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Gators coach Will Muschamp, left, and offensive coordinator Brent Pease talk prior to the Georgia game.

Tuesday November 6, 2012Gators Mixing it up Offensively to Maximize Production

Gators coach Will Muschamp, left, and offensive coordinator Brent Pease talk prior to the Georgia game.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Over the past two seasons Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease has shown up for work, strapped on his headset and called plays in 22 games.

He’s been on the winning side in 20 of those games – a 12-1 record last season at Boise State and 8-1 in his first season at Florida. Pease will try to add win No. 21 over that span Saturday when Louisiana visits The Swamp.

The change of scenery isn’t the only difference in the way Pease has won games. At Boise State Pease had senior quarterback Kellen Moore breaking school records a year ago and a talented cast of playmakers around Moore, including running back Doug Martin, who is having a productive rookie season with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The offense Pease inherited at Florida lacked the experience of the unit he coached with the Broncos a year ago. Still, the Gators have won. As Florida coach Will Muschamp said after Saturday’s 14-7 victory over Missouri, it’s not always been pretty, but the results are what matter most.

With the regular season in its final stages, Pease continues to search for ways to maximize production and jumpstart Florida’s offense. In the victory over the Tigers, the Gators came out in a hurry-up offense on their first two series.

On the opening drive the Gators started at their 24 and quickly moved to Missouri’s 48 until a pair of incomplete passes from quarterback Jeff Driskel, the final one batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Pease said Tuesday that he was pleased with the way the Gators executed early in the game.

“We’ve always worked on it, we’ve always had it,’’ he said of the no-huddle offense. “I think it loosened them up, got some energy in our kids. I wish we would have been a little more consistent with it. We could have had a couple more completions. It was effective for what we wanted.”

Pease is selective when to go to the no-huddle scheme because it can put extra stress on the defense if the offense goes three-and-out like the Gators did on their second drive.

“It’s kind of win big or get off [the field] fast,’’ Driskel said. “When you’re going no-huddle and up-tempo, the defense can’t really get any checks and it’s harder for them to know what they are doing. We feel really comfortable with it. It’s hard to just go into that without getting into a groove. We want to give the defense a break some time.”

Pease’s primary concern coming out of the Missouri game was Florida’s 2-for-13 production on third down. The Gators’ inability to convert on third down kept the defense on the field more than usual. The Gators ran 56 offensive plays to Missouri’s 86, the most snaps Florida’s defense has faced this season.

Pease said he would have preferred about 20 more snaps against the Tigers. The Gators are averaging 64.2 offensive plays per game compared to 68.7 for their opponents. Florida has run more plays than their opponents only three times this season (Kentucky, LSU and Georgia).

A year ago at Boise State the Broncos averaged 74.5 plays per game, more around where Pease wants to the Gators to be. While the number of plays per game can be deceiving in relation to success – only two SEC teams run fewer plays per game than Florida, No. 1 ranked Alabama and 2-7 Auburn – the more productive offenses are usually on the field more.

Texas A&M leads the SEC with an average of 81.3 plays per game. The Aggies run an up-tempo offense and often go no-huddle.

The Gators may try to do the same in certain spots.

“As long as your guys are in shape for it that’s good,’’ Pease said. “You are obviously establishing drives and keeping the ball consistently. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. I’m not saying that is going to happen either. Being in my position, you kind of get to a point where everything is not going to be perfect through the whole scheme of the game. You kind of play based off some field position, the timing of the game, the flow of how it’s going. We’re trying to play manageable spots. We need to be good at keeping ourselves on the field.”

The Gators offered various first-down looks against Missouri and scored both their touchdowns on quick-hit plays: a sweep to Omarius Hines out of the wildcat formation and a 45-yard screen pass from Driskel to running back Mike Gillislee that was executed perfectly.

“Screen passes help slow down the rush," Muschamp said. "It's always a concern for us defensively when you're rushing, you're rushing, you're rushing, and all of a sudden, you've got a screen coming out. If you play a lot of man like we do -- we've been hurt by the screen this year. They block the guy that's man on the back and you've got a big play because everybody else has their back to the ball. It's good to pick in situations with man coverage if you can. Zones, a lot of times people can see those a little better.”

Pease praised Driskel for his continued development. After his four-turnover game in Florida’s loss to Georgia, Driskel responded with an efficient performance (12 of 23, 106 yards, 1 touchdown) in the win over Missouri, and most importantly, no turnovers.

Pease and Muschamp want more from the offense, and in time they expect to get it once they add more playmakers at receiver and Driskel gains more experience and confidence in the downfield passing game.

Until then, the Gators will continue to tweak the offense to maximize production. That could mean more Driskel runs, a few screen passes, more no-huddle plays, or anything else that can move the chains.

“It is what it is, we’re 8-1, and it’s easy to go pick at that and that’s what everyone’s decided to do at this point,’’ Muschamp said Monday. “We’re not scoring 60 points a game, so obviously we’re all upset, I want to score 60 too, but I want to win first of all and that’s what’s important, and that’s what I want to do.”


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