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Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease showed off his creativity in the second half of Saturday's win over LSU.

Wednesday October 10, 2012A Strong Running Attack Has Always Been No. 1 on Gators Offensive Coordinator Pease's List

Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease showed off his creativity in the second half of Saturday's win over LSU.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease developed a reputation as a creative play-caller as he climbed the coaching ladder, highlighted by his stint as the orchestrator of Boise State's high-powered offense a year ago.

Gators coach Will Muschamp recalled Pease's success at Kentucky in the early 2000s when Muschamp was defensive coordinator at LSU, one of the reasons he pursued Pease last offseason.

Pease may have devised his most imaginative game plan in his brief tenure with the Gators in the second half of Saturday's 14-6 win over LSU. He certainly pulled off a remarkable feat: Pease called 25 consecutive running plays to end the game and Florida fans roared in approval.

The Gators gained 115 yards on those 25 runs, icing their biggest win under Muschamp. The only two that didn't pick up yards were a 1-yard loss by quarterback Jeff Driskel and the final play of the game when the Gators were credited with a 2-yard loss on Driskel's kneel down.

"We did what we needed to do to win the football game,'' Muschamp said.

LSU's deep and talented defense, which in the Tigers' first five games allowed only 83 yards rushing per game, had no answers for Florida's in-your-face rushing attack. The Gators' offensive line and running back Mike Gillislee took over after halftime.

Gillislee finished with 146 yards on 34 carries, the third-most attempts in school history in a regular-season game.

Meanwhile, Pease used an assortment of personnel groupings and formations to keep LSU off-balance, including a jumbo lineup of 300-pounders that featured two offensive linemen -- D.J. Humphries and Ian Silberman -- lined up at tight end on the right side.

Left tackle Xavier Nixon and left guard James Wilson pulled to the right on Gillislee's two 12-yard touchdown runs, forming a tidal wave of human flesh that cleared plenty of space. Gillislee scored twice essentially untouched.

"You know what they say: Mass kicks [butt],'' Pease said Tuesday. "So thatís our theory behind it. Whatís your math on that? Seven times three is, what, 2,100 pounds coming at you. I donít know that I would want that falling on me."

While the jumbo package helped the Gators take control Saturday, they have used the oversized personnel grouping in other games. In fact, it's at the very heart of Pease's offensive philosophy.

At his introductory news conference last winter, the first question Pease was asked centered on his primary offensive attitude. His list included five principles:

1. A pounding running attack; 2. An explosive passing game; 3. Creativity through shifts and motions; 4. Eliminate turnovers; 5. Great quarterback play.

"You're going to see the same football plays,'' Pease said then. "We're not going to run anything different. People run Power, we're going to run Power. No one is re-inventing that part of it. We have to run the ball and we are going to run the ball."

The list remains a work in progress after five games, but the Gators have quickly implemented the kind of running attack that Muschamp desired when he hired Pease, who also drew interest from Alabama for his services after last season.

The No. 4-ranked Gators are third in the SEC in rushing at 214.8 yards per game, and 11 of their 16 touchdowns have come on the ground. Meanwhile, Gillislee, who had to wait his turn behind speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey until this year, leads the SEC with an average of 109.6 yards a game.

Wilson used the term "God's play" after Saturday's game to describe what Florida did to manhandle LSU in the second half. In general football parlance that means relying on a Power scheme. In other words, old-fashioned smash-mouth football that Saban has reintroduced to the SEC in winning two of the last three national championships.

The scheme is certainly different than the Fun N' Gun Florida fans cheered when Steve Spurrier was in town of the spread-option attack used by Urban Meyer to win two national titles in three seasons.

"Our strength right now is just being able to throw people around,'' Wilson said Tuesday.

While offense is alive and well in college football -- people are still talking about the West Virginia-Baylor shootout -- early in Pease's tenure the Gators are clearly relying on the run more than the pass.

So are others.

Of the top 10 teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, only West Virginia and Oregon State are in top 50 in passing yardage nationally. Alabama is 79th, Kansas State 107th, and Florida is 111th. The Gators are averaging 373.4 yards per game -- 10th-best in the SEC -- and their 158.6 yards passing per game ranks 14th in the league.

Pease is aware of the current imbalance but expected that with sophomore quarterback Driskel learning on the job.

"He's still five games into it,'' Pease said. "We need to do a good job of keeping it simple for him as well as everybody so that we have a high point of execution. There is probably going to be a game when he has to air it out. The thing that we still want to strive for is that we have balance in what we're doing."

And that creativity Pease is known to use regularly. Muschamp is confident Pease can adjust to whatever the defense is throwing his way like the Gators did in the second half Saturday.

"Second-and-six is a great down for Brent; second-and-four is a great down for Brent,'' Muschamp said. "It's very difficult in our league to run up in conventional sets and consistently — I'm not saying you can't do it — but consistently, against good people, run the ball.

"You've got to find creative ways to do it."

The Gators did that on Saturday with a heavy dose of "God's play," or Power. It may have looked new to Florida fans, but it's basically the same stuff Pease showed Muschamp from his time at Boise State when they met to watch film prior to Pease's hiring.

The biggest difference is that Pease now has better players and more of them at Florida than he did at Boise. So rolling two offensive linemen into the game at tight end can create a mismatch in Florida's favor.

And give Pease one more outlet to make his pro-style offense make a difference.

"I've always believed that [this offense] can work anywhere,'' Pease said. "Anytime you have flexibility and creativity, it's always gong to cause problems for defenses but eventually they figure it out.

"It' just how we hide plays. That's why you have to be creative."

 

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