Florida has been very understanding and is giving me that opportunity.”

As for Dunkley, his reasons aren’t as clear. He missed all of 2010 with a hamstring injury and was suspended from the team last week because of academic issues.

“It’s been a great learning experience being here at the University of Florida, but I feel like it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start somewhere else,” Dunkley said.

The former Pahokee, Fla., standout was one of Florida’s prized offensive recruits in 2010. Outside of Ronald Powell, he was one of the most exciting guys to watch at Florida’s 2009 Friday Night Lights camp. Most expected him to come in and make an instant impact for the Gators.

However, a hamstring injury nagged him throughout his entire freshman season. It appeared to vanish this spring, but academic issues wrecked the rest of his time.

Dunkley seemed perfect for Urban Meyer’s spread and the thought was that there wouldn’t be a drop off in Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense. Now, Dunkley is off to find a new home and start fresh with his third college coaching staff in less than a year.

It’s unclear if Dunkley just wasn’t invested, but slipping academically isn’t a great sign.

As for McRoy, he originally committed to Texas Tech, but switched to Florida last summer. He was a total spread guy, so adapting to the pro-style might have been an issue for him. However, with his speed, he drew some praise from coaches and players this spring.

Regardless, Florida finds itself down two bodies at receiver. Of the guys returning, senior Deonte Thompson has had the most production. He caught 38 passes for 570 yards and a touchdown in 2010, but had major issues with dropping the football.

Behind him are Omarius Hines and Frankie Hammond Jr. Hammond might have the best playmaking ability of the group. He only caught 22 passes for 276 yards and two scores last year, but he showed that he’s not only got good speed, but he’s pretty shifty in the open field. Hines could be a receiver/tight end hybrid for the Gators and seemed to be heavily underused last fall.

Florida also found out this spring that rising sophomore Robert Clark has the tools to be solid in the slot and redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar has earned high praise from Muschamp and his teammates for being the top playmaker in camp.

Florida’s coaches will now have to accelerate the acclamation process of incoming freshman Ja’Juan Story -- Florida’s only other receiver from the 2011 class.

The Gators have options at the position, but experience is an issue. And after a less-than-stellar offensive showing in the spring game, this does less to help the concerns people have about Florida’s offense heading into the offseason.

Gators win, but few answers offensively

September, 18, 2010
KNOXVILE, Tenn. – When Florida coach Urban Meyer took a leave of absence last year, little did we know that the Gators’ offense would follow suit.

Then again, maybe that is the Gators’ offense we saw Saturday at Neyland Stadium, the same offense we’ve seen for three straight weeks now.

[+] EnlargeJohn Brantley and Urban Meyer
Jim Brown/US PresswireFlorida quarterback John Brantley was held under 175 yards passing for the third straight game.
“We don’t really care how it looks … as long as we win,” junior quarterback John Brantley said following Florida’s 31-17 win against a Tennessee team that fought hard, but simply didn’t have the horsepower to avoid its sixth straight loss to the Gators.

On the surface, Brantley is right. They don’t pass out style points in football.

But there’s a bigger picture here.

Is there any way the Gators (3-0, 1-0) can win an SEC championship playing this erratically on offense?

Is there any way the Gators can even make it to the SEC championship game when they’re leaning on one player (Jeff Demps), not running the ball with any consistency and making few, if any, explosive plays down the field in their passing game?

Meyer didn’t seem overly concerned about the bigger picture early Saturday evening, his players making their way to the team buses victorious after their first road test of the season.

“Coming on the road and winning in the SEC is something we’ll never take for granted,” Meyer said.

“That’s kind of who we are right now.”

Asked point-blank if this team was good enough, Meyer turned philosophical.

“Good enough for what? We’re 3-0. I don’t know,” Meyer said. “We’ve got to somehow beat Kentucky (next week) and get to 4-0. Are we good enough yet? We went on the road and won at Neyland Stadium, and a bunch of guys worked real hard against a very talented team. Are we good enough to win at Neyland Stadium? That’s all I’m worried about. We were.

“Now, we’ve got to find a way. Right now, can we beat Kentucky at home? I don’t know that. Flip a coin, man.”

Other than a couple of busted coverages that led to a pair of long Tennessee touchdown passes, Meyer was pleased with his defense. The Gators sacked quarterback Matt Simms six times, intercepted two passes and held the Vols to 29 rushing yards.

But Brantley’s hoarse voice during postgame interviews told you all you needed to know about the Gators’ offense.

There was another bad snap to start the game, several instances where the Gators were slow getting out of the huddle and struggling to get lined up and a running game that’s pedestrian at best.

Especially telling was a failed third-and-1 in the first quarter followed by a fourth-down play where the Gators couldn’t make a foot.

“Disappointing,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a long season if we can’t hit that third-and-1. It’s going to be a real long season.”

The Gators ran the ball 49 times with Demps getting 26 of those carries. They averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, and it was the third straight game in which Brantley was held under 175 yards passing.

In fact, Florida’s longest play of the game came on a fake punt, a play that changed the complexion of the game after Tennessee had tied it at 10-10 midway through the third quarter.

Omarius Hines rambled for 36 yards on fourth-and-6 from the Gators’ own 39 to set up Brantley’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Hammond.

Without that successful fake punt, it might have been anybody’s game in the fourth quarter.

“When momentum shifts, you have to find a way to get it back somehow,” Meyer said. “When you have experienced offensive players, you don’t have to do that stuff. When you have inexperienced players, you have to somehow create a play.”

The other saving grace for the Gators was that they converted on third down when they needed to in the second half, in particular some key third-and-long situations in the passing game.

“I didn’t put the ball in the best spots, but they went up and got the ball,” said Brantley, who’s obviously still feeling his way into this whole starting quarterback role after watching Tim Tebow from the sideline the past two years.

Meyer noted that the Gators’ 2006 national championship team wasn’t always a work of art offensively.

“At times, we looked pretty good (in 2006). At times, this offense has looked pretty good,” Meyer said. “However, we’re nowhere near where we need to be, so if that happens, how do you win?

"You play great defense. You score in the red zone, which we’re getting a little better at, and then you have a great kicking game and take care of the football, and we’ve been doing that.”

Is it enough for the Gators to get back to Atlanta for a third straight year?

A better question might be: Is it good enough to beat Kentucky next week?

“As long as we’re the better team on the field that day, that’s all that matters,” Brantley said.

The bigger picture can wait.

Video: Florida's Omarius Hines

September, 18, 2010

Chris Low talks with Omarius Hines following Florida’s win over Tennessee.

Hines to take Rainey's spot for Gators

September, 15, 2010
Florida coach Urban Meyer wouldn't say Wednesday how long Chris Rainey would be out, but it sounds as if the Gators are planning to go on without him.

"The immediacy of it is that he's not with our team," said Meyer, declining to say much else about Rainey's status.

Meyer did say that sophomore Omarius Hines would replace Rainey at the slot receiver position this Saturday against Tennessee and that redshirt freshman Jordan Reed would slide into Hines' role.

As Meyer noted, the Gators didn't get a lot of production from Rainey in the first two games. He suffered a concussion last week against South Florida.

"The good news is Omarius Hines is a very talented guy and Jordan Reed is going to Omarius' spot, so we'll still have some guys who can make plays," Meyer said.

Rainey was arrested early Tuesday morning and charged with felony aggravated stalking after allegedly sending a women he'd been dating a text message that said, "Time to Die."