Skip to main content
Publish date:

By the Numbers: 2021 Florida Gators Running Attack

The Florida Gators have relied heavily on its run game this season, playing to the strength of their offensive backfield.

When in doubt, run the football. That's at least what the Florida Gators have done best this season offensively. While much has been made about its passing game, the team's rushing attack has been one of the best in the SEC, and a lot of that is thanks to the players at the quarterback position.

Entering the year, the Gators were coming off of a season that included one of the best passing attacks in the nation. Under the leadership of former Florida QB Kyle Trask, the Heisman Trophy finalist was able to put up unbelievable numbers, especially with players such as TE Kyle Pitts and WR Kadarius Toney to throw to.

That changed his year, though, with Florida moving forward with Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson as the team's two signal-callers. Jones has of course dominated the snaps at the position, and by virtue of that has quickly become the team's best rusher, at least by the numbers.

Thus far this season, Florida has become one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. The team is averaging 254.6 rushing yards per game, good for the fourth-best in the FBS. The Gators are also averaging 6.3 yards-per-carry, good for the best among all FBS schools. 

When taking a closer look, it's easy to see why Florida has been so successful this year. The team is finding creative ways to gain yards, especially by using its quarterbacks. For Jones, he currently leads the team in rushes (85) and rushing yards (495), carrying the ball at 5.8 yards a clip.

Jones is the third-best among quarterbacks in rushing yards this season in the FBS, behind only Malik Willis (Liberty, 667 yards) and Haaziq Daniels (Air Force, 525). Jones is one of the most unique quarterbacks in the country, though his struggles in the passing game have left many to wonder whether or not he will remain the team's starter.

His current backup, Richardson, is the primary reason for the skepticism surrounding Jones, and for good reason. While he hasn't carried the football quite as much as Jones has, Richardson has been a major part of the team's rushing attack, too. He currently ranks second behind Jones in rushing with 348 yards. With just 28 carries, he's averaging 12.4 YPC.

Jones has scored two touchdowns on the ground, while Richardson has totaled three touchdowns thus far this season.

Read More

While the QBs have done their job on the ground, the team's running backs deserve even more praise. A three-headed monster of Nay'Quan Wright, Malik Davis and Dameon Pierce have carried the team thus far this season.

A running back by committee approach, all three have carried their fair share, nearly an equal split of 53, 46 and 44 carries respectively for Davis, Pierce and Wright.

The rushing leader in the RB room is Davis at 287 yards, followed by Pierce (262) and Wright (218). The leader on the ground in terms of touchdowns stands is led by Pierce with eight,  Davis with three and Wright with one.  

While none of the backs are currently thought to be the "feature" for Florida, Pierce says it doesn't matter, they're all happy to share the load whenever possible to give the team their best opportunity to win each week.

"I think as a running back room as the whole, we all, like I said, every time I talk about the running back we’re for real," Pierce said prior to the team's contest against LSU last week.

"We actually like each other. We’re actually cool with each other. We actually have a bond. It don’t matter who’s out there, we all feel like whoever’s out there can make some plays and we’re rooting them on the whole time, and then vice versa."

For this season, the team's offensive line has stepped up in a big way and is a large reason why the team has done so well on the ground. If there's one unit or collective that has impressed this season for Florida, the rushing attack is certainly what you'd point to.

Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.