Up-Tempo Offense a Flash from the Past

With the offense needing a spark, the Florida coaches went back to something they toyed with last season. The up-tempo offense was a part of the plan early in the 2009 season before it was scrapped after it didn't have the full attention of the staff. This year, the coaches used the bye week to immerse themselves in it.

"We witnessed it preparing for Oklahoma and how stressful it was for our defense," Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "The good news is we had a month to prepare for that. But how do you do that in a week? That would've been an issue. That's why we tinkered with it a year ago."

The Florida offense desperately needed a spark. Whether in personnel or play calling, the offense lacked playmaking ability. Instead of using the up-tempo offense in spurts like they tried last season, they decided to use their depth to their advantage.

"It wasn't like out of right field. We had done it before in small segments (last year)," Addazio said. "We just decided this was a great opportunity for us to take advantage of some strengths we have, which is great conditioning and take advantage of creating a spark."

Conditioning became the point of emphasis during the bye week. If the up-tempo offense would run to its fullest potential, the players needed to be in better shape than the opposing defense.

Strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti pushed his team after practice during extra drills to improve their durability.

"They did a great job of it because that is a big component of it," Addazio said. "We feel like our guys are in such great shape here through Mickey that we could get that done in a short period of time, and we did. You just have to keep getting it cleaner and faster."

Addazio and head coach Urban Meyer preached for weeks that injuries depleted the depth of playmakers Florida could use. Jeff Demps returned from injury against Georgia, and Chris Rainey rejoined the team.

The two created a dynamic duo from the backfield, giving the Gators something they lacked for weeks.

"The ability to have Demps and Rainey back there and create a lot of speed gives us the opportunity for home run balls," Addazio said. "If you're running some options, they can be home run strikes, not necessarily four or five yards strikes. It's what we've been with a lot of criss-crossing option."

The offense reintroduced the inside shovel play that had success last season. They tried to use it early in the season, but it didn't work with John Brantley at quarterback. During the Georgia game, it was reintroduced with Trey Burton at quarterback.

The coaches found that adding speed at quarterback made the defense break down faster.

"That separates the defense faster and makes it cleaner," Addazio said. "Earlier in the year, we tried to run it a couple times but couldn't separate it as quickly. It's such a great weapon. It's a throw with a lot of options. It was a big weapon for us last year, and we wanted to get it back."

Brantley and Burton also alternated at quarterback before the snap. Addazio said the key to it being effective is for the ball to be snapped soon after the second quarterback becomes set.

"The defense has to make a decision on how they're defending you," Addazio said. "If they're defending a running set, they crowd more in the box and you have cleaner coverages. You can't do it all."
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