Spring Storylines: Searching For Percy Harvin

Versatility is why the Urban Meyer offense works. A mobile quarterback takes away the defensive mathematical advantage by forcing teams to account for all 11 players. Read option plays shift that advantage to the offense by eliminating at least one defender without physically blocking him. The result of all of this is space, and Meyer’s goal is to fill that space with an offensive player and the ball.

Of course, that’s not enough for Meyer, so he tries to make sure that player is one of his fastest and most elusive. With a running start and some shifty moves, he can turn space into points in a hurry. No player was better at this than Percy Harvin, the dynamic Florida star who played a hybrid position Meyer refers to as simply “offensive skill,” lining up at receiver, running back and even quarterback at times.

Without the benefit of a full off-season to recruit, Meyer had to find someone to re-purpose for this role in 2012. Fortunately for him, running back Jordan Hall was up to the task and was by all accounts progressing very nicely in the system before suffering a freak foot injury that eventually forced him to redshirt.

To say that Meyer was despondent at the loss of Hall is an understatement. He was so visibly depressed about it, that I began to think we weren’t going to win a game all year. While receiver Corey Brown was tried out at the spot, the whole concept was essentially abandoned in favor of the Miller/Hyde ground attack. With no Hall, Meyer knew he simply didn’t have the personnel to implement the Harvin package. This year’s recruiting class is a testament to his desire to make sure that this is never a problem again.

None of the freshman Offensive Skill candidates enrolled early, so Hall and Brown should be the go-to guys here in the spring. I fully expect Hall to lock down this job and be the hybrid starter in the fall. However, Meyer didn’t go after those youngsters for nothing, and he will want to use any garbage time we may have in 2013 to fast-track some of them for the future.

The Harvin-esque newbies include Middletown star Jalin Marshall, DeSoto (TX)’s Dontre Wilson, Florida speedster James Clark, and Ezekiel Elliott of Missouri. Rest assured that all of these kids know what is expected of them. In fact, Wilson says that Meyer exclusively used Harvin highlights during recruiting.

In retrospect, it may be end up being a blessing that Meyer couldn’t install this piece of the offense in 2012. Okay, so going undefeated makes that an easy claim to make, but it forced the staff to focus on the power run game and allowed them to assess where Miller needs to grow.

Adding the Offensive Skill position back into the rotation now only puts more pressure on defenses who probably still won’t be ready to deal with what Miller and Hyde (and a more experienced supporting cast) are going to do to them. Throw in some rumored new wrinkles (Meyer is reportedly enamored with the 49ers’ pistol inside zone) and the 2013 iteration of the ever-evolving Urban Meyer offense could be truly amazing to watch.

Comments

  1. It should be noted that OSU’s offense was struggling mightily when trying to implement this Gator-like approach. OSU didn’t start to really get rolling until Hall’s injury forced them into a hybrid spread/power-rushing attack using Hyde.

    Who knows… had Urban had a Hyde-like RB at Fla, maybe Harvin would not have been used. Personally, I think the spread/power hybrid has greater potential against Big Ten defenses.

    • Wasn’t Tebow a Hyde-like RB?

      Seriously though, I don’t think it’s a one-or-the-other thing. Our receivers were not really a huge factor (overall) last year due to their inexperience, so we went to the ground because it was working. But as the B1G gets less and less terrible each year, balance will be crucial.

      Adding a Harvin-type player to the mix will only complement the Hyde power game. There’s no reason why those two guys shouldn’t be on the field every down.

      The best Meyer Gator teams were balanced and his worst (2010) was not. Believe it or not, our unbeaten team last year most resembles that 5-loss 2010 Florida team in terms of offensive balance.

  2. The fact the everyone that returns this year has a year of Urban’s offense under their belt, coupled with being able to mold the new guys into exactly what they want, has to be terrifying for B1G DC’s.

    Meyer has speed that he didn’t have last year and Hyde and Miller really gelled at the end. Going to be interesting to see the first couple games with the new kids.

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