On the surface, Florida's 26-3 win over Miami on Saturday could have looked like a display of hard-nosed Gators defense coupled with Tim Tebow's fourth-quarter moxie after a rocky start.
CBS Sports analyst Gary Danielson, however, saw a looming cloud of trouble for Florida's offense.
The famous spread offense.
"When you get your quarterback hit as much as you do in the spread, you don't just lose the running game, you lose the passing game," said Danielson, who claimed Tuesday the spread
"It happened Saturday."
It's difficult to argue with the results of a Gators offense that produced a Southeastern Conference-leading 42.5 points per game last season, but for almost three quarters on Saturday, the running game looked lost as Tebow scrambled for yardage.
Tebow channeled his bulldozing Heisman ways with 13 of Florida's 27 carries Saturday in The Swamp for 55 yards, a 48-percent distribution clip. The rest of the group carried 14 times for 34 yards, a 2.43-yard average.
After talk all preseason of a new-look core of backs pumping life into a sagging run game, the results through two games have been a collage of promise, explosive speed, predictability and confusion surrounding a certain transfer.
Coaches will continue to stray from the trendy spread offense in its entirety, Danielson said, because they must forgo the great traditional tailback. UF's most classic tailback, touted USC transfer Emmanuel Moody, has two carries for two yards this season.
As the Gators enter the bye week before the Sept. 20 Southeastern Conference opener at rival Tennessee, it seems Florida is sticking to the foundation of the spread — don't worry about who's getting the ball every time.
Worry about matchups and confusing the defense.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said there's no promise that any Gators running back who emerges will become a traditional 20-carries-a-game workhorse.
The reason is simple: Mullen loves fresh legs.
"If you come here, you're going to play," Mullen said.
"Some places, you're going to ride one guy. Then the other six guys recruited are standing over there on the sidelines."
Tebow spent much of the Miami game scrambling from blitzes and recovering from broken-down coverages. Coach Urban Meyer said after the game that he wasn't pleased with the running game, and that Tebow's runs were more about escape than design.
The tempo picked up by the fourth quarter, when the passing attack guided drives of 86 and 95 yards.
Florida ran for 255 yards on 6.7 yards per carry against Hawaii on Sept. 30, but Miami's physical defensive line was more of a stage call for the upcoming SEC monsters up front.
Most of UF's marquee running backs have fit into their mold as expected. Senior Kestahn Moore (10 carries for 28 yards) is a reliable option with solid blocking skills. Redshirt freshman Chris Rainey (nine carries, 71 yards) and freshman Jeff Demps (five carries, 75 yards) are explosive options but not exactly bruisers up the middle. Neither weighs more than 185 pounds.
The enigma is Moody, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry as a freshman at USC only to ride the bench through the first two games.
Moody wasn't available for comment this week. Meyer said the Gators will re-evaluate the game plan to get him the ball.
"He's too good of a player," Meyer said.
Moody has gotten more rest than some of his peers, but expect every UF running back to be well-rested during the game.
"They better be going 100 miles an hour [when they get in]," Mullen said.