During the offseason, around the time that coaches such as Nick Saban and Bret Bielema lobbied for rule changes regarding pace of play, the good folks over at CFB Matrix compiled a statistical analysis of plays per minute cross-sectioned with season-ending injuries. It’s a complex and interesting study (titled the “Pace of Play Summary”), which, if you’re interested in the tempo versus injuries argument, I recommend carving some time out to digest.
While reading the study, one thing, as a follower of Florida athletics, caught my attention. The summary helped shed even more light to just how stagnant the Gators offense was under Brent Pease in 2013.
Not to flog a dead horse here, (we all know the offense was historically bad: 113th nationally in scoring, 115th in total offense), but this statistic lends perfect perspective, rounding out the triumvirate of pitifulness: The Gators ranked dead last (126th) of FBS teams when it came to plays per minute. And it wasn’t even close.
Florida only recorded 2.16 plays per minute (ppm) last season, a full tenth of a point lower than No. 125 Minnesota. For further perspective, Hawaii topped the country with 3.46 ppm, while the national average was 2.722. Arkansas, the closest SEC team to Florida, squeezed off 2.36 plays per minute.
So what does this latest statistic of futility tell us? It shows just how ill-equipped UF was to dig out of a big hole last season. Quarterback and offensive line injuries surely played a part in the team’s inability to hurry at the line, but even before Jeff Driskel went down (and Tyler Murphy after him) the offense was not designed to be a speed demon. That point was only compounded with each subsequent injury.
By this point in the year, Kurt Roper’s arrival has been repeated ad nauseam. However, these numbers paint an indisputable picture of just how sloth-like the team was under Pease, and how imperative it was to breath new life into a program (and fan base) accustomed to dynamic offense.
So, if at all last season you thought yourself to be trudging through waste-high quicksand while wearing weighted boots, rather than watching Florida football, well, you weren’t far off. Take solace knowing that in the upcoming season the Gators, quite literally, have nowhere to go but up.