Pease Sees Talent at Wide Receiver

The Florida passing game struggled for many reasons in 2011. Health concerns slowed the production at quarterback when John Brantley went down, and two freshmen quarterbacks took over behind a porous offensive line that had issues in pass protection all year. After all of that, the wide receivers struggled to get open. Coordinator Brent Pease thinks it can be fixed, starting with the receivers.

"I think there is game-changing talent," Brent Pease said of the wide receiver position. "We have speed and guys that can stretch the field. There are some that are getting more confident that can do that naturally. Andre (Debose) is one of those guys that have shown up. Saying that, they've still got to practice that way. As a group, they've gotten a lot better."

Debose can be a go-to target for Florida

The receiver position has been through a lot since the end of the 2011 season. They, along with the entire Florida offense, were forced to learn the new scheme and pre-snap shifts and motions that came with Pease. The morning that the Gators started training camp in the fall, the resignation of wide receiver coach Aubrey Hill was made public.

Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan is now working with the receivers, but Pease is spending plenty of his own time with the group. Besides being an offensive coordinator, Pease's main responsibility is quarterbacks, but he has been open since his hiring that the relationship between the quarterbacks and receivers has to be a good one.

"There is a lot of demand on them with route running," Pease said. "It's a little bit of a challenge. Their picture is always changing in front of them. It's consistency, still working hard in the run game where they've all shown that they're willing to block and being aggressive that way."

Pease was clear that he would like a minimum of six receivers that he trusts before the Gators start the season, but he would like it to be a couple more than that if possible.

The freshmen are helping Pease get closer to that number.

Latroy Pittman made an impact in the spring and had his teammates and coaches all raving about his ability. He showed some of his explosiveness with a 43-yard reception in the spring game. Since the end of the spring, Pittman has been focused on learning more of the offense.

Pittman is learning this fall

"When he was here in the spring, things were very limited for him," Pease said. "We put him in situations that there wasn't a lot of thinking, but yet he still made plays. Now, he's got to continue working on consistency. Now we're asking him, you don't have to learn this one thing, you've got to learn three, four, five things.

"It's still a learning process, and he's getting there. The expectations are a little bit higher. The knowledge of what he has to know are a little bit higher."

Fellow freshman Raphael Andrades was singled out by head coach Will Muschamp for his performance in the first scrimmage of the fall last weekend. He made plays down the field and provided a trusted receiver close to the line of scrimmage, too.

Andrades has caught Will Muschamp's eye this fall

"He shows that he can make plays—good hands," Pease said. "It's just a matter of looking at him, and it's easy to compare because you think about where Latroy was at after 13-14 practices through spring—doing some good things, still lost a little bit. That's where (Andrades) is at.

"It's a matter of getting repetitions for him to get real good. It's hard because you're also not getting all the repetitions. Latroy is still a freshman status but has improved and is getting a little more confident and understanding the overall scheme."

Solomon Patton found a role early in the 2011 season as the kickoff returner, but this could be the year he finds a role on the offense. His explosiveness in the slot could be a weapon for the Florida offense this fall, and the junior is coming on strong in camp.

"I'll tell you this about Solomon— he has probably had one of the best weeks for him and out of the receivers. He has been very consistent, is playing very fast and is doing a really good job.

"Size doesn't matter to me if he can run. He's got speed, and he's a consistent catcher. You've got to look at certain routes of where they fit into the coverage. Are they easy to find or aren't they? We're not going to run a fade ball on the goal line with him because he can get swallowed up and disappear. And that's not a knock against him. A kid that's 6'1" or taller has got a better opportunity because they can use their body a lot more."

The surprise for the Florida offense in fall camp has actually come at tight end. Jordan Reed got banged up in the first scrimmage, and Tevin Westbrook used it as an opportunity to prove himself. Westbrook signed with Florida as a three-star defensive lineman that Muschamp added late in the process to his first recruiting class.

He was moved to the offensive side of the ball to provide depth at tight end, but he isn't settled as a backup. Westbrook is making a push to see the field.

"Phenomenal, I mean that kid is a big plus for us," Pease said. "He has a great attitude, works hard. He has had probably one of the best camps of anybody."

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