Gators to match wits with Monte Kiffin


Published: Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 5:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 5:11 p.m.

With all the controversial stuff stirred up by his son in the offseason, he has drifted into the background and somehow become the other Kiffin, and definitely the quiet Kiffin.

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Vols head coach Monte Kiffin, left photo, is shown having a discussion with a Tennessee football player.

AP Photo

But Monte Kiffin may be the Kiffin who worries Florida the most heading into Saturday's game with Tennessee in The Swamp.

His defenses with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the stuff of legend, and now the defensive mastermind is plotting and planning and producing a game plan designed to diffuse Tim Tebow and the Gators' spread offense. He's had months to do it, with an endless supply of game tapes at his disposal to assist him.

Big point spread or not, never underestimate the Monte Kiffin factor heading into a big game. Florida certainly won't.

"He's a great coach and he's done amazing things in football, period," Tebow said. "His schemes have revolutionized football. He's done a great job wherever he's been. He's implemented great defenses, great schemes and he's a great game-planner.

"He's someone I'm really looking forward to playing against. I have a lot of respect for him and his ability to coach."

Kiffin is most famous for his Tampa Bay Cover 2 defense (two deep safeties), which is now all over the NFL and prominent in the college game. The Gators certainly will see that look Saturday in passing situations. But Cover 2 is only one aspect of his game he'll be throwing at the Gators. There also will be lots of traditional blitzes, zone blitzes and maybe a blitz or two UF hasn't seen before.

It's the Monte Kiffin way.

"(The Cover 2) is not what they play (as their base defense)," UF coach Urban Meyer said. "It's a fire-zone blitzing group. When you hear Tampa Cover 2. ... in passing situations you'll see that, but not to stop the run.

"What makes them difficult is it's well thought out. There is a lot of pressure, edge pressures we have to be ready for."

The Gators have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Kiffin and that's the unexpected.

His history shows he likes to really mix things up. Couple in the fact the Gators have only two UT game tapes to study (Western Kentucky and UCLA), and it's been a very busy and somewhat complicated week of preparation for coordinator Steve Addazio and the Florida offense.

"They bring a lot of zone pressure," Addazio said. "You want to make sure you're sound in everything you do versus all the pressure.

"They are more of a zone blitz team. We see all these zone pressures from our team, but you have to fit them all and make sure you're sound against them all. That's a lot of practice time."

Addazio would like to say it's also a lot of tape time, but he can't.

"One of the issues is there is not a lot of tape (on what Kiffin is doing with the UT defense)," Addazio said. "But there is a lot of tape on us (for Kiffin to break down). I'm sure there are going to be some things we have not seen.

"I don't have a depth of what their plan is like you would if this was the sixth, seventh or eighth game on a team. We've seen some of their package, but I'm sure we haven't seen it all."

One thing the Gators have seen plenty of is All-America strong safety Eric Berry, who lines up in a variety of spots on the field and has many roles in the defense.

He's a defensive playmaker the Gators plan to be aware of at all times.

"You want to know where he is," Addazio said. "In the same breath, you have a play called right now and it is what it is.

"Obviously, you realize they have a really good football player on the field and you have to account for him. We have an offense and we're going to run that offense, but, of course, we're also aware of where great players are in matchups. I don't know exactly where he's going to be."

It can get complicated. But Addazio said UF's offensive game plan will be relatively simple.

"Our deal is we're going to play really fast, really physical," Addazio said. "We're going to control what we do.

"Obviously, we're going to practice against what we see and what we think we'll get. If we have to make adjustments to that, we're going to do that, which frequently happens."

There probably will be a great deal of adjusting on the run for the Florida offense Saturday. That's just the way it is going to be against a Monte Kiffin defense.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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