Posted on: March 16, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Florida , who starts spring practice today.
Spring Practice Question: What's going to be drawn on the blank slate of the Florida offense?
As spring practice 2011 opens, there may be no single unit in the entire country more intriguing than the Florida offense.
It's true. Consider that just three years ago it was the envy of college football, an unstoppable force led by the Heisman-winning Tim Tebow, featuring the most explosive receiving/rushing playmaker in the college game in Percy Harvin, drawn up and play-called by one of the best spread-option gurus in the nation in Dan Mullen, positively littered with future successful pros like Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez ... it was the kind of offense custom-built to win a national championship, and it did. And then two seasons later, in the hands of Steve Addazio, it was a crumbling heap that finished an unthinkable 82nd in total offense. That was an offense built to go 7-5, and it did, too.
So it's hardly surprising Will Muschamp decided to scrap the entire thing and start over. It's maybe somewhat surprising, though, he'd start over with something he's familiar with but Florida hasn't run in ages: a true two-back, under-center, pro-style system as run by the newly-contented Charlie Weis.
The result of that decision is that what we know about the new Gator offense is dwarfed by what we don't, the questions at this stage far outnumbering the answers. A sampling:
Is Weis's offense going to incorporate anything left over from the Meyer era? It's not what Weis knows or what Muschamp hired him for, so don't expect much different from Weis's offenses at Notre Dame or the Kansas City Chiefs. But with a collection of personnel recruited for (and in many cases, much better-suited) the Meyer spread, there must be the temptation to include certain elements of the old scheme here and there. We'll see if Weis gives in to that temptation this spring.
Can John Brantley's career be salvaged? If there's any former Meyer recruit who might have been happy to see the offense overhauled, it would have to be the pass-first Brantley, who was asked by Addazio to fill many of the running-game holes Tebow did without only the tiniest fraction of the success. Weis's system could make Brantley a star, but whatever offense he's running, Brantley will have to be substantially more poised this spring if he's going to hold off a challenge from early-enrolled freshman Jeff Driskel.
What happens to the heirs to Harvin? What success the Gator offense had in 2010 was frequently the result of getting the ball to Jeff Demps, the diminutive sprinter who took several handoffs the distance. But a pro-style tailback job doesn't typically go to backs of Demps's (or fellow veteran blazer Chris Rainey's) size, and Demps's history of nagging injuries won't help him convince Weis and Muschamp he or Rainey will be ready to be an every-down back. With one of those injuries sidelining Demps for at least the start of spring, the larger Mike Gillislee or Mack Brown may be able to stake their claim to the position.
Will the offensive line bounce back? Much of the disappointment of 2010 started with the disappointing play up front, as a veteran line began its year with Mike Pouncey memorably dribbling snaps back to Brantley in the season opener and never seemed to truly recover. Now the Gators enter spring with a new line coach brought in from the NFL in Frank Verducci, and just one healthy 2010 starter available. But the competition for open spots and fresh voice following the departure of Addazio could lead to better results all the same.
Will any playmakers step up in the receiving positions? Yes, the receivers were a problem last year too, as the entire corps of wideouts and tight ends totaled just eight touchdown receptions and as a team the Gators averaged barely more than 10 yards a completion. Deonte Thompson led the way by netting 15 yards per-catch and 570 yards total; a big spring should establish him as the team's clearcut No. 1 and a potential All-SEC candidate. But it will also be worth watching Jordan Reed and Trey Burton, top-drawer athletes who moonlighted as Wildcat quarterbacks a year ago and have been shifted into starting roles as a tight end and slot receiver, respectively. If Thompson's ready to take the next step and Weis can find the best way to put Reed and Burton to use, the Gators could come out of spring with plenty of optimism regarding their receiving corps.
