After leading the nation in passing yards in 2020, the Florida Gators offense will enter the 2021 season with plenty of new faces. Emory Jones will take up the helm of quarterback, Kyle Pitts will leave massive shoes to fill at the tight end position, and Demarkcus Bowman will enter the running back committee as a transfer. Rising senior Dameon Pierce offered his thoughts on the offense in today’s press conference.
Adapting to a New Offense
Pierce ran for 503 yards in the 2020 season. Averaging 4.7 yards per carry, his low numbers may be deceiving to those who think he isn’t an adequate runner. While the senior out of Bainbridge, Georgia may not rack up the same totals of the leading backs in the nation, the system head coach Dan Mullen had in place used the run game sparingly. Florida was tenth in the SEC for rushing attempts last season, and that was due mainly to the fact that the Gators had a Heisman-finalist quarterback and a Mackey-winning tight end.
Despite the pass-heavy offense last season, those two players leaving the offense will provide breathing room for the running backs. Furthermore, the arrival of Jones to the starting group will give Mullen and the offensive play-callers some flexibility. The Gators rushing offense was in the upper half of the SEC in 2018, the year Felipe Franks led the offense at quarterback. Because Franks could run the ball as a mobile quarterback, Mullen used this option to open up the running backs use as well. Now that the Gators have another dual-threat quarterback, it is expected that Pierce and his fellow running backs will benefit once again.
New hair for Dameon Pierce pic.twitter.com/lCH7EnN4lV
— Nick de la Torre (@delatorre) February 23, 2021
While Pierce will be the oldest running back in his position group, it is expected that all of the members will be contributing to the team. With the addition of Bowman, there are now five backs who are expected to get significant play-time. Each of the runners can bring different skillsets to the table; Pierce considers himself more of a power-back, while others in the position group are more pass-oriented. Despite this, running backs Coach Greg Knox has made it clear to them that they will all be expected to fulfill the same fundamental roles.
If the Gators are to match their level of success from last year, or even surpass it, the team will need to run the ball efficiently. With Jones becoming the starter and Bowman arriving in Gainesville, the outlook from Pierce is optimistic.