We know that Andre Debose, to this point, anyway, has had a fantastic spring.
But you cannot gauge much from him yet, for two reasons: Nobody is there watching (aside from the coaches, obviously), so we have yet to see for ourselves. The other reason is that Debose hasn’t really done much in games yet. Of course, that’s due in large part to my BFFL Addazio, but still, he hasn’t done it.
But with Rainey, it’s very different, because we HAVE seen him do it in games.
And Muschamp is saying that he’s doing great.
Here’s a sickening stat for you- despite missing FIVE FULL GAMES and part of a SIXTH, Rainey was STILL THE TEAM’S SECOND LEADING RUSHER in 2010.
Now, this tells readers two things: how bad Addazio’s offense was, or how great Rainey was.
Have I ripped on Addazio enough yet?
Good, now let’s look at the other side of that coin.
Chris Rainey, despite how bad the offensive coordinator or even the offense itself is, is electric. He makes men miss and can singlehandedly ruin defensive coordinators’ schemes and matchups… and this brings me to Charlie Weis.
If there’s one thing above all others you need to know about Charlie Weis, it’s that he finds good mismatches and then ruthlessly exploits them. He is NOT a pass lover. Of course, a lot of mismatches are in the secondary vs. receivers category, so that’s why he throws deep so often when he has great receivers. Not because he loves seeing long bombs, but because somebody on defense does not match up well with a receiver.
So now let’s go back to Rainey. I nicknamed him and Demps the ‘triple T’s’ after the 2008 Arkansas game (where they both accounted for over 100 yards) for a bunch of reasons, and hopefully the name will catch on this season.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to define Triple T.
There are actually multiple explanations.
One is that they are tiny twin terrors- pretty self explanatory.
Another is that they are both triple threats: Fast, good hands, great tackle-shakers.
And the third is that when used correctly, they gain three times as many yards as they were supposed to than they play called for (even when Mullen was around- remember, this was 2008).
So let’s talk about 2010. The Florida Gators were abysmal, and their offense sunk to levels previously reached by only submarines. What was lost in how awful the season was was how dynamite Rainey and Demps were. Remember the above stat.
Now, let’s put all these pieces together.
Rainey, even under Addazio, shined as an explosive playmaker who turned nothing into something.
He can break tackles.
He can catch.
Charlie Weis loves finding mismatches and riding them all the way.
See where I’m going?
You know how some people have AB blood type and are considered “universal recipients”, meaning that if they need blood, anybody with any type of blood can safely donate blood without causing an issue?
Well, Rainey is a “universal mismatch”.
Don’t believe me? Pretend to be a defensive coordinator. Try to get an even matchup with Rainey. I’ve already tried.
Generally, linebackers have medium speed relative to the rest of the field. Of course, there are exceptions, with a freak hybrid defender or a converted safety, but nobody has two of them. Besides if anybody has one, then Weis does the same with Debose. But back to the matchup: I’d love to meet the linebacker that can beat Chris Rainey in a footrace. If the play is a run, the linebacker has a shot to stop Rainey, but there’s still the possibility of Rainey breaking a tackle. And if the play is a pass, the LB has no shot- no way a linebacker can closely enough mimic Rainey’s cuts to stay with him.
Zero shot this works. Maybe- MAYBE- the D lineman can keep up with Rainey on a running play to the outside (for some strange reason, I don’t think he’ll be going up the middle much). Then, even if he can catch him, there’s still the little matter of tackling him. And of course if Rainey goes out for a pass, forget it.
This appears to be the safest bet for defenses- it’ll be very difficult for Rainey to go all the way. Cornerbacks in the SEC are very much able to defend a deep receiver, and stay with Rainey. Most likely, the corner will play loose, fearing Rainey getting past him and going the distance. But if this is what defenses choose to do, then Weis will order the ten yard plays that add up. And once the defense tightens up, Rainey will burn the secondary for a long score sooner or later.
Not really an option, what if Rainey runs sweeps? This would cause more problems than there originally were.
The probable solution
What would I do?
I’d try to think along with Charlie Weis and try to predict the type of play he’ll call, and then match up with Rainey a player at the corresponding position. For example, if it’s 3rd and 13, chances are good a pass is coming. So then put a corner on Rainey, and have a safety lurk nearby if Rainey runs a deep route. This way, if it’s a quick screen to Rainey, the corner is right there to stop it. Again, the tackle has to be made, and the corner cannot get faked out by a cut, but the chances are much better of Rainey being stopped. And if Rainey goes deep and burns the corner, the safety is there to at least force Rainey to make a difficult play.
Now, you might be asking, so how does Weis free up Rainey then?
Well, he can’t.
But fortunately for us, our team isn’t named the Lakeland Burners, or the Chris Raineys. It’s named the Florida Gators and there are 10 other players on offense- 5 others that are capable of making huge plays.
So Weis can exploit mismatches with somebody else- like Debose, Demps, Thompson, and whoever else he has on the field for various formations and plays.
Then Rainey is left alone again to do something else huge.
Looking at our offense as a whole, there’s only one way to stop it- have a defense that is just as fast. Since most teams are not equipped with this gift, yes, I’m saying that Florida should blow everybody else away. I would say that we have one big question mark- our offensive line- and aside from that, we know exactly who we want to be.
I cannot wait for Will Muschamp to lead this team out of the tunnel against Florida Atlantic.