Weis Finds Room for Improvement

Florida is averaging 37.7 points per game this season, but offensive coordinator Charlie Weis isn't happy. The Gators have come out to roaring starts on offense in each of the three games this season, but Weis still sees plenty of room for improvement. It's about fine-tuning some of the lesser noticed parts of the offense. Florida has a chance to do that this weekend on the road at Kentucky.

"Actually, I'm pretty disappointed," Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. "Am I content that we've been able to move the ball consistently? Yes. Anyone who is meticulous with their preparation at this point in the season finds a lot of faults in things that we've done. I think we can get a lot better on offense than where we are right now."

There aren't fundamental issues with the offense at this point in the season. The team has been learning Weis' offense since the beginning of spring, and there haven't been many hiccups early in the season.

The first two games weren't against SEC competition, but even against Tennessee on Saturday, the offense gained 347 yards.

Yet Weis was very specific in his list of issues currently plaguing the Florida offense.

"Third down we're at 31%," Weis said. "I had to throw a play-action pass on third down to get it in, and then we had to go for it on fourth down to get it in. I'm not too fired up about that. Then I said 31% on third down. That makes me miserable. We fumbled it one time, so turnovers, I'm not very happy about that. We got the ball back with four and a half minutes to go and a chance to run it out, and we didn't do that. Not very happy about that.

"Then we get the ball at the end of the game and we have to be smarter situational that we don't run out of bounds. Not very happy about that. Seven penalties? Sign me up for not being happy about that, too. Three line of scrimmage penalties at home? That doesn't cut any water. Trust me, there are plenty of things for me to be miserable about."

CHECKING DOWN TO THE BACKS: The three catches by Florida receivers against Tennessee have drawn plenty of attention this week. Florida has leaned on Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to catch the ball out of the backfield early in the year, but Weis and the players have maintained that it's a product of how defenses are playing.

If the opposing defenses change their style and take away the short passes to the flats, Weis thinks his group would be able to adjust.

"I think that wouldn't be a problem," Weis said. "Years ago I learned from (Bill) Parcells that you are who you are. Everyone wants you to do something that's not within the personality of your team, and I think we've established the personality of this team. Being able to go past them isn't the issue. Is that how (the defense) wants to play the game? There will be games that come up that way, but for now we take it one game at a time."

In his time with the New York Giants, Weis learned from veteran quarterback Phil Sims that checking down isn't always the worst. Young quarterbacks sometimes overthrow into double coverage, but Weis is encouraged when the quarterbacks are capable of hitting the backs.

"When I was a relatively young coach, I had a quarterback with the New York Giants who told me that the difference in throwing 3,000 yards and 4,000 yards in the NFL were check downs and flare control," Weis said. "That always stuck with me."

Part of it is also taught by Weis. He encourages his quarterbacks to have a clock in their head for when the get the ball out of their hands. Weis demonstrated the clock, as he counted to four, and then expects the ball to be out of the quarterback's hands.

If that means a throw to a shorter receiver, then so be it.

"I always try to get these quarterbacks to have a clock in their head," Weis said. "Read it downfield, but when that clock ticks, dump the ball off. There are a lot of times a receiver will come up just as you dump it off and everyone will say they were wide open. But that's okay with me. That's one of the ways you avoid having a whole bunch of sacks."

Brantley has managed the Florida offense this season, and Weis has been encouraged by the reads he has made.

"I think John has done a nice job," Weis said. "He deserves a lot of credit for going from where he was at the end of last year to where he is now. Anytime a season doesn't go as planned, there are certainly guys, coaches or players, that are pegged as sacrificial lambs. He was one of them.

"Everything's the quarterback's fault. The quarterback will always get too much blame and too much credit. He has handled himself and is clearly the leader of the offense. You don't have to worry about who the players are turning to. Everyone turns to him, and that's half the battle."

WORKING WITH FAMILY: Weis made clear when taking the job at Florida that he wanted his son to work on the staff in a limited capacity. His son is currently a student at Florida, but he's also getting experience of a college coach.

"I get a few first bumps a day," Weis said with a grin. "He doesn't want to give me the time of day. It's like that commercial where they say it's priceless. It has kind of been that way. Think about it- how many dads get to walk into work every day and share an office with your kid? It doesn't get any better than that."

On the sideline during games, Weis' son wears a headset to listen to the communication between the coaching staff. He isn't allowed to use a mouthpiece to join in on the conversation, but it's beneficial for him to hear what is happening while he charts different parts of the game.

"I just explained to him not to explain to your mother the words you here sometimes," Weis quipped. "He'll move a long faster because he's fast tracked by hearing the evolution of everything."

SCRIPTING PLAYS: The fast starts for the Florida offense aren't happening by coincidence. After struggling to starts games last season, the Florida offense has been on fire from the opening kick this season.

Weis thinks that's in large part because of the scripted plays. There isn't a mystery for the players as they take the field to start the game.

"When players go into the game knowing what you're going to call, it's easier when they first walk out there and know what's coming," Weis said. "When I tell them it's coming, that's what's coming. I don't say it's coming and then all of a sudden it's not. Early in the game, the players always have a good idea for what you're going to call.

"There's a big difference in a pro halftime and a college halftime. There's a lot more time. It gives you time to talk to the players, collect your thoughts and have a good idea how you're going to start the half."


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