GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Until Brent Pease surfaced recently as the leading candidate to become the Gators’ new offensive coordinator, he was much more well-known in coaching circles than among your average Saturday afternoon tailgater.
Pease was a record-setting quarterback at Division I-AA Montana in the mid-1980s and then spent a few seasons as a professional football journeyman before embarking on a coaching career that led to his official introduction as the newest member of Gators coach Will Muschamp’s staff on Wednesday.
Florida is the sixth school that has named Pease offensive coordinator and his second stint in the SEC. Pease served in that role at Kentucky in 2001-02.
However, his profile nationally received a boost the past six years as an assistant working with Boise State’s prolific offense under head coach Chris Petersen. Pease was the Broncos’ receivers coach for five seasons before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2011.
Boise State’s offense continued to roll past defenses with Pease pushing the buttons, averaging 44.2 points, 481.3 yards, 309.4 passing yards and 171.9 rushing yards per game on the way to a 12-1 record.
What can Florida fans expect with Pease now in charge of a young Gators offense?
“There’s no question we want to be aggressive in all phases,’’ Muschamp said Wednesday. “He’s a guy who is very unconventional in the way he thinks offensively at times, which is good, because it keeps the defense off-balance. There’s a lot of motion shifts and tempos that he wants to instill with what we do and what we already do.’’
By most accounts, Pease’s season in charge of Boise State’s offense was very similar to those of Petersen’s previous coordinators. The Broncos run what is considered a multiple pro-style offense, but one with more twists and turns than perhaps the one installed last season by Charlie Weis.
“I think there are a lot of similarities when you turn the tape on,’’ Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, it’s all the same plays. It’s just a matter of how you attack them, how you coach them, how you get to them – motion, shift, tempo. We run a lot of the same plays and again there is a certain amount of talent to being a good play-caller, and I certainly think Brent possesses those qualities that you want to have.”
The Broncos use motion on nearly every play, which helps create confusion for the defense.
Mike Kuchar is defensive coordinator at North Brunswick (N.J.) Township High and a respected freelance writer for publications such as American Football Monthly and SmartFootball.com.
Prior to the 2010 season, he spent a week with Virginia Tech coaches as the Hokies prepared to face Boise State in the season opener. He watched countless hours of tape of Boise State’s offense with then-Virginia Tech defensive graduate assistant Steve Canter, who coached former Gators receiver Percy Harvin in high school.
Kuchar was overwhelmed at Boise State’s creativity from play to play.
“To me, every play seemed like an entirely different scenario — tiny but perfect little strategic masterpieces carved out by Petersen and his offensive staff for that situation alone,’’ Kuchar wrote for SmartFootball.com.
The heart of Kuchar’s research concluded that the Broncos’ success offensively – Boise State is 73-6 the past six seasons without recruiting from the same talent pool as other major Division I programs – was based on its ability to constantly stress out opposing defenses from play to play.
“Boise specializes in getting defenses out of position to make plays by utilizing the three major essentials in offensive football: numbers, leverage and grass,’’ Kuchar wrote. “Numbers” means outnumbering the defense at the point of attack — i.e. more blockers than defenders on the edge, more receivers than zone defenders, etc. “Leverage” refers to out-flanking a defense at the point of attack — i.e. you may not have numbers but the angles are on your side. “Grass” harkens to Willie Keeler’s baseball adage, ‘Hit ‘em where they ain’t.’ Run the ball where there are the fewest defenders.”
Those principles helped the Broncos beat Virginia Tech to open the 2010 season and Georgia to open the 2011 season. They also figure to play at least some role in Pease’s approach with the Gators.
In his only season as Boise State’s offensive coordinator, quarterback Kellen Moore passed for 3,800 yards and 43 touchdowns, and running back Doug Martin rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns, giving the Broncos the kind of run-pass balance that Muschamp has stressed is his goal.
Pease also developed a deep rotation of receivers during five seasons as the Broncos’ receivers coach, including NFL players Titus Young and Austin Pettis.
A fast tempo was also a trademark of Pease’s offensive style with Boise.
“It’s something you are seeing more and more in college football,’’ Muschamp said.
As the Broncos shifted from side to side preparing for the next play – sometimes doing so without a huddle – the defense often was caught trying to adjust when Moore took the snap.
Even when watching a play on tape very closely one could have trouble following the ball immediately after the snap due to some of the misdirection and play-action.
“It’s still got to be a tempo where you are balanced in run and pass, but you are playing at such a good speed that you keep a defense off-balance, where you don’t have a defensive guy get a call and have 25 seconds to figure it out,’’ Pease said. “He’s got to kind of find his alignment and match the call to what the offense is doing in 10 to 12 seconds.”
During his time at Boise, Pease flashed a creative side. He was the one who introduced what the Broncos call the “swinging gate” two-point conversion, a play that has become a staple of the program.
His biggest task initially with the Gators is to continue to develop sophomore quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. While both played as true freshmen, the offense struggled consistently when starter John Brantley was injured and missed two games.
A longtime quarterbacks coach, Muschamp said Pease’s expertise in that area also factored into his decision to hire Pease over several other qualified candidates.
“It wasn’t even a question,’’ Muschamp said. “You have two young guys who need a lot of fundamental work.”
Finally, a major factor in Pease’s hiring was maintaining some of the continuity the Gators developed on offense in Muschamp’s first season. It was important to hire a coach experienced in running a pro-style attack.
While Pease will add his own tweaks and flavor to the offense, the base system and goal of a balanced run-pass attack remains intact.
“We’re not changing what we’re doing,’’ Muschamp said. “We’re going to be a pro-style offense and we’re going to have some two-backs and one-backs, some two-wide, some three-wide and some four-wide. We’re going to be multiple in what we do and he is going to add to that.
“I’d rather have one guy learn than 40 guys learn.”