Miami Week - Offensive Onslaught

Fresh off a 56-10 pounding of Hawaii in which the Florida offense was only able to reel off 55 plays, the Gators are feeling relatively good about what happened last Saturday. With a whopping 7.4 yards per play average, the offense didn't need a whole lot to make an early example of the Warriors.

The Gator staff and players have been deluged this week with media in anticipation of the big matchup with Miami in prime time this coming Saturday. Here is an offensive onslaught of coaches and players alike and what they are saying to the media.

Offensive line coach Steve Addazio has a nice problem on his hands. He has depth and talent on an offensive front that also features quite a bit of experience. One of the key cogs in that front is left guard Jim Tartt who has been sidelined a while with a sore shoulder due to surgery. Tartt is the only key player expected to miss action this week, but Addazio thinks he is coming along just fine and how they expected him to.

"I think Jim is in a very normal step mental process," Addazio said referring to the rehab being on schedule. "We are making sure he is getting back and taking our time. He is doing great."

With Tartt out, sophomore Marcus Gilbert has been substituted into the lineup at the left guard spot. Marcus and the entire line played well on Saturday according to Addazio.

"It has been going well," he said. "We had some really good series in that football game right there. I think it was good I think it was a great opportunity for those guys to play together, and they did. I think it was a really great thing, real positive."

Starting right guard Mike Pouncey was named offensive MVP for the game and Addazio said his play was a symptom of the team work the line has grown accustomed to so far this season.

"He is playing great, the kid is playing well, Addazio said of Mike Pouncey. "They all played well, but he happened to play the best that day. He just had great consistency throughout the game...but so did a lot of guys. We had a bunch of guys play well. I think the consistency factor, that chemistry...glue with those particular five guys...that is what they got in that game and it was good to see."

Addazio was thrilled at the lack of penalties during the game. True freshman offensive tackle David Young did get one in the last series, but the fact he is playing at all is a surprise to a lot of people.

"We had no offensive line penalties with our guys till David Young had one at the end," Addazio said. "He is going to do a great job with us."

Young came to Gainesville this summer after having two broken knee caps that ended his senior football season. Playing in game one means they aren't considering redshirting him as a freshman and he is ready to go.

"I think the whole mindset is you never go in there with the mindset of redshirting," Addazio said. "You go in with the mindset of playing. As a coach you are playing and as a player you are playing, That is the mindset we are going with."

The task at hand is a rivalry game with the University of Miami and Addazio has respect for the speedy group from south Florida. However, he understands his troops have been through many wars with some top teams with a lot of speed.

"They have a really good football program," Addazio said of Miami. "They have a lot of athletic guys, fast, and run to the ball well. They are really good team with good players...In our conference everyone is fast. Our defensive line is fast. That team we played Saturday were very stout guys. That was nice. That was a very good quality defensive front we played Saturday. It was a good stout front, good work, I thought it was tremendous. It was great to come out of there with the win."

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Pardon the smile on Kenny Carter's face. The University of Florida assistant in charge of coaching running backs may just have the fastest unit in the world at his disposal right now. However, that smile is a little bigger this week because super star junior running back/receiver Percy Harvin is likely going to take a spot in the back field from time to time against Miami on Saturday night.

Carter's eyes widened a great deal when the media started asking about Harvin and his role in the offense this week.

"He looked really good and did some really good things," Carter said of Harvin's performance at practice on Tuesday. "We want him to really be healthy and want to give him a chance to do Percy things on Saturday."

Harvin plays the slot receiver position as well as dropping in the back field to take hand offs from time to time. On some staffs that could possibly lead to confusion as to who would coach him when. That isn't the case at Florida.

"We all coach him up," carter said. "We don't worry about stepping on each other's feet. We just want things running smooth. If we get that we are happy."

Harvin is treated just like the other backs when it comes to things like ball security, placement, etc. It is actually a team wide concept according to Carter.

"We talk to him about the same things we talk to our backs about," he said. "That is the beauty of this system. There are certain things that are team oriented regardless of what position you play or what side of the ball you are on. Ball security, how to catch the ball, how you block, how you get in football position for certain things is the same for everybody."

It all comes easy to Harvin who Carter says is just a natural born football player.

"He is a tremendous athlete," carter said. "Some people are just really good football players. Some people can do other things very well. He is a great football player that has all the physical attributes that you want him to have."

Carter is also all smiles about the fastest player to probably ever don a Florida Gator football uniform. True freshman Jeffrey Demps ran a career best 10.01 seconds in the 100-meters during this summer's Olympic trials. But don't let Carter hear anyone call Demps a track guy, Demps is electrifying on the football field as well.

"Jeffrey Demps is a football player that can run track," Carter said as if he has said it a million times. "We are very excited about the things he brings to the table. He is starting to learn and is really a sponge. He is starting to get to the point where is getting comfortable with everything we do. The more he is exposed to those things the better football player he is going to be. He will be a tremendous football player here."

Yes, the smiles keep coming from Carter who must feel like he won the lottery with the speed and athleticism he inherited as the Gators' new running back coach. He wants defensive coordinators to think one thing when they line up against the Gators, "I hate playing Florida,"

He knows that the talent is abundant on the roster and plans on using it to its fullest potential.

"That is the deal here, that is why people come here and what people expect here," he said. "That is what we are willing to do, we are going to do those kind of things. Everything is relative, you expect certain things at certain places and we expect certain things here. We are fortunate to have them here and we are going to use them."

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Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen was pleased with his team's performance in the season opener. Sure, the passing stats weren't gaudy, but Mullen liked the precision for the most part and the efficiency of the offense for most of the day. In the end, they met their goals for the game and don't have a long way to go to get better.

"Just a little cleaner execution," Mullen answered when asked what he would like to see improve in his offense from game one. "We completed some balls. Tim (Tebow) ran around and made some plays. I want to be a little cleaner execution in the passing game I would be pleased if we saw that. For us, just come out, play hard, and compete. That is the most important thing.

"Last week we wanted to run the ball, protect the quarterback and have no turnovers. We ran the ball had one sack and we didn't turn the ball over. Those are things we are always harping on and focusing on and if we can keep doing those things we will be (alright)."

Mullen will be adding a weapon to the arsenal this week with junior running back/wide receiver Percy Harvin playing for the first time this season. A preseason All-American, Harvin has been recovering from injury. Mullen just wants Harvin to do what he can do and don't over extend himself just to get back.

"When he goes he goes," Mullen said. "We just need to be careful he doesn't over do it. He is just coming back and needs to keep himself fresh."

There will not be a snap count per-se with Harvin and actually the offense has a plan to make sure that everyone is fresh in the game.

"You never know with snaps," he said after his team only had 55 plays in game one. "An average game has 70 snaps and we would like to have all of our receivers play two deep at the receiver positions and play about 35 snaps per guy is what we are focusing on.

"We want our guys fresh and going fast. You saw it Saturday When Demps got on the field, he had some explosion. When Rainey got on the field he had some explosion. By rolling those guys and everyone being fresh, we are actually a faster team and that is where we want to stay."

Mullen knows there is speed, talent, and athleticism across the board on the Miami defense. They have a very nice mix of experience and ability.

"You look at them right now and they have some experience in the back end and a really athletic secondary," Mullen said. "Now they are coming back with their two big time defensive ends coming back this week. They are going to be solid up front and have experienced linebackers. They have a deep athletic secondary. They are solid from front to back."

The speed is what everyone talks about when talking about a Miami team loaded with the young talent. Mullen knows it is there, but he and his offense have prepared for this kind of speed many times before.

"For us, we play in the SEC," Mullen said. "It is like a conference game, they have SEC type speed so we have to prepare for it."

Of course one of the questions that everyone wants answered is, "who is the back up quarterback?" Mullen is no more prepared today to answer that question than he was on day one of fall camp. But, he does offer some insight as to how things could play out depending on if and when it happens.

"If Tim went down we would play both of them," Mullen said of sophomore cam Newton and redshirt freshman John Brantley. "Depending on what situation we were in and what we would want to do, we would rotate them."

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The South Florida players on the Florida roster have a particularly vested interest in the game that will be played on Saturday. Bragging rights are huge and for a lot of them, it is one of the games they thought about when they were younger. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson hails from belle Glade and has a lot of ties to players and fans at Miami. Thompson is ready to go.

"I am very excited, I am ready," Thompson said on Monday. "I am very happy, growing up as a kid and watching this game I always wanted to play in it."

For Thompson Florida and Miami were right there at the end when he was making his final decision of where to go off to school. In the end it came down to wanting to get a little away from everything and he can see an exodus of players from south Florida following him to Gainesville in future years.

"It was close, it came down to the last day for me and my decision," Thompson said about his choice of the Gators over the Hurricanes. "I didn't want to be too close to home, that was a big reason. With more south Florida guys start coming here, that will bring other south Florida guys here."

This week also means talking back and forth to players from each team. Thompson knows he and Miami wide receiver Travis Benjamin will have some words before the week is over.

"I just was texting Travis Benjamin," Thompson said. "He was just talking about our game and the play (a dropped pass) on film. He said I should have dove for the ball, but it came out of my fingertips. We haven't talked any trash yet, but I know it is getting close."

Thompson hopes to let his play do the talking on Saturday night.


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