The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Florida offense forages on the ground

Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) makes a touchdown catch in the end zone against Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Atlanta.(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

By Jordan Hansen

[email protected]

Over the next two days, we’re going to dive into the Florida offense and defense as Iowa’s date with the Gators in the Outback Bowl crawls closer. Today, we’ll talk about what’s going to happen when Florida has the ball. Let’s dive in, shall we?

As it’s been said in every blog, article, and each time the matchup is brought up on ESPN, neither the Hawkeyes nor the Gators are particularly adept on the offensive side of the ball. Fine. We get it — there will be punts.

Even so, Florida managed to win eight games and make the SEC Championship. Yes, the Gators do have an offense that’s able to score points. Head coach Jim McElwain has been around a number of different offenses during his time as a coach and will do a couple different things.

First, let’s talk about the Florida running scheme — specifically its power run offense. Running backs Jordan Scarlett (sophomore, 5-10, 213) and Lamical Perine (freshman, 5-11, 221) are normally the guys with the ball.

Scarlett leads the Gators with 795 yards and 6 touchdowns, all on the ground. He’s averaging a fairly healthy 4.82 yards per carry, which certainly isn’t awful. Not spectacular, but it can work. Meanwhile, Perine has toted the ball 84 times for 402 yards and a single touchdown.

As is normal with Florida, there’s a lot of athleticism on the field. The Gators have four running backs and a wide receiver with significant carries, so expect some different formations to get playmakers the ball.

They will also run out of a number of different formations. McElwain will run plays from under center and in a pistol offense. Screens seem to be fairly common, and he wants to get his players in space, for the most part.

Bowl-game preparations also give teams a chance to change things up and add a few wrinkles to the offense. McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (formerly a coordinator for Washington, Alabama, and Michigan) seem to be pretty creative. They’ll have to be against an Iowa defense that’s been playing its best football of the year.

On paper, this is a pretty decent matchup for the Hawkeyes. McElwain has said he plans to stick with former Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby over freshman Luke Del Rio as his starting quarterback for the game.

Appleby is a pocket passer, which, again, plays into Iowa’s hands. The Hawkeyes don’t always fare well against mobile quarterbacks and haven’t for some time.

Anyways, Appleby’s stats aren’t anything particularly special. He’s completed 113-of-184 passes this year for 1,225 yards with 8 touchdowns. Not awful, but the 5interceptions don’t look particularly good, either.

With corner Manny Rugamba probably out and Greg Mabin definitely out, sophomore defensive back Josh Jackson will have to play well. Because Hawkeye defensive coordinator Phil Parker rarely has King shadow an opponent’s wideout, Jackson will be tested against Florida receivers Austin Calloway (sophomore, 5-11, 197) and Brandon Powell (junior, 5-9, 184) both of whom have more than 40 catches this season.

Florida also likes to throw to tight end DeAndre Goolsby, who has caught 36 passes for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Outside linebackers Ben Niemann and Bo Bower will likely draw this assignment and will need to play well.

The bottom line is this: Florida is going to try to run the ball and do it in a whole bunch of ways. There are going to be lots of short plays that Josey Jewell and the other Iowa linebackers will need to snuff out.

If the Hawkeyes can do that and make a mediocre quarterback’s day miserable with some pressure, Iowa has a pretty good chance at winning.

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