Pease Raising Excitement of Florida Offense

HOOVER, Ala. – The early reviews are impressive. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease has been someone Will Muschamp has known and was interested in hiring for a long time. His time in Gainesville on the practice field and in the meeting room has shown the players why the head coach was so interested, as Pease starts his first season in less than two months.

"I was very fortunate this year to be able to hire him at Florida," Will Muschamp said. "I think he's a great addition to our staff. Very bright, intelligent guy. I'm really pleased with how that transition has occurred and where we're headed."

Muschamp pointed to his time spent as an assistant coach at Alabama, Auburn and Texas. As an aspiring head coach, he admitted he always had lists of coaches he was interested in adding to his coaching staff one day when he became a head coach. Pease was always one listed.

Instead of making the move last year and adding him to the Florida staff, Muschamp hit was looked to be a jackpot hire while adding former NFL offensive coordinator and Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis to his staff. Instead, it backfired into a sputtering, vanilla offense.

"Things work out for a reason," Muschamp said of not hiring Pease before his first season in Gainesville. "You don't always understand why they do."

Despite that, Pease remained on Muschamp's radar "for an awful long time." When Muschamp was at LSU and the Tigers played at Kentucky 2002 and lost on the play dubbed as the Blue Grass Miracle, Pease was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Wildcats. Muschamp was open with his belief that Kentucky "outplayed us that day and a lot of that was because of (Pease)."

The plays might not look different, but what happens before the snap will.

"The only thing different about Coach Pease's offense is the shifting," Florida running back Mike Gillislee said. "I could be in the slot (receiver) position, but when the quarterback says "shift," I could be in the backfield to run the ball. I can shift in the backfield and then even run a swing pass. It's all about the shifting and trying to confuse the defense."

The pre-snap shifts have been easy to learn for the offensive players. Motion all over the offensive set is decided in a succinct way by Pease that makes it easy for his group to remember. The trouble comes for the opposing defense.

Pease's experience with quarterbacks and wide receivers made him appeal more to Florida after those two positions struggled in 2011. A quarterback battle between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will go on into fall camp, but no one has a lead at this point in the offseason.

The Gators will lean on Gillislee in the backfield, and he expects to thrive in a system he describes as "physical, downhill running."

Gillislee's favorite part about Pease is the clean slate he provides. Under Weis, the first-year offensive coordinator, Gillislee didn't see an open depth chart at most positions.

"I don't want to say that he showed favoritism but just a little bit," Gillislee said. "That's the difference to me in Coach Pease. I like Coach Pease a lot because he treats everybody the same. He doesn't have any favorites. He treats the backup just as a starter. Coach Charlie Weis would treat the starters really good."

The coaching strategy has improved, but the head coach is more concerned with what happens on the scoreboard.

"People ask what will be different. We better score some more points," Muschamp said. "But he brings a lot of formation variation, motion shifts. We will be a more downhill running game because of the backs we have. That's not a shift in philosophy. That's what we wanted to be last year, but we didn't necessarily do that because of our front wasn't as good and the backs were smaller. We were more of a stretch outside running game."

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