With so many questions, it seems unlikely Florida will find the right answers to all of them. But with so many potential answers at virtually any position you choose, whatever Weis and Muschamp cook up, it promises to be fascinating viewing ... and at the least, a good bit more effective than the not-even-close-to-fascinating viewing the Gators offered last season.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Charlie Weis, Chris Rainey, Dan Mullen, Deonte Thompson, Florida, Frank Verducci, Jeff Demps, Jeff Driskel, John Brantley, Jordan Reed, Kansas City Chiefs, Mack Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Gillislee, Mike Pouncey, Notre Dame, Percy Harvin, SEC, spring practice, Spring Practice Primer, Steve Addazio, Tim Tebow, Trey Burton, Will Muschamp
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When John Brantley struggled operating Urban Meyer's run-first spread offense last season, Florida's coaching braintrust turned more and more towards "athletes" Jordan Reed and Trey Burton to handle the quarterback position, and not without some success; Burton's 171 yards-from-scrimmage played a major role in the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia, for instance.
But with new head coach Will Muschamp taking his cues from mentor Nick Saban's more traditional, pro-style offensive philosophy -- and Charlie Weis hired to deliver exactly that -- it's no surprise that the aerially-limited Reed and Burton won't be taking snaps any longer. Or at least, not on anything resembling a regular basis, since Muschamp confirmed this week that he's considering permanent position switches for both :
Muschamp said he has contemplated moving Trey Burton to safety or cornerback and might move Jordan Reed to tight end.Muschamp would be well-advised to make good on the "integral part" promise for both players, as both Burton (pictured) and Reed flashed playmaking ablity in 2010 that few other Gators -- if any, aside from running back Jeff Demps -- would be able to duplicate.
At the same time, two factors make Reed's and Burton's moonlighting at quarterback a luxury the Gators can afford to do without. One is that Weis's under-center, pocket-passing attack should be a much, much better fit for the strong-armed Brantley's talents than Meyer's spread. The second is true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel; his letter of intent may still be hot off the fax, but his eye-popping performance at the Under Armour All-American Game and enrollment in time for spring camp suggest he could take over the reins as soon as this fall, if need be.
Of course, with Driskel still a true freshman (no matter how talented) and Brantley coming off of one of college football's most disappointing seasons, the Gators may still need some kind of fallback plan, and at the very least they're going to need every offensive hand they've got fully on deck to help their quarterbacks. Quarterbacks or not, you haven't heard the last of Burton and Reed by a long shot.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 8:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5), Jan.1, 1pm ET
Why You Should Watch: Well, first of all, you should watch this game because it'll be starting around the same time you're finally waking up out of your New Year's Eve haze. Nothing like some football to help you shake the cobwebs out of your brain. Oh, and it's also the final time you will have a chance to see Urban Meyer nearly suffer a heart attack on a Florida sideline. Not to mention, depending on who you want to believe, it could also be the final time that Joe Paterno ever graces a sideline.
Keys to Victory for Florida: You could question how Florida will approach this game given everything that's gone on in Gainesville over the last month, but I don't think motivation is going to be a problem. There's no way these Gators want to send Urban Meyer out with a loss. To do this, well, the Gators will have do so something they haven't done all season.
Find some consistency on offense. Whether it's John Brantley through the air, or Trey Burton on the ground, whoever is at quarterback for Florida is going to have to make some plays against this Penn State defense. That means the Gators offensive line, which has been pretty disappointing this year, is going to need to step up the protection. When Brantley is back there he tends to make dumb decisions when facing pressure and has a hard time reading coverage.
The best way to help Brantley would be to get the ground game going with Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Penn State has had some problems with the run this season, and the Gators should watch the game film of the Penn State game against Illinois and copy Illinois' game plan. Maybe Ron Zook can finally win a bowl game for Florida after all these years.
Keys to Victory for Penn State: Florida is faster and more athletic than Penn State. The best way for Penn State to counter this will be to attack, attack and attack some more on defense. Blitz John Brantley like there is no tomorrow and force him to make decisions he's not ready to make. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the Nittany Lions need to tighten things up against the run.
When Penn State has the ball it should look to exploit the Gators a bit in the secondary. Yes, Evan Royster should still get plenty of carries to soften up the Florida defense, but the Gators don't have Janoris Jenkins in this game and he's not an easy player to replace. Now, the problem here is that as good as Matt McGloin has been, he's not very effective on deep routes. Which means that Penn State should look to attack Florida on shorter routes like slants and hitches.
