Quiet Gillislee leading Florida offense

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease started to build his relationship with Mike Gillislee soon after getting to Gainesville, and it didn't take long to realize he would be the face of the Florida run game. Gillislee isn't vocal and doesn't enjoy talking to the media. When talking to his coordinator, that's not the case. Pease appreciates how humble and selfless the senior back has remained.

"He's very personal," Brent Pease said on Tuesday. "I love his personality. I love his attitude each day, and he's very polite. In spring, I felt very comfortable. The kid showed something every day. I think he goes to practice with great preparation and work ethic.

"He's always got a smile on his face. He wants to be good. He's very humble. He's always asking, ‘What was this guy like? How is he?' He's trying to be like some of the good ones that he knows either (running backs) coach Brian White or myself have been around."?

The humility is part of Mike Gillislee's story in Gainesville. He sat on the bench during his first three years at Florida behind speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Whenever Gillislee got into games when they were late and the score wasn't close, he always showed flashes of what he could be.

Yet his role didn't expand.

Instead of complaining or being upset, Gillislee started to work harder. He made an impact on special teams and was willing to do anything the coaches asked him to do on the field.

"I don't think he clamors to the limelight," Pease said. "You can tell by the way he goes out to practice every day. He's very unselfish. He's never complained once about wanting the ball more or can we have this. He just keeps grinding away."

Pease said last week that the Florida coaches weren't restricting his touches and would ride Gillislee if the situation called for it. That happened on Saturday against LSU. The senior running back carried the ball for a career-high 34 times while icing the game with his tough running in the fourth quarter.

The easy comparison for Pease to make is current Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin, who was the horse for the Boise State offense in recent years. He's now making an impact in the NFL. Pease thinks Gillislee has the skillset to do the same thing next season.

"I definitely feel that Mike has the ability because I think he's got great strength," Pease said. "He's got vision and balance. I think he's got the ability to bounce and have quickness. He's got a lot of intangibles that you have to have to play at the next level."

Gillislee's success in the second half against LSU came in a jumbo package—with a specific name Pease wasn't willing to reveal—that scored both touchdowns. The Gators lined up with seven offensive linemen, with the left guard and left tackle both pulling to the right side to open up holes for Gillislee.

Freshman D.J. Humphries was lined up on the left at tight end, and he chipped the defensive linemen on his side to buy just enough time for Gillislee to get by them. Both times, Gillisle scored untouched.

The play works because it allows the linemen to outnumber and overpower the defensive front.

"Some of the ends are used to having tight ends on them and all of the?sudden you have DJ Humphries or Ian Silberman — you've got a guy that's?300 pounds," Pease said. "When you look at that one time, there's seven guys there that?are probably 300-plus, what's your math on that? 7 x 3 is what, 2,100?pounds coming at you. I don't know that I would want?that falling on me."

The idea for the play came from Pease, but it didn't take long for offensive line coach Tim Davis to buy into it. He gets seven linemen on the field, and it opens up holes for Gillislee.

"He just likes getting big guys out there," Pease said. "You know what they say, ‘Mass kicks ass,' so that's our theory?behind it."

SHORT YARDAGE IMPROVEMENT: In 3rd and 4 situations or shorter on Saturday, the Gators went 7-for-7 in conversions against LSU. The short yardage situations were the issue for the running game in the early part of the season, but the offense has fixed the issues in recent weeks.

"It's a sign of improvement," Pease said. "It's some of the focus we put on the kids and what we're trying to design up each week. If you can stay on the field in those situations, then credit to them also on the downs leading up to that because they're putting them in good situations where they're not in third-and-long.

"I'm sure some of it is execution. Some of it is keeping them off balance enough on defense. Some of those early in the season, we were trying to go straightforward and hit tight gaps inside. Now, we've kind of tried to be a little more off balance with things."?

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