Towson vs Florida: Film Review – Offense

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Photo credit: Florida Gators, UAA

Florida’s 38-0 rout of Towson certainly helped boost the team’s spirits, which was good. However, a second look at the tape reveals that this team still has a long way to go. So let’s get right into it, starting with the offense.

We begin by noting that tight end Kyle Pitts is a big time mismatch. He’s listed at 6’6″ 239 on the Gators roster website, he has about an entire heads length size advantage over the safety here and this isn’t simply a result of playing Towson. Tennessee couldn’t defend Pitts either and it’s clear that the staff is getting more comfortable utilizing him on routes like this that allow him to box off defenders.

The first run play of the day was only one of three well blocked runs in the first half. See a clear running lane for LaMical Perine to run through.

Two linemen break off their initial block to get up field to the next level, Perine uses his vision properly here to get a first down.

I’m not a fan of putting our TEs on defensive linemen. Lucas Krull in particular struggles badly vs. linemen of any shape and size and this is a FCS DL that almost blows up the end around because of Krull losing badly on this rep. Fortunately for Krull, Van makes a nice cut and is able to gain yards anyway.

Here we go again with the right tackle situation. The end blows this play up because Jean DeLance decides not to block him. It looks like Delance touches him, if not gives him a slight push. I refuse to believe, based on how the rest of the line blocks, that Chris Bleich was supposed to take an angle to pickup the end here, but he’s just trying to clean up the mess DeLance started so I can’t totally fault him.

Pitts is pressed at the line of scrimmage here and even has a second defender kind of shade him off the line and also touch him to try and throw him off a bit. Pitts is just too talented and too athletic for a TE for smaller guys to handle. Mismatch city.

I know it’s popular to blame the OL for running game issues, but sometimes a completely different position group is to blame. Here we have a toss play going wide off tackle with one pulling linemen. One of the WRs properly blocks a defender; Copeland, being inexperienced, ignores the most wide defender in order to double team someone that doesn’t need double teaming.

You can see the double team circled in red which opens up for the corner to shoot in and hit Perine at the line of scrimmage.

This is a well blocked play on the perimeter that I thought in real time should have gone for a big gain, the inexperienced Copeland didn’t see or trust the big hole that was there.

Instead, he unfortunately runs into one of his blockers and the play design is wasted, and Florida fails to gain big yards.

If you looked at this next play as the ball is about to hit Perines gut, it looks like it’s a mostly well blocked play.

The issue becomes Chris Bleich doesn’t attack his defender with enough force to do anything of substance.  It’s not quite strong enough of a punch, and that allows the linebacker to swipe his hands away and get into the backfield. The second issue is something I’m not sure is an issue because I don’t know the blocking scheme,  I thought Zipperer should have hit the corner that isn’t circled (in the gap), instead he runs up to the safety. But my focus here is on Bleich, not so much Zipperer.

I’ve been very vocal about not playing Bleich and Delance next to each other because of the issues I believe it causes. I at least have some hope for Bleich to improve but this is not one of his better reps, and it nearly ends up in Trask turning the ball over.

This next play drove me insane watching it in review. The first part is fine by the OL. But this is where I believe Florida offensive linemen play too soft and don’t play with a violent intent in their game. Three double teams, from my understanding, one of the linemen off each double team should come off their double team aggressively seeking a block further down field. This is a run play, not a pass play, but our linemen seem to be waiting for defenders to come to them instead of being a giant 300 pound heat seeking missile looking for someone to punch in the mouth. So again, the yellow are our three double teams, the blue is what I strongly believe should have happened.

Not one of the OL did that. A play that should have netted a big gain, looks like this instead:

In this case, the play needs a GIF to accurately show you what I’m talking about. Not one linemen comes off their double team aggressively.

Here is probably the best blocked run of the first half. Both Nick Buchanan and Richard Gouraige- a impromptu insertion into the game- completely turn their defenders away from the play, and it opens a huge hole.

