Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Tight Ends

Previous Season Review editions of Theater of Operations: Quarterbacks (Part one, part two, part three), running backs (part one, part two, part three). On another note: I'm posting this for the third time, if it doesn't work this time, we'll just go ahead and skip the tight ends post altogether.

When scanning through the roster before the season, I was struck by the talent the Gators had at the tight end position. It's a position in which the Gators have serious talent in. At least on paper. As the season unfolded, A.C. Leonard would suffer a meniscus tear and miss the majority of the season, Gerald Christian decided to transfer, and holdovers Omarius Hines and Jordan Reed once again failed to live up to expectations.

Yes, I do in fact count Hines as a tight end because that's how the Gators officially list him.

But back to those expectations and more specifically, what exactly where those expectations? Even though I'm not sure, but by basing it on a few factors (read: pro-style offense, Brantley and his love for the check down pass) I'm going to say that more was expected from the group.

Hines as you know, is thought of quite highly here at Alligator Army, so the fact that he turned in yet another sub-par season, was surprising. Many thought he was do for a breakout campaign. Jordan Reed on the other hand, handled his transition from part-time quarterback to full-time tight end with relative ease.

If anything, the highlight from this group was their blocking, specifically down the field. On nearly every big play (either from a running back or receiver) there was at least one of the tight ends getting in a key block down field. If nothing else, that will earn some extra playing time and in turn, more chances to catch a ball.

Play No. 1: Gerald Christian's 45-yard touchdown reception against Kentucky:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

You know, this is actually a pretty good match-up for any tight end, especially one as quick as Christian (yellow circle).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As John Brantley gets ready to release the ball, you can see that Christian has inside positioning.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

When Christian makes the catch (yellow square), you can see how much a gap there is between him and defender. Oh, and yes, it was a great catch.

From another angle:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yeah, there is a solid two-yards between Christian and the defender.

Play No. 2: Omarius Hines' 37-yard catch and fumble:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

If there is one thing that Hines (yellow circle) does great, it's blocking.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Hines does a great job of getting his block (yellow square) before he begins his route.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After Hines (yellow circle) sheds his block, he runs his short out-route.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

When Hines catches the ball (yellow square), there isn't a defender in sight.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this point, Hines (yellow circle) has already made two defenders miss (green circles).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Unfortunately, Hines tries to do just a little too much and fumbles (yellow square) the ball (red circle). Though at the time the Gators were 4-4 and desperately needed a victory. So I guess there isn't such a thing as "trying to do too much."

Play No. 3: Jordan Reed's 14-yard touchdown catch against Furman:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Even though I think that Reed is the Gators' most polished tight end, I kind of think he moves a bit early on this play. It's close, but here is the video so you can judge for yourself.

Te12_medium

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

There is Reed's inside cut.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Brantley makes a great throw in-between two defenders (yellow square) and Reed makes the catch (yellow circle).

From another angle:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

FINALLY ON THE BOARD AGAINST FURMAN! YAY!

The tight ends this year for the Gators did almost as much as I did on the field for the Gators. Which is to say, not much. Before the season started, with Charlie Weis promising play-action and the like, I figured it was time for one of the tight ends to have a breakout season. But I guess injuries, transfers and what not kind of changed that.

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