Addazio Will Enjoy the Win

As game time neared this week, all the coaching banter was something the staff at Florida wanted little to do with. Lane Kiffin could spout off in the offseason about coming in to beat Florida in The Swamp, but the staff at Florida had bigger concerns. Some key offensive elements would be missing before and during the game. Winning the game and getting out healthy took precedence over anything.

Normally a grudge match with Tennessee is a battle the Gators have to sweat year in and year out. This season, with all the success of the Gators and all the trash talking from Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin, the fans at least thought it was going to be a blood letting in The Swamp.

With a fully stocked and healthy Florida team, that may have been the case. But, as the game grew closer this week, the Gators would find themselves in a bit of a pickle in regards to the health of their team.

On Wednesday they found out that linebacker Brandon Spikes would be in severe pain with a sprain of his Achilles tendon. As the week progressed the offense was all of a sudden stricken with illness.

Already less than probable for the game starting wide receiver Deonte Thompson ended up missing the game due to a pulled hamstring. Late in the week and weekend starting tight end Aaron Hernandez and starting running back Jeff Demps contracted the flu and were no where close to 100 percent before the game. Now we find out that wide receiver Riley Cooper was hit with a pinched nerve in the opening drive of the game.

Brandon James and Tim Tebow were the only healthy starting skill players on offense after the first series.

With all of this going on, the offensive staff felt like they needed to go vanilla. Tennessee is a very talented defensive team and there was no need to play into their hands with anything crazy like trying to throw it all over the field to guys that couldn't play at 100 percent or guys that weren't used to being out there. Offensive Coordinator Steve Addazio just wanted to control the ball and put it in his Heisman Trophy winner's hands and that of his skilled running backs.

"We got into the game and felt like we need to ball control this and eat the time of possession, Addazio said. "That is just the way it is. It's no time to just flinging it everywhere."

The plan worked pretty well. The Gators reeled off 210 rushing yards and at the same time controlled the clock with over 32 minutes of possession.

Running backs Chris Rainey, Emmanuel Moody, and even the ill Demps ran hard and fast with Tebow all day. Missing the receivers is something they won't have to deal with in the coming weeks and they understand that they need to have some others ready to go.

"I was concerned about the fact that we didn't have Deonte today because that is a place we don't have a tremendous amount of depth to begin with," Addazio said. "That is something that is concerning for sure. It is something we have to keep working on is some development of more explosive players in that area so we can bring back some of those explosive strikes...we need that."

Getting healthy bodies on the field would have been the most ideal situation, but if they aren't ready to play, you have to go with any semblance of what got you to where the Gators are.

"It's what happens. You get in the SEC season and suddenly there is no margin for error. You are going to go with the guys that are game tested.

Addazio and company were caught off a bit in the way Tennessee attacked the Gators. Much like the Vol offense, the Tennessee defense went vanilla and passive. They wanted to keep the game close and not push Florida.

The effect was an offensive plan that went from trying to protect Tebow and throw the ball anyway, to one that was forced to grind the ball out on the ground, which actually played more into Florida's strength at the time given the illnesses to the receivers.

The Gators actually game planned for a more attacking, blitzing defense all week, and that never happened.

"I think we probably devised a game plan for more and probably too much," Addazio said of the practice time spent on protecting against blitzes. "We spent a week blocking every blitz known to man as opposed to base fronts. That was distracting this week,. Now after we play the game there wasn't that much of it. That's unfortunate, but you better be prepared with it than get stung with it. The flip side of it is where didn't get as much of it as we thought we would have. We only had a couple of pressures really."

It cost the Gators in preparation time during the week, but Addazio would do the same thing all over again if given the chance.

"Yes, no question ( we over prepared)," he said. "You better be prepared because if you get on that sideline and if we didn't we have a problem. I think quite honestly we didn't have going because we had a lot of stuff rigged up for pressures."

In the end, the staff and players are very happy to get the win against an SEC Eastern Division foe. Addazio noticed that USC lost on Saturday and knows all to well that you have to play the games.

"This is big time college ball," Addazio said. "You could be USC where they lost their second game today. This is the SEC. We don't overlook wins. We were in a tough physical game and we were more physical. I learned that lesson a long time ago. Enjoy those wins."

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