Getting on same page key for UF O-line


Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy throws the ball away while being tackled by LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco during the second half at Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 3:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.

Not only did LSU physically whip Florida last Saturday in Baton Rouge, the Tigers also may have revealed the blueprint for shutting down Tyler Murphy and the Gator offense.

“Probably,” senior offensive guard Max Garcia said.

The Tigers threw an assortment of blitzes and different looks at the Gators that the offensive front failed to consistently pick up or handle. The linemen seemed confused at times, leaving defenders unblocked to take free shots at the Florida quarterback.

Murphy was sacked four times, forced to operate under heavy pressure for most of the game, and the offense failed to find the end zone in a 17-6 defeat.

It's no secret now that upcoming opponents, starting with No. 14 Missouri on Saturday, are going to bring pressure.

“I would if I was scheming against us,” Garcia said. “Seeing that we had troubles against the blitz, I'd probably do the same thing.”

After the game Saturday, Murphy blamed himself for the sacks, saying he needed to get rid of the ball quicker.

The reality is, the poor protection was a combination of things, and the blame can be shared by many, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday.

Pease said the biggest breakdowns occurred when the Tigers threw odd fronts at the Gators, with linebackers slipping into gaps or lining up outside and rushing off the edge.

“When they've got four defensive linemen, it's pretty simple,” Pease said. “But when they start covering the center and it becomes what we call an odd front, your protection calls have got to change too because the numbers are different.

“So that's what they went to. They went to an odd front and in some cases we're built to handle it and we didn't get it done. It's fixable, and you've just got to get better at it and it's unacceptable to let it happen, but we're not just going to stay like that. We're going to make sure we've got it fixed and cleaned up.”

The Tigers rushed more than five defenders 41.2 percent of the time in Saturday's game.

The offensive front seemed physically overwhelmed at times. On other occasions, defenders came free as the result of miscommunication involving Murphy, center Jon Harrison and the running backs and wide receivers.

“It starts with the center and the quarterback,” Pease said. “They've got to make sure that everybody is on the same page. Because then it goes to the quarterback knowing, 'Hey, who am I responsible for, who is the line responsible for?'

“And then the back is involved in the protection. We've been pretty good up until then. They caught us with it twice in a row (on UF's final drive). It was something that we worked on. I don't really think noise had an issue with it for us not to get it done. You get better at it or you try to adjust your scheme a little bit.”

For the offense to have a chance in upcoming games, the Gators are going to have to protect their quarterback.

One way to do that, Pease said, is to increase the number of players involved in protection.

“More of a six or seven-man protection,” Pease said. “But then you're limiting the number of people you're sending out, which is fine if teams play you in man. It's not so great if they're playing zone because they can get more people over there to cover your receivers.”

Although it was clear the Gators lost both lines of scrimmage Saturday, Garcia and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries said most of the problems in pass protection were mental, not physical.

“Just miscommunication,” said Humphries, who was beaten on the final sack on UF's last possession Saturday. “We just weren't on the same page. Looking at the film the next day, it was simple stuff we could have picked up and communicated and been on the same page.

“It was a collective effort. Some of it was on us, some of it was on our backs. It's just collective effort of the whole offense. We just weren't wired together. If we're wired together, a lot of that stuff gets picked up.”

Garcia said the offensive linemen need to sharpen their focus this week.

“We're just going to try to do our best against the blitz in practice and make sure we're mentally there,” he said. “Physically, we are there. I don't think we have a problem with strength and getting bull-rushed out there. It's just the mental part of the game that we've got to get down, and it really comes down to communication."

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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