But, that’s not to say the play was blocked to perfection. I believe this was supposed to go right up the gut into the middle of the field (blue). Forsythe and Krull are double teaming a smaller defender that Krull should be able to handle himself, the yellow line, if that happened, springs Pierce what would probably be a long TD run. Instead, Forsythe and Krull both stick to their same man the whole time, the safety that should be blocked by I’m assuming Forsythe, comes in untouched and Pierce flips a coin in his head and cuts it left and wide. The corner actually misses the tackle that otherwise would have left this to a small gain because of one missed assignment by Forsythe or Krull.

I would be curious to know what the staff said on this next play. I’ve seen some people call it a sack given up by the OL and some say it was on Trask. I believe it’s a mixture of the two. In this image below, this is paused exactly at the point he is in the last step in his drop. Fundamentally speaking the ball should be out here. No one is really open here. But whoever the WR is wide there has just enough separation that I think if Trask throws this right now and to the outside shoulder he can get away with this throw.

Now in terms of OL blocking, Stone Forsythe loses this rep to a smaller player who uses his smaller size to swipe Forsythe’s hands away and get under and around him quickly. Towson also runs a stunt with their DT and DE, and as usual, Florida is unable to handle it. This time though it’s Brett Heggie and Buchanan who fail to communicate and pickup the stunt from the end who comes in to help with the sack.

This play… well, I am a firm believer of this type of sack being on Trask. His footwork isn’t very clean, he doesn’t set his feet and he starts to tap dance after his third step in the drop but he has a man wide open here that he can make an easy throw to, there is no lost yards and it’s possible Pitts can turn up the field and gain several yards.

I have read on numerous occasions from scouts and former offensive linemen that a QB should end his drop at 7-8 yards behind the line of scrimmage and anything at 9 and beyond is a QB making life on the linemen hard. DeLance doesn’t do a great job here vs. a smaller linemen, but you can count yourself the yardage in Trasks drop, this is at 9 yards. The offensive linemen are now in a no win situation.

I am not trying to pick on Trask in this review, it just so happens that two bad plays of his came in a short span. I believe this is another mistake on Trask. Tyrie Cleveland runs a route, Copeland is blocking for the bubble screen. Yes, it’s possible the WRs all got the wrong play call, but it’s considerably more likely that Trask threw a route he thought he called out in the huddle. Let’s just say Trask is going to want to forget about this play.

There are a couple things I want to point out on this next TD pass. First, great ball location by Trask. Pitts, at 6’6″, is in no threat of having someone from Towson out jump him on this ball location by Trask. Secondly, Towson tries pressing Pitts a couple yards off the line of scrimmage and they miserably fail at it for the second time this game. Lastly, take a look at the center, Buchanan, who gets shoved to the ground by a smaller defender. It’s concerning how much more physical and violent the hands are of Towson’s defensive line and linebackers compared to the more talented Florida offensive line. To be blunt, that’s unacceptable and will not fly against Auburn.

I was under the impression, via my first watch of this game that our OL just woke up in the 2nd half, but I’m not seeing it yet. There is still an abundance of bad assignment blocking from these guys. #93 for Towson sets the edge on this toss play and Gouraige whiffs on a block rather badly and it allows a defender to spill into the backfield. Pierce seems to have better vision than Perine right now, he spots the cut back lane that is created by the right side of the line and is able to gain eight yards from this spot.

Next play in the game is a run, and it’s another poorly blocked run, except this time I believe the blame goes to Krull who has a man lined up right over his outside shoulder and he completely ignores him.

Pierce is pegged to rights yards in the backfield, but like the prior play, he’s able to miraculously turn it into something.

Finally, we got a good play from the line I can talk about. I noticed a couple people compliment the WRs for this play and ignore the line play, the OL do their job here. Gouraige does a good of keeping his eyes up while lightly engaged in a double team and breaks off to pickup a defender who possibly could have made a play on Pierce. And Kemore Gamble turns into a lead blocker down field.

This is a offensive line heavy review because with Auburn around the corner, this teams inability to communicate and play violently in the run game vs. Towson is a major issue when looking at a much faster, bigger and more talented Auburn defense.

Now, you get both Delance and Bleich pulling here and neither of them know who to block and by the time Bleich puts a body on the linebacker, he does nothing in terms of owning the battle like he should be doing. Like I said, I at least have some hope that Bleich can continue to improve, but this is a major problem right now. I mean, this is still the starting offensive line despite a comfortable lead in the 4th, which is not a good thing.Mullen is still trying to fix the broken run game and these guys still can’t confidently open holes vs. Towson.

