GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The morning sun was starting to bake Saturday as Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease walked at a brisk pace toward Percy Beard Track.
Pease had spent the better part of the previous hour tending to a recruiting commitment. As soon as he finished, he noticed the clock quickly approaching another commitment he had on his calendar.
That prompted Pease and a guest to start strolling toward the site of the Florida Relays at a pace that would make Richard Simmons proud.
K-Man was about to compete in the 4x1600-meter relay, and if Pease didn’t make it on time, his three amigos would let him hear about it following Florida’s Orange & Blue Debut spring game.
A few hundred yards outside his office at The Swamp, Pease realized he had forgotten his hat and sunglasses. That sun was now heating up in a way it rarely does back in Boise, Idaho.
Oh well, no time to turn back. If Pease got sunburned on the most public day yet on his new job, the trip to see runner No. 5349 would be worth it.
“He’s been tearing it up a little since we moved here,’’ Pease said. “He’s been on spring break for a week and hasn’t run much, so I don’t know how today will go.”
Since leaving Boise State in January to replace Charlie Weis as the Gators’ offensive coordinator, Pease and his family – wife Paula, daughter Halle, and son Karsten (K-Man to family) – have had to make the necessary adjustments that cross-country moves require.
A new house. A new school. A new grocery store. New friends. New dentists.
Oh, and a new fan base to please.
That’s always part of the job of an offensive coordinator, often the most liked or disliked member of a football team depending on how the last quarter went.
Pease unveiled portions of Florida’s revamped offense on Saturday, giving Florida fans its first look at a pro-style attack heavy on a quick tempo, multiple shifts, rapid motion, and a downhill running game.
The offense still needs fine tuning, but if all goes well, Pease someday envisions a potent offense like the one he had a year ago at Boise State.
Pease coached a game in The Swamp almost 10 years ago when he was at Kentucky, but never one for the home team.
As AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blasted across the field, Pease took his spot on the sideline and pulled on his headsets.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is a spring game,’ ’’ he said later. “I can’t wait to see 90,000 people in here.”
Pease works in the booth on game days, but with young quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel being showcased Saturday and an offense in transition, he did his job on the field, often kneeling on one knee as plays unfolded.
A calm presence during a pregame meeting in the locker room with the quarterbacks, Pease’s intensity showed once kickoff arrived.
With the game still scoreless in the second quarter, Pease was ready for something to happen as Driskel led the Blue team into Orange territory.
When a play appeared ready to break down, Pease fired instructions into the headset.
“We need an X [receiver] in there,’’ he shouted. “Get him on the ball!”
The Gators had to take a timeout, much to Pease’s chagrin.
His mood did a reverse later in the still-scoreless first half with Brissett guiding the Orange team inside the Blue’s 5-yard line.
After calling the play in from the sideline, Pease’s thoughts poured over the headset as the play developed.
“He’s good … there it is … all he has to do is get an inside guy to bite … there it is.”
Seconds later Brissett’s pass found Quinton Dunbar in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass.
“Okay, good job,’’ Pease shouted.
K-Man and his teammates were warming up when Pease arrived at the track. Halle and Paula were in the stands waiting for their final guest to arrive.
Paula and Brent met at the University of Montana in the mid-1980s. She was a track star and is a member of the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame. He was the star quarterback who rewrote the school record books.
They married in 1992 and as Brent’s coaching career began to take off, they moved from city to city, spending the last six years in Boise.
The move to Gainesville has treated them well in their short time here. Halle and Karsten attend Buchholz and K-Man, who inherited some of Paula’s running genes, quickly joined the track team.
Before the race starts, Paula gives Brent her hat to help keep the sun away. Karsten looks into the stands but in a different direction.
“He’s probably looking to see if his dad is here,’’ Paula said.
He is running the third leg for his relay team. By the time it’s his turn, Buchholz is way back of the leaders.
“Get ready K-Man,’’ Paula shouts.
As Karsten runs his mile in a little over 5 minutes, Paula offers encouragement each time he passes by.
Halle reminds her mom how it probably embarrasses him.
Brent watches as the final lap approaches.
“He needs to pick it up here,’’ he says. The quip draws a look from Paula. “She is protecting her boy,’’ he chuckles.
As soon as Karsten finishes his leg, Pease tells Halle and Paula he has to get back to the stadium for the Gator Walk.
“Make sure to stop and say something to K-Man,’’ Paula tells him.
Father and son meet briefly underneath the grandstand.
“You did a good job out there,’’ Pease says.
K-Man nods, and between deep breaths, asks his dad if he can come down to the field during the game.
At halftime Pease meets briefly with the quarterbacks to review the first half and to provide instructions for the second half.
“Play faster,’’ he tells them as they chomp on peanut butter sandwiches and gulp Gatorade. “We need to speed it up some.”
Pease is one of the first back onto the field, taking a seat on the sideline until the rest of the team comes back out.
He likes the way the quarterbacks are playing. He is looking for some receivers to make plays downfield. The quarterbacks are taking care of the ball, which is something he stressed repeatedly this spring.
And despite a game plan focused on establishing the run, he is getting a good look at their development in front of a live audience.
The points start coming in the fourth quarter with Brissett and Driskel both hitting long passes. Tyler Murphy also makes some plays that impress Pease.
Once the Blue’s 21-20 win is in the books, K-Man finds his dad at midfield. Pease takes him over and introduces him to new offensive line coach Tim Davis.
They chat briefly and Pease retreats to his office to get out of the sun and review the box score and play-by-play sheets.
“It was kind of a slow start,’’ he said. “I think we’ve got a good foundation. It showed us how much we still have to improve. We showed our weaknesses at times.
“But it was good to see the quarterbacks fairly consistent. I thought they did a good job. For what we put in, I’m pretty happy with them. They both had their moments. Tyler had a couple of good drives. I think all three got better.”
At the end of a spring game unlike any other he has experienced, that’s all he could ask. And he even made it to K-Man’s race on time.