JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When Florida’s offense would cross midfield last season, it usually resulted in two outcomes.
Touchdown or bust.
The Gators’ kicking game was a wreck with Austin Hardin, who had the nation’s worst field goal percentage (35.7) and is no longer with the team. UF’s revolving door of kickers (four) in 2015 also put up the worst PAT percentage (87.8) in the SEC.
But there’s new hope in Eddy Pineiro, who impressed in the spring game and is one of three junior college transfers making an immediate impact.
At the Gator Club of Jacksonville, Florida coach Jim McElwain said Pineiro’s leg strength could change his play-calling on offense.
“Here’s the big thing: you go into every game with kind of a kick line,” McElwain said. “So you know as a play-caller now where you feel pretty good, like you have points in your pocket. That’s one of the things that allows you possibly to be a little more aggressive at times. So you adjust your game plan accordingly with that.
“But ultimately, when you get down towards that area you need touchdowns. You can’t leave those points off the board. The thing it does allow you to do though is when you’re in that area, you know what, let’s give him a shot because he’s got the ability to make that. It really helps when your drives stall out.”
Several drives stalled out for UF last season, particularly during the second half of the year with Treon Harris at quarterback. To make matters worse, the Gators frequently came away with no points because they were forced to go for it on fourth down and couldn’t convert, or Hardin would miss his field-goal attempt.
That obviously handicapped McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier in opponent territory.
“You don’t look at that,” McElwain said. “It’s what it was. The day you start worrying about that stuff, you make more out of it than it is. Certainly didn’t lose any sleep (over it). You went to work and said, ‘This is what we have.’ That’s kind of how you go about it. But it’s good to have (Pineiro) here.”