Addazio Happy With Spring Progress

Gator Offensive Coordinator Steve Addazio had a most unusual spring practice. While the Florida defense was set with the entire two deep and coaching staff returning intact, things were much more interesting on the other side of the ball. Addazio had to settle in to his role as Florida's offensive coordinator while breaking in two new assistant coaches in Scot Loeffler and Brian White.

To make matters more entertaining the Gators spent the entire spring coping with one injury after another. Michael and Maurkice Pouncey, James Wilson, Mo Hurt, Carl Johnson, David Young and Matt Patchan all missed time this spring and that's just the offensive linemen. The Gators were also without David Nelson, Riley Cooper, Jeff Demps, Steve Wilks, Emmanuel Moody and Desmond Parks at one time or another.

Still, when all was said and done, Florida's coordinator was pleased with what his unit got done in its 15 practices.

"I think he got a lot of things done during the spring. We worked on things we wanted to work on. The goal for us, number one was to develop depth. The injuries that we had forced us to work on that. We also wanted to develop an 'under center' package, which we really got a great bite of that this spring. We also really wanted to have a (strong) fundamental spring and really get back to basics and we did all that. We knew we weren't going do some of the normal mechanics of our offense, like the quarterback run. We weren't going to do that."

Addazio said one thing that was really important for the Gators were the development of back up quarterback John Brantley.

"He had a great spring. You watch his presence in the pocket and you watch his poise. All those signs are evidence of a guy who is really developing into one heck of a football player. We have a lot of confidence in him and feel terrific about him. That was a major deal for the spring and we came out of that (in great shape). I think (the spring game) was the exclamation point for him."

Addazio also pointed out that the Gators went into the spring looking for guys who can make plays at receiver, considering the departures of last season's top two pass catchers in Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin. He said the Gators got a glimpse at a couple of young receivers who could fill those voids this fall in Frankie Hammond and T.J. Lawrence.

"There's no question. You saw that (in the spring game). T.J. and Frankie both had some really elusive "make you miss" runs and that's something we really wanted to see. That was all good and we got great effort."

Addazio also had to offer a tip of the hat two a pair of true freshmen linemen Nick Alajajian and Johnatthon Harrison who played every snap of the spring football game.

"They're supposed to be going to the prom, and (instead) they're playing every play. It's really great. You can have a great spring and another strong summer and then by the time you get to camp those guys can really go and compete now. They kind of got some experience and now instead of being lost in the high weeds they can come out and compete. That's the beauty of coming out early."

One thing that has been talked about a lot has been avoiding complacency. The Gators, after all are defending national champs and have 18 starters back. Addazio admited that process was eased by all the physical setbacks they had to try to overcome.

"That was one of our goals, keep your edge and I think we've done that. In a lot of ways not having a lot of guys helps you do that, because you're grinding every day just to find some semblance of consistency. That's probably a good thing, so that was an added bonus of spring for sure, no question."

I asked Addazio how much he and the rest of the offensive staff worked on the logistics of play calling during the spring and particularly in the spring game.

"The mechanics of the staff were great and everybody worked together. There was a real team effort, and that's with nobody in the booth. When you get up in the booth some guys have a better set of eyes, but I thought that went pretty smoothly and we're happy with it."

Of course the real tests come later, but it appears Florida's offense staff is settling in, and they'll certainly have more guys to work with when fall camp opens in August.


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