Fact or Fiction: Dameon Pierce was underutilized by Florida
In today’s Fact or Fiction national columnist Mike Farrell looks at three big recent topics in college football and decides whether each statement is indeed FACT or if it’s FICTION.
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1. Florida’s offense should have used Dameon Pierce more last season.
Farrell’s take: FACT. After seeing running back Dameon Pierce run at the Senior Bowl, I have to wonder how he maxed out at 100 carries last season. The season before he had 107 with an offense that had a dynamic passing game, so that makes more sense. But in 2021 the Gators needed a consistent running game with Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and others gone. And Pierce runs hard, very hard.
He was the leading rusher at running back, but how does Emory Jones get 43 more carries? And why did Pierce split carries with Malik Davis and Nay’Quan Wright? Those guys are solid backs, but Pierce is clearly a big, bruising back who would get stronger with more carries.
So what the heck was Dan Mullen thinking? Florida might have beaten Alabama (Pierce had two touchdowns despite only seven rushes) and Kentucky (eight rushes for 54 yards). The Gators could have gotten off to a 5-0 start and things could have been very different last season. Mullen has no one to blame but himself.
2. Will Anderson is easily the No. 1 defensive player in the country returning to college football.
Farrell’s take: FACT. Only 10 of my Farrell 50 - the top 50 players in college football - return next season. The only defender on the list is Anderson, the Alabama linebacker who finished No. 4 overall last season.
So who could be No. 2? CB Elias Ricks at Alabama? DE Nolan Smith at Georgia or DE Myles Murphy at Clemson? Maybe LB Noah Sewell at Oregon? They are all good, but not even in the same category right now. Many defenders will emerge next season, but Anderson heads in as the clear alpha.
3. Spencer Rattler is the most important transfer in the SEC.
Farrell’s take: FACT. The SEC has some major transfers coming in like Elias Ricks, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jermaine Burton at Alabama, Max Johnson at Texas A&M and Jaxson Dart at Ole Miss. But Rattler is hands down the most important.
Let’s remember South Carolina started a graduate assistant at one point last season and still had a solid record and was a surprise under Shane Beamer. If Rattler can return to his 2020 form and regain his confidence after being benched in Oklahoma, he can perhaps make the Gamecocks a true dark horse in the SEC East.