UF relies on red-zone runs

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis made halftime adjustments when the Gators' red-zone issues continued last Saturday. Instead of hurrying up, they slowed down and huddled up every play — and ran the ball just about every play.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 11:18 p.m.

It gets complicated sometimes when you start breaking down problems in the red zone and are left searching for solutions.

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis took a simple approach to the Gators' red-zone woes last Saturday night against UAB.

After a frustrating first half in the scoring zone, Weis had the Gators line up and run the ball in the second half. Again and again and again and again.

The simple approach seemed to solve the problem.

“The offense really responded at halftime,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “I was very pleased. We went in and really changed things. Charlie did a great job of explaining what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.

“We executed very well in the second half. Three-hundred yards rushing (for the game). When you do that, you're going to win a lot of football games.”

And, apparently, have success in the red zone.

In the first half, the Gators faltered in the red zone for the second game in a row. Three times they had to settle for Caleb Sturgis field goals after quickly driving inside the 20-yard line.

As Weis said a week earlier, being held to a field goal in the red zone is a victory for the defense — and a real source of frustration for the coaches, players and fans.

When it happened again in the first half last Saturday, halftime adjustments were made.

“Any time you get in the red zone, it's about scoring touchdowns,” Weis said. “The good news is coaches like to make all these excuses about what happened, but the things that happened in the red zone were very correctable issues.

“Rather go into a long dissertation about what they were, they were very correctable. It would be one thing if you just got whupped. There were just things if we did them right then or did it better, it would have been all touchdowns instead of having to settle for three field goals.”

The solution was changing the Gators' usual up-tempo approach. Instead of hurrying up, they slowed down and huddled up every play — and ran the ball just about every play. They pounded their way right out of their red-zone funk.

“I told them we were going to change modes,” Weis said. “We play a lot of up-tempo. I told them I just want to get in there and pound them for the rest of the game.

“I said it will pay dividends down the road when you just want to be able to get to the line of scrimmage and say, ‘We're going to run it, you know we're going to run it, but we're running it anyway.”

The Gators went to the run almost exclusively in the second half. UF threw just two passes, but scored touchdowns on both of its trips into the red zone.

“We threw two passes in the second half,” Weis said. “That was good on our part to do it that way. We were going to huddle and not going up-tempo. We were just going to come out there and run it and run it and run it again. That will definitely pay dividends (over the course of the season).”

It was a simple solution — and the Gators made it work.

“We ran the ball real well,” quarterback John Brantley said. “Once you get in the red zone, you've got to score. Field goals are nice, but you like to knock it in there. We're going to work on that and keep getting better with it.

“The more reps you can do with something, the better you're going to be at it.”

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