Red zone now priority No. 1


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was stuffed on several rushing attempts in the red zone on Saturday.

Tricia Coyne/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, October 26, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:33 p.m.

Florida coach Urban Meyer usually makes his assistants go home by 10 every night. He made an exception Sunday.

With a sense of urgency, Meyer and the offensive coaches worked deep into the night (and early into Monday morning) breaking down and evaluating everything the Gators have been doing in the red zone.

"We started reworking the red zone," Meyer said Monday. "We grinded last night with our red zone. We watched every red-zone snap of the year. We evaluated every snap.

"What we're finding out is it's not play-calling. We've got to hold to the plan. Sometimes we're making calls that are not on our call sheet. That's my fault. We're going to stick to the call sheet. We're going to do a better job with the call sheet.

"We do (the red-zone call sheet) on Wednesday. We're going to do it earlier than that (this week). We already have something on paper that we're going to start working on (in practice)."

Florida has been close to a disaster in the red zone in recent games. The Gators have scored only two touchdowns in their last 15 trips inside the 20-yard line, and in the last two games, UF has had three turnovers inside the 10, one an interception that was returned 100 yards for a touchdown Saturday night in the victory over Mississippi State.

The red zone has always been a priority in Meyer's plan to win. It's priority No. 1 now.

Meyer said the coaches are evaluating all aspects, including whether quarterback Tim Tebow is getting too many called runs in the red zone.

"He's certainly our guy because of the single-wing element. It's been so successful here and across college football," Meyer said. "It takes someone else (on defense) out of the box. That's No. 1. No. 2, he's a very good, powerful runner. He's also Tim.

"He's going to give you every ounce of effort he's got. Other guys can do that also. That's in discussion. We haven't finalized it yet."

One option being considered is giving the ball to 210-pound tailback Emmanuel Moody, a hard runner who has had success running between the tackles. Moody has not had a single touch in the red zone this season.

"We're having that discussion," Meyer said.

Meyer said there's also a chance Tebow will go under center more. Tailback Chris Rainey scored on an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter Saturday night with Tebow.

"We want to do that," Meyer said. "That might be a little more part of our plan."

Tebow admitted Monday that he's frustrated by the red-zone failures.

"We're struggling with things (in the red zone) that we really haven't had struggles with (in the past)," he said. "It's kind of new, and it's frustrating.

"We want to score every time we get into the red zone. We're doing things we're not used to doing. We're working on it. I think it's a mixture of things. Overall, we've got to execute better.

"Obviously, we're not excited about watching how we play in the red zone. We're going to get better. That's all I can really say about it."

It is an issue that has been addressed. Now it has to be fixed, Tebow said.

"It's not like were not moving the ball," he said. "We're moving the ball and we're making big plays. We're driving down the field.

"The top two things for us to worry about are turnovers and scoring in the red zone. If we keep kicking field goals, somewhere down the line it's going to cost us in a big way."

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