Finally, it will be important for Royster and the offensive line to have move the ball against the Florida run defense. Royster had a couple of lackluster games against tough run defenses like Alabama and Ohio State this season, and for Penn State to have a legit chance in this game, he's going to have to produce.
The Outback Bowl is like: one of those Rolling Stones farewell concerts. You know that even though they claim it's the last time you'll ever see them performing, they're going to come back eventually. Yes, Urban Meyer may be leaving Florida to spend time with the family and tend to his health, but do you really believe a man that immersed in football is never coming back? I don't.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 5:31 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 5:40 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As Jerry Hinnen wrote about earlier this afternoon , the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party took on a bit of added significance following South Carolina 's win over Tennessee on Saturday morning. Essentially, whoever loses this game is eliminated from contention in the SEC East. Through the first 30 minutes it looks like Georgia is the leading candidate.
Florida heads into halftime with a 21-7 lead thanks to a ground game that seems to be finding its legs, and some Georgia mistakes. Chris Rainey, playing in his first game since being suspended for those text message shenanigans , has scored a touchdown along with Jeff Demps and Trey Burton. More importantly, John Brantley is playing better than he has in weeks. He has thrown an interception, but he's also completed 8-of-11 passes for 123 yards in the first half.
Also, to the delight of Channing Crowder, he's yet to be chased down by any white linebackers.
One quarterback who hasn't been having his best day is Georgia's Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs have turned the ball over three times, and all three came courtesy of Murray. He's thrown two interceptions and fumbled once, while only completing 5-of-14 passes, though one was a 63-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King for the Bulldogs lone score.
Take away that pass from Murray, and he's 4-of-13 for 60 yards.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:01 am
Edited on: October 14, 2010 11:05 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Florida's home loss to LSU on Saturday night left Gator fans with a lot of "what if's." Fans wondered how the game could have been different if quarterback John Brantley had been 100%, or if the outcome would have changed with the presence of speedy playmaker Jeff Demps. Head coach Urban Meyer was able to deliver good news on both players on Wednesday.
"Good news on Demps," Meyer said during the SEC teleconference on Wednesday. "He's feeling a lot better than he did last week. Obviously, we need his big-play shot. I put him as probable for Saturday (against Mississippi State). He's going to do some practice (Wednesday) and then, he's telling me, he's going to practice (Thursday)."
While the exact extent of Brantley's rib and thumb injuries have been a topic of much debate, Meyer continues to insist that his starting quarterback is ready to play. Though this time he has some more evidence to present, with Brantley going full speed in practice for the first time in almost two weeks. Brantley was limited leading up to the LSU game due to shoulder complications from his rib injury.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 3:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Florida Gators may be 4-1 on the season but, by and large, they haven't played nearly as well as a team as that record would indicate. They started the season with three straight wins over Miami (OH), South Florida and Tennessee and all three of those contests were a lot closer than what we've all become accustomed to seeing from the Gators.
Now, obviously, there is a reason for this. No matter what your personal feelings were for Tim Tebow when he was playing in Gainesville, it's hard to argue that Tebow was the perfect quarterback for the Florida offense masterminded by Urban Meyer and called by Steve Addazio. Losing Tebow is something the team needs to adjust to.
Unfortunately it's an adjustment that Florida's coaching staff doesn't seem willing to make.
It wouldn't be fair to compare John Brantley to Tebow because they're two completely different quarterbacks. Tebow was the battering ram who would occasionally make an ugly throw whenever it was needed. Brantley is your more traditional quarterback, with an arm that is much stronger than his legs.
Yet the Gators are treating Brantley as if he's Tebow, asking him to run more speed options than throw deep ins. Brantley has carried the ball 15 times this season for 60 yards, with no run gaining more than 11 yards. He also picked up some bruised ribs on an option run courtesy of the Alabama defense.
Even after seeing that unmitigating disaster, Addazio says that there will be no change in the way the Gators conduct business on Saturday against LSU.
