Reed closing out strong season

After splitting time at tight end and quarterback during the 2010 season, Jordan Reed moved full time to tight end for the start of the 2011 season. The Gators haven't featured an elite passing attack in the two seasons with Reed at tight end, but his strong back-to-back seasons have put him in position to leave early for the NFL after the Sugar Bowl. The decision hasn't been made yet.

In his last two seasons, Reed has combined for 72 catches, 859 yards and five touchdowns. After signing with Florida as a dual-threat quarterback to run Urban Meyer's spread offense, the Florida coaches found a position for him to excel in the offense.

His athleticism is easy to see. Reed is versatile enough for the Florida coaches to use him as an attached tight end, since his blocking has drastically improved in the two seasons, or split him out as a wide receiver, since he is athletic enough to pose matchups issues against smaller cornerbacks.

The breakout season has come this year. Reed has been the best pass catcher on the team, totaling 44 catches, 552 yards and three touchdowns. He serves as a down-field threat, or the Gators can get him the ball in space and let him make defenders miss for a big play.

His versatility was one of the few bright spots for the Florida passing game this year.

"I think he's done a good job," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "He's kind of been really our go-to guy with the high-catch total. The thing that he's done is that he's so flexible that you can match him up on the outside, on the inside, do some things with him.

"I think it shows that he's grown because you've seen us put him in a lot of different positions and the shifts and motions and all that, so I give him a lot of credit for that."

The question now becomes whether or not Reed will return for the 2013 season. Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Pease won't talk specifically about their conversations with any of the draft-eligible juniors on the team. Reed and the other juniors will make their decisions known after the Sugar Bowl.

"He hasn't told me anything," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said of Jordan Reed. "We'll cross those paths when we get there with the kids. I think these kids have been good about approaching it the right way. I still think playing this game with these guys and winning this game is important to them. They've been smart about their situations."

If Reed does elect to leave Gainesville and start his professional career, the Florida coaching staff is trying to prepare others during bowl practice. Freshman tight end Kent Taylor saw time on the field this fall and should be a bigger part of the passing game next year. Fellow freshman Colin Thompson suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the regular season, but he is now practicing with the team.

Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook also saw time at tight end during the 2012 season, and the two freshmen will see more time on the field in 2013, regardless of what decision Reed decides to make.

"The tight ends will have to step in with the opportunity for Kent Taylor, Collin Thompson and Clay (Burton) to get in there," Pease said. "Whether they are as good as Jordan, I don't know. We'll see at that time when they're put in that situation. But you've got to find your little niche and role in the whole system and do what you're best at.

"As coaches, you've got to be smart about who you're putting on those spots. If it's not a tight end, then we've got to use the receivers that are correct in those spots to do it."

LOUISVILLE DEFENSE: Charlie Strong's defensive scheme at Louisville is similar to what he ran at Florida. It's not a complex scheme that is anything different from what the Gators have seen this year. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said it's their ability to bring pressure that makes them a challenge.

"They're going to try to man us up and play a little Cover 3, and they're going to bring blitzes. That's basically what we've seen all year long, so it's nothing new. We're going to have to play well to beat them."

There is one special part of what the Cardinals do. Just as he did at Florida, Strong loves to use corner blitzes to put pressure on the quarterback.

"They bring more corner blitzes," Driskel said. "That's probably the only thing. There's not too many things you can do defensively that we haven't seen this year. We've pretty much seen it all, so we'll be ready for it."

Fightin Gators Top Stories