UF offense battle-tested


Florida fullback Hunter Joyer runs up field against Florida State during the first half of last year's game in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.

Brent Pease has run into something at Florida that he never encountered during his time at Boise State.

Criticism of his offense.

This never happened at Boise State, where his offense flew up and down the field with experienced and efficient quarterback Kellen Moore, and everyone was happy with all those yards and points.

Things have been much different in his first year at Florida, where his offense is ranked 104th in the nation out of 120 teams. UF is having a hard time converting third downs, sustaining drives and scoring points. The Gators are averaging only 332.9 yards a game.

Despite the distressing numbers on offense, the No. 6 Gators are 10-1, and Pease seems undeterred.

“I've got that side that I feel responsible at times,” he said. “In the same sense, you know, the so-called bashing, we are what we are right now. We're trying to improve. Where we're at, it's kind of a work in progress.

“Until we get everything totally in place and the kids have worked through it for a year, you hope you continually see improvement, and experience has to go along with that.

“I don't take the so-called critics part of it. Everybody has to understand the circumstances around everything when things are new. I didn't expect this thing to be a work of perfection, or I would have come here for one year and left. That is not my intention.”

It's going to take time to grow, apparently, and there may be more painful lessons to be learned before the offense becomes what Pease expects it to be.

Saturday could be a humbling experience in Tallahassee, where Pease faces being on the wrong end of a mismatch (at least on paper) unlike anything he ever experienced at Boise State.

His 104th ranked offense is going against the nation's No. 1 defensive team.

That could add up to very few points and a lot of offensive frustration for the Gators.

“They've got a lot of great players,” Pease said. “They've got a good scheme that (defensive coordinator) Mark (Stoops) put in there. They're difficult in many ways because they've got all the ingredients to be what they want to be.

“They're built around speed. They've got good size. They've got good guys on the edges with (Bjoern) Werner and (Cornellius) Carradine, and their secondary are guys that play from sideline to sideline and can cover you man. With what they're doing, they've got it all in place.”

Pease's offense does not have it all in place yet. But what it does have is experience playing against this kind of fast, physical and dominant defense.

LSU and South Carolina have defenses very similar to FSU's, and the Florida offense poked and prodded and found a way to win both of those games.

“It does (help being battle tested),” Pease said. “When you face those teams, you kind of have a good gauge on what you can do, especially if there are a lot of similarities in the type of player you're facing, the type of scheme you're facing and what you have to beat.

“In the same sense, you go back and look at yourself and say, ‘What hurt us?' Understanding that's probably what they're looking at also.

“I think it gives us some confidence knowing how our kids probably will react to the fact we played LSU the way we did, Georgia the way we did. We can look at those games and kind of make a comparison.”

Pease said FSU's defensive front seven is very similar to LSU's and South Carolina's.

The UF offense took on both of those daunting challenges and won. In the 14-6 win over the Tigers, the Gators wore down the LSU front with power running and outscored the Tigers 14-0 in the second half.

Pease will try to come up with a game plan that gives his players a chance to make enough plays to give the Gators a chance Saturday.

“You've got to have some man beaters and you've got to hold up in protection,” he said. “All 11 at a time, you've got to be very sound in your fundamentals and compete.

“They're going to win some battles. Those guys over there are good. They're not going to be shut down the whole game. That's why they're No. 1 in the nation. You've got to find your spots, and like the LSU game, you've got to compete and hit some plays here or there.”

And give yourself a chance.

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