Gator football's new-look offense
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.
There will be noticeable differences in Brent Pease's offense in year two, the Florida offensive coordinator said Thursday.
That's welcome news in some regards, of course. Maybe not so welcome in others, perhaps.
First, the positive.
“I think, really, you're probably going to notice more in two ways,” he said. “I think productivity from the wideouts, getting the ball.
“And then it's going to probably be generated from (quarterback) Jeff (Driskel) just being really in rhythm and understanding defenses and where to go with the ball, keeping the ball moving more. Moving the chains, as we say, that we're not so off balance here and there. We're much more consistent in what we do on a drive-to-drive basis.”
Now the potential negative, at least at this early stage.
Last season, the tight end position (Jordan Reed) was the go-to one in the passing game and Reed was one of the Gators' most productive offensive weapons, along with tailback Mike Gillislee.
So far this spring, the tight ends have not been much of a factor.
“We've got to get better,” Pease said. “Not good enough right now.
“They're smart kids. It's just repetitions. In this league, with the ends you go against, and they get good work because they're going against Dominique Easley, and how our defense uses our guys in (Jonathan) Bullard and Dante (Fowler). You've got to be a man at that position. It's a struggle every day.”
Those struggling at the position right now are junior Clay Burton, junior Tevin Westbrook, sophomore Kent Taylor and redshirt freshman Colin Thompson.
The tight end position in Pease's offense is crucial, and set up to have an opportunity to make a lot of plays — as evidenced by Reed's 45 receptions for 559 yards and three touchdowns last season.
His replacement is going to come from a group that really hasn't made any plays yet. Burton, Westbrook and Taylor combined for only two receptions for 17 yards and one touchdown (Taylor's 1-yard TD catch in the Sugar Bowl), while Thompson was recovering from knee surgery and redshirting.
Things apparently haven't changed that much so far this spring.
Pease was asked Thursday if any of the tight ends were standing out.
“It has been nice to have Colin Thompson back. He's getting some reps,” Pease said. “Tevin is starting to do some good things now that he's getting a majority of the reps and being into it. He wasn't with us last spring.”
And that's about it. No mention of Taylor or Burton.
Pease said the opportunity is there for one of the tight ends to be a major contributor in the fall if they start showing some playmaking ability this spring.
“He (the tight end) is in a good matchup situation inside on the linebacker and understanding he's going to stretch the defense at times,” Pease said. “If I'm those guys, I understand that, I see what happened with Jordan. I want to be that guy. They've got to step up and earn that role.”
The Gators are still waiting for that to happen.
It's apparently a different story at tailback, where the Gators are looking for a replacement for Gillislee, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2012.
The Gators have four candidates at the position (Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor and Mark Herndon), and a leader (and playmaker) appears to be emerging.
“I think they've done a really, really good job,” Pease said. “Matt's come on. You can see he understands a lot more. He's a strong, big kid. He's got really good football intelligence.
“I think Mack Brown is more comfortable in the system. You need to know your footwork and go and play football and carry the ball. Mark Herndon's come on. He's a good player.
“Kelvin, he's learning day to day. It's taking a kid that probably should be worrying about prom right now and we're worried about him holding onto the ball or catching a swing pass. But he's doing a good job.”
Overall, the offense is going to look different in 2013. Different tight end. Different tailback. Maybe different results, especially in the passing game and in sustaining drives.
“We had a lot of issues in protection, whether it be the line or whether it be the backs and myself,” Driskel said. “We've put a lot of time into that. We're going to get a lot better at that and clean up some of those sack issues.
“Overall, we're definitely a lot farther along than we were last year. We only have a couple new guys on offense. Last year, everybody was new to the system, so you don't have to teach as much. You can get into more fundamentals and getting better rather than learning the system.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.