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Deep Analysis: Predictability, Thy Name is Florida

Florida's offense hasn't been the most varied this year.
Florida's offense hasn't been the most varied this year.

If it feels like watching Florida's offense is like listening to a broken record, fear not. There's a good reason for that. Thanks to any number of reasons relating to youth, inexperience, injuries, suspensions, or anything else you'd like to cite, Florida's offense has been fairly predictable.

I went through and charted all 188 of Florida's offensive plays (plus a few negated by penalty) over the past couple days, and some definite trends stick out.

When John Brantley is in an empty set, it's a pass.

This fact should not be surprising, given that Brantley is not a running quarterback. However, he hasn't had a single rushing attempt from a set with no running backs. Part of that has to do with nice pass protection (only two sacks in the empty set), but it also shows that the offensive coaches are not going to have Brantley even run a QB draw to make defenses think about the possibility.

When Brantley lines up in the pistol and stays there, it's the triple option shovel pass play.

Brantley has lined up in the pistol and not had the running back behind him motion four times, and all four times they ran the triple option shovel play (diagrammed at the end of this post). One other time Emmanuel Moody went in motion behind Brantley to sort of make the pistol, but Moody never stopped and it ended up a pass.

The team hasn't attempted the triple option shovel any other time, though there was one inside shovel to Jeff Demps from an empty set that had no other real options.

When Brantley is under center, it's almost certainly a run.

Brantley has taken a snap from under center with one back behind him six times, and all six were runs. He's taken 45 snaps from the I-formation, and 42 of them were runs. Two of the passes were play action in goal line situations, and the third was in enemy territory from an offset I. In all three cases, Trey Burton was lined up at fullback. He's been fullback on some running plays, so he's not an automatic tell. However, Florida hasn't attempted a pass from the I-formation without Burton being the fullback.

T.J. Pridemore is basically a big neon sign that says "RUN."

Because all three I-formation passes have happened with Burton in at fullback, that means that every time Pridemore has lined up there, the team has run it. Not only that, but all of the runs ended up going between the tackles either by design or thanks to cutbacks. I wish now that I had kept track of the H-back spot, one that Pridemore sometimes plays as well, because every play I can remember him lining up there was also a run.

Pridemore is a true fullback, so it's not surprising that the staff uses him for run blocking. However, a little play action here and there while Pridemore is in might make things just a bit tougher on defenses. Currently, runs between the tackles are going for just 4.04 yards per carry. In all, 19% of Florida's plays have gone for 10 yards or more, but middle runs have gone for 10+ yards just 6.67% of the time.

Is that all?

That's about all I found while blitzing through the broadcasts of the Gators' first three games and only tracking certain things. There are a couple other trends I'm fairly sure of but can't back up 100% (Pridemore at H-back means run; Stephen Alli in the game means run; dating back to last year, Moody has never been thrown at while lining up outside the backfield). I'd call myself an "advanced beginner" when it comes to Xs and Os, so someone like Chris Brown would probably find even more, to say nothing of professional defensive coordinators.

What's the end result?

The end result is what you've seen. The offense has to work hard to get every yard. Not only that, but defenses are much more able to stop plays that would otherwise work.

By my count, 63 of Florida's 188 plays have gone for zero yards or a loss. That comes out to 33.5%. That figure could be off slightly, but still: one out of every three plays Florida runs this year doesn't gain ground. It's tough to have a functional offense when one down per set goes nowhere or backwards. On third down, the ratio is worse: 18 of 39 third down plays (46%) have gone for no gain or a loss.

Predictability doesn't fully explain those stats, but I have a hard time believing based on what I've seen that they come solely from chance and poor execution.

So what is working?

The best overall play has been a running back draw from shotgun. That play is averaging 8.8 yards per play, and the worst it has done so far is a gain of four yards. The outside sweep also deserves mention, as it is responsible for the three longest plays of the season (Jeff Demps for 72, Demps for 62, and Mike Gillislee for 41). It still goes for 5.08 YPC without those three big hitters. Runs outside the tackles but not sweeps also go for 5.33 YPC.

Two things are definitely not working. Plays with a shovel pass component have been run five times for a total of eight yards. They've also run the toss sweep three times, resulting in losses of one, three, and 11 yards (the last being the result of a fumble by Emmanuel Moody).