After six seasons under Urban Meyer, the entire Florida roster was recruited to play under what Meyer liked to do. On offense, that was the spread option. He recruited multiple players at running back and wide receiver that might not have fit into the tradition, pro-style offenses, but they were perfect for what Meyer wanted to do—get the ball into the hands of his playmakers and let them do the rest of the work.
The 2011 offense, under the direction of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, will see a different look. With experience and proven players returning at running back in Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, that looks like the strength of the group as they start fall camp on Saturday.
The offense for the Gators this fall might not look a lot different than what Weis did with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Weis took over a Chiefs offense that sputtered in 2009, mostly because of its quarterback. Kansas City traded for Matt Cassel after he exploded onto the scene in 2008 when the New England Patriots after Tom Brady missed most of the season because of an injury.
Cassel came into the 2009 season with plenty of hype. He didn't meet it, throwing for 2,924 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Chiefs sputtered to a 4-12 record on the season.
Weis was hired as the Chiefs offensive coordinator before the 2010 season and took over an offense with a quarterback that failed to live up to expectations the previous season.
In his first season under Weis, Cassel rebounded to throw for 3,116 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, those numbers didn't come by Weis spreading the offense out with five wide receivers on every down and throwing it all over the field.
They came from settling Cassel in with the run game. The Chiefs rode a two-back system, featuring Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, to take the heat off Cassel. When defenses became fixated on stopping the run game, and they didn't stop it much as the Chiefs had the top rushing offense in the NFL, that's when Weis would mix in a passing play and Cassel would have an easy throw to complete.
It makes a lot of sense to expect the same thing from the Gators this season. Brantley's confidence was beat down last season. With Demps and Rainey returning this season, it would be surprising if Weis didn't play to their strengths. His usage of Charles with the Chiefs last season shows he knows how to use the smaller backs and get them in space.
With glowing reports about Rainey coming out of offseason workouts, he could be the focal point of the offense while Demps gets back into football shape early in the season. Once both are equally comfortable with the offense, Weis can get them involved like he did with Charles and Jones last season in Kansas City.
The most effective thing that focusing on the run game will do is open up some short throws for Brantley. His confidence will grow as he completes these passes, opening up the deep ball when Weis sees the opening.
In Kansas City, Weis had an unproven tight end named Tony Moeaki that no one heard of until he was second on the team with 556 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season. Jordan Reed could be the player who emerges as that safety valve for Brantley this season.
The only glance at the Florida offense the media or public has had came in the spring game. The coaches obviously played vanilla on both sides of the ball, but don't be surprised if Weis takes to the Florida offense this season with the same approach he used in Kansas City last year.