Key Play Unlocks Gator Offense

When 99 percent of the stories about the Florida/USF game are written there are a lot of plays that will be singled out: Ahmad Black's interceptions, Jeff Demps' long TD run and Justin Trattou's interception among others and rightfully so.

But to me the play that meant the most to this Gator win and to this team going forward did not result in points. But it may have helped this offense find its identity.

After Black's interception late in the first half the Gators had the ball on the USF 29-yard line with exactly one minute to play and trailing 7-0. Florida simply had to have points there. John Brantley dropped back and connected with Deonte Thompson on a deep corner route to the six yard line. A DEEP CORNER ROUTE!

It's the kind of play that is perfect for this group of players and one the Gators ran extremely well in the spring. But it was completely absent from the Florida passing game for almost six quarters. Florida went in for the score to make it 7-7 at intermission. It was the first of four unanswered touchdowns that gave the Gators control of this contest.

That play may have inspired Steve Addazio because early in the third quarter he called a deep crossing route to Thompson that was good for another 22 yards. The defense now softened up, Florida goes unbalanced line two plays later and Demps breaks loose for 68 yards and the Gators had the lead.

Florida's next possession saw the USF linebackers taking deeper drops, opening up a 15-yard underneath drag route for freshman Robert Clark. Those routes have not been open because Florida was not stretching the defense. Those guys backed up another yard and Florida overpowered them on three straight running plays for a 21-7 lead and the game was in hand.

Florida may have learned a lot of about its offense Saturday and in the long run that's a big deal. The Gators know they can and must stretch defenses not only by throwing long but throwing mid range passes that put more pressure on underneath coverage. They know that they can power people on the ground once they get the numbers in the box on their side. And they know that no one catches Jeff Demps in the open field, though they should have known that already.

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