Gators confident in run game, even without Tebow
Florida’s running game was a bruising, bashing attack the last
three years. It was practical, predictable and one of the most
potent in the country.
It was, for the most part, the Tim Tebow show.
Running backs often stood around and watched the beefy
quarterback keep the ball, serving as the team’s short-yardage
specialist and its go-to guy. He ran more than 600 times the last
three seasons, gaining nearly 2,500 yards and scoring 49
Without Tebow, Florida’s running game will be considerably
different this fall. But with all the talent in the backfield, it
also remains the team’s biggest strength.
”We’ve got an interesting dynamic back there to really cause
some stress,” offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Friday.
It starts with Jeff Demps, the junior who just might be the
fastest guy in college. Demps captured track national championships
this year in the 60-meter dash and the 100 meters. He became the
first person in school history to win titles in two sports.
He’s open to the possibility of trying to make the U.S. team for
the 2012 Olympics in London, but his focus remains on the
”At the end of the day, I’m still a football player,” Demps
A good one, too.
Demps has rushed for 1,350 yards and 14 touchdowns the last two
seasons. He averages 7.6 yards a carry, putting him on pace to
shatter the school record (6.4 yards per carry) set by Eli Williams
He should get more chances this fall, especially in
short-yardage and goal-line situations.
”It’s exciting just to give us a chance to get that feeling at
crunch time, putting the running backs in and see what we’re going
to do,” Demps said.
Demps certainly will share the workload.
Emmanuel Moody, a 212-pound senior who transferred from Southern
California in 2007, believes he’s healthy after having two ankle
surgeries since January. Moody has carried 58 times in each of the
last two seasons, both of them plagued by nagging injuries.
His right ankle has been the biggest issue. Moody injured his
ankle last November, returned the following month and then
developed bone spurs. He had surgery to remove them earlier this
year, returned too soon, developed more bone spurs and went back
under the knife.
”It’s getting there,” said Moody, who has missed nine games
because of ankle problems. ”I should be ready to go before the
first game starts. I’m practicing, I’m going all out. I went
through all the workouts. But I don’t how it’s going to be with
If Moody misses any time this fall, it could open the door for
sophomore Mike Gillislee and highly touted freshman Mack Brown.
Gillislee averaged 8.6 yards per carry in mop-up duty last
season and ended the season with a 52-yard run in the Sugar Bowl
against Cincinnati. Brown joined the mix a few weeks ago and could
make an immediate impact. He gained more than 1,700 yards in his
final two years at King High in Lithonia, Ga.
Adding to Florida’s backfield depth are speedsters Chris Rainey
and Andre Debose, two hybrid playmakers expected to be used like
coach Urban Meyer did Percy Harvin two years ago.
Rainey has 1,237 yards rushing, including several long ones, and
nine TDs. Debose was the team’s top recruit in 2009, but missed the
entire season after having surgery to repair a torn hamstring.
”You can’t win our conference if you can’t run the ball,”
Addazio said. ”You better be tough, you better be able to run it
and you better have balance. If you don’t have those three
components, you’ve got problems.”
The Gators are confident they will be able to run it, with the
biggest question being who will take on Tebow’s workload.
”It’s third-and-1, what are you going to do with the ball?”
Addazio said. ”That was really a flat Tebow-run scenario:
fourth-and-2, third-and-2, third-and-1. I think you’ll see more
opportunity for tailback runs in those scenarios. We saw more
I-formation last year, but not as much as we might have thought we
might have done. Probably will see more this year, more traditional
It’s a welcome change for Moody.
”We’re excited,” he said. ”There’s more carries to go around,
more balls to go around now.”