Protection issues slowing the offense

Whenever Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel dropped back to pass against Georgia, a Georgia pass rusher was almost always there to greet him. The Florida pass protection struggled to block the Bulldogs rushers, which kept the Gators from being able to take any shots down the field in the passing game. It's an area that has to improve for the Florida offense to get better in the future.

"(Pass protection) always is involved in (play calling) some because you want to put the kids into good situation," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "But we have pass protections to help them out. We might go to more of a seven-man pass pro. Sometimes you've got the six-man pass pro with the back involved. So depending on what defenses are hitting you with or where they're hitting you with on the field, we try to build it into that."

It's a tough balance for the Florida coaching staff to figure out, and it changes every week with a different opponent. The Florida coaches want to build in plays with the pass protection featuring five, six or seven players blocking for quarterback Jeff Driskel.

However, they can't take the passing game completely out of the offensive package. The Gators have to be able to take shots down the field, even if they don't work, to force the opposing defenses from being able to load the box and focus in on the Florida running game. There has to be an element to the offensive play calling that builds confidence for the Florida players.

"You don't want to continually do something like they caught us on the third play of the game and we fumbled it, so you've got to kind of get back and change it a little bit and get the kids back into a rhythm or some confidence," Pease said. "We're just not going to go back and throw it with five man protection again, the chance of a blitz because you want to protect them and keep at least the quarterback confident."

To no one's surprise, Pease wasn't happy with the way the offensive line blocked on Saturday. It's rare that one player can completely disrupt the passing game, but Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones did that to the Gators for the second year in a row.

"We can get better. Jones caused problems for us. He's a great player and we tried to double him at times. And when he got doubled and he was blocked, that kid plays down field where the ball's going. He's the guy that made the strip down field at the end. He doesn't just stand around now. He plays the full width and full length of the field."

Missouri DEFENSE: The Tigers come to Gainesville leading the country in forced fumbles. After the Gators put the ball on the ground six times against Georgia, it's the emphasis of practice this week.

"They're going to be aware of it. They're going to know. It's something our guys, they better know. They better have some ball security. These guys are going after it. We've got to do a much better job with turnovers because that's the thing that ultimately hurt us the other day.

"If you don't put that in the back of your mind and understand you've got to get better from it and tighten it down in practice, the same thing can happen. We'll go back and recreate drills that we've got to put some emphasis on that this week."

The Florida offense will see plenty of different looks from Missouri this weekend. Will Muschamp is aware of the defense become of his time at Texas put him against the Tigers, but there are still some new looks the Gators will have to be prepared for on Saturday.

"They don't do a lot of exotic stuff, but they are definitely good at what they do," Pease said. "They are good tacklers and they play leverage real well. Coach Steckel has really got them playing hard, and they rally to the ball. They've all got good motors. It's simple in the sense that they don't play a lot of different things. You're going to see a lot of Cover-2 or either Cover 1, but they do have a pretty good pressure scheme to keep you off balance. They're very unpredictable that way."

REED RECOVERING: After Jordan Reed fumbled the ball into the end zone on Florida's final offensive play of the game, the tight end was distraught on the sideline. He was in tears, but the coaches and players tried to remind him that it wasn't his fault.

"He's fine. He's made plays like that before," Pease said. "He'll understand. He's okay. He's a kid that took it upon himself. He looked in the mirror. He'll be good with it. It's not that play that cost us the game or anything, we had all kinds of opportunities before that that we could have helped ourselves."

It was the sixth turnover of the game.

"He's fine in practice," Pease said. "On Mondays, he comes over and throws passes with me. He was smiling and we're good."

STOPPING THE RUN: Florida's struggles in the running game continued against Georgia on Saturday. Mike Gillislee wasn't able to get going for the third straight weekend. The Gators continue to see stacked defensive boxes that make it tough to run.

The throwing game hasn't been able to stretch the field, and the Gators will continue to see teams try to take away the ground game.

"They are bringing safeties down into it, and they're getting people probably one more than we can (block) at times," Pease said. "But in the same sense, some things are there. We've got to just continue to maintain blocks, run through tackles. They are getting tougher. You're playing better people week in and week out. And there are safeties in this league that are NFL-type guys that come down and that's what they do, they are good a tackling. That's why they are in that position."

LOSING PATTON: With junior wide receiver Solomon Patton missing the rest of a season with a broken arm, the Gators are trying to find a guy to fill that role. Will Muschamp said on Monday that Andre Debose could factor into the role of handling the jet sweeps, and Omarius Hines could also see touches that way.

Pease was clear that the play wouldn't be taken out of the offense.

"No, I don't want to phase it out," Pease said. "Debose can do it. He's been kind of the guy that's taken some reps on it. When Solo got hurt, that definitely threw a twist on some things for us."

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