"That's a part of who we are and that won't change," said Addazio. "It's like everything else. Get a little better, operate it a little better. Twenty of them? No. But the element is there and element will always be there."
Which is fine. It's hard for an offense to completely overhaul its identity in the middle of a season. Still, you would think Addazio would take a look at his team's performance against Kentucky two weeks ago.
Without question the Gators 48-14 win over the Wildcats was their most impressive outing of the season, dominating the game from the opening kick to the final whistle. In that game Brantley ran the ball four times and picked up a yard.
However, Trey Burton took some snaps at quarterback running the option and picked up 40 yards on five carries. Each one of his five runs ending with six points as Burton went on to break Tim Tebow's school record with six touchdowns in the game.
Brantley had a fine afternoon throwing the ball, as well, completing 24-of-35 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.
So why won't Addazio use this approach the rest of the season? Against Alabama Brantley ran the ball eight times to lose a yard. Burton had half as many carries, and only picked up five yards.
Forget about the output, as even Tebow had his problems with the sturdy Alabama defense last season, and look at the philosophy. Burton was coming off an amazing game and only got half as many carries as the quarterback who has struggled to run the ball all season.
Hell, Brantley had more carries than every Florida running back other than Jeff Demps, and Demps was playing on an injured foot.
In what world does this make sense to anybody?
Not even Brantley sounds like he's comfortable running so much, though he isn't stupid enough to say it publicly.
"I don't mind doing it at all," Brantley said. "It is a little different. Gotta get a little used to it at game speed, but I'm comfortable doing it. That's what our offense is. It's been successful for us these last four years, so why not keep doing it?"
He doesn't mind doing it. Not I enjoy doing it, not I want to do it. He doesn't mind.
Well, I don't mind watching Project Runway with my girlfriend if she asks me to, but that doesn't mean I want to.
The reason you don't keep doing it is because in the four games you have been things haven't worked out too well. In the one game you didn't, and mixed it up, you had your best game of the season.
If I can see this, then why can't the Florida coaching staff?
Go with a two quarterback system. When you want to run the option, bring in Burton. If you want to pass, use Brantley. I seem to recall a former Florida quarterback who wasn't exactly suited to run an option offense either. His name was Chris Leak. That's when the Gators started using Tebow in run situations, and things turned out pretty well that year as the school's trophy case can attest to.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 8:56 am
Edited on: October 5, 2010 9:02 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Even though he spent most of the preparation week in a protective boot, Florida running back Jeff Demps was still on the field and active in the Gators' 31-6 loss at Alabama on Saturday. But his presence on the field against the top-ranked team in the land does not signify a complete recovery for the speedy junior. He led the Gators in rushing, with 11 carries for 47 yards, but on Monday admitted that his foot was "not 100 percent" against the Crimson Tide.
"It bothers me when I'm running and also it bothers me when I try to cut, plant or come back,'' Demps said. "I'm trying to tough it out, but at the same time, I think it's affecting me."
Demps is the primary threat out of the backfield for the Gators, with 414 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving on the season, and having him healthy is essential for the Gators offense. He said he was not informed until right before the game that he would take the field, though it looks as though he should be ready to play on Saturday against No. 12 LSU. The defensive unit has been one of LSU's strong points this season, and regardless of any ongoing offensive woes, the Gators cannot expect to win the game without more production on offense.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 3:17 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 3:22 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
When it comes to Florida's offense, there has been a fair share of doubting and criticism so far in the 2010 season. But thanks to the play of speedy running back Jeff Demps and the recent emergence of freshman Trey Burton as a multi-talented scoring threat, the Gators look prepared to make a run at another SEC Championship.
They face their greatest challenge yet on Saturday, traveling to take on the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide under the lights in Bryant-Denny Stadium. With the match up just five days away, all sights around Gainesville are on Demps, who is healing a bruised foot and walking in a protective boot. Still, Gators head coach Urban Meyer believes he will be available on Saturday.
Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that Demps was still wearing a protective boot on his left foot. Demps bruised his foot Sept. 18 at Tennessee and re-injured it during Saturday's 48-14 win against Kentucky. Meyer said tests showed no ligament damage or broken bones.