GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp says he has much more confidence in the Gators’ wide receivers than he did last season.
Their stats -- while certainly not eye-popping -- are his proof.
Florida’s receivers (not including tight end Jordan Reed) have caught eight passes for 160 yards and one touchdown in the Gators’ first two Southeastern Conference games. In UF’s first two SEC games last season, they caught six passes for 69 yards.
Last year the Gators played Tennessee and Kentucky at home. This season, the Gators played at Texas A&M and at Tennessee -- with a sophomore quarterback making his first two career starts.
"I’ve got a lot more confidence in their play-making ability," Muschamp said. "We just need to continue to get that group collectively moving forward."
Frankie Hammond has caught three passes for 102 yards and one touchdown, Quinton Dunbar has four receptions for 41 yards, and Solomon Patton has one catch for 17 yards. Additionally, Patton has run the jet sweep six times for 65 yards. Again, not impressive statistics through two SEC games, but the group is a significant part of the offense and those three players have shown they can be relied upon to make plays. That wasn’t the case last season.
Hammond, Dunbar and Patton had eight combined touches against the Vols (five catches, three rushes) and six went for first downs or a touchdown. The biggest play was Hammond’s 75-yard catch-and-run for a TD, which wouldn’t have happened had he not gotten a late block from Dunbar to ensure he’d reach the end zone.
"As far as the playmakers, we have them," said Hammond, who also had a 50-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the season opener against Bowling Green. "We just have to get the ball out there, get the ball in our hands and we’ll do the rest. The playmakers out there just have to get our opportunities and take advantage of them."
Being a playmaker doesn’t always mean catching a 75-yard touchdown pass, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. It’s being reliable that counts.
"Like I’ve told them, everybody’s a playmaker whether you’re catching deep balls or catching an 8-yard pass and getting a first down out of it," Pease said. "That’s a playmaker to me. Your opportunity when you get the ball in your hands, what you do with it (makes you a playmaker). And moving the chains is a playmaker."