GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Welcome to the latest installment of Inside the Numbers, a weekly column that breaks down the stats and numbers you need to know about Florida Gators football heading into game day.
This week, as the No. 21 Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC) prepare to host LSU (3-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday, we take a closer look at Florida four games into the season.
The Gators had their best overall offensive showing of the season against Vanderbilt, racking up 467 yards of offense. It was just the second time under McElwain that the Gators eclipsed 450 yards against an SEC opponent. The first time was against Missouri in 2016, when the Gators gained 523 yards.
Florida has scored points in 365 consecutive games, which ties the NCAA record with Michigan, which accomplished the feat between 1984 and 2014. The last time the Gators were shut out came in a 16-0 loss to Auburn on Oct. 29, 1988.
In the past two games, Florida has outrushed its opponents by 238 yards (404-168) due to an increased reliance on the rushing offense and steady improvement in run defense.
On offense, the emergence of freshman Malik Davis, the steadiness of sophomore Lamical Perine and the occasional quality play of senior Mark Thompson have all played factors in the improvement of Florida’s ground game. The Gators ran for a season-high 218 yards against Vanderbilt on 51 carries — the most carries in the Jim McElwain era.
Davis leads the team with 319 rushing yards on 43 carries for a blistering 7.4 yards per touch. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week rushed for a career-high 124 yards and 2 touchdowns against Vanderbilt on Saturday, making him the first Florida freshman tailback to put up those type of numbers in a game since Jeff Demps on Oct. 4, 2008.
The Gators defense, meanwhile, has given up an average of just 83 rushing yards per game in the past two weeks and is holding opponents to just 3.2 yards per carry.
Florida now faces a running back gauntlet in its next three games, going up against NFL-caliber running backs in LSU’s Derrius Guice, Texas A&M’s Trayvon Williams, and Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Guise missed last week’s game with an undisclosed injury, but is expected to give it a go this weekend in Gainesville.
He’ll be needed. The team with the most rushing yards has won 10 of the past 11 games in the Florida-LSU series.
The Florida Gators are likely to be without wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland against LSU — and possibly longer — after the sophomore suffered a high-ankle sprain against Vanderbilt.
Cleveland has been the Gators’ go-to receiver in Antonio Callaway’s absence. His team-leading 326 receiving yards account for 38.3 percent of Florida’s passing game to this point in the season. To dive a little deeper:
- Cleveland’s 21.7 yards per catch ranks 14th nationally and fourth in the SEC among players with at least 10 catches this season. The rest of the Gators’ roster is averaging 10.3 yards per catch.
- Cleveland is one of 12 players in the country with 4 catches of at least 40 yards. No one else from Florida has reeled in a catch from that distance this season.
The Gators are holding opponents to just a 28.1-percent conversion rate on third down, which leads the SEC and is 14th nationally.
Florida’s defense is averaging a tackle for loss on 10.5 percent of its plays (28 out of 266). Five Gators defensive lineman have recorded at least 2.5 tackles for loss through four games this year.
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