Two years ago, Mike Gillislee became the first Florida running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a season since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
In 2014, the Gators will probably go a second straight season without having such a back.
But Florida might be better for it.
Kurt Roper wasn't far from the average in running the ball while at Duke — the Blue Devils were 37th nationally in rushing attempts in 2013, and averaged just under 39 attempts per game (Florida was 68th in rushing attempts, but did average just over 40 attempts per game) — but that 2013 team featured by far his best ground game.
It was the best Duke rushing attack of the modern era, too: Duke's 2,492 rushing yards were its most since tallying 2,589 in 1976, a year in which the Blue Devils attempted just 170 passes. And Duke's 4.58 yards per carry was the best mark since 1989, Steve Spurrier's final season in Durham, when Duke hit 4.6 yards per carry — its best post-World War II mark.
And yet no Duke runner topped 700 rushing yards.
Josh Snead had 651. Jela Duncan had 562. Juwan Thompson, Shaquille Powell, and quarterback Brandon Connette had 348, 337, and 334, respectively.
Clearly, there is some sharing of carries done in the Roper offense — all five of those players had at least 62 carries in 2013; none had more than 113. And that plays right to what should be one of the strengths of the 2014 Florida offense.
Kelvin Taylor is a better back than anyone Roper's had to work with at Duke. But Matt Jones might be, too. And so is Mack Brown, in some senses. And Jeff Driskel's the most athletic quarterback Roper has tutored — but Treon Harris might be a better version of Anthony Boone (who had 214 yards on 66 carries, including sacks, in 2013).
There won't be one back running for 1,000 or 1,200 yards under Roper in 2014, I don't think. But I wouldn't be surprised to have three threaten 800.