Gators to tweak or not to tweak?


Gainesville, Fla. - University of Florida quarterback Trey Burton (8) is tackled by Mississippi State defensive back Jonathan Banks (13) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. Mississippi State defeated the Gators 10-7.

Matt Stamey/Staff Photographer
Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

During the open date before the Georgia game in 2005, Urban Meyer and his coaching staff used the extra time to revamp a struggling offense and make it a more comfortable fit for quarterback Chris Leak.

Some of the spread elements were eliminated in favor of a more traditional offense, including the insertion of a fullback, and the changes helped UF beat Georgia and create some much-needed momentum (five wins in the last six games) that carried over into the national championship season in 2006.

Once again, the Gators are heading into the Georgia game looking for an offensive fix and to generate some late-season momentum.

Meyer said Monday the offense was modified "quite a bit" during the bye week, but would not reveal the changes.

"I'm obviously not going to say," he said.

His players aren't talking either.

At Tuesday's interviews, several offensive players even went so far as to say there have been no changes.

"No," senior wide receiver Carl Moore said. "We're just going out there in practice and executing. That's it. No tweaks."

Moore was asked if there were going to be more deep passes and changes in the passing game.

"I don't know. We practice deep shots in the passing game all the time," he said. "Practice hasn't changed for us. I don't know (if there will be changes in the passing game)."

Senior offensive guard Carl Johnson also followed the company line Tuesday.

"We just have to minimize the damage and the things we've been doing wrong," he said. "I don't really think we've made any major tweaks."

Obviously, the Gators have made changes (maybe significant ones), but UF certainly is not going to tip off the Bulldogs as to what they are.

There will be a lot of guessing this week as to just how different the Gators will look Saturday in Jacksonville.

Will the Gators throw the ball down field more like they did in the Sugar Bowl to take advantage of quarterback John Brantley's arm (and a somewhat suspect Georgia secondary)?

Will Trey Burton and the option become a bigger part of the offense in an attempt to generate a ground game? And will Burton have a chance to trick the defense by throwing the ball in what would appear to be obvious running situations, like Tim Tebow did his freshman year against LSU?

Or does tight end and former quarterback Jordan Reed, who can run and throw, get his opportunity to run the offense?

Burton was asked Tuesday if he's been throwing more than usual in practice this week.

"The same amount. Not really," Burton said. "I'm still doing the same amount of stuff that I've been doing.

"We're focusing a lot more on details and fundamentals, the little things like that."

Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio did say the Gators are in the same situation they were during the open date the week before the Georgia game in 2005.

"Certainly, in 2005, we tweaked it," Addazio said. "You go back and evaluate things based on where we are right now. That means everything — what you've executed, what are your injuries, what is your situation, what things do you need to adjust or spend more time or less time on.

"That's ongoing now, working on the things you want to fix or change. Let's go attack it. That's what you have to do."

One possible (maybe even likely) change could be the return of slot receiver/tailback Chris Rainey, who was UF's most consistent playmaker throughout preseason camp. A decision on his playing status will be made between now and Saturday.

"He's a special guy, real fast," Burton said. "The things he can do make defenses' heads spin."

But like the other potential changes in the Florida offense, Rainey's status likely won't be revealed until Saturday's game gets under way in Jacksonville.

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

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