The mid 2000s Florida Gators' offensive scheme, under the direction of Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen, became revolutionary as the college football world was introduced to the spread option. The likes of Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez, and Riley Cooper forced defenses to defend and cover the entire field.
Fast forward a decade and Mullen enters the 2021 season with a fast, talented, and deep roster on the offensive side of the ball. Some reports out of fall camp preview a flash from the past for Gator Nation. Two-back sets given a deep running-back room, and a true H-back role for some do-it-all tight ends in Keon Zipperer and Kemore Gamble will likely provide Mullen and Co. the opportunity to dial yp some all-too-familiar sets.
The running-back room for the Gators in 2021 is 5-deep with speed, power, agility and pass-catching ability all at Mullen's disposal. With this, Mullen will combine the strengths of each back with Emory Jones' dual-threat capacity to scheme against opposing defenses.
Here's a clip from 2008 via:
(Percy Harvin Counter Play - David Wunderlich - YouTube)
Mullen spreads the defense out before motioning Harvin back inside to set-up the counter run. I expect we will see similar variations of this play all throughout the 2021 season. In essence, the defense has to fully account for a possible run-pass option (RPO) while maintaining their assignments on the outside.
Insert Emory Jones, Dameon Pierce and Lorenzo Lingard into this formation and it begins to look eerily similar. Look for the 2021 offense to discover a number of ways to replicate these sets early and often.
Another formation Mullen can reintroduce is the combination of the an H-back with an RPO out of the backfield. This formation can be duplicated in a number of ways, but most notably was this clip also from 2008:
(Shovel Option - jkocurek14 - YouTube)
Again, trade Aaron Hernandez for Keon Zipperer or Kemore Gamble and Tim Tebow for Emory Jones and this formation becomes easily translated into 2021 for the Gators. The defensive end in this example bites at the possible RPO from Tebow and gets stuck while Hernandez glides through the interior of the defense.
Albeit, I am no offensive coordinator, one has to believe these schemes and sets are what opposing defensive coordinators are going to be having headaches about entering game week against the Gators this season.
Speed kills is the motto right? A blast from the past this season may bode well for the Gator's offense. Subsequently, this offense has all the necessary tools to execute these formations week-in, week-out. This is precisely why Gator Nation is excited to see Emory Jones command the offense this season; a true-dual threat with play-making ability will be able to make quick reads and deliver the ball to his playmakers out in space.
Couple that, with some reports out of fall camp, and this has all the makings of an offense ready to find its rhythm under Mullen's play-calling ability.
The joyous news for Gator fans is we do not have to wait much longer to see this take place. The University of Florida will host Florida Atlantic University in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this Saturday at 7:30pm.