Addazio Not Concerned with the Critics

The chorus of boos that poured from the stands Saturday night didn't reach their target. Aimed at offensive coordinator Steve Addazio for what fans perceived as conservative play calling, Addazio didn't hear it.

"I don't really pay much attention to that stuff," Steve Addazio said Tuesday. "You're locked into that game. I've got so much going on with headsets on.

"This is not a sport for the thin-skinned. It's a tough business. You come here for a reason, and that's high expectations. That's what it's all about. You better embrace that. If you don't embrace that, you're at the wrong place."

The play calling has been a focus of criticism, but it could come down to a bigger issue. Addazio is splitting time as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The offensive line was supposed to be the strongest unit on the offense this season, but their play has been average at best.

Addazio insists he isn't being spread too thin.

"I've been doing this a long time," Addazio said. "I've been coaching the offensive line for a long time. I feel great. I don't think Mike Pouncey has ever played better than he is right now. I don't think Marcus Gilbert has every played better than he is right now. We've got a great staff, and this has never been about one guy. We don't operate that way."

The Florida offense is struggling through the past two games. Red zone offense isn't as efficient as it was during the beginning of the season, and big plays are now a thing of the past. Health has hurt the team as Jeff Demps has missed the last two games, but the Gators are still optimistic about it will come around.

"In every game, we're doing some good things," Addazio said. "You'd just like to see those good things done more consistently. That's evident. A lot of factors go into it. We've just got to keep working."

The offensive line struggled to protect an already injured John Brantley against LS. From the first snap on offense, the Tigers sent heavy blitz packages at the Gators. The offensive line struggled to pick them up and Brantley was hit many times.

The perception is that the offensive line isn't playing well, but Addazio doesn't believe it.

"We've got a real high bar here for the front, but they've played pretty solid through the year," Addazio said. "When things don't go right, pick things apart and say 'this, this and this,' but you don't have all the facts of what's really going on."

Andre Debose made the biggest play of his career with a kick return for a touchdown against LSU. Every week, his involvement in the offense has grown.

It started against Kentucky when he caught drag and out routes from the slot. Against Alabama, he got involved by running a wheel route from the running back position. He ran a jet sweep against LSU for his only offensive touch of the game.

The next step could be using him in the running game.

"We're trying to grow that," Addazio said. "He's emerging as a guy that can make a play. We've got to keep growing it because he's a guy that can make plays."

The next freshman to make an impact could come at running back. With Demps injured, Mack Brown could get some snaps against Mississippi State.

"There's always that possibility," Addazio said. "He's repping and working hard in practice. I think he's really improving. That absolutely could happen, and he's working towards it for sure.

"It's just about getting comfortable with everything. He's really come far since training camp. You want to have great confidence in a guy."
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