Offense experimenting with no-huddle


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow runs the ball during UF's practice Friday afternoon.

Brandon Kruse/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 21, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 12:35 a.m.

Spring is the time to work on fundamentals and develop young players. It also offers an opportunity to do a little tinkering, which is what the Florida Gators are doing with their offense.

What you might not see on the practice field this spring is an offensive huddle.

UF is developing a no-huddle attack designed to possibly wear down opposing defenses and increase the Gators' play count next season.

The Gators have run the no-huddle almost exclusively through the first two practices.

"We're not changing the offense, per se," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "We're changing the speed in which we're executing it, and it takes a little bit of getting used to for the guys. We're getting there.

"It seems we're running a lot more plays in practice than we have in the past. It gives us the opportunity to get up there and run more plays over the course of the game. We averaged 70 plays a game last year. Some of those no-huddle teams were over 80. For us, that could equal some points."

Mullen said he expects the spring experiment to be implemented in the fall and that the no-huddle should become a staple of the offense.

"We plan on using it," Mullen said. "People look in the spring and say, ‘Wow, it's almost all no-huddle.’ I don't know that we will be all no-huddle in the fall, but I think if it's something we want to do, this is really the time to really implement it and execute it. We can always get back in the huddle and do what we've been doing. That's why we're putting such an emphasis on (the no-huddle) this spring."

UF coach Urban Meyer said the no-huddle approach could help the Gators become more effective in two-minute situations. In single-digit losses to Auburn and Michigan last season, UF's offense stalled in the final minutes.

"We failed to win a game at the end a couple of times," Meyer said. "We have some very talented athletes and doing a little more no-huddle might give us a chance to wear some people out. And you can uncover the defense. You give a fake snap count and find what blitz is coming and then adjust your offense."

Mullen said it should be a smooth transition because the Gators have experienced skill players and quarterbacks who now have a grasp of the offense and the ability to adjust at the line of scrimmage.

"It certainly helps having experienced players," Mullen said. "All our quarterbacks (Tim Tebow, Cameron Newton and John Brantley) know the offense now, so it's a lot easier for them to execute. I think they think they know more than they do at this point, but we're knocking them down a peg."

The no-huddle isn't the only change on offense this spring. The quarterbacks also are lining up under center at times instead of standing in the shotgun for every snap like they did last season. It gives the Gators more options, Mullen said.

"It lets you do some different things," Mullen said. "We had some success doing it two years ago with Chris (Leak). It's just another different look for the defense.

"The more looks you give them, hopefully we're harder to defend. You always want to stay ahead of that curve. That's one of the keys. Every year you want to make sure you're staying ahead of the curve, don't let the defense catch up to you.

"All those things (lining up under center and the no-huddle), we're tweaking as things go on. Day by day, we'll add a new little wrinkle."

It's basically the same spread offense, but it appears the Gators are going to run it a little differently in 2008.

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