Five Fall Questions To Answer: Offense

If you read all the magazines and the web articles from a national perspective, the Florida Gators area shoe in to repeat as national champions. That may or may not be the case, and the Gators return more talent than anyone, but there are still some questions to be answered as the season starts in less then a month.

Practice starts Thursday and here are some questions that will have to be answered on offense.

How will Steve Addazio do as the offensive coordinator?

That is a very fair question simply because he is new to the job here at Florida. It isn't very common that you have an offensive line coach as your offensive coordinator, but that is the way it is for this 2009 version of the Florida Gators. Addazio does bring experience as the coordinator at Indiana during his stint there and is highly regarded in football circles. He has always been meticulous in his work as most good offensive line coaches are.

I think Addazio will be a great offensive leader for this team. He is fiery and commands a great deal of respect from the players he coaches and I think that will come across big time this season. More than anything, I think he will bring even more toughness to this unit which was already tough a year ago.

Don't look for it to be a run first team necessarily. I believe Addazio will be more in tuned to taking what the defense is giving, and to that end, being even more balanced on offense...if that is possible.

How will the offensive tackles fair?

Both starting tackles are gone from offense and their experience will be missed. However, in their absence will be better athletes that are probably even more suited to moving well in this zone blocking running game and the pass protection needed for an offense that likes to have it's quarterback in motion a lot.

Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins will be missed for their experience and leadership. The staff and team isn't going to ask guys like probable starters Marcus Gilbert and Matt Patchan to lead, but they will rely on their aggressive play and physical ability to make plays.

With this young group, which will also include Xavier Nixon and Nick Alajajian, the physical ability will be through the roof while the mental and experience catch up. I expect mistakes early, but for this group to be on a roll by mid season or so.

Can the Gators replace the big playmakers at wide receiver?

They can and they will. This is where they are going to have to lean on their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow to make a difference for them early.

What we should expect and what inevitably will make this offense run better (if that is possible) is that distribution to be b4etter than ever. With no Percy Harvin around to lean on, the ball will get divided up even more and all the receivers getting three catches a game will now start getting five to six catches a game.

Likewise, the running backs are going to have to step up, but I can see it being a little harder to run this year as team's stack the box for Tebow and the running game without Percy Harvin to rely on. That takes us back to the other receivers and Tebow being able to hit them in space and don the field. I think this will lead to many more long balls in this offense than we have seen in the first four years.

How will Scot Loeffler and Tim Tebow connection fair?

This is one that will be watched carefully and one I will be paying special attention to. Gone is the comfort of the quarterback coach that Tim Tebow is used to and inserted is someone that Tebow has probably become more fond of in a short period of time.

Loeffler has a totally different demeanor than Dan Mullen and my understanding is that it is one that suits Tebow more. Might we see a more comfortable quarterback than we have seen? Again, it is hard to imagine, but I think that is exactly the case.

I think there will be a new and special chemistry here that shoots Tebow to a new level in regards to hitting different targets in this offense and also one that has him feeling good about his own mechanics that have been scrutinized over time.

How big will Aaron Hernandez be in this offense?

I have said it often and I totally believe it. I think Aaron Hernandez will be the first tight end since 1990 and Kirk Kirkpatrick to lead the Gators in receiving. Hernandez has all the tools to be devastating and has showed that already in his short career.

At some point he may be the one that draws double coverage and then that spells trouble for defenses as Tebow will find the other receivers and carve up defenses. Hence, Hernandez will be a big part of the offense whether he is catching the ball or not.

Later tonight, we will look at five questions on defense.

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