Auburn vs Florida: Film Review – Offense

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Florida Gators

What a win, huh?

If you’ve been cryogenically frozen for the past five days, Florida kept its undefeated season intact with a 24-13 win over Auburn  this past week. It was great, it felt great, and it looks great on a potential postseason resume. So don’t take anything negative I might point in this film session the wrong way: this was a statement win, and, well, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

But of course, there’s always room for improvement. So in the interest of building off a statement win, let’s get to the film.

I’ll start with the second offensive play of the day for Florida, for obvious reasons.  Swain is matched up with a linebacker in the slot- that’s a huge no-no- and the slant and post route seems to be one that Trask is very comfortable throwing in terms of accuracy and timing. So the result was more or less what you’d expect.

Fast forward to the Gators’ next drive, and their first turnover of the day. It was an RPO by Florida; it’s a two route play with a slant by the WR at the top and a screen at the bottom and all the linemen and Pitts engage in run blocking. This is a good defensive call by Auburn as they bring the corner blitz from Trask’s weak side and he doesn’t see it… and the result is predictable.

The fumble by Trask is bad, he seems to have some issues with holding onto the ball when getting hit. Feleipe Franks has stronger hands and was able to handle getting hit a bit better than Trask does, I think part of that was also experience in terms of Franks having a better feel for the pocket than Trask does right now. And I get that there’s a lot of luck involved with this, but I’m getting really irritated by Florida’s inability to recover fumbles. It was evident vs. Miami and it’s shown up in other games with guys being just flat out unable to just simply fall onto the ball (I also did not forget the special teams fumble recovery later in the game, but this instance was bad because you have a 300 pound OL on the ball). Case in point: Jean DeLance should just fall onto it and not let it go. Simple. But somehow the ball escapes from DeLance and Auburn ends up with the turnover.

This OL just struggles to run block out of the shotgun formation but they are slightly better when lining up with their hand in the grass.  This play results in a Pierce fumble (targeting is still a thing, no?), but the OL created a good enough hole that if he holds onto the ball, Florida goes into 2nd down with just needing 4 or 5 yards to convert a first down, that is massive compared to the Florida line barely giving backs the room to gain a yard when the linemen are standing up.

Here we go again: this is just terrible technique by Delance. Multiple times a game he gets the QB into trouble by reaching and falling over trying to block a pass rusher. Trask got hit low here too. I’m going to make a very simple assumption that the backup to DeLance is struggling in practice a lot more than DeLance is during games to not replace him at this point. I don’t even want to consider any alternative theories.

This was a screen call that actually would have likely gone for a solid gain if Grimes actually tried to block the corner at the right time. He seems to have just waited for the DB to attack him instead of attacking the DB, and it resulted in Perine having to stop his momentum vs. just attacking the outside and heading up field, and Perine has the angle on that defender at the first down marker and 10 yards of room before the closest safety is at him. Perine with that much room to work with in the open field is usually pretty good (yes, that’s foreshadowing).

The issue with having a tall OT (Forsythe is 6’7″) is that they have to be really great athletes to block pass rushers shorter than them who can bend their hips well to get under the taller guy. There were some concerns in the Towson game with Forsythe struggling vs smaller guys and he’s having issues again in this game. Pass rusher dips, gets a great angle on his pass rush, causes Forsythe to turn, bend and reach for the block, at this point he’s lost the battle and another blind side hit causes Trask to fumble the ball again.

This is the 2nd time in the game I counted Trask sliding in the pocket, if he doesn’t, I don’t know if he gets this ball off accurately as a pass rusher fell right where he was standing prior to that subtle little slide to the left. Forsythe also does a great job getting lower in his stance and locking onto the pass rusher. I really do love this route by Hammond too, I’d like to see it more as college defenders struggle with that stop and go route. It was run successfully by Hammond later in the game for a 10 yard completion as well.

I’m hoping that Forsythe’s struggles in this game is simply because of how good the defensive line of Auburn was and not the start of him struggling because Florida is hitting the beef of their schedule. Again, noticed some issues with him vs. Towson but didn’t focus on it too much. Now I’m focusing on it. Low man wins again. This is the play that resulted in Trask getting hurt and Florida fans believing that we were down to one QB left on the roster.

