Florida Offense Building Its Arsenal

The season got off to a shaky start for the Florida offense, but it appears there is sunlight on the horizon for a group that struggled through the first three games. A one game resurgence does not a season make, but offensive coordinator Steve Addazio believes his group is headed in the right direction. The offense is starting to get an identity and the game is starting to be fun for his guys.

Not many thought it would be easy replacing the likes of Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Brandon James, Aaron Hernandez, and Maurkice Pouncey, all of whom are working their skills in the National Football League. Still, the road has been a bit bumpier than most thought.

A mixture of experienced veterans with a great deal of inexperienced veterans and youth are progressing through a season where there seems to be some notable improvement after each game.

An explosive offensive game against Kentucky had the Gator Nation feeling a little bit better about the offense and the players are starting to find a home at their positions allowing for a more cohesive group.

"We are a work in progress and had some shuffling going on," Steve Addazio told the media Tuesday. "There are some things we are doing better. The consistency wasn't there and the execution level wasn't there. I thought we saw signs of that starting to even out a little bit (on Saturday). There is more execution and more cohesiveness with people doing the same job description with more reps."

The Gators were able to introduce a little more of the spread option attack that head coach Urban Meyer has made famous since his arrival on campus at Florida. True freshman Trey Burton was used sparingly as an option quarterback through the first three games, but made a huge splash against Kentucky with a six touchdown performance.

The offensive look with Burton in as well as junior starting quarterback playing his role as a drop back quarterback, is helping form the identity of this offense.

"I think we are headed in that direction," Addazio said of forming the offense's identity. "I think you see a quarterback that can throw the ball really well. I think you see some diverse tailbacks and a real offensive line coming on and like we anticipated we would have settling in. I think you see receivers stepping up and making plays."

The dual quarterback system is something the Gators used a lot of in 2006 with Chris Leak being the starter and drop back quarterback and freshman Tim Tebow adding his sizzle as an option signal caller. The offense wasn't the most high powered of the Meyer era, but the staff loved the diversity of the group and the way it made defense's have to really prepare for a multi-functioning offense.

"I think you saw a component back in our offense both with John and Trey," Addazio said of the Kentucky game. "I think we are creating balance in how we are going to attack the defense. and many more things for them to worry about. Now they have to play assignment football and account for empty (backfield). We are starting to build so we have our arsenal, and so we are starting to grow a little bit. Still, we want to stay fundamentally sound so you can execute, especially when you go on the road. That is always a concern."

The success of the offense was also a relief to the team. Addazio has taken a great deal of heat, but he is the first one to tell you he makes money to take that heat. He was just happy to see his players in a good frame of mind after the game, knowing that they played very well and looked good doing it.

"What was great about last week was I really enjoyed watching our kids feel the reward of their hard work," Addazio said. "That's all that matters to me. This is a tough program and they work really hard and to go out there and see some fruit from their work...I think it is good for everybody and good for them. That really made me feel good that I saw the smiles on their faces.

"They knew it and we knew there were positives and a lot of good things going on, but it wasn't clicking. So, it was a validation of their work."

Addazio said he really hasn't worried one bit about the perception of the way the offense has looked. It is his job to move on and get the guys ready for the next hurdle or game.

"One hour after that game I had my mind going on this game," he said of this week's monumental matchup with No. 1 Alabama. "It's not about me. I really feel strong about going into the locker room and look in their eyes and feel like they feel good. We win so there is the feeling of success, but what is success? It's winning and for them it's the ability to execute. I thought that was tremendous and that really made me feel good.

"It's our job to go behind the scenes and watch the film and see all the positives. At the end of the day, the ability to get first downs and score touchdowns and feel good about it, and stick your chest out about it. That's good for everybody."

Moving on is also something that has rubbed off on this relatively young football squad. It is a trait that Addazio says has separated this group from the past.

"What I like about this team is that they realize that (game) was great, but they know this is a new day and a new week and that doesn't even matter any more," he said. "Our focus is today. Let's go have a great Tuesday practice. Let's go really hard today and work the game plan today. At the end of today, let's say 'that was a hell of a practice'. That's our goal and I think with a young team you have to keep it just like that.

"Obviously, we are on the road and in a hostile environment. We can't lose sight of having a great week of practice, working on our fundamentals, and playing real fast and real hard. Those are the things to keep locked into as we get ready to play this game."


Addazio talked about senior receiver Carl Moore. Moore has been the most dependable receiver on the team this year and has bailed the Gators out on third down numerous times. He is currently on a streak of six consecutive third down conversion passes going back two games.

Moore had a great game against Kentucky catching four passes for 72 yards on the day. His long of 24 signified an adjustment in his game that Addazio is well aware of.

"You saw in Tennessee he emerged and made a couple of plays," Addazio said of Moore. "What you saw last week is that he went up and got those catches but then he knifed the defense and got vertical up field. I thought that was significant and he and Deonte Thompson both did that."


Addazio told the media Monday that Burton will be worked in as a bigger part of the offense and using the entire field instead of mostly near the goal line and in short yardage situations.

"We are going to gradually increase that and grow with that," Addazio said of Burton's role as a quarterback in the middle of the field. "We've been working with that for quite some time. That will continue to grow and grow in all forms.

"He's going to play quarterback and play all those positions. He has his hands on the ball and continues to grow. That's what we envisioned and what we're finally starting to get. It's all (a gradual process). You want to make sure you put him and us to be in the best situation to have success with that."

One of Burton's highlights on Saturday was a 42 yard pass play to Omarius Hines signaling that Burton can be a threat to throw the ball too.

"Trey can really throw it," Addazio said. "He is all the above. That is the all important balance so it's not just 'here comes Trey Burton, they are going to run the ball'. That's not the case at all."


Junior running back Jeff Demps left the game Saturday with a foot sprain. Addazio wasn't sure on the particulars of Demps injury, but he expects his star speedster to play on Saturday.

"I haven't seen him today and honestly I can't answer that question," Addazio said when asked about the boot Demps was seen wearing. "He's a great player, but Mike Gillislee and Emmanuel Moody would have to ramp it up. You saw that on the field, we're going to roll. But, Jeff will be ready to roll."

Addazio also had to deal with health issues of his offensive line during the Kentucky game. At some point in the game all five starters had an ankle, leg, or foot injury. Addazio says his guys will be ready to go for the big game Saturday.

"Those guys all got banged up in the game, but they will be ready to roll," he said.


While there may be no love loss for the Alabama team and staff, there is a lot of respect for what they have accomplished. Nick Saban has his squad on point yet again as the nation's No. 1 ranked team.

"He's a heck of a football coach," Addazio said of Saban. "They're really fundamentally sound and have great personnel. We've had the opportunity to play each other on two different occasions so there is some familiarity. there. We anticipate seeing a very talented and coordinated schemed defense with some multiplicity."

Saban has also been known to send the house...a guy that loves to blitz and does it a great deal. Addazio is well aware of it and understands some things they will have to do to scheme against it.

"They can be," Addazio said when asked if Alabama is a heavy blitz team. "I think it depends on what they are facing. How do they see us right now? I don't know that and that would effect that and how much pressure we will see. That's what is good about option football too, you have to align all that up...so we'll see how that goes."

Addazio is also impressed with the Crimson Tide's personnel. They are No. 1 for a reason.

"They have the big lineman Dareus," Addazio said. "He's a really good football player. Hightower, the linebacker, is a really talented guy. I think they are outstanding in the back end....just an outstanding defense. They are really good from front to back."
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