If we were Gator fans, we’d be feeling pretty good right now.
As we stated earlier, Florida is about to be the new addition to the ‘Gang of Five’–the teams that were the elite offenses in college football last season.
That group is now USC, Boise State, Louisville, Utah, California….and the Gators.
What does it mean to be in that group?
In raw 2004 statistics, here it is:
Those five schools averaged 230 yards rushing per game.
They averaged 263 yards passing per game.
In other words, they exhibited nice balance. When they needed to, they could run. When they needed to, they could also pass. Sometimes–depending on what the game called for–they could run for a ton, or pass for a ton.
Their average total offense was 494 yards per game and they scored an average of 44 points per game.
The five teams in the elite last season went a combined 57-4. What’s more, two of those four losses came against other teams in that group, so they went 55-2 against the rest of college football.
Some might say: Well, lots of teams put up yardage and score points, so why aren’t those teams in the elite?
Take Texas Tech, for instance. The Red Raiders averaged 491 yards per game, but only 92 of those yards per game came on the ground. In other words, Texas Tech is a one-dimensional team. When a team is one dimensional, it is much easier to defend. So that’s why Texas Tech, despite putting up a ton of yards and points, is not part of the new offensive elite in college football (the Red Raiders also lost four games). On the other extreme, neither are rushing teams like Texas or Minnesota.
What about Oklahoma? The Sooners averaged 462 yards per game, 253 of it in the air and 209 on the ground. They had a great passer in Jason White and a great rusher in Adrian Peterson. However, we don’t consider Oklahoma to be among the elite group because of its lack of a sophisticated passing scheme, which doesn’t really utilize backs and tight ends out of its base formation. In other words, you didn’t see Adrian Peterson stay in there very often on obvious passing downs the way that Reggie Bush stayed in for USC. The Sooners can certainly be potent against teams that are unable to matchup athletically, but (for instance) they scored just 31 combined points against the two best teams they faced last year–USC and Texas.
So how does a team prepare to face an elite offense? Well, sometimes in college football, a gimmick team can be really effective on a given night (see Cal vs. Texas Tech), or one team doesn’t really believe it can win (Louisville vs. Miami) and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other times, there may be too much talent on one side for scheme to overcome. It could even be a combination of all three.
But as a rule, teams that are unprepared to play offenses of this sort are heading for trouble. Which is why the Gators–once they get their scheme down pat–should roll through the SEC like Schwarzkopf through Iraq.