Florida’s Running Game Against LSU

If you’re a Gator fan, you probably already know all this. It was done by request for someone at Bleacher Report, so I figured I’d go ahead and post it here. Just skip to the end for an interesting stat on LSU. If you’re not a Gator, by all means, have at it.

Tebow and Harvin

Any discussion of Florida’s offense, rushing or passing, begins with these guys.

Tim Tebow’s rushing numbers are down since he’s carrying the ball about five fewer times a game than he did last year. The coaches have made a concerted effort to get him to do less freelancing, and that has been the case so far. Even so, he has had a few long runs on scrambles when no one is open.  He will do most designed runs on read option plays, and he’s still the short yardage back.

Percy Harvin has played only one game this season where he was fully healthy: the Ole Miss game where he racked up 82 yards on 10 carries. First he was recovering from his offseason heel surgery, and then he sprained his ankle at Arkansas. He put on some strength in the offseason, moving up to around 205 pounds from about 185 last year, and that has allowed him to fight through defenses and break tackles.

It will be difficult for Tebow to get much on the read option plays thanks to LSU’s great defensive line. His ability to scramble will largely be determined by how LSU uses their linebackers; if they’re blitzing and Tebow gets away, he could have some nice gains.

Harvin will get as many carries as his ankle will allow him to. He will likely be effective because, well, he’s always effective. There’s a reason he averages an absurd amount of yards per touch: the guy is good. He won’t run wild like he did against the Rebels, but he’ll get his yards.

Rainey and Demps

Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are a couple of small backs who are lightning quick.

Rainey is a shifty type. He can spin and juke his way to large gains on nearly every play if he can find a hole. The offensive staff has used him in some puzzling ways though. Three times in the past two games they’ve sent him up the middle on 3rd-and-1, and all three times it has not worked.

Demps is a track star as many know, the holder of the national high school record in the 100 meters. He doesn’t do the fancy things that Rainey does; he hits the hole and speeds away. Demps is always all by himself at the end of his big plays because he almost always runs vertically. In terms of straight line speed, no one can catch him.

These two have a chance to be real difference makers. The trick will be getting them into space, because they will not find success between the tackles thanks to their small stature. Even on their long runs against Arkansas, they first bounced out to the outside rather than going through a hole in the middle.

If Florida can find a way to get them in running lanes, they’ll play a huge part against LSU.


Kestahn Moore is the only power back on the roster available. Emmanuel Moody is out with a sprained ankle, and Mon Williams is still experimenting at linebacker full time. If the Gators want tough running from someone other than a quarterback, Moore’s the man for the job.

Given his past history with fumbling, especially against LSU, it’s doubtful we’ll see him carry the ball too many times. However he is the best guy on the roster at protecting the quarterback, so we could see him more as a blocker than a runner.


LSU sports the No. 8 ranked rushing defense in the country, but it also has the No. 44 ranked pass defense. Florida has established itself as a “use the run to set up the pass” team, but that may need to be reversed given the Tiger D’s performance so far.

Regardless, if Florida can’t run the ball, it won’t win the game. These are the guys who will be called upon to make it happen.


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