The Florida Gators offense has moved the ball down the field seemingly at will through their first three games but it has been far different from the offense that wowed fans last season. They’ve gone from an Air Raid attack under former Gator and current Tampa Bay Bucs QB Kyle Trask to a more run oriented offense under both Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson.
While the wide receivers have been productive with their opportunities, the question that people have been asking is “Where are the tight ends?” They had only been targeted a total of two times this season prior to their matchup against Alabama. However that changed in the game against Alabama. We saw Emory Jones target Kemore Gamble early and often. He had three catches on the first drive, which lead to a field goal and finished the game with a total of five catches for 32 yards on the day. Keon Zipperer also had a big role in the offense hauling in four catches for 51 yards and finishing as the Gators leading receiver on the day. Could it be that Coach Mullen was just hiding the tight ends until conference play? It certainly looks that way and I think they will continue to be a large part of the offense moving forward.
Florida hosts Tennessee in The Swamp on Saturday at 7:00pm ET/6:00 CT. I expect Dan Mullen to continue utilize Gamble, Zipperer, Nick Elksnis and Jonathan Odom more. They all bring a different element to the offense and have the ability to create a lot of mismatches. Gamble and Odom are the best blockers, Zipperer gives you versatility to line him up as a fullback, h-back, or a tight end, and Elksnis is the youngest but could very well be the most athletic and talented of the group. I believe we will see some wrinkles from Mullen to involve each guy that could resemble the 2008 Florida offense.
If you remember, Aaron Hernandez moved all over the field and was able to get open in so many different ways. He would line up on the line of scrimmage, outside, in the slot and in the backfield. We saw Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen use the tight end shovel pass in a triple option look. Things like that made the offense much more multiple and harder to stop for opposing defenses. The tight end position is one of the most important positions in Florida’s offense. Mullen knows he has to get them involved and I expect him to find ways to utilize each of their talents and get the ball in their hands.
Between all the tight ends, I believe Keon Zipperer is going to have the biggest impact because he has the versatility to line up just about anywhere on the field and get open. You have to find ways to use your best players. I have full confidence that Dan Mullen will be able to do that and put Florida in a position to get back to the SEC Championship. To do that, Gamble, Zipperer, Elksnis and Odom are going to have to play big roles. They have the talent to do so and I believe they’re ready to take on the challenge.