UF's Addazio brings intensity


Published: Friday, April 17, 2009 at 6:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 17, 2009 at 6:37 p.m.

Florida coach Urban Meyer is paid the big bucks to make hard decisions.

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Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- 010409 -- Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio instructs the players during warm up drills at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Jan. 4, 2008. Addazio will replace Dan Mullen as Florida's offensive coordinator after the BCS Championship game.

Tricia Coyne/The Gainesville Sun

This wasn't one of them. This one was easy.

"Real easy," Meyer said.

When Dan Mullen left last December to become the new head coach at Mississippi State, Meyer knew instantly where to go to find his new offensive coordinator - just down the hall from his office, to the door with Steve Addazio's name on it. The UF offensive line coach was Meyer's first and only candidate.

"What I was looking for was a leader," Meyer said earlier this week. "I wasn't necessarily looking for a guy that's going to come in and rock the world with a scheme, because we're going to do what we do.

"I've been very blessed to have three former coordinators who are now head coaches. I think all have been great leaders, and Steve falls into that category."

Addazio not only fits the Meyer mold, he has been coaching and game-planning in Meyer's spread offense since becoming part of Meyer's first UF coaching staff in 2005. It's made for a seamless transition this spring.

The Florida offense is fundamentally (and philosophically) the same. The only thing that's changed is the new offensive coordinator will be calling the plays from the sideline instead of the press box.

"None," Addazio said when asked if there were any significant changes in the offense. "Same philosophy. It's going to be the same deal."

There have been two constants in Meyer's offense wherever he's been. It is based and built around the players and their strengths. And the play calling and game planning are a collaborative effort among Meyer and the offensive coaching staff.

That's the way it worked under Mullen. That's the way it will remain under Addazio.

"There is going to be a balance," Addazio said. "Our philosophy is balance. That won't change. We see it through the same set of eyes around here. We want to be able to move the ball. We want explosions with the football, and that's going to come in both the passing and the running equally. That is not going to change here at all."

What might significantly change is attitude. Mullen was kind of laid-back guy. Addazio is a much more emotional coach and motivator, and as a longtime offensive line coach, he embraces toughness.

When asked to describe his philosophy as an offensive coordinator, he didn't hesitate to answer.

"No. 1, toughness," he said. "Flat toughness. We're going to come after you. We're going to sting you. Sting you in the run game. Sting you in the throw game.That's our philosophy. We're going to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers. That's our next philosophy. You're going to see that.

"Our philosophy in the season is we're going to make them defend the whole field by getting the ball in the hands of our playmakers, which includes everybody - the tailbacks, the quarterbacks, the wide receivers, the whole gamut."

Overall, though, there has been some tweaking going on with the offense this spring. Quarterbacks Tim Tebow and John Brantley are lining up under center at times in the I-formation (which the Gators also used in 2006) and the Gators have worked some on a fast-break attack similar to Oklahoma's. And new offensive assistants Scot Loeffler (quarterbacks) and Brian White (tight ends/fullbacks) have brought some fresh ideas that also are being incorporated (especially, it appears, in the down field passing game).

The I-formation is probably the most significant change.

"It's a package for us," Addazio said. "We can feature the tailback or protect the quarterback. That's a viable package we set out to get going this spring and we're really excited and encouraged about it."

The Gators seem to feel the same way about their new offensive coordinator.

"He's doing a great job," Tebow said.

"I think he's going to be awesome," said wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, perhaps the next guy in line to become Meyer's offensive coordinator in the future. "He's done a great job already organizationally. He knows the run game second to none. And he's been in this offense, basically running it for the last four years. He's doing a hell of a job."

It's no surprise to Meyer. He knew what he was getting when he named Addazio the coordinator in December.

"Motivator. Leadership. And attention to detail," Meyer said. "He gets his guys (the offensive linemen) to play. And he knows how to get the whole offense to play."

That's what it's all about.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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