Blame to Go Around for Bad Blocking

Steve Addazio and the Florida offensive line have taken a lot of heat for some poor run and pass blocking this season. Scoring is way down and there is a distinct drop off in overall production of the offense. Florida's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach grades his line and the offense every day and says there is plenty of blame to go around for the poor blocking and protection.

There are a lot of perceptions about Florida's line play and one of them is that they are set on one style of blocking. The zone scheme is popular with Florida's offensive line and the others in the play that block in this technique, because it allows you to use physicality and athleticism which Florida is known for on the line.

According to Steve Addazio, zone blocking has just been one of three schemes they have used since he arrived at Florida in 2005 and they will continue to use all three moving forward. He said despite perception, there is no drop off when either junior starting quarterback John Brantley or freshman quarterback Trey Burton are in the game.

"We block zone schemes, gap schemes, man schemes, those are the same whether you are in a two back or one back (set)," Addazio told the media on Wednesday. "There are only so many schemes in football and we have them all and (the linemen) execute fine. Those are the same schemes in every offense it doesn't matter what you talk about. It doesn't matter if Johnny is in there or Trey is in there, they are all used."

Despite the bad play by the offense on the field, Addazio grades his line every week as he has done for six years, and says they are not making mistakes or missed assignments (MA's) more than they ever have in the past.

"There aren't more mistakes than there has ever been," he said. "You have X amount of MA's and there aren't more now. All the sacks don't (necessarily) revolve around the offensive line. There are a lot of components that go into sacks. The offensive line can create a sack. There are five man protections, six man protections with a back involved, and a seven man protection with two backs involved. We have actually been very good in (allowing) sacks. (Sack numbers) were actually down going into the last game."

Of course his boys do make mistakes and Addazio knows that. He sees the errors they are making and knows that teams have also schemed well at times to make their own advantages.

"I think you can always improve," he said. "We had a couple of pick stunts on the offensive line. I think we just have to improve our overall protection as a group."

Addazio has been happy with Brantley's reads as far as protection go. The mistakes up front come from a lack of communication and understanding by linemen and backs alike that are part of the blocking and protection schemes, especially on early downs in a series.

"I think John has done a great job," he said of his starting quarterback. "We just have to do a better job of picking those up and making sure everyone is on the same page on (them)...He does a good job of flipping protection and making sure the protection matches the numbers."

Addazio also understands that teams are calling plays against him and sometimes they make nice adjustments to the protections he has called. "Sometimes on third down we get schemed up, we will see a different blitz that we haven't seen. Everyone does kind of a weekly game plan blitz." The failure to get positive yards on first and second down have often times put this offense in a hole so many times in drives that they can't get out of them. Staying on track within a series is really important and Florida's offense has to do a much better job of doing that.

"We have to be on schedule on first and second down," he said. "We are actually pretty good on the downs we don't want to be in (3rd and long), but we have to be better on first and second down. In an ideal setting we are looking to get four or more yards on first down. We are getting behind on first and second down and we have to be more efficient on (those downs)."

Throwing the ball down field is something they understand they must have to find some success in. The problem is again, when you don't have success, the offense is in that same hole and heading to long 3rd down conversion tries. Some close calls have not really netted much of any success so far this season.

"We've thrown the ball down field," he said. "We took a couple of shots last week. I know we threw some against Alabama. We have to take them, but when you do and don't connect on them, you are behind on down and distance. We took those shots last week and didn't (connect)."

When asked if injuries to his running backs have made it difficult on those early downs, Addazio agreed that it has been a factor both in game and in preparation during the week.

"The run game has hurt on first and second down, it is something we have been very good at (in the past)," he said. "(The injuries) becomes a factor, yes. The injuries at running back are certainly a factor on first and second down. Not having them practice during the week is certainly a factor.

The slow starts in series lead to getting the offense mired in the hardest play in football to convert, a 3rd and long or 4th down. The percentage of success on those downs declines dramatically for every team because the offense is forced into fewer options for the defense to defend.

"When you are getting a lot of pressure, you are throwing the ball in third and long scenarios. There is no threat of run. That's why the conversion percentages on third and long are (usually) not very good."

However, as postulated on Fightin' Gators, the Gators have had some success on third and long, much more than most teams do and Brantley has been a real reason for that.

"Those are the stats that are showing," he said of a 40+% success rate on third and long when Brantley is able to throw the ball. "Johnny has done a good job throwing the ball there. We've made some plays there. I think we have done a good job in those situations, but clearly we have to do a better job on first and second down."

Urban Meyer has mentioned some possible changes moving forward and that the staff has done some major reflecting on what has gone on all season up to this point. Addazio says they do a self-scout of sorts every week, but they have had more time to do a full scale evaluation with this off week upon them.

"It's always intense," Addazio said of the weekly evaluations. "We come in on Sunday we watch tape, grade the tape, sit down as a staff, and evaluate what we see on the tape. In the bye week we sit back and say to this point, this is what we've done, who we are, here is our personnel. We sit back and have a chance to take a deeper look at everything.

"You evaluate where you are personnel wise, evaluate injuries. You try to make decisions to put your players in the best positions they can be to help you."


Most are speculating that receiver Chris Rainey will be back for the Georgia game. Rainey was expected to be a huge spark plug for the offense this year and his performance over the spring warranted that.

Early season lack of success with Rainey in the offense has soured the level of enthusiasm for some and his return to the field after an off-the-field incident isn't stirring up too much buzz.

Addazio isn't saying whether Rainey will be back for the next game, but knows that he is trying to do everything he can to get back on the field.

"I know he's anxious to get on the field and he's working hard," Addazio said. "He has a set of things to get done in order for all of that to happen. It's kind of a day by day deal and every day he is trying to take care of his business. He needs to prepare real hard on the practice field in order to get himself back on the field." There is little doubt in Addazio's mind that the junior slot receiver can help his offense with some big play ability.

"Chris is a very talented guy, he has certainly proved that," Addazio said. "We want as many talented players as we can (get)."


There has also been talk about Brantley lining up at receiver during plays and being uncovered by the defense. It happens a lot in every game and it appears he is wide open. There is a risk throwing him the ball as he is not really a receiver. Addazio wouldn't rule it out, but says the offense has been pretty efficient in that set, even without throwing Brantley the ball.

"It's always a possibility," Addazio said of calling a pass for Brantley to catch. "The execution level that we have had with Trey operating in the ‘Wildcat' offense has been phenomenal. We will keep looking at that and keep it going. It has been very good for us down and distance wise and keeping us on schedule."
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