Kenny Carter with Chris Rainey
It's actually worse than the cry for the backup quarterback here on the campus at the University of Florida. When will this running back or that running back get in the game? When will this guy get more carries? It is the fans' prerogative to ask such questions, but when you look at the rushing results, you can't argue with them. The Florida Gators run the ball well and distribute it well too.
The fans seem to worry about it more than the Gators do. It certainly isn't a worry of running backs coach Kenny Carter who has already seen his top three backs, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, and Emmanuel Moody, rush for a combined 1,094 yards on 143 carries. Which is a solid 7.6 yards per carry average.
The backs have had to share the rushing load with quarterback Tim Tebow, he of the Heisman Trophy winning variety. Tebow has quite a few more carries given that he scrambles with the ball, gets sacked, and is one of the main options on the consistently used option plays in the Florida offensive system. Tebow's attempts number 121 on the season and he actually has more rushing yards (466) than Demps (457). None of that bothers the Carter who says his guys just want to run the plays that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and head coach Urban Meyer assign on any given down.
“I don't care about that, we just want the W's,” carter said of wanting more carries for his troops. “Steve is going to call what he needs to call, Urban is going to call what he feels he needs to call. Who gets the carries doesn't matter as long as we are moving the ball.”
Carter and company know that Tebow is a huge part of the offense and can do some great things. In goal line, he knows and expects his players will do what they can when Tebow takes the ball and goes.
“I don't think there is a difference, all we care about is that the official raises his arms,” Carter said when asked if the backs, namely Moody, should get more carries near the goal line. “One is 210 pounds and one is 240 pounds. They are both very good players. I don't think you worry about differentiating who gets the ball, what matters is the result is a touchdown.”
And when they are not carrying the ball, they are expected to carry out their assignments or they won't be used as much regardless of their ability with the ball in their hands.
“You have interviewed Steve enough to know that he is a very straight forward person,” Carter said of the offensive coordinator. “When we are not called on we are going to play (hard) without the ball because that is your responsibility in this offense.”
And then there is the pretty equal distribution among the three. Demps leads the Gators with 58 carries for 463 yards. Rainey has almost the same number of carries at 53 and has amassed 385 yards. Moody has missed some game time due to injury, but he has 32 carries for 271 yards so far this season. All would certainly like to see the ball more, but in the end, a ring is more important and the goal of the individuals in the group.
“You have a lot of really good players that want to be major competitors,” Carter said. “There are a lot of schools in the country that want just one or two and we have a lot of them. Competition is the best thing you can ever have. Our guys feel very strongly about winning and when all is said and done, all they care about is getting number eight (wins).
Helping to secure win number seven was Rainey. The sophomore from Lakeland had a stellar game and was awarded the offensive and special teams MVP from Meyer.
“I would say it was the best game of his career,” Carter said. “When you have 97 yards of all-purpose and help block a punt, that s pretty productive. We are really excited for him and he is really excited.”
This has been a good year for Rainey to learn more of his responsibilities on the field.
“He has really grown in the sense that he understands what we are trying to do schematically and where it fits,” Carter said of his speedy sophomore. “Especially on special teams and against Kentucky he actually went to Urban and made recommendations to get the block, so that shows high level of understanding and maturity.”
According to carter, Rainey took just as much pride in blocking the punt he blocked as he did scoring the touchdown for the Gators on Saturday.
“He was proud of it all,” Carter said. “As long as he can contribute, my man is happy. He was a happy spirit and that meant a lot to him and a lot to the Pounceys because they are tight. He graded 94% and that means he did more than just carry the ball well. It was a very good day for himself.”
The Gators are ranked at the top of the polls and to remain No. 1 they are going to have to improve in some areas. The players and coaches know this and are working to correct some areas of deficiencies in the offense, namely the red zone.
“We reevaluate things every day,” Carter said. “you have to self scout yourself and we aren't happy with what we have done in the red zone and we address that every day and every week. The goal is 7-0, but we're not happy with where we are and we are going to continue to work on that.”
One change the Gators will likely see is more play under center from Tebow. The Gator quarterback has spent two and a half years as the starter taking almost every snap from the shotgun. However, the Gators tried it on one play Saturday and ran for a touchdown in the one play. Look for more of it as they press on.
“I think it is a great possibility,” Carter said of Tebow taking snaps under center. “I think Tim has gotten really comfortable with it and I know John (Brantley) is comfortable with it. It just gives us an opportunity to do different things and give people headaches.”
The Gators are seemingly getting the best from every team they face on Saturdays. Getting the wins is the most important thing as they move forward. This week is no exception when they take on the hated Georgia Bulldogs.
“When you are the No. 1 team in the country, everyone is after you and is going to play up to you,” Carter said. “All our kids care about is being 7-0 and having a great opportunity of being 8-0...Georgia has a lot of great players all of whom we have recruited and they are going to come play. We are going to have to be ready.”
The Gators are even seeing the target on their back when they are watching other teams play on television. Alabama junior linebacker Rolando McClain was interviewed before their matchup with Tennessee this weekend and he talked about getting through the regular season to play Florida, basically saying beating the Gators was the benchmark for a good season.
“The thing that woke our guys up...our guys watched the interview with McClain from Alabama, it put things into perspective for them,” Carter said. “It let them know that everybody is going to come after you...they are a team that everyone respects and we respect a lot and one of their players said we are the ones that they are coming after.”
Carter glowed over Rainey, but wasn't quite ready to give Moody a great grade for Saturday.
“He is playing solid,” Carter said. “There are some things that we addressed today that can make him a better player, but he is doing a good job. I am really pleased with all my guys, I am.”
Sunday night Carter told the media that sophomore Jeff Demps will likely go against Georgia after he was injured against Mississippi State on a tough tackle that strained his neck.
“Jeff is doing great, he has a neck brace on and everyone is giving him a hard time, but he will be ready to go,” Carter said. “He is fine and his X-Rays were clear and he has just a little stiffness.”