GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To find the last time the Florida Gators had consistent success on the offensive side of the football, one has to scan back to Dan Mullen’s four years with Florida.
During that timeframe from 2005-2008, the Gators averaged 35.5 points per game. Florida’s per-game point totals in 2007 (42.5) and 2008 (43.6) are two of the top five in program history.
Two SEC Championships and national titles came their way as well.
Fast forward nine seasons, and Mullen is back — this time as the Gators’ head coach and successor to the Jim McElwain era.
While the season is still nine months away, here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the Gators’ offense during Mullen’s tenure:
The jump passes
The first one put the Gators back on track in a critical in-conference rivalry. The second one clinched Florida’s second national title in a three-year span.
Tim Tebow did a lot of good things for the Gators, but his red-zone jump passes are still things of beauty today.
The first one of prominence came in the first half against LSU in 2006, a 1-yard lob to Tate Casey that helped spark a 23-10 homecoming win. The Gators went on to win the SEC and the BCS Championship games later that year.
The second one had a greater impact in the moment.
With about 3 minutes left to play in the 2008 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma and the Gators on the Sooners’ 4-yard line, Tebow dropped back, quickly ran back to the line of scrimmage and tossed a jump pass to David Nelson in the middle of the end zone to essentially seal the Gators’ third national title in program history.
All those yards and points (and wins) against Florida State
The Gators went 4-0 against Florida State during Mullen’s four years as offensive coordinator, winning by a combined score of 145-48. On top of that, Florida’s offense put up 45 points and more than 500 yards in each of the final two meetings.
Compare that to the Gators’ current five-game losing streak to the in-state rival Seminoles. Florida has been outscored 167-63 since 2013 — an average margin of defeat of 20.8 points. The Gators’ offense failed to score in two of those five games — a 27-2 loss in 2015 and a 31-13 defeat in 2016.
Percy Harvin’s record day against Vanderbilt
During Mullen’s final three years at Florida, he had at his disposal one of the best offensive playmakers to ever step foot on a college football field in Percy Harvin.
A do-it-all skill position player, Harvin caught passes, took handoffs and fielded returns with ease. It showed.
One game that exemplified his versatility was the Gators’ 49-22 win against Vanderbilt in 2007. Harvin became the first player in Florida history to gain 100 yards both rushing and receiving in the same game. His final stat line: 113 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries; 110 receiving yards on 9 catches.
But really almost any play involving Percy Harvin
In just three seasons, Harvin recorded 1,929 receiving yards, 1,852 rushing yards and 33 total touchdowns on offense from 2006-2008. At that time, he was one of just two wide receivers since 1996 to rack up at least 1,800 yards both rushing and receiving.
He would weave and bob past defenders on reverses; sprint past them in the open field on option plays, handoffs or direct snaps; or make gravity-defying catches on the sideline. All-in-all, Harvin averaged 11.6 yards each time he touched the ball on offense during his time with the Gators.
In his final game at Florida — that national championship win against Oklahoma — Harvin totaled 171 yards from scrimmage (122 rushing, 49 receiving) and a touchdown on 14 touches.
Blowouts in the SEC
The Gators went 24-8 in the SEC during Mullen’s four years as Florida’s offensive coordinator and won the SEC Championship Game in both 2006 and 2008.
Of those 24 wins, Florida scored at least 40 points 11 times and outscored conference opponents by at least 20 points in 12 games.
The 2008 season showed the Gators in their prime against conference opponents. Florida went 7-1 during regular-season SEC play before topping Alabama 31-20 in the SEC Championship Game. The Gators scored at least 30 points every time they played a conference foe, averaging a blistering 42.8 points per game that season.
For comparison, the Gators have scored more than 40 points in conference play just four times over the past seven years.