In this week's edition of Ask Ack, find out why the offense struggled somewhat against Kentucky, how I would characterize the Gator defense after three games, how the Gators practice for "scramble" situations when Leak has to scramble, on Ciatrick Fason, on Strong wanting more pressure up front from the defense, game day preparations, Deshaun Wynn, and the one key for the Gators to defeat Arkansas.
Q: We sputtered mightily in the redzone vs UK, from your analysis, what were some of the reasons/causes, and what can we do to improve in the coming weeks? Going into the game, what was UF's strategy vs UK's 3-4 defense in the redzone? To me, it seemed that the Wildcats either blitzed or dropped 8 into coverage in the redzone and that zone was very effective vs the Gator 'O' - not many holes in that "8-under" coverage look (don't have to worry about deep patterns). I'm worried we will probably see that coverage in future games.
A: I thought the offense struggled in the redzone for two reasons. First Chris Leak was not sharp and I thought he got greedy. Good redzone offense starts with solid quarterback play and Leak looked more like 2003 than the star we have seen in 2004. Secondly the run blocking inside the redzone was below average. I think UF should have run more inside quick hitters vs Kentucky. Ciatrick and the other backs need to tighten their decision making up inside the redzone but it was just an off day and if teams continue to play UF that way, I think you will see a lot of "I" formation inside the ten and go run the ball. Kentucky is a 3-4 team and it was a unique look; give Mike Archer some credit as well.
Q: How would you characterize the Gator defense after 3 games? How would you characterize Strong's defensive play-calling? What is the goal - style-wise - that the coaches want the Gator defense to become and what do we need to improve upon to achieve that goal? I noticed we had the CB's backed off alot to start the game and UK exploited that on their first drive. Then, for the rest of the game, we did a nice job of mixing up pressing the WR's or laying off them - but usually showing a press alignment at pre-snap.
A: Improving. I think the defense will get better as the season goes along. They need some defensive tackles to step up and give Ray and Marcus a break from time to time. Remember as they try to get better and more experience they face a new offense every week. The secondary will continue to play soft against running teams because it gives them the best chance to see option or run and come up and support it. As the season progresses look for more and more coverages being mixed in with the secondary.
Q: Gator WR's did a nice job of coming back and/or getting open for Leak when he was forced to scramble. There was some improvision even on Fason's TD reception too. How much of this is 'choreographed' by the gators during practice? Are there pre-set responses by wr's / routes to Leak's scrambles? Most of the time, the wr's are instructed to work back to the qb, but I recall Jeff George used to like to have one WR break long when he scrambled - do we have anyone doing that?
A: Florida's offense works on a "scramble-drill" every week. It usually happens on Thursday where certain receivers know where to go based on the scrambling of the quarterback. Fason did do a nice job turning up his route and finding the endzone for Leak.
Q: Speaking of the WR's: Gotta commend them w/ their blocking downfield on the Fason runs and also other passing plays. Even though they got flagged a couple of times for illegal use of hands, etc, they should be commended on their efforts ~ I noticed on passing plays, that they run their routes and if the ball doesn't come their way, they then turn to make a block.
A: Ciatrick runs hard and is a lot like Errict Rhett with his desire and practice habits. This helps encourage the receivers to block for him. As a teammate you want to help your back out because he works so hard. This unit takes pride in doing all the little things right and they are coached to do so.
Q: We read the quotes this week about the defense being too exited and needing to settle down early in the game. Why is this the first time I am hearing this in all the years of following football. I thought football is a game of emotion. I have never read more excuses than I have from this staff. Please break down Strong's defensive scheme and how the front seven getting exited hurts our team. Thanks, RxChris?.
A: I think Strong would like to get pressure with the front four and in doing so, bring linbackers along for the ride. UF's front has not done a great job getting to the quarterback , especially from the outside. The group has played well in the second half of each game this season and is only giving up 27% on third down after half time adjustments. I did not hear as many excuses as you did from last week but they do need to play better in the first quarter. Football is a game of emotion and UF must get it's young players cranked up and ready to go from snap one. UF is a 4-3 scheme that likes to get five guys on the line of scrimmage with the sam linebacker coming up on the tightend. They seem to be in a lot of nickel the first couple of weeks but I think they should be in base this week.
Q: Ack, are gameday preparations different for these early starts (11:30 Kentucky/12pm Arkansas)?
A: It is a bit different because you are eating pregame meal four hours before kickoff and unlike night games you have to go meet and then get on the bus. For late games like Tennesee sometimes the coaches on the road will take the team to the stadium to walk around and get a look. Most of the day is spent in your room watching television and having meetings. With these early games the players must get jacked up and ready to go right away after they awake. The Gators have had some ugly games with the early starts like Ole Miss, Tennessee and Kentucky so it is important to be ready this week for an Arkansas team looking for revenge.
Q: What do you think is going on with Deshaun Wynn?
A: I think Fason has moved ahead of him and they decided to feed the big fella on Saturday. It's a tough challenge when you have two high caliber backs and Mike Locksley will probably need to do some counseling this week. Skyler is a good back and UF will need all of them over the course of the season.
Q: What is one key for the Gators this week against Arkansas?
A: Run defense early in the game must be solid. Matt Jones is better at the passing game but you must make him one dimensional. For the third week in a row UF must prepare for a quarterback who can run. The offense must also get the tight end involved in some capacity this week maybe in the redzone.