FOOTBALL: What are the coaches doing now?

Recruiting's over. Spring practice is more than a month away. So what at the Florida Gators football coaches doing these days?

Besides staying on top of the recruiting momentum they gained from the most recently signed class, which means the coaches are making one phone call after another to prospects for next season, the coaching staff is working diligently to get on the same page with their offensive and defensive philosophies. My years on the Gator staff put me through one coaching change and I found out first hand what it's like when a totally nnew staff begins its preparation for spring practice.

The offensive side of the ball won't be too difficult since three of the offensive coaches worked with Coach Urban Meyer at Utah. Their toughest chore right now is to match up the offense with the personnel which means adapting certain things that they did well at Utah with the players and maintaining a few thins that are already in place. This requires a few things.

First they need to look at game and practice film of the players that they have on hand. Coach Meyer plans to implement an offense based on the players available to run that offense. That means he and they have to know what the players are capable of. That is easy enough with players that have played on Saturday, not so easy for those that were practice only. Remember, they are not allowed to take them out and practice them at all until spring practice starts.

The transition on defense will be a lot easier since Coach Charlie Strong was here the past two years and he already knows the personnel. He has as much insight as anyone would on what his players can and can't do. The other steps will be a little more difficult for the defensive side of the ball.

The next step is getting all of the coaches on the same track. On offense, there are only two guys that have to learn a new system. Tight end Coach Steve Addazio and running back Coach Stan Drayton are the two newcomers and will have to get acquainted with the new terminologies as well as adding a flavor of their own knowledge to the offense. I have found in my years on the staff that everyone usually contributes to the offense and it becomes a melting pot of ideas before it is finished.

On defense, Coach Strong will run something similar to what the Gators ran last year but with an emphasis of getting more pressure on the quarterback. The other coaches on defense will certainly have a lot more to say about the plays installed and run simply because there are more new people involved. These new people will have their own ideas to bring to the table as will Coach Meyer, who most likely will instruct on what he generally wants from the defense, i.e., more pressure. Coach Chuck Heater, who came from Utah with Meyer, will be able to help with this part of it.

Of course, some form of printed playbook is usually handed out to the team before they start practicing in the spring. I can't tell you how many countless hours I spent putting together spring playbooks only for them to be used for a month and then overhauled for the fall. The first year spring playbook will probably be very basic. The time constraints on putting them together and then mass distributing them is very difficult. There just isn't enough time to get a full playbook distributed when the bulk of the playbook isn't even finished until a week or so before spring starts.

Don't think this is an easy time for coaches and staff especially in year one of a new regime. The staff is working just as hard now as they were two weeks ago in recruiting. They just don't have to leave the office as much. As a matter of fact, they probably won't be able to leave the office until March 16th, the day they have to start coaching the players up.


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