Weis knows his offense will be judged Saturday
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:57 a.m.
He's not surprised by the considerable progress his quarterback has made. He's impressed by the speed and versatility of some of his playmakers. He likes the work ethic and desire, and the passion his players have for the game.
But Charlie Weis still can't give an answer to the question that is burning in the minds of Gators everywhere.
How good will his first Florida offense be?
The prolific offensive coordinator can't go there yet.
“I think we'll have a better answer at about 10:30 Saturday night,” Weis said Tuesday. “I think practice is practice and games are games. I've been satisfied (with the progress). They have a very good work ethic here. The players work hard and it's important to them.
“There's been plenty of progress, but you're judged by what happens on Saturday night. You're not judged on what happens in practice. That's the bottom line. I'll have a better idea each week.”
His first clue will come in just a few days, when UF opens the season against Florida Atlantic in The Swamp.
“They get to take another test Saturday,” Weis said. “The only problem is it's an open-book test. Everyone gets to see it. You'll know how they did. You'll be there watching them.”
Until the Gators take what they've done on the practice field and apply it in a game, no one is going to know for sure how proficient the offense will be.
But there are plenty of things Weis already knows about the offense, starting with his quarterback, senior John Brantley.
Weis said Brantley had a “really productive” spring, despite a shaky spring game, and has continued to grow in the offense.
“A lot of times the one showing that you get is the spring game when it's a fire drill,” Weis said. “Actually, he had made a lot of progress the whole spring and it really doesn't surprise any of us how he's continued to progress.
“And it's not in any way derogatory to the system he came from. It's just a different system totally from this. This system fits his physical qualities better than the last one.”
Brantley, a drop-back passer, never seemed comfortable in the spread-option offense last season. As his struggles continued, his confidence seemed to erode over the course of the year.
“The whole thing is, and John will tell you, my big thing is short-term memory,” Weis said. “With quarterbacks, anybody that keeps things with them can never be any good.
“That's play to play. It isn't game to game, it isn't last year. You can't worry about the last play, you have to worry about the next play.”
Weis declined to talk about Brantley's struggles in the spread offense.
“I really don't know what they did. I don't know the spread,” he said. “I know he's not going to be running the read option. I think a quarterback like John is better suited to be in a pure drop-back passing game that centers around runs and play-actions.
“I think he has the mental capabilities to do all the things I like to do. The more he shows me mentally, the more freedom I give him when it comes to getting out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage.”
Weis also has been impressed with some of the playmakers around him, including tight end Jordan Reed, wide receiver Quinton Dubar, fullback/H-back Trey Burton and tailbacks Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. He called Rainey and Demps the two fastest players he's coached, including in the NFL.
“I love Demps and Rainey,” Weis said.
He also sounds pretty fond of former quarterback Trey Burton, who may be UF's most versatile offensive player.
“The thing Trey would like is not to be stereotyped as someone who is not good at anything but just OK at everything,” Weis said. “I'm a formation/personnel guy as far as attack goes.
“He gives me a lot of versatility within one personnel group. Sometimes people don't understand the magnitude of what that means. He let's you do a lot of things.”
As for Dunbar, a redshirt freshman, he's apparently the poster boy for Will Muschamp's philosophy that the competition at every position is always wide open.
“When we started off in the spring, Dunbar was so far down the depth chart he was probably under this table. You couldn't even find him,” Weis said. “By the end of the spring, he was a starting wide receiver.
“(That ) showed the other players that if you produce, we're going to put you out there. I think the players just want to be treated honestly. Coach Muschamp has done a really nice job of letting these players know this is the conviction he's going to stand by.”
As for Saturday's opener, Weis said the goal is to have a “clean” game and minimize mistakes.
“Everyone knows there are no preseason games here in college,” he said. “This is kick it off and let's go, and it counts. You want to minimize mental mistakes, take care of the football and, obviously, you want to score touchdowns.”
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