Mullen and Offense are Following the Plan

It is sounding like a broken record. What happened to the offense? It doesn't matter that for the second week in a row, the Florida Gators won by at least 23 points against a hated rival. It doesn't matter that this last matchup was on the road in front of 106,000 fans or that 10 minutes into the game the score was basically out of hand for the opponent. This is Florida and we want touchdowns.

Tim Tebow's Heisman Trophy season in 2007 saw Florida break records on offense as he ran and threw all over the place trying to offset a defense that plainly was not very good. Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that the offense last season needed to score every time they touched the ball because the defense wasn't good enough to stop anyone.

With almost the full offense back from last season, it looked to be a record breaking year yet again. After three games the offense has played well, but has not scored at the rate that was set last year.

Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen isn't at all worried about the perceived lack of production from the 2008 version of the Gator offense. One look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game is all the satisfaction he needs.

"We did exactly what we wanted to do on Saturday," Mullen told the media earlier this week. "We won 30-6."

The Gators beat hated rival Tennessee to the tune of the above mentioned score and they did so by jumping out to a commanding 17-0 lead only ten minutes into the contest. With the big lead, the Gators put the brakes on the offense a bit. Tennessee showed no signs of being able to turn on the juice with their offense and so the Gators would do well for themselves not to hand the game away by taking risks.

The Gators controlled the clock for most of the game and ran the ball. They were able to run and execute the short passing game and score 30 points before the day was over. It was a lot of the same against Miami who had an offense that wasn't really putting a scare into the Gator staff. The Gators would beat rival Miami 26-3 and do so playing much of the same ball control offense as the Tennessee game. Mullen said that the Gators were pretty much able to follow their game plan going into each game.

"I have been pretty pleased at what we are doing," Mullen said. "We obviously have done things differently than last year. I think we have been able to execute what we wanted to do going into each game. I don't think we've had to get wild all over the place and do a lot of different things that we did last year."

That doesn't mean that the Gators are not going to start opening up the passing game and testing defensive secondaries. They are ready when the time comes.

"For us, whatever the situation presents itself, we have to be ready for," he said.

Fans have been calling for the Gators to open up the play book and let Tim Tebow do what he was able to do last year when he was setting records and winning the Heisman Trophy. The Gators haven't needed to do much of that, but they are prepared if it comes to that. However, it is important to not put too much on the offense when preparing for a team.

"There is always a fine line, you want to have enough to attack what they are doing to you, but not too much that you are bogging down your offense all week with too many plays that they can't execute," Mullen said of the game plan. "You want to have multiple plans ready in case they come out in a whole new defense. They could come out and do something different. You want to have enough of everything but keep it balanced without bogging down our guys."

Outside of about three quarters of the Miami game, Mullen is happy with the plan and execution of the offense so far.

"The Miami game, we never got in rhythm until the fourth quarter," he said. "Everybody was making mistakes. Besides that I thought we were clicking on Saturday, we were efficient moving the ball. Game one kind of went like we wanted it to. It has pretty much been on schedule for us."

So drastically different from last year, the Florida offense has actually been able to lean on the defense in 2008. The Gators have given up a total of 16 points in three games and the defense has come up tough just about every time they have needed to. Mullen said it makes game planning a lot easier when your defense is playing so well.

"The good thing for us is the quality of play of the defense...(they are) playing great football," he said. "We punted from our own ten (against Tennessee) and the next time we got the ball we were going in from the plus-48. There are a whole lot more plays you can run from the plus 48 than the minus-10."

Against Miami, Urban Meyer and company relied on the defense to stuff the Hurricanes for about three quarters until the offense finally was able to fight through their own miscues and make some plays. Saturday all phases of the team were clicking and the offense went on cruise early.

"For example the Miami game, the defense played their butts off," Mullen said. "We opened it up, we needed to get rolling, we were just feeling our way around to get there. Saturday, we were efficient with what we were doing so we didn't have to change much. The defense was putting us in those great positions. It certainly helps that they are doing a great job."

They have also been able to reign in Tebow. There have been far fewer times when Tebow tucks the ball and runs and has to make a play for the Gators. The offense spent the off-season getting him to sit in the pocket and make decisions. They want him to do a better job of managing the game and not trying to take more than is available.

"We are kind of doing what the game has dictated for us," Mullen said. "Take what the defense gives you. When you are out there in the game you want to be efficient and move the ball up and down the field and put points on the board. That is kind of what Tim has been able to do for us.

"I think he is doing a nice job of managing and leading the team right now. Statistically to me, we are 3-0, and right where we were last year. He is a guy that is always improving."

The bottom line is this staff and this team are not worried about statistics. A gazillion yards and touchdowns do not mean squat compared to a notch in the win column. As far as what categories on offense Mullen does really look at every week...

"Third down conversions, red zone, turnovers, that's about it," he said. "Winning the game is number one."

The Gators have done that.

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