I feel strongly that Forsythe needs to commit to someone here. I’m not going to pretend to know exactly how Florida’s staff teaches a tackle to block in a scenario he has to decide between two defenders, but I get the sense not doing anything but simply brushing a hand on the outer most pass rusher isn’t the best approach. This luckily ends up as a completion but it’s a split second off from possibly being another sack strip for Auburn again because of poor blocking by at least one person on the offensive line.

I’m not trying to create a QB controversy, I simply feel that one of the biggest reasons that Emory might be better suited to run the offense is for one, I don’t think he is much of a drop-off as a passer. I do give Trask the edge there right now, but he really does open up running lanes that just aren’t there with Trask because Trask is not hurting you with his running ability. This is the second running play with Emory at QB that resulted in linebackers being worrisome to commit to the RB because of the threat of Emory. This play is just not blocked well enough by the left side of the line and the run doesn’t go nearly as far as it should have considering there is no linebacker in the gap.

The difference between great and bad offensive linemen is in their aggressiveness. Aggressive linemen love blocking smaller defenders in the open field and driving them into the ground. Forsythe, for some reason, just stops instead of aggressively attacking the smaller corner here. There looks to be some room for Tyrie to take off and we know how fast Cleveland is. This has been an issue all year long, which is a problem when Florida throws about 6-8 screen passes a game, so the linemen have to get better at quickly attacking defenders and stop with the waiting game.

I have been very loud about how poor this OL is at properly running plays that involve double team blocks and how the linemen don’t get up to the second level aggressively enough. I finally have a good example of what I mean when it is done properly, this one is by Forsythe, he quickly gets up to the 2nd level and gets a block on a linebacker that creates space for Davis to cut up field and gain some good yards.

All I want to do here is point out the timing by Trask. He sees the deep out is open and he starts to throw right as Swain breaks on his route. Great throw, great timing.

Let’s establish from the get go that I love Dan Mullen and agree with 99% of everything he does. This play call falls into that remaining 1%. For starters, Trask is playing somewhat hurt here. I’m not a doctor on the sideline so I don’t know where the pain level is of his knee, he could be perfectly fine, but other than the fact Trask isn’t a strong runner, putting his knee at risk here is silly as I’m going to assume his knee didn’t magically heal within an hour. Could just as easily thrown a quick slant to Pitts, I would have even preferred another screen pass that only went for a yard. A yard is all Florida needed. You have to be more creative than this on 3rd and short with the defenses Florida has coming up and I would love it if our offensive staff stopped pretending that Trask can run the ball in obvious running situations, I strongly believe it is a wasted play.

Play ends up a sack, and while I don’t pin the sack on Trask (it’s mostly on DeLance) Auburn immediately drops into a pretty deep zone and Jefferson is comfortably open under the zone, right in front of Trask. Sometimes it’s fine to take the easy throw, so this was potentially an avoidable sack if Trask quickly gets this ball out to Jefferson.

I’d like to see these back shoulder throws to Pitts more, or any one of our WRs. Grimes comes to mind as being a mismatch with his height as well. But Trask is definitely very comfortable with Pitts and he knows that as of right now, there isn’t a single player that can actually guard him on the outside.

Your RB is going to have a rough time at this running thing when he sees defensive lines penetrating so quickly that he’s seeing this a yard behind the line of scrimmage.

I’m a little confused on this play. The WRs all run pass routes, the OL is run blocking, this isn’t a typical RPO look, but Trask and Davis both are running an option. It could very well have been a run play with the WRs simply just running their defenders out of position, but Cleveland puts his hand up as if he expects a pass thrown. If it is indeed an option play, Trask makes a mistake here because the defender has eyes on Trask and has not committed to Davis, if this is pitched outside, it’s likely a TD, the next play is a fumble by Trask, thankfully this missed pitch by Trask did not bite Florida in terms of the result of the game. And Davis’ reaction when Trask keeps it also tells a bit as well, he knew he had a possible TD.

There are some things I got wrong about this game, some that I hit on, Brown dominating the offensive line was one of those things I hit on. Here is a sack, strip and fumble recovery by Brown. It’s not a complete blind side hit on Trask but because he had his eyes locked in on the top WR who ended up tripping in his route, he doesn’t see the pocket collapse.

I really wanted to do a GIF of Perine’s excellent run- and yes, it was an excellent run- but the play was so long it literally crashed my browser four attempts in a row before I gave up. Anyway, with the way Perine ran in this game, despite the overall struggle he had on the day, it seems to me that the staff got through to him with benching him for Pierce in the 2nd half of the Towson game, plus whatever was said or done in practice leading up to this game. He just ran way more aggressively in this game and stopped with his LeVeon Bell like dancing in the back field. Bell got away with that in Pittsburgh because of how phenomenal their line play is, Perine can’t do that here, you have to hit the hole with speed and aggression, and I believe that someone got through to him. This play is more or less blocked pretty poorly as Perine is hit before he even gains a yard.

Conclusion

I do film review for a number of reasons. For one, I like to show people what I see and what I believe they missed when they watched a game, football is complicated and has 22 moving parts. Another reason is because of how I watch the game, usually drinking and frustrated and believing I see things that I probably didn’t actually see.

For instance, on Saturday as I watched this game I really disliked the game plan, I thought it was too screen heavy with not enough shots down field. But the reality is Florida ran as many screen plays as they normally tend to do during a game. The problem was not with the play calls in that regard, the execution was poor. WRs were missing blocks and linemen were not getting out into the open field fast enough and seeking out blocking smaller DBs. The offensive staff dialed up plenty of deep developing routes but it’s difficult to accomplish those play calls when your offensive line is routinely getting beat by Auburn’s defensive line.

Florida’s screen play output looked like the following:

4 yards
1 yard
3 yards
0 yards
-1 yard
-4 yards
4 yards
4 yards

That is a big issue and most of these were just execution issues again.

The running game was more of the same in this game. I stated on Twitter that the only way Florida will have a running back hit 100+ yards is if one of them has a run for over 40 yards in this game. That turned out to be spot on, because if you removed the run from Perine and replaced it with a one yard gain (which is where he was hit on the play) his numbers would have looked closer to 14 carries for 43 yards instead of 14 carries for 130 yards. Without Perine’s run, Florida would have ran 33 times for 45 yards. Of course, this isn’t the absolute best, most scientific way to have this conversation of “what if” because if Perine got tackled after only a one yard gain, Florida continues to build a drive together and call additional runs which means there is the possibility for more yards to be gained or lost on the ground. All I am doing here is simply providing you with the context that Florida’s offensive line was bad in this game and we should not use Perines one run or rushing total to push forth the narrative that Florida has a improved running game now. They don’t, and I don’t foresee at any point Florida finding a running game with Trask at QB.

Trask himself had a fine day. I continue to push the point that people need to understand his lack of overall playing time in high school and college. It’s simply amazing that we’re getting this kind of play from him in terms of his passing ability. He doesn’t have a good feel for the pocket yet, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was originally on Saturday. He didn’t see any of the strip sack plays coming and I actually don’t believe he held onto the ball as long as he did a couple times vs. Towson. For the most part, I thought he improved in getting the ball out faster, the staff for the most part dialed up plays that usually included one slant, skinny post or drag route to give him an easy throw. I thought Trask improved vs. Auburn in terms of his sliding up and around the pocket vs. stepping backwards into pressure, which he did numerous times vs Towson. The biggest issue I had with Trask was more in his timing, he had some balls that were wonderfully timed and thrown and some others I thought the ball should have been out 1 second sooner. These are understandable issues to have considering his experience level, all I want to see now is game to game improvement and I really do believe I saw that vs Auburn.

Lastly, Florida dominated Auburn in this game and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can check out the defensive review for my work there, but to quickly remind you, Auburn scored 3 times off of turnovers and put up 0 points on Florida when forced to drive the length of the field. Auburn has a fantastic defense and scoring 24 on them is solid, but if Florida gets just somewhat better execution today, Florida comes close to putting up 2 additional TDs on Auburn and the media isn’t sitting here making excuses for Auburn on both sides of the ball.

So yeah: it was a truly great win, by every definition of the word.

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