Notebook: Conservative approach for UF


Florida running back Mike Gillislee rushes during the first half of the Gators' 23-0 win against Jacksonville State on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.

If vanilla is your favorite flavor, then Florida's offense has been perfect for you in November.

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Florida running back Mike Gillislee rushes during the first half of the Gators' 23-0 win against Jacksonville State on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer

The Gators haven't generated much production offensively in the last three weeks, particularly the most recent game against Jacksonville State.

UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease admitted Wednesday he has game planned conservatively and held things back this month.

“When you go into the last few games, you hope you don't have to use a whole lot just because you feel like matchups are probably in your favor,” Pease said. “So we didn't show a lot the last game and we kept things pretty simple. That was our intentions.”

Pease has shown the ability this year to be effective and creative in his plays calls, particularly in Florida's 14-6 win over LSU. He will be forced to open up the playbook this weekend, as Florida State's defense ranks first nationally in total defense, rushing defense and first downs allowed.

Starting center Jonotthan Harrison wouldn't hint at what Pease's approach will be at Tallahassee, but he has confidence in him.

“He's really a mastermind as an offensive coordinator and he always has something up his sleeve,” Harrison. “I feel like he does what he thinks will help us win the game.”

Jones making strides

All the attention on Florida's backfield Saturday will surround running back Mike Gillislee, who needs just 36 yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

But Matt Jones is beginning to make a name for himself as well.

The true freshman rushed for a career-high 65 yards on eight carries (8.1 average per rush) against Jacksonville State.

“Matt Jones played his best football game,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “He played very well in the game, ran the ball hard and got the ball north and south, exactly what he's capable of doing.”

Second-string tailback Mack Brown hasn't played since the Missouri game with an ankle injury, and Pease said Jones has taken advantage of the opportunity.

“He's a physical kid and I think he demands respect when he carries the ball,” Pease said of Jones, who has rushed 41 times for 182 yards and a touchdown this year. “You saw him get into the pile and carry the pile.

“It's a situation where as much as we were running the ball, we needed another guy that we could give the ball to. So that was important. You just put him in those situations and he made plays.”

OL at full strength

For the first time in more than a month, Gillislee and Jones will be running behind an offensive line without any injuries.

Florida's five starters — Harrison, guards Jon Halapio and James Wilson and tackles Chaz Green and Xavier Nixon — are at full strength heading into Saturday's showdown with FSU.

Pease said having some of them out in previous games caused inconsistencies along the line.

“It hurts a lot,” he said. “When you get a new guy in there and the guy you're used to working with is not the same, there's always a loss of communication. It's kind of like being married. Obviously if your partner's not there, then you're kind of looking around.”

Harrison said his unit is the healthiest its been since the LSU game.

“All five of us will be playing, and it's great because we've worked with each other the most out of anybody else playing O-line,” Harrison said. “It makes communication and handling defenses and blitzes a lot easier because everyone is on the same page.”

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