Weis Optimistic About Team Mentality

As he walked off the practice field this week, Charlie Weis was confused. The talent and chemistry in practice didn't remind him of a team with a 5-5 record. Regardless of wins and losses, Weis has seen the team stick together and stay focused as they close out the season. The season hasn't gone how the coaches or players wanted, but the team chemistry is a bright spot for Weis.

"You go out to practice, and you couldn't tell a difference between a team that had won almost all of them or a team that's 5-5," Charlie Weis said. "That's kudos to (Will Muschamp)."

It's not just at practice, either. In the team's first meeting since losing last weekend at South Carolina, the Gators were scheduled to meet on Monday morning at 6 a.m. As usual, Weis walked in the room early for the meeting to get his seat and settle in.

He opened the door to the meeting room to find it full of plays 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Weis said. "I was surprised that so many guys with a six o'clock meeting were here so early. Usually, they're ducking for cover. That hasn't been the case with this team. I can't put my finger on it, but it's definitely a positive, not a negative."

While the coaches haven't lost the players despite five losses, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

It started on the offensive line last week. With the Gators running out of the pistol formation, plays were dependant on John Brantley having easily catchable snaps. Jonotthan Harrison struggled with that, so the coaches decided to move him to left guard and slide Dan Wenger inside to center, after he started the first nine games of the year at left guard.

"We moved Dan inside and let him handle them since he'd played center and guard for me at Notre Dame," Weis said. "The operation went smoother, so we moved Harrison to guard and Koehne ended up getting a majority of the time."

Will Muschamp said Monday that Wenger is expected to miss this weekend's game with Furman, but the coaches haven't made a decision on who would start in his place.

"Each week, it's just about who is the healthiest and gives you the best chance to do what we want," Weis said.

The depth on the offensive line has been an issue all season, but one player has been conspicuously absent from playing time. Ian Silberman was named a starter in fall practice, but after losing his job in camp, he has only seen the field this season for the first two games of the season against FAU and UAB. Weis didn't say much about his status.

"I only worry about the guys that are out there repping, and he's not getting a lot of reps right now," Weis said. "If he were playing well enough, he'd be in there."

As the season has gone on, tight end Jordan Reed has made more plays. Part of that has to do with being settled into his new position.

"Jordan's arrow has been pointed up for over a month now," Weis said. "In the beginning of the year, he was transitioning to figure out, ‘what exactly am I?' He was a quarterback, then a tight end. On and off the field, every day with Jordan has been pointing up."

With his increased production, that has Weis coaching him even harder and reaching for more production. Weis' history of tight ends with big production hasn't come true this season because of Reed's slow start, but he was quick to note that Reed "has a very high ceiling that hasn't even come close to being reached yet."

Reed has shown signs in recent weeks, but he isn't there yet.

"It makes it easier now because you can coach them harder," Weis said. "I always coach people hard to start with, but you can even squeeze them more because when they have some success, they're willing to take even harder criticism and that makes them better. The harder you can get on them without going in the tank, the better off they play."

The offensive staff is focused on closing out this year with two wins, but that doesn't mean Weis hasn't thought about what next year's offense will look like. This year's group was built are Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, but with both being seniors and graduating with Brantley, the Gators will have some changes to make next season.

That centers on who will be playing quarterback. The coaches have said all season that they view Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett as similar quarterbacks.

"John is a drop back quarterback who isn't the most athletic guy," Weis said. "Jacoby and Jeff are both pretty athletic. Maybe you move the pocket more with those guys in there next year? There are a lot of things that will change as you get into the spring and next year."

With Demps and Rainey gone, Weis said they will give Trey Burton a chance at winning the running back job that will become open. The goal is to settle Burton in at one position instead of using him at multiple positions like he has during his first two years at Florida.

"There isn't one guy that wants to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none," Weis said. "They want to find a home and be the guy."

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