Enter Emory Jones into the review, and let’s give him a check mark for this play. In other words, this is a really good throw and catch. It deserves to be included in this write up, ball location is up and away from the corner and Copeland shows good control in the air to bring his feet down in bounds.

Silly me for doubting how Mullen would utilize Emory and his feet. I really was a bit concerned he would try and utilize him like Tebow, but thankfully, he isn’t. He spreads the defense out more to spread out the defense and not bring more defenders into a box that a smaller (in comparison to Tebow) guy like Emory would struggle with.  This is a well blocked run, he has two lanes to pick and Malik Davis does a great job springing him with a lead block as well.

I really loved this look, 3 TEs bunched out wide. It’s difficult to defend, if you pull linebackers out there to match the TEs in terms of size then you open the middle of the field for a run. If you keep DBs out there like Towson did, it creates a easy TD on a screen because if the TEs do their job and win their battle blocking the corners, it’s over.

That is all I am doing for this review as the rest of the game was 2nd and 3rd stringers getting run with Emory.

Conclusion

This was one of those games that was overall somewhat concerning despite the 38 point victory. I spotted less then half a dozen well blocked plays in the running game vs a Towson defense that ranks middle of the pack in the FCS in terms of rushing yards allowed. Now a big part of Towsons yardage allowed has to do with volume. They played a team that ran the ball more than 40 times and a team that ran the ball more than 70 times. But in terms of pure talent advantages, Florida should have that across the board on every FCS team they play, regardless of what the stats tell us.

I’m not sold on this purely being an experience problem. In terms of recruiting rankings, our starting offensive line looks like so:

Forsythe: 976 overall/82 OT/3 star
Heggie: 547 overall/6 OC/3 star
Buchanan: 1475 overall/158th OT/ 3 star
Bleich: 458 overall/34th OT/ 3 star
Delance: 117 overall/13 OT/4 star

And the highest graded recruit out of high school is struggling the most on the offensive line right now. Towson was the game you needed to see consistent running lanes being opened by this unit, and they couldn’t. Guys were not disengaging from double team blocks looking for the next level defender to aggressively attack, they waited for defenders to come to them and then routinely lost the battle with less talented defenders.

The offensive line is still more or less really good in pass protection on a consistent basis and this was the best game Delance has played to date in terms of his pass protection, but it seems to be really difficult to win games in the SEC if you can’t consistently run the ball well, and Florida is flat out bad at running the ball.

I have been pretty aggressive towards Perine this year and nothing in this game really makes me change my mind on anything. Pierce seems to have better vision and he runs with more aggression which I think at this point is a requirement to run behind this line. Perine runs more like LeVeon Bell in terms of waiting and reading the line for a hole he can jump into. But with this line, you need a guy like Pierce who just sees and goes and doesn’t wait for a hole that will never appear.

Trask was extremely efficient on the day, but it’s worth noting that this game plan was extremely screen heavy. Trask was responsible for only 65 air yards of the total 188 yards he was given on the day.  If you’re curious about his list of completions in terms of air yards:

2
11
4
-3
-3
-3
5 (TD)
4
15
-5
11
-1
-2
18
3
7 (TD)
5
-3

It was still an effective game plan, though I would have liked to see a bit more of an aggressive passing game vs Towson with a schedule coming up that may not lend will to a screen heavy game with how talented 3 of the next 4 teams are at corner. On Saturday I was under the impression that Trask was responsible for 2 of the sacks he took, after review, I really only considered one of those sacks mostly, if not entirely on Trask for taking too deep of a drop and not passing the ball to Pitts who was wide open underneath.

I will try to get to previewing Auburn this week, but if I don’t, I can say with confidence right now that I don’t believe Florida can run on Auburn. They have played a much more difficult schedule than Florida and they currently sport the 20th ranked rushing defense in the country, 28th in you’re looking for their ranking in terms of yards per carry allowed.

Either Mullen is going to have to realize that Pierce may be his best option at running back, or Florida is going to have to win this by dropping back and throwing the ball 40 times. I struggle to see how Florida wins this game with a 50/50 approach while continuing to utilize Perine as the work horse back.

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