Obviously, this is not a “real” question, however, think back to the last two seasons of Gator Football and let’s reflect.
Be honest… by the middle of the Florida State game last year, on 3rd and 7, it crossed your mind to just punt so we wouldn’t turn it over or take a sack… didn’t it?
After seasons of being able to answer the actual question of: On 3rd down and 7, who do we go to with names like Dallas Baker, Cornelius Ingram, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez, Andre Caldwell, Riley Cooper, Louis Murphy, QB scramble, or the best answer we’ve had in recent history: I’m not sure, and neither is the defense.
The recent options (prior to 2010) for converting third downs when the offense is “behind schedule” (Defined as needing more than 4 yards) had been plentiful. The last two seasons have been very questionable, and today that question is still valid.
Once upon a time, we had visions of “Tight ending” our opponents to death with Jordan Reed, Gerald Christian, and AC Leonard. 335 days later, Leonard is on his way to Tenn. State and Christian will be on the sidelines with Charlie Strong at Louisville. Reed remains from that group and is likely the #1 option on 3rd and 7. If healthy, Reed will be the best weapon for our young QBs.
Once defenses figure that out… and in this league, that won’t take long… what’s left.
Andre DeBose is an electric player, but I don’t see him running very many square ins or slants in that scenario. Quinton Dunbar was the annual Orange and Blue Debut All-American, but that didn’t translate to on field production consistently. He’s also pretty “light in the cakes” and won’t be running to many over the middle patterns.
After Reed, I’d look for these 3 guys to give us some help on 3rd and 7:
- LaTroy Pittman: A local freshman who has the size and ability to make plays. He’s got enough speed to make people play him honestly and create some space. Watch out for him on the outside running some stops and abbreviated square ins on smaller corners.
- Colin Thompson/Kent Taylor: More so Taylor as a pass receiver, but in the right matchup, Thompson could be a weapon to move the chains. Having two tight ends in on 3rd and 7 may be a stretch and more effective in shorter yardage, however, as Taylor develops, having him and Reed in presents a problem for defenses. Taylor has speed at good hands at the position and teams can’t double BOTH tight ends. Even if they put a smaller DB or a slower LB on him, we have options.
- Frankie Hammond: Stop rolling your eyes. Frankie matched up against a lesser DB can be effective. Perhaps Frankie can have more opportunites as a playmaker with a more accurate passer and if the O-line can give our passers one more second to find him. Frankie is (again) not the biggest receiver, but is a high jumper on the UF Track and Field team and a hell of an athlete. Watch out for him.
There are others I’d love to see step up, and perhaps one day Ja’Juan Story will return from witness protection (That’s another post for another time), but despite last year’s 7-6 record, we were just a play here and there from some different outcomes, (that’s another post too) and a reliable playmaker could do wonders.
I’m hoping this 2012 team is easier to watch on offense. If I were you out there, I’d prepare for A LOT of 16-10 and 20-13 games this season. Above all, I want to avoid feeling like 3rd and more than 5 yards is a kicking down.
But hey… if we can avoid the 3rd and 57 scenario from 2000, that’d be great too.