Florida hoping to limit third-and-long situations on offense

Florida faced third down 13 times on Thursday against the Utah Utes, but the Gators moved the chains just once in the 24-11 loss.

Head coach Billy Napier knows those numbers are unacceptable, and he said as much during his Monday press conference.

“I think we’re living in third-and-long and that’s not where you want to live,” Napier said. “I think the national average in all these situations that we had are not good for any team, much less our team. We want to live in third-and-manageable, and that comes down to eliminating the negative plays.”

Napier pointed out that his players mostly took care of the ball and that some of the negative plays in Week 1 fell on the coaching staff. He’ll try and speed up the playcalling process moving forward so that the team has more time to adjust and avoid a delay of game penalty.

Of course, the players need to clean things up a bit, too. The offensive line committed three false starts and two holding penalties. Napier said that the offensive line is too often scapegoated, but there needs to be some improvement from that group.

The Gators will get center Kinglsey Eguakun back at some point this season, which could help. His backup, Jake Slaughter, was the team’s best run blocker, according to Pro Football Focus, but he also committed one of the false starts. The other two came from Alabama transfer tackle Damieon George Jr.

Getting the run game going should also prevent third-and-long situations. Utah did a good job of stopping Florida’s running backs on first and second down, making third-down conversions that much harder.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire