Picking up the pace: Gators to work on offense’s tempo

University of Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks looks to hand off the ball during the Gators Homecoming game against LSU. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Yet another offensive shortcoming became obvious in Florida’s loss to LSU this past Saturday.

The Gators have a tempo problem.

When they need to play fast, they tend to slow down.

That was never more evident than on Florida’s final offensive possession of the game, where the Gators stood around and wasted precious time before failing to convert a fourth-and-three that effectively ended the game with 1:39 to play.

In their two-minute offense, the Gators seemed to have no sense of urgency, or time. They ran just six plays for a mere 21 yards — and it took them an almost inconceivable 2:22 to do it.

There were several factors involved, but two main ones. Quarterback Feleipe Franks and the players seemed in no hurry to get lined up. Once the Gators were at the line, Franks was kept waiting for the play to be signaled in from the sideline, which originally came from offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier in the press box.

“I think part of it is getting the signal and getting it called and go,” UF coach Jim McElwain said. “That obviously was evident in that last four minutes, especially when we were down there backed up.

“It’s on me. It’s on me for ultimately not having, from the communication piece, making sure that it’s not too big, right? And yet big enough to give you an advantage. I’ve got to continue to work on that.”

The slow pace of play was costly at the end, but it was also prevalent at times throughout the game. The Gators seemed in no hurry to get to the line and run the offense. As a result, the offense had only 54 plays in the 17-16 loss and the Gators are now 124th in the nation in plays run per game with 60.8.

“We’re one of the last teams nationally in running offensive plays, and I think we need to speed up the tempo on offense,” junior offensive guard Tyler Jordan said. “Some series you’ll see it, we get up to the ball and we’re rolling, we move the ball efficiently. And there’s other series where we’re slow getting to the ball, and then the series doesn’t turn out as well as we want it to.

“The first thing we have to do is push the pace. After the play is over, we have to run to the ball. I think that was one thing that was somewhat lacking at the end of the game. Obviously, (tackle) Martez (Ivey) was over there yelling at us to get to the ball, get to the ball. We were getting there, it was just a little slower.”

Florida’s failure on third down — both on offense and defense — also contributed to the low number of plays Saturday, McElwain said.

LSU converted six of 14 third downs, which allowed the Tigers to control the clock and finish with an almost eight-minute advantage in time of possession. Florida’s offense converted only two of nine third downs, which contributed to the Gators having five drives of four plays or less.

“Our numbers had a lot to do with the third-down piece, both not winning on offense and not getting the ball back on defense,” McElwain said. “They did a good job of controlling it. You see how they huddled and really were snapping late in the shot clock, which shut down some of those opportunities. I think the key is staying on the field on third downs.”

Florida’s offensive tempo wasn’t always slow against the Tigers. The pace of play was much quicker on the two touchdown drives in the third quarter, and the offense seemed to fall into a nice rhythm.

“The tempo and fluidity in which it goes, you could see at times it was good. And yet at times it wasn’t,” McElwain said. “There were questions instead of just flowing right into it. We’ve got to continue to work on that.”

The offense will work on the pace of play in practice this week. Tempo is something the Gators can control. There are other factors involved in UF’s overall offensive lack of production that cannot be controlled — inexperience at quarterback, injuries and player suspensions.

Up next

Who: Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) vs. Florida (3-2, 3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

“They’re not excuses,” McElwain said. “The expectation, I would say at this point, is to play at a faster pace. Not every play is going to be perfect, but we need to be perfect on those got-to-have-it downs. That leads back to the third-down piece, especially against good teams.

“Those are things that I expect to get better, and yet we need to continue to grow with those guys and we need to have a plan to put them in position to (be successful).

“Some of the one-on-ones we get beat on up front, we have to have better help with chips and those things to have an opportunity to push the ball downfield. We just need to continue to build on those and get better out of it.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


  1. Well gee what a concept to get better on third downs. It is not just the tempo. It is the coaching. If it takes you forever to call in a bad play from the sideline, of course you are going to affect the tempo. Perhaps they need to let Franks audible some at the line and react to what the defense is giving him. It can’t be any worse than the calls. This team looks like they practice one day a week. I too am yawning but more at the typical “we need to get that fixed” coach speak. In a typical work place, you don’t get things “fixed”. You avoid making the same mistake twice or you are shown the door. It is so painful to watch coaches learn basic elements of football on the job.

  2. “And yet…” we have been “working on” this stuff for going-on three years now, and are no closer to getting better than we were to begin with. I have learned that “and yet” is code for “we have no clue”. Our head coach needs to “work on” communicating his plays to the players? Really? Shouldn’t he have this “piece” “kind of” figured out by now?

  3. Well, Texas A&M can score & has a good OL. We can’t do much offensively. May be a long game Saturday night. I thought up tempo was something you practiced & kind of “surprised” the opposition with instead of talking about it all week. Hmm, I think A&M just might expect it. Go Gators!

  4. I was hoping coach would be the man but it kills me to say it, this team is awful! What games do you see us winning? I see talent but un-coached talent. I don’t see an offensive game plan or philosophy that makes any sense. What is going on? I’m bracing myself for a rough year.

  5. Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic is what this is…. the frantic machinations of a head coach in over his head trying to hide his poor staff decisions and lack of ability to competently and successfully guide a major Division I football program.

    Moving Nuss up to the pressbox was an act of desperation, of putting lipstick on a pig. Now working on the offense’s “tempo” is akin to adding the eyeliner too, but a pig is still a pig, no matter how much makeup you put on it.

    Hey, I know, how about some new Nike uniforms?

    Mac hung his hat on a failed OC and now the hat rack has toppled over.

    Its time to clean house. The McElwain experiment has failed. At seasons end, regardless of how much it “hurts” (money buy-outs), UF just needs to yank the band-aid as fast as possible.

    Otherwise, we’ll see this same mediocre product next season too.

  6. Every team works on 5 and 2 minute situations from spring ball through fall camp. How is it that Mac and Nuss don’t know what plays they want to call in this situation? The answer plain and simply is coaching.

    Once again we are at the very bottom in plays run per game. While every successful Power 5 team has been running uptempo offenses for half a decade or more we are still moving at a snail’s pace.

    Think about this, Florida has been mired in mediocrity since Meyer’s last season in 2010. In 2010 USC was hit with crippling sanctions just short of the death penalty. In 2012 Penn State was hit with sanctions equally as severe although some were later vacated. Regardless, an immense amount of damage was done to both programs. Yet both Penn State and USC had very successful campaigns in 2016. Penn State is currently ranked #3 and undefeated. USC has sustained a tremendous amount of injuries but is still a one loss squad ranked #13 in the country.

    Something has gone very wrong with the UF football program and it can be traced directly back to J. Foley and his unwillingness to upgrade facilities and pursue a top flight coach. In my opinion, he feared being rejected so he offered two coaches he knew would never say no.

  7. Hey, going up tempo that would be cool wouldn’t it? I love the crowd that roots for us shucks thats really cool. Hey you win some you lose some this is the SEC. Now this is my third year and most of the offense are veterans, so this week I think we’ll work on tempo. Gosh, we play hard don’t we fellows? Yeah, I hear the noise but hey didn’t we win back to back east titles? Thats pretty cool isn’t it?( I need a throw up icon.)

  8. Where have I heard all this before…like listening to a broken record…nothing has been fixed in 3+ years. I surely don’t expect anything to change this week…things are gonna get very ugly Saturday night. But that’s ok Mac, you will have two weeks to fix it for the UGA game…LOL

  9. Mac is more like Muschamp then Meyer in so many ways. The thing is we can understand Muschamp not knowing how to run an offense, but Mac was brought in to fix the offense. Hey Robby, Nuss is Mac’s guy, he is running an offense that Mac evidently wants. We have seen zero changes and this is year 3. I know Nuss is the problem but it appears Mac is tied to his side. Thanks to this administration, Mac will eventually get a hefty buyout leaving UF once again eating dirt.

  10. I just see the same plays game after game and they don’t work. I don’t understand why we don’t see basic concepts on offense. Deep post and skinny posts against the blitz. Screens, pick plays, TE delays. It just comes down to quality coaching and we don’t have the basics down at this point. After the bad hold by Townsend on the pat I told my wife I would have them practice some snaps and holds, nah coach don’t think that way I guess. This staff does not have what it takes and I honestly wish they did. Time to find a young coach that is proven on offense. I have also heard statements about this offense is complicated to grasp for players, all opposing defense’s do is bring nine in the box and blitz and they fold, sad. A GATOR always.

  11. Not to be a knee jerk defender of the coach, but I don’t think you can take much out of this year. Have you looked at what is left of the roster? Where are the points supposed to come from? The three best offensive players are off the field. The remaining receivers are not getting open. The defense, which was already thin and young, has no depth whatsoever.

    If you want to pin the 9 suspensions (not all starters but almost all essential depth) on Coach Mac’s discipline, fine, but he is absolutely cursed when it comes to getting any consistency in his offensive line-up.

    I know injuries are no excuse but seriously, do you expect these remaining players to succeed?

  12. Reading all the comments, it looks like it’s painfully obvious to everyone that the MacNuss era of ridiculous ineptitude needs to come to a screeching halt. This garbage just isn’t football. The dufus duo does not have the ability to teach this game, cannot get it done, not now, not ever. How did it come to this for the Mighty Gators? Oh forget it we’re already down in the pit – let’s start the climb out. Cut these overpaid impostors loose and get us some real coaches, and quick, so the 2018 recruiting class at least has a chance to be pretty respectable. Fire MacNuss and put Randy as interim HC as we stumble towards a bowl-less postseason.

  13. Do any of you guys watch all the other games on TV Saturdays and just marvel at how well everybody else plays? Freshman QB’s, lower tier conference teams, new head coaches, etc.? It just seems like everybody else, and I mean everybody plays head and shoulders above what we see here. Gosh…I’m running out of things to say in my frustration. Oh well…it’s back to the “wait till next year” days again. UGH!

    • I usually watch a few other games, and the difference is shocking. Even, as you say, when i am watching team with true freshman quarter backs from programs with less talent, I just see basic, competent execution and play calling producing first downs and touchdowns.

      With UF, it’s like watching a really boring episode of The Keystone Cops with all the bungling ineptitude, and the cuts to the coaches with these blank, bewildered looks on their faces after yet another three and out are hilariously funny at this point, because they NEVER LEARN ANYTHING and just keep coming back week after week with the same terrible ineptitude.

      It’s gotten to the point where I just sit laughing at all the idiocy– watching the players standing around during the hurry up waiting for the dithering coach to call a play? And then after all that delay it’s just another wide receiver screen, yet it took Nuss 30 seconds to decide to call the same exact play he always calls in that situation to the point the dbs are pointing out to our players where they are supposed to line up? How is that even possible? Well, it’s real and it’s terrible, and it won’t change because these coaches do not understand that they are the problem.

  14. Miami is not a so called “up tempo offense” throughout the game, but if you watched the end of Saturday’s game in Tally, they ran 12 plays in the last 70 or so seconds of the game to go 75 yards against FSU to score the winning TD on the last play. And this with a 1st year starter at QB. UF had more time to merely get in FG range and couldn’t come close on half as many plays. Nuff said!