2017 Florida Gators Position Previews: Running Backs – The Independent Florida Alligator
About two weeks remain until Florida football kicks off the 2017 regular season against Michigan at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Gators enter this year as back-to-back SEC East champions, notching 13 conference wins under coach Jim McElwain since he took over the program in 2015. As always, UF’s success on the gridiron this fall will largely depend on its roster, a group of players featuring both seasoned veterans and unestablished newcomers. Here is the position preview for players set to play at running back for the Gators this year:
Players: Malik Davis (Fr.), Tyriek Hopkins (R-So.), Adarius Lemons (Fr.), Lamical Perine (So.), Jordan Scarlett (Jr.), Mark Thompson (R-Sr.)
The hot topic off the offseason has been quarterback play, but where Florida’s offense has the best chance to improve is in the running game. The Gators were the worst rushing team out of 14 SEC schools in 2016 in yards per game. Florida’s 128.2 per game average last season sticks out in a conference that saw eight teams average more than 200 yards per game. Since two of Florida’s top-three quarterback contenders have never played a snap in Jim McElwain’s offense, the coaching staff could look to lean on the run in 2017 to take pressure off the passing game.
Projected depth chart: Scarlett, Perine, Thompson, Davis
Jordan Scarlett looks to have the starting slot all to himself after a standout sophomore season. “The biggest thing about Jordan was the mentality he brought week in and week out to our offense,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said Aug. 2 at football media day. “This was a guy every week we could count on.”
Scarlett, a 5-foot-11, 206-pound tailback, finished the season rushing for 889 yards, far and away the most on Florida’s roster, and he averaged five yards per carry.