The Florida Gators won a hard fought battle with the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night 26-3 and Gator fans aren't happy with the way the offense performed. Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen agrees it was out of sync, and they probably should have changed up what they were doing a little earlier.
While head coach Urban Meyer was praising the play of the Miami defense and their game plan for the game, he also acknowledged some weak spots in Florida's play on the night. However, he was not ready to say that the offense called a bad game. There were some mistakes made on offense, but according to Meyer the plan was solid.
Mullen agreed on Monday and put a lot of the blame on the protection and blocking up front. He did say that the players individually weren't too bad, but on a lot of different plays individuals made mistakes that were costly.
"It just wasn't very good execution," Mullen said. "You can go through plays and find one spot that made a mistake on every play and that is what kills the running game right there. A bunch of the linemen actually graded (well), the problem is we look at how they graded individually, and how they grade as a line. As a group on every play we graded low, but high individually because every play was just one guy. That doesn't effect just them it effects the backs and everybody, so that was just the inconsistency on offense."
It was something that took the Gators almost three full quarters to correct. Then near the end of the third quarter, the offense got in a groove.
"We just made those mistakes," he said about the early gaffes. "We got out of rhythm and tried to get back into rhythm, (thinking) the next play will be different. It is really a credit to our guys that they locked in. There was no panic or frustration. By the fourth quarter we started to move the ball up and down the field."
The game plan changed a bit in the last quarter plus and the Gators started utilizing different aspects of the offense. Mullen said if they knew the blocking up front was going to be an issue for as long as it was during the game, they would have made the changes in the plan a little earlier.
"We would have, Mullen said. "When we started doing that we started getting in rhythm a little bit more. It wasn't like we were getting beaten up front, we were just making mistakes. When you are looking at that...we are saying if we clean up the mistakes we will be (alright) and it just wasn't happening. They were loading the box up and we still thought we could run the ball a little bit. Finally, we just stopped beating our heads against the walls and started getting it out to the fast guys and...see ya later."
Mullen credits a lot of the final quarter plus to an offensive staff that really knows each other pretty well.
"The benefit is we have been around together for a while," he said. "There was never a panic. There was some frustration because we weren't in rhythm. The staff did a great job sticking with it. We stuck with it and kept our composure and kept chipping. Eventually we got into a rhythm and that is when you saw the fourth quarter explosion."
By no means does he think that the fourth quarter cured all the woes the team has faced so far this season. But, he does love the fact that there is an off week before the SEC schedule to get things corrected.
"We still have a long way to go and I think our guys put a lot on themselves that way," he said. "This is not the time of year you want to be peaked just yet. We had a perfect situation having a bye week. It is good to get focused, clean a bunch of things up, and then get ready for the SEC schedule."
The Gator offense relies on big plays. Mullen and the staff believe that if they have five explosive plays in a game it should be enough from the offense to win the game. An explosive play is one that nets 20 yards or more.
"You would like to have five explosive plays," Mullen said about playing each game. "The more you have them, the more you score. We did a study on that and if you have an explosive play on a drive your chance of scoring goes way up. If you have two, it goes through the roof."
This offense relies on fresh legs and speed throughout the game, including the closing minutes. Therefore, expect the rotation of receivers and backs to continue. They are not going to sacrifice fresh legs at the end of the game to overload someone early.
"The nice thing is we had six different players on offense had an explosive play of 20 yards," Mullen said. "It is nice having Percy (Harvin) back as one of those big players. We will see, we have always been best when we worry about executing the offense and not getting the ball to just one guy. Just execute the offense and let the touches come within the flow of the game."
"For us, we ask them to do so many different things than just run. We want to keep them fresh and roll them through. If you come here you are going to play. At a lot of schools where they will ride one guy and that means the other six guys they recruited are standing over there on the sideline. If you come here you are going to play."
"I love playing a lot of guys to keep everybody fresh. We do a big number count and I am all over Billy Gonzales at the end of a game if a guy has played too many games. The deal is get guys in the game so that when those guys jog off the field, they are getting a drink of water. The next pay they are fresh and those defensive guys aren't getting a drink of water. I would rather keep everyone fresh. If we have guys that can play, roll them through, because they better be going a hundred miles an hour on every play. We had six different guys with 20-yard plays and you can't have that if only four play."
One player that did not see a snap on Saturday was sophomore transfer running back Emmanuel Moody. Moody was conspicuously absent in the game and also didn't appear much in the season opener. Mullen says once Moody is ready to go, he will get the opportunity to show what he can do.
"We need him to focus and just his continual development," Mullen said about what it would take to get Moody on the field. "When we feel guys are ready to go, we will put them on the field. We aren't going to put him on the field until we feel he is in a position to succeed. He had a good day on (Monday) and a couple of good days last week. When he is ready to go we will let him go. As the game went on we started throwing the football around and didn't have many tailback carries. He just didn't happen to get in there where we were at."
Finally the good side of Saturday was the play of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow told the media on Monday that he graded out as high as he ever has for the Miami game and Mullen was very happy with the way he played and the composure he showed.
"I was extremely pleased that a Tim Tebow from a year before going into a 9-3 game in the fourth quarter would have been very frustrated and lost some of his poise," Mullen said. "The big difference this year in the fourth quarter is when he started resetting his feet in the pocket and making all the throws and making the plays that needed to be made."
Tebow had an excellent night calling the game in front of him. That was something that was not apparent given all the miscues in blocking and protection up front.
"I think he missed one check in the course of a game," Mullen said with a smile. "To do all of that and miss one fade in the course of a game is a pretty good game today. I think he and I are very close, we see all that taking off and scrambling, that is Tim Tebow. The nice thing is we are starting to see some of the balance where he sets his feet and throws the ball when he needs to...other times in the game on third and four and they drop eight or nine guys, he is going to take it. He is doing a good job of managing that."
It is the composure that Tebow has that is different this year than last. It is what made the fourth quarter a good one.
"I don't think his recognition would have been different," Mullen said. "His frustration in the game would have been 'give me the ball, I'm going to run it.' instead of...'give me the ball and I will distribute it to the play makers'. I think his patience would have run out last year. His patience didn't run out and we had a lot of explosive plays throwing the ball in the fourth quarter."
It took a little patience by the quarterback, the rest of the offense, and the staff on Saturday night to pull away with a lopsided victory. It can be tough but the fans probably should show the same patience for an offense and staff that has been through a lot.
Mullen Reflects on Miami
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