Gator offense is in a laboratory


Published: Friday, April 2, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 at 12:10 p.m.

We can wonder.

We can fantasize and super-size Florida's 2010 offense before it ever takes a snap.

We can speculate about how John Brantley will matriculate the ball down the field.

We can crunch numbers and look up records.

For Urban Meyer, only one thing matters about Florida's offensive production next season.

"Whatever it takes to win a game," he said.

You see, Florida's ball coach isn't worried about point spreads or style points. His philosophy was on display in living color last year. If the other team scores 20, you had better get to 21. If it has the potential to score 35, you need 36.

But that's the thing about the first post-Timmy season at UF. Nobody really knows what it will take to win games right now. The defense lost so much talent. Will it be 2007 all over again (doubtful) or will the defense be so good Florida will be able to play conservative (also doubtful)?

Since they don't know right now, the Gator coaches are working in the laboratory, the Petri dish known as the practice field where liquids are being poured from one vial to another, trying to create a monster of an offense.

You think you know what the offense is going to look like in 2010? Funny, because they're still trying to figure it out.

"There is a lot of experimentation in the spring," Meyer told me this week. "The negative is all of the guys we have out of practice. The good thing is we've been able to experiment with a lot of things.

"We're going to throw the ball a lot next season. Will we line up in the I-formation? I've seen college teams who don't have the personnel line up and try to run the I and it was a disaster. I think we're going to be pretty good at fullback. So we'll see.

"It hasn't changed from five years ago when we got here. We don't have an offense. We fit our offense around what our guys can do, and that's what we're trying to find out."

Much in the way the heroes of the spring often fade to scout team, the plays and formations and tendencies of the spring often are forgotten once a game is on the line.

You go with what works, not with what might be trendy or different for the sake of being different.

"We're starting to find our stride," said offensive coordinator Steve Addazio before today's scrimmage. "We need to find out who we are. We're developing that right now. We're good on the offensive line. We have a good quarterback. How do we get the ball in the hands of our running backs?

"We're starting to see things come together. You need to come out of spring knowing who you are or you're racing against the clock with that. I'm starting to sense that things are coming together. It's exciting. It is fun."

Meyer likes the way his quarterback has taken control of the huddle. He knows how important it is to protect his only quarterback with any experience.

But don't think the option is leaving the playbook.

"There will be some components of last year's offense," Meyer said. "I mean, there won't be third-and-1 quarterback runs up the middle. But the misconception is that quarterbacks get hit all the time on the option. What we need to do is make sure we protect Johnny in the pocket."

I've had several friends and acquaintances tell me they are really excited about this season because they grew tired of the offense that Tim Tebow ran and are looking forward to something a little more daring.

First of all, how can you ever get tired of winning? Florida has won 26 of its last 28. Who cares what kind of offense it's running?

But I do get the feeling that there is a different anticipation of this year. We've all seen Brantley throw the ball. We want to see him throw it when it matters.

So does he.

"I can't wait for the season to get here," he said. "It's what we've been waiting for for a long time."

And then we'll see what the monster looks like.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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