Weis Prepares for Loaded Alabama Defense

Charlie Weis' routine for watching film on the opponent is different than most. Instead of studying the scheme they run or the way they blitz, he first focuses on individual players. That's where he picks out the weakest ones and decides what the Florida offense will feature each week. This week, his search for the weak players on the Alabama defense didn't yield any results.

"It's unique when you come up against a defense that's solid at every position," Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. "That doesn't happen very often. I always look for weak links in personnel and people you can attack. This is an unusual group because they really don't have one.

"They're solid along the front. They're solid at linebacker. They're solid in the secondary. Throw on top of that they're very well coached and not a grab bag organization. You have your work cut out for you, but we'll show up on Saturday. We have confidence in our own ability."

Before watching the film, Weis approached Muschamp for a conversation about Alabama. Muschamp's familiarity with head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart isn't a secret, as they spent time working together at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins.

The conversation and time in the film room helped Weis realize the familiarity he had with the defense. Saban worked under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick when he was the coach of the Cleveland Browns.

The talent on the Alabama defense means the Florida offense has to be careful. They'll still take chances for big plays, but the experience on the defensive side for the Crimson Tide means the Gators have to be careful with the shots they take.

"Sometimes you have to realize that punting isn't necessarily a bad thing," Weis said. "We want to score a touchdown every time we get the ball, but we have to make good decisions to not make that critical mistake and all of a sudden give one to them."

That doesn't mean the offensive will be conservative. If anything, it will be more open in this game than at any point this year.

"You have to throw the kitchen sink at them," Weis said. "They're going to get the kitchen sink. You guys have been writing about holding things back (on offense), well you won't have to worry about that this week. They're going to get plenty."

The focus won't change. It will still be about getting Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey into space with the ball in their hands. Alabama could choose to play different on defense than what Florida has seen this offseason and force Weis' play calling to be creative.

"We have to see how they play the game," Weis said. "You have to have multiple ways of being able to do that. You can't just do the same thing each week. You have to have a plan where if they stop this, you have another way of getting to the same means to an end. You go into the game with a plan and then some tweaks in the plan ready to go depending on how they play it."

Weis also said that Brantley looked healthy during Tuesday's practice and shouldn't have any setbacks to keep him off the field Saturday.

"He was out there slinging it today," Weis said. "It was encouraging. We gave him most of the reps today. I think he's glad that the game is a few days away, but he's progressing nicely."

The Florida offense has been centered on the run game with Demps and Rainey on the ground all season. The coaching staff didn't make that much of a secret about it when they took over in Gainesville. It would be an offense predicated on the run, and the passing aspect would come through play action.

Weis praised the success the offense has had in doing that so far and said it takes "a lot of people to suppress their egos." It has now become the plan of the offense.

"I'd like to think we've developed some sort of an identity of being physical upfront," Weis said. "You don't run the ball that efficiently and you don't protect the quarterback that well without being physical."

The offensive line has been a big reason why they've been able to run the ball. It's still a young unit, but the Gators have only given up two sacks in four games this season. The right side of the offensive line features sophomore guard Jon Halapio and redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green, and they have gelled in their playing time together.

"Chaz is a tackle that's very athletic," Weis said. "He has really good feet and good size. Chaz has gotten better as the year goes on. He's a young pup. Everyone thinks he has been around for five years already, but the kid is relatively inexperienced. Halapio looks like he has been around for five years."

The entire offensive line has become close off the field, and Weis thinks that plays a factor in their success this season. They had dinners as a position group during the offseason, and they have continued to so far this into the season.

"The reason we have a chance every week is because those offensive linemen are very close knit. That's not a façade. When you have cohesiveness on and off the field with your offensive linemen, you have a fighting chance.

"Psychologically, offensive linemen realize the only time they get noticed is when something bad happens. When things are going good, no one ever talks about the offensive line. They understand that's just the way football is. It's when the quarterback is under siege or you can't run the ball very well. They bond together."

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