Drayton Hasn't Missed A Beat

Despite his two year hiatus from the Gator program, Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton seems to have made the transition back to Gainesville seamlessly. Drayton has the advantage of taking over a position where he knows all the guys there and has been able to hit the ground running, already having a relationship with the Florida running backs.

Stan Drayton was at UF when the Gators welcomed Emmanuel Moody's transfer from USC. Drayton was also here when the Gators were recruiting Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey and got to know Mike Gillislee from summer camps.

2010 presents a great opportunity for Florida ball carriers. Tim Tebow carried the ball 217 times last year and there's no way on earth that Johnny Brantley will carry the ball even half that frequently. As a result Florida's offense will depend more on true running backs than perhaps any time in the Urban Meyer era.

This spring is a little strange for the running back position since two of the top four returning runners are not really in the mix at the position. Demps (99-745, 7.5 7 TD) is spending most of the spring running track where he won the NCAA Indoor Championship just two weeks ago. Rainey (89-575, 6.5, 5 TD) is primarily a receiver now, though he will get some carries out of the backfield.

That leaves the lone senior, Moody (58-378, 6.5, 3 TD) and the sophomore Gillislee (31-267, 8.6, 1 TD) to tote the rock this spring. That's a great opportunity for those guys, though things will change dramatically in the fall with the return of Demps and addition of freshman Mack Brown.

Drayton talked about the two guys he's working with and how the Gator offense is evolving in 2010 with a change in quarterbacks from Tim Tebow to Johnny Brantley.

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On how his two runners are doing thus far this spring:

"They're doing good. They‘re putting forth great effort and that's pretty much what we're looking for right now. Moody's a veteran who understands what he's got to do and knows the assignments. It's just a matter of him fine tuning some techniques right now. He's coming off a little bit of a foot injury but he's not using that as an excuse."

On what he sees from Mike Gillislee:

"Mike's doing a phenomenal job. Mike is a tough, hard working kid. The thing I'm excited about is it's important to him. He's trying to become a student of the game, learn his assignments and carry it over to the football field. Right now he's doing phenomenal with his assignments and I'm pumped up about Mike."

On how Rainey will be involved:

"We're going to find ways to put the ball into Chris' hands. He's going to get back there in the backfield and we're going to put him at the receiver position. We're going to give him the ball in a lot of different ways. When he's back there, he's mine. Chris knows what he's doing with the ball in his hands and it's just a matter of fine tuning some of those technical things that sometimes go by the wayside. He's a receiver, but he's a guy who can come into the backfield and help us if need be."

On the QB change leading to more offense with the QB under center:

"They're excited about the versatility that we're bringing to the offense. Most importantly, we're fitting our talent, and any time you fit your talent, those talented people are going to be happy about it. We have a quarterback who can flat out throw it and he has some under the center ability. Because of that we can play our running backs sometimes seven yards deep and they're excited about it. What it does for them it really expands their learning at running back play. They've got a chance to really pick up on that thing and learn it and it's going to do nothing but help them in the future."

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Florida ran for 222 yards a game last season, while passing for 236. It's hard to imagine the Gators abandoning its commitment to balance, but things will be dramatically different in the running game. Last season Tebow's 217 carries were more than Demps and Rainey combined (188).

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Tebow was Florida's leading rusher each of the last three seasons. His 910 yards last year were the most since Ciatrick Fason ran for 1,267 yards in 2004. Earnest Graham (1,085 in 2002) is the only other Gator to top 1,000 rushing yards since 1997.

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Demps (1,350) and Rainey (1,237) have already topped the 1,000 mark for their careers. Moody (795) needs just 205 yards to join them in that category.

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