Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Punt Blocks

For previous editions of Theater of Operations' Season Review, please see bottom of article.

Throughout the past couple of years, the Florida Gators have had more than their fair share of struggles on offense and defense. The one unit that has remained consistently above-average has been their special teams unit. More specifically, their punt blocking unit. Sure their kick return unit has been good as well (more on that tomorrow), but the Gators always seem to be blocking punts (and field goals).

Heck, their appearance in the 2006 BCS National Championship Game was largely due to a blocked field goal.

And from what I understand, some people have an issue with how the Gators actually block those kicks. (Here and here.) But I've never been one for sour grapes. I don't listen to it and I don't read about it. Frankly, I just don't even care about it.

The Gators are good at blocking kicks. They don't cheat in doing so either. Sour grapes or a lack of understanding the rules of football is all it is. And that's a fact.

Play No. 1: Solomon Patton's punt block against Florida-Atlantic:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Solomon Patton (yellow circle) gets to the punter unblocked. I mean, nobody even came close to touching him. It was like they didn't even see him.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As you can see, nobody is paying Patton any attention. Rainey (also circled at the top) is in prime position to scoop up the ball and return it for the touchdown.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

It's just so simple isn't it?

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Rainey could have walked into the endzone for the touchdown if he wanted to.

Play No. 2: Chris Rainey's punt block against Tennessee:

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(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

What is great about this block is that Rainey (yellow circle), was the second Florida player to attack the same area. The first player gets blocked out of the play.

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(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

At this point, Rainey (yellow circle) has beaten the blocker assigned to him and there is nothing Tennessee can do now except to hope Rainey somehow misses the ball.

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(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

But Rainey doesn't miss the ball. After a bit of a scrum, the Gators recover on the fifteen yard-line.

Play No. 3 Rainey's punt block against Ohio State:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As stated above, there was some confusion as to who actually blocked the punt. Patton (top yellow circle) and Rainey (bottom yellow circle) both got there at the exact same time. Rainey, rightfully ended up getting the credit, but I'm pretty sure that if he somehow doesn't get a hand on it, Patton does.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As often happens when the Gators attempt a punt block, they send more players than the opponent has blockers. Rainey (bottom double yellow circle) and Patton (top double yellow circle) are still on the outside of the rush, while the two middle runners, are charged with taking out the blockers. As you can see, there are only three blockers (green circles) and that means that Ohio State is outnumbered. Yeah, that's not a good thing for the Buckeyes.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Right as the ball (red circle) is about to be kicked, you can see that Patton (top yellow circle) and Rainey (bottom yellow circle) are the only two Gators that have managed to get past the blockers. Three blockers take out only two of the four Gators who were attempting to block the kick (yellow square). Now, I'm horrible at math, and I mean horrible, so I don't now how to make that into a percentage or whatever, but it's probably a pretty bad one.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

In case you can't tell, Rainey is the one who is closest to the punter, and Patton is the one diving. But yes, this is the moment in which Rainey blocks the kick.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball (red circle) proceeds to go backwards about 15-yards, and at this moment I'm telling myself "If we pick it up, it's a touchdown." Graham Stewart, yes, Graham Stewart (yellow circle) has the best shot at picking up the ball. In case you had forgotten all about Stewart, here is a little reminder.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this moment, Stewart (yellow circle) picks up the ball...

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

...and then proceeds to easily trot into the endzone for the touchdown (yellow square).

As long as the Gators have speed at the skill positions, they'll continue to block kicks. Also for good measure, that speed also has to be quick and small, if you know what I mean.

Previous Season Review editions of Theater of Operations: Quarterbacks (parts one, two, three), running backs (parts one, two, three), tight ends (one part), wide receivers (parts one, two), offensive line (parts one, two), defensive line (parts one, two, three), BUCK (one part), linebackers (parts one, two), cornerbacks (one part), safeties (parts